Outdoors Posts

PDD Geoguessr #20: Twin Ports Area Beaches

Park Point in the summer. (Photo by Matthew James)

With the official start of summer upon us, any upcoming day has at least the potential of becoming a beach day. But where to go? Park Point is always an option but are there more interesting alternatives?

PDD Quiz: Superior Hiking Trail

A sign for the Superior Hiking Trail at Temperance River State Park on the North Shore of Lake Superior, Minnesota.

Lace up your boots and pack your GORP for this week’s PDD quiz about the Superior Hiking Trail!

The next PDD quiz, coming your way on June 30, will review the news that made headlines this month. Please submit question suggestions to Alison Moffat at [email protected] by June 25.

Mark’s Great Duluth Alley Rally Urban Mountain Biking Route

Duluth has become known for it’s mountain biking trails in recent years, and for decades the paved Munger Trail has been a favorite of those with road bikes. But what about the unofficial street routes created just for the sake of being weird? Well, Perfect Duluth Day’s own Mark Nicklawske has established a route through the Endion, Chester Park and Congdon Park area that “climbs and plummets more than 1,300 feet in about 10 miles” according to a review on Medium by Nicklawske’s friend Keith Uhlig of Wausaw.

Video: A mountain lion in northern Minnesota

This video of a mountain lion just south of Voyageurs National Park was captured on April 16. The trail-camera footage is from the Voyageurs Wolf Project, which is focused on understanding the summer ecology of wolves in the park. This is the third video of a mountain lion the project’s cameras have captured in the past three years. All three animals seemed to be wandering through and were only caught on camera once before they appeared to leave the area.

Selective Focus: A Late Spring Aurora Borealis

Northern Lights on the shore of Lake Superior at Glensheen Mansion. (Photo by Mike Mayou)

A startlingly strong Northern Lights show was visible across the United States this weekend, viewable from even the Florida Keys. Instagram is brimming with spectacular shots from in and around Duluth thanks to this solar storm.

PDD Quiz: Twin Ports in Bloom

Stop and smell the roses with this week’s garden (and garden-adjacent) PDD quiz!

The next PDD quiz will review May 2024 headlines and will be published on May 26. Submit question ideas to Alison Moffat at [email protected] by May 22.

Lake Superior’s Warming Waters

Lots of Duluth up in here.

The Slice: Pelicans!

Every spring pelicans flock to Chambers Grove Park in Duluth’s Fond du Lac neighborhood.

In its series The Slice, PBS North presents short “slices of life” that capture the events and experiences that bring people together and speak to what it means to live up north.

North Country Trail in Wisconsin: Backtracking

Seven years ago I began a quest to hike the North Country Trail across Wisconsin. Similar to my 20-year process of completing the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota, things are going slowly on the Sconnie side as well. In 2022 I completed just nine miles.

Despite my established reputation for tortoise-like hiking, I was determined to have a big year in 2023. Then I got busy with other things and ended up with exactly zero miles of NCT hiked that year.

I’ve already got one 2024 trek under my boots, but it kind of doesn’t count in terms of mileage. Which is why this chapter is titled “Backtracking.”

My only hike in 2022 began off Highway 53 on Holly Lucius Road, just south of Solon Springs. The previous chapter of my essay series concluded with a mistaken stroll on Highway 53, so I started my next hike by covering the path I should have taken at the end of my hike the year before. It wasn’t really backtracking, because I hadn’t walked this route yet, but it was a pause in my progression since it meant I would be arriving at Lucius Woods County Park for the second time.

The Moss-covered Log: A Wildlife Hotspot

An old, moss-covered log in Voyageurs National Park was a popular item last fall. The allure of the log caused some bears to temporarily lose their minds and the log paid the price for it. The wolves and some other forest critters were not too far behind the bears.

This trail-camera footage is from the Voyageurs Wolf Project, which is focused on understanding the summer ecology of wolves in the park.

Wolves and Other Wildlife on the Mithrandir Trail

The Mithrandir Pack of wolves is the primary traveler seen on this trail camera footage from Voyageurs National Park, shot last summer and fall, but an array of other critters also pop in.

The Lost Coast and the Ghost Choir of Mount Shasta

My one unexplained “paranormal” encounter happened on a trip to the so-called Lost Coast of Northern California. I camped there the summer of 1994 with my girlfriend Mary, in one of our relationship’s great death spasms. Near the end of this expedition, I heard the singing of a ghostly choir in the woods around Mount Shasta. It was singing Mary said she couldn’t hear.

This vacation was important to us. Austin transplants, we’d been cooped up at retail jobs in the Berkeley-Oakland sprawl for a year. We hadn’t explored the wilds of California like it really deserved. So when she caught wind of the Lost Coast, we arranged a matching week off to go find it.

We drove north from the Bay Area in her white Chrysler minivan. We were listening to a mixtape of J.J. Cale, perfect road music with his driving early drum machine sound: “They call me the breeze, I keep blowing down the road.” We also had some Jerry Garcia Band, which we’d been seeing at the Warfield during its unofficial residency. And, we were still coming to terms with Kurt Cobain’s suicide a couple months prior, three days before my 25th birthday. His widow’s album Live Through This was released within days and we were listening to that too. We couldn’t believe she recorded the line “Someday you will ache like I ache” months before he died. Now that line screamed across the radio like live anguish. So those were the vibes.

The Slice: Amnicon Falls

Amnicon Falls State Park, located about 20 miles southeast of Downtown Duluth, is known for its upper and lower waterfalls, carved through dark basalt and Lake Superior sandstone.

In its series The Slice, PBS North presents short “slices of life” that capture the events and experiences that bring people together and speak to what it means to live up north.

Northwoods Creatures in Wild Remote Country

This latest montage from Voyageurs National Park shows critters over a 1.5-month period this past spring.

The camera was set up by the Voyageurs Wolf Project, which is focused on understanding the summer ecology of wolves in the park. But the otters kind of steal the show in this video.

Summer Vignettes of Minnesota Wildlife

This montage of trail camera footage from Voyageurs National Park includes a bobcat and her kittens, a black bear, a deer, a coyote and several moose.

The camera was set up by the Voyageurs Wolf Project, which is focused on understanding the summer ecology of wolves in the park. This particular camera has been removed because the area is kind of swampy and there were no wolves traveling on the trail all summer.