Outdoors Posts

Video: Red Fox at Sunrise on Park Point

park-point-recreation-area-sunrise-red-foxRichard Hoeg captured video of this red fox at sunrise this morning on Park Point. “Twas neat to watch the fox do its morning grooming and occasionally play with some sticks,” he wrote on his 365 Days of Birds blog.

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Cascade River to Temperance River

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayThe second leg of my Superior Hiking Trail journey began Sept. 14, 2001, at Cascade River State Park. Two friends dropped me off that Friday night at a campsite in the dark, then immediately turned around and drove back to Duluth. My first job was to get out a flashlight and put up my tent.

The big clumsy contraption I slept in the previous year had now been replaced with a fancy Marmot model I could scrunch into a tight bundle, which would make hiking a bit easier. This tent has gone on to serve me well for 15 years and counting, but I wasn’t impressed the first time I set it up. Yes, I broke a tent pole before I ever slept in the thing. Perhaps setting it up for the first time in the dark led me to force things too much. Whatever the case, a single broken pole is not a big deal and did little to hamper my experience.

The next morning I was up early and on my way. Maybe an hour into the hike, a bit of morning mucus had built up and I did what anyone alone in the woods in such a situation would do: I pushed one finger against the side of my nose, turned my head and blew snot out the other nostril. It was at that moment I noticed a female hiker was right behind me, and this would be how we would get to know each other.

“Oh, good morning,” is probably what I said. She replied with a hello, or something like that, and kept on hiking at a rapid pace. I think I saw her again when she stopped for a snack and I passed her. Then she passed me again later. I don’t remember how many times this happened.

Manitou River Falls Minnesota North Shore

Here are some shots from the seldom seen Manitou River falls on Lake Superior near Highway 61. There are two main sets of falls between Highway 61 and the lake, the last set drops 40 to 50 feet directly into Lake Superior, making it one of only a few waterfalls that drop directly into Lake Superior.

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Swamp River to Cascade River

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayDigital cameras existed in the year 2000, but it wasn’t until about 2003 that using one became mainstream. I started my quest to complete the Superior Hiking Trail with a cheap 35mm pocket camera and a roll of black and white film … perfect for capturing lush fall colors. A grand total of four photos were taken during this five-day hiking trip.

By contrast, I have 35 photos and three videos from a five-minute window when I finished my hike in 2015. So the world has changed a bit. I worked for a newspaper then, I work for a website now. The World Trade Center buildings stood then, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum stands now. Time marches on at a faster pace than my hiking boots, apparently. My first trip covered nearly 60 miles of trail, however, and that’s not too shabby. Unfortunately, things slowed down after that.

On the sunny afternoon of Sept. 23, 2000, my friend Jeff and I drove the winding way of Highway 61 to Grand Portage. It’s not a place that is necessary or practical to go when seeking the start of the Superior Hiking Trail, but it’s a fun location to stop and look out over Lake Superior while there’s time to kill on the day before the adventure begins.

Floating Dead Rabbit

As seen in “Diving the Condos” video, I found a dead rabbit in a Lake Superior tidepool. Three days later, 200 yards away, I  stumbled upon what must have been the same rabbit, worse for wear…

Bull Moose Party at Lester Park


The Duluth News Tribune reports the Eckels family picnic at Lester Park today “included a visit from a bull moose that gave a few snorts and, at one point, passed within 20 feet of the group.”

Bull moose meanders through Lester Park

Canoe Paddle to the Cave with Jeff’s Crazy Dog

Waning days of summer, early September

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Preparations

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayAt some point in the 1990s, I started hearing about the Superior Hiking Trail, a new footpath designed for hikers to see the sexiest peaks and rivers in the wilderness along the North Shore of Lake Superior. It didn’t come up very often in conversation until the year 2000, which is when it began to annoy me that I had never hiked a speck of it — other than maybe wandering away from the waterfalls at Gooseberry and noticing markings that told me I was on the not-yet famous trail I’d been hearing about.

It was April 2000 when an upstart Duluth newspaper called the Ripsaw began publishing weekly and I stepped up to be its managing editor. The paper had a weekly “Adventure” article and I suddenly found myself around people who had taken on parts of the SHT and heard stories about a handful of souls who had through-hiked the whole thing, which at the time meant trekking from Two Harbors to the Canadian border.

There was a rumor going around that Dusty Olson ran the whole trail in two days, which I found almost but not quite believable. The notion that such a feat could be close to true at least led me to think I could do it in fewer than two weeks. Then I heard the first documented person to conquer the trail had a fused spine and partially paralyzed legs, and hiked with forearm crutches. That made it hard for me to make any excuse that I wasn’t physically up to the task.

Minnesota North Shore Fall Colors Report 2016

2016 MN Fall Colors Report

Chlorophyll production in tree leaves is slowing down and the fall colors are almost upon us. Here is the Department of Natural Resources’ fall color activity map, showing the progression across Minnesota.

Diving the Condos, Early September

Duluth has a stretch of Lakewalk with condos plopped down on it. I am used to diving farther up the shore a ways, but took the day to dive in front of the condos to see what was down there. This was early September, a weekend morning, the last truly great dive day of the summer: warm air, warm water, excellent visibility, and blue skies. I spent several hours in the water in a state of bliss. For a while there was the gentlest of currents and I just let it sweep me up the shore. As soon as I got out the weather turned — I had caught the last of these perfect conditions. This is my favorite form of recreation in this northernmost beach town. Here is what I saw. I wasn’t setting any depth records, average depth 10 feet or so but so fulfilling. Thanks for watching.

Reporting Burnt Out Streetlights in Duluth


Is there a website or phone number for Duluth where one can report burnt out street lights? There are three burnt out in a row on the eastern end of Pittsburg Avenue, making it very dark at night and I know of many more, too. Would it be through Minnesota Power or the city of Duluth itself?

Thank you.

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Introduction

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayThe yearning for adventure is a pretty common human trait, along with the practical good sense to not get into a situation you can’t handle. The old Scout Motto is “be prepared,” a creed intended to make one think practically and plan ahead for potential disaster. There’s a colorful expression for those who are not ready for life’s misfortunes; they find themselves “up Shit Creek without a paddle.”

Not wanting to drift helplessly in liquid feces, people often put off serious adventure and plan to check their dreams off a “Bucket List” at some point between the impractical now and the day before it becomes physically impossible. When a Bucket List goes as planned, it’s a beautiful thing. More often than not, of course, it ends up being a list of unfulfilled wishes. That’s generally preferable to premature death in pursuit of pretty scenery, so lament accordingly.

There are also those perfect people in the primes of their lives, dressing up in expensive wingsuits and gliding majestically down from the world’s most spectacular cliffs. Are they the sons and daughters of the obscenely wealthy or did they persuade a gear manufacturer to sponsor them? Maybe both. Don’t be jealous. You probably wouldn’t take that leap if you could. I know I wouldn’t.

Cthonic Bedrock and Devonian Boulders

Patrolling Lake Superior’s Cthonic bedrock formations and Devonian boulders. Basaltic rock is dried lava sheets that decay into shelves littered with boulders at the edges. That is what we see here. Max depth 20 feet give or take a couple. Water has been cloudy this year due to rain, but finally cleared up enough here at the end of the summer to get this footage at one of my fave freediving spots.

Dead Fish of the Northland

Video compilation of the dead fish I’ve seen.

Low Viz at the Ledges

The consistent rain this summer has made for a cloudy lake. Poor visibility obviates more adventuresome diving than this, so here I am in familiar territory, sticking close to shore in the crenulated shallows of the Ledges.