Thursday, November 5, 2009

More beavers

The beaver always amazes me with his relentless work ethic and ability to impact his surroundings.


Hiking last Sunday on the North Country Trail in the Chippewa National Forest west of Longville, MN, the transition from trail to wetland shown here reminds me that the seasons are also undergoing a transition; from fall to winter and from hiking season to hunting season. It's time for hikers to get out of the woods for a few weeks and let the deer hunters in. Good luck and be safe!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Map of the NCT in the Chippewa National Forest

This excellent map of the North Country Trail in the Chippewa National Forest was published by the Forest Service but is now out of print. I am on a mission to get people out on this trail. If you'd like an 11 x 17, 2 sided color paper copy send me your postal address and I will mail it out to you.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Update from Tom Moberg

Tom Moberg has some interesting information to share...quoting Tom below:

"Along with our friend Katie, my wife and I have started maintaining the 3 mile section between FR 2117 and the Soo Line Trail. northwest of Remer where you took several of these photos. Your "Water everywhere" photo shows what we are calling "Old Pine Lake", formerly and sadly called "NoName Lake" in a couple of trail guides. Although the lake isn't much, it has beautiful old red and white pines around it.. Mary and I camped at the campsite in your "Stay for the night" photo a couple of years ago when we hiked from the eastern dead-end of the trail to Highway 200 by Boy River. When there was an opportunity to adopt a trail section, the part including the campsite was the one we wanted. Last summer, Mary, Katie and I fixed up the campsite by putting in the fire ring, installing the wood box, fixing up the privy, clearing more tent pads, mowing, cutting brush, etc. It was an adventure getting everything to the camp site from the FR 2117 trail head. Katie built the wood box at home and hauled it in to the site on a big wagon. I used a wheelbarrow to haul the fire ring, a five gallon gas can, and a bunch of tools in to the site, while Mary drove a string mower.. Anyway, we're proud of that campsite, so I hope you have a chance to use it some day."

Thanks Tom!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Smokey Gold

Every October the tamaracks show off their smokey gold colors.

Abandoned logging railroads

The red and white pine of the Chippewa National Forest were first logged in the late 1800s, now known as the river era of logging. Logs were floated downriver to the sawmill. By the early 1900s these easily accessible pines were gone and railroads were built to haul logs out of the woods. This was a much more efficient and reliable method of transportation. Many miles of abandoned railroad grade lie hidden in the Chip, like the one shown here west of Longville, MN. It seems the wooden railroad ties were left in place here after the tracks were taken up. You can't really see them but you can feel the rippling under your feet as you walk.

Have I mentioned the tall pines?

I could go on and on about how much I enjoy the mature red pine encountered while hiking the North Country Trail in the Chippewa National Forest. Oh, wait maybe I have. Many of these stands of pine were planted by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) in the 1930s.


These toothy critters have a significant impact on the lands and waters where they live. The North Country Trail takes advantage of the earth and stick pathways created by beavers.

Woodtick Trail

Scenes from the North Country Trail in the Chippewa National Forest, off the Woodtick Trail near Longville, MN. I worked this scene for 30 minutes from several vantage points and zoom levels. No wonder it takes me all day to hike a few miles.

Blaze Orange

Fall is the best time of year to hike. Temps are cooler, bugs are gone, colors are out...speaking of which...Here my lovely wife Jean models the latest in chic woods wear. The Chippewa National Forest hosts many hunters during the fall hunting season. When you're out on the North Country Trail during small game hunting season, be sure to wear some blaze orange so that you can be easily seen by others. I DO NOT recommend hiking at all during the firearms deer season in November.

Hazel Lake

This is beautiful Hazel Lake in the Chippewa National Forest, on the North country Trail near Longville, MN. There is supposed to be a campsite around here somewhere but darned if I could find it!

Mossy rock

I really liked the look of this rock.

Stay for the night

Camping is permitted anywhere in the Chippewa National Forest. Rustic campsites are also available every so often along the North Country Trail. This campsite near Remer, MN has been lovingly tended and awaits your visit.

Water everywhere...

"Daylight in the swamp!" This was the lumberjack's call to get out of bed and into the woods. The Chippewa National Forest is loaded with water everywhere, but ironically water access to the backpacker can be tricky because much of the water is hard to get at to due to soft marshy shorelines. This lovely scene is north of Remer, MN.

No sense of urgency

This portly fellow seemed unconcerned with my presence. I suppose he knew if I got too close all he had to do was whack me up side the head with his tail and I would be in a world of hurt.

Subtle beauty at every turn

I spotted this wonderful scene while driving to a North Country Trail parking area in the Chippewa National Forest near Remer, MN. I just had to pull over to get the shot. The large red pines on the right remind me of exploding fireworks.

Bald Eagles

There are a great number of Bald Eagles in the Chippewa National Forest.

Trail Abuse

The North Country Trail in the Chippewa National Forest is attractive to ATV and dirt bike riders, even though it's posted for non motorized use only. I believe the key to preventing this abuse is for more hikers to get out on the trail and make our presence felt. Above, The nearly indestructible Carsonite posts that mark the North Country Trail are no match for a shotgun blast at close range.
Maybe one more boulder is needed to keep the macines off the trail at Milton Lake on the North Country Trail near Remer, MN.

Below, I stumbled onto 3 teens on dirt bikes who did this damage and politely asked them to stay off the hiking trail. Motorized recreation is a part of life today and I believe respectful engagement with the motorized crowd will go a long way towards keeping them off the trail.

Early Snow

After a blazing hot September, October was cool and damp. Then it snowed. I once read that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. It's true. I journeyed back to the monster red pines near Remer, MN for another perspective. I just couldn't decide which picture I liked best so posted them all!

How it all got started

Passing by an NCT trailhead and parking area years ago, I pulled in and saw a map like this one. This began a slow process that lead to my eventual adoption of a section of the trail for maintenance purposes.

Tall Pines

Red pines reach for the sky on the North Country Trail in the Chippewa National Forest near Remer, MN

Monster Red Pine

The Chippewa National Forest near Remer, MN is the home to a great many monster-sized red pine. The North Country Trail winds between them here and throughout the forest.

Willow River

The well groomed NCT passes by the Willow River near Remer, MN. The Willow is a tributary to the upper Mississippi River and was instrumental in the movement of logs in the river-era logging days of the late 1800's.

Holy Water

Holy Water lake is a couple of miles past the easterly dead end of the North Country Trail in the Chippewa National Forest and beyond the forest boundary. It is well worth the trip for it's sandy beach, excellent campsites and wildlife. The lake was named by surveyors hired by a Catholic priest in the late 1800's who thought he owned land that was actually at the bottom of the lake.

The dead end section

The NCT in the Chip dead ends at the eastern forest boundary, causing many to skip it. It's a beautiful piece of trail none the less and well worth the effort.

Wild Plums

The trail opens up the forest floor, allowing plant life to thrive. These beautiful and sweet wild plums caught my attention as I passed.

Sailor Lake

The NCT in the "Chip" is a beautiful trail that winds its way through the lakes and woods of northern Minnesota. Here we pass Sailor Lake on the far eastern edge of the forest.

The North Country Trail in the Chippewa National Forest

Hiking and taking pictures. That about says it all. That's what I really enjoy doing. When I get to choose what I'm going to do on any given day it often involves one or the other or both. Taking pictures that I like is great fun but sharing my photography with others makes it real. I hope you enjoy these pictures taken late summer and fall 2009 on the North Country Trail in the Chippewa National Forest of Minnesota.