It’s something I have never noticed before. While the hours of daylight get longer after the winter solstice the time of the actual sunrise gets later. The sunrise for our area on December 21st was 7:47:16 am and the sunrise on January 4th was 7:49:34 am. I realize it isn’t that big of a difference but it just sounded strange. I also thought the earliest sunset for us would be on the solstice but that isn’t the case either. According to the Sunrise/Sunset Calendar the earliest sunset was at 4:09:14 pm on December 10th and on the solstice sunset was at 4:12:15 pm. The sun will start rising earlier again but for a few days it keeps us wondering.
Last night’s low temperature was -36 degrees at the end of the Gunflint Trail. By the time Matt and Joe went out to play on the Seagull River it had already warmed up 10 degrees! Life at Voyageur Canoe outfitters is always an adventure.
I made the drive down the shore yesterday to attend a cross-country ski meet in Duluth. The temperature was hovering around zero, give or take a few degrees, and the sea smoke on Lake Superior was impressive. As I rounded the corner into Duluth and glanced out at the lake I had to do a triple take. The fog was especially thick and I could see a bunch of large dark spots on the lake. I can usually pick out an ore boat from shore but there were so many dark spots and I was driving. It took me quite awhile to determine the spots were indeed 1000 foot long ore ships, 8 of them to be exact! I don’t think I have ever seen that many ships hanging out in the water at one time. I had my camera along and thought about stopping to take a photo but I didn’t.
It turns out I wasn’t the only person to think the number of ships in Duluth was a bit peculiar. This morning I found an online article explaining why there were so many ships anchored. The freezing cold weather has hampered the unloading and loading of ships causing a back up.
photo by Bob King Duluth News Tribune
Most of us know not everything functions properly when the temperature plummets. Locks get frozen, batteries die and water lines freeze up just to name a few of the things that happen during a prolonged cold spell. It turns out train brakes can freeze, conveyors can stiffen up, hatches on ships can become encased by ice and iron ore pellets bond with ice. All of these things cause delays in the everyday business of shipping. With the closing of the Soo Locks on the 15th of the month the ships are impatiently waiting for their turn and hoping to beat the ice and the calendar.
There are lots of lakes to choose from when it comes to ice fishing on the Gunflint Trail. Come stay at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters and take advantage of the opportunity to ice fish for free January 13-15th.
Every January, Minnesotans celebrate the Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend (TAKIF). This year from January 13 to 15, Minnesota residents can fish or spear fish for free when accompanied by a child age 15 or under.
A number of TAKIF events will introduce participants to the sport of ice fishing and provide families with information about ice fishing topics including choosing the right clothing to keep warm and dry, basic safety gear for ice fishing, and how to avoid accidents on the ice.
The Take Kids Ice Fishing page on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website has great information and helpful tips, such as how to make a set of ice rescue claws.
The new year starts out with two supermoons in January. While the definition of a supermoon is when a new moon or full moon is closest to the earth only the full supermoon receives attention. We just had a supermoon in December and to me it seems like there should only be one supermoon in a year. But according to Richard Nolle’s definition any time a new or full moon comes within about 224,000 miles of our planet, as measured from the centers of the moon and Earth, it’s considered a supermoon. That means both the full moon on January 2nd and the full moon on January 31st will be supermoons. In addition to being a supermoon the full moon on January 31st will also be a blue moon because it’s the 2nd full moon of the same month.
Why all of this talk about the moon? When you live in a place with dark skies and unobstructed views of the sky you tend to pay attention to what’s up there. It’s quite the sight to see a big yellow ball as it rises over Lake Superior or emerges from behind a tree line. When there isn’t light pollution you notice how much light the moon actually produces. When there is snow on the ground the full moon illuminates the earth even more and it almost looks like daytime.
We’re so lucky to live in a place where we can see the wonders of the night sky. We would love for you to experience the beauty of a full moon with unobstructed views in a dark sky. Come stay with us at Voyageur and see the supermoons yourself.
I didn’t get a fat tire bike for Christmas this year but I did get one for my birthday! I’m super excited to hit the trails but I’m waiting for the temperature to warm up a little bit before heading out. The great thing about fat tire biking is there are tons of places to ride. Frozen lakes provide miles of riding opportunity and
Norpine Winter Race
there are a few winter fat tire trails to choose from too. Pincushion Mountain bike trails in Grand Marais and a portion of the Norpine cross-country ski trail adjacent to Highway 61 are open for winter riding. And for the competitive folks there’s the Norpine Fat Bike Classic on January 6th with a 16-mile route or a 24-mile route to choose from. Bring your bike or rent one and check out the fat bike riding this winter.
It’s like the thermometer won’t go below -31 degrees. I’m not complaining it’s just strange that it has been the low temperature for three days in a row. I think it will get above zero degrees today. The last time it was above zero was on the 24th. On the 25th the high temperature was -14 degrees, on the 26th it was -12 degrees and the 27th -6 degrees, we’re obviously on a warming trend. Current temperature at 10:34am is -5 degrees. Fingers are crossed beneath our mittens.
Forest fires have been making the headlines a lot lately. It’s difficult to ignore the impact forest fires have on communities and resources. Fire seasons are getting longer and fires are burning more intensely. It is obvious fire fighting costs are on the rise but what may not be obvious is the USFS is footing some of the bill. When the USFS spends more money on fire fighting than what they have allocated other areas of their budget suffer. This means other projects that need to be completed may not be able to get done. A longer fire season in California could result in the Superior National Forest not getting something they need.
According to a letter from the Isaac Walton League, “Over the past 20 years, the portion of the U.S. Forest Service budget dedicated to wildfire suppression grew from 16 percent to 52 percent. When that falls short in a given year, funding for local wildlife management, timber sales, recreation, and all other programs are diverted to firefighting, resulting in a lost benefit here in Minnesota and across the nation.”
There is a solution to the problem and it is called the Simpson’s and Wyden’s Wildfire Disaster Funding Act. The bill treats major catastrophic wildfires like natural disasters so the expense doesn’t come from the USFS budget. When the money comes directly out of the USFS budget there isn’t money left to be spent on trails, recreation, infrastructure and programming.
This bill sounds like a good thing to me. I’m sure you can find more information about it and I encourage you to do so. If it makes sense to you then I encourage you to reach out to your politicians and ask them to support the bill. Something positive needs to be done to protect all of the forests, not just the ones burning.