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Outdoors Posts

Video: Duluth Great Horned Owl Twins

Duluth birder Richard Hoeg captured this video of twin great horned owls in the Lester Park area. On his 365 Days of Birds blog, Hoeg named the parent owls Les and Amy, after Lester River and Amity Creek. Hoeg wrote that the happy owl couple started dating last fall and would often sing back and forth, sometimes in his yard. “Over the course of the winter the relationship grew stronger,” according to Hoeg, “and the couple cemented the bond in early March!”

North Country Trail in Wisconsin: Crossing the Border

This is the third chapter in my quest to hike the North Country Trail across Wisconsin, but logistically it probably should be the first. As I’ve explained in previous chapters, the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota and the North Country Trail in Wisconsin aren’t properly connected yet at the border. The best thing a purist can do to fill the gap is hike on Minnesota State Highway 23 and a pair of county roads to get to a trailhead. So that’s what I did. Because I’m an annoying purist. Sort of.

It’s not so much that I’m determined to be annoying and pure. There are basically three reasons I wanted to hike on the roadways. 1) I know from experience that having a somewhat methodical goal inspires me to stay active. 2) If the pieces don’t all connect, it’s easy to lose track of where I’m at in the process, thereby thwarting reason #1. 3) Hiking on a trail in May is less fun anyway because of mud and ticks, so roads might be the best option anyway. (And if I were a true purist I’d strap on a backpack and hike across the whole state in a few days instead of breaking it up into numerous easy hikes.)

With all that in mind I parked my car on the side of Highway 23 near the Wild Valley Road sign and set out to connect my Superior Hiking Trail adventures to my fall 2018 North Country Trail hike at Nemadji River Valley.

PDD Quiz: Parks of Duluth

Now that spring has (maybe) sprung, Duluth’s many parks and green spaces are beckoning. Take this week’s quiz to learn more about parks located in neighborhoods from Central Hillside to Congdon Park. While an earlier PDD quiz explored parks on the western side of town, it’s no longer available because the platform supporting the quiz changed, so we’ll revisit western parks and other neighborhood parks in future PDD quizzes.

Duluth’s Historical Parks: Their First 160 Years, by Tony Dierckins and Nancy S. Nelson, was an invaluable resource for this quiz (as was Dierckins’ Zenith City Online).

The next quiz, reviewing current events, will be published on May 26. Please email question suggestions to Alison Moffat at [email protected] by May 23.

Shooting with Sparky: Greater Prairie Chickens

Mark “Sparky” Stensaas visits Tympanuchus Wildlife Management Area, about 230 miles west of Duluth, observing greater prairie chickens for his blog, the Photonaturalist.

A People’s History of the People’s Free Skate

Hear the totally true story of the People’s Free Skate Rink from its creators: Lake Superior Aquaman and Robot Rickshaw interviewed by Ryan Welles on his podcast “True Stories and Other Damage.” Featuring the genesis of it, all the behind the scenes information, anecdotes, and a few extravagant claims, finishing up with the harrowing account of our iceberg ride.

The fir has fallen! Storm claims large tree

Before.

After.

First Tick of the Year: 2019 Edition

 

It’s a bit of a tradition on Perfect Duluth Day to note the discovery of the first tick of the season. PDD’s tech director, Cory Fechner, supplied the video above of a wood tick he discovered today in far western Minnesota. We should be hearing soon about the first Duluth tick of the season.

Some years they show up as early as March. And sometimes they stick around into October. Mostly it’s a May/June problem.

Shooting with Sparky: Canada Lynx Jinx Broken

Sparky Stensaas had a rare Canada Lynx encounter in the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota on March 21.

“As I came over a rise, there it was,” Stensaas wrote on his blog, the Photonaturalist. “It saw me and bounded off the road and into the 3-foot deep snow. I stayed put thinking that it might come my way via the pine woods. And after a few tense minutes of me second-guessing my intuition, it did!”

Annual reminder: Stay off muddy trails in spring

Duluth’s Parks and Recreation Division has put forth its annual reminder that all natural-surface trails are closed until further notice due to wet soil conditions from the annual spring thaw.

So, where should people hike in April?

Iceberg Ride


 

Robot Rickshaw and I sailed into our imagination on an iceberg, a doomed expedition worthy of Shackleton. Do not attempt. We selected a vessel and set sail from the Lakewalk around the Va Bene area. The wind was at our backs as we navigated down the shore past Fitger’s, where we disembarked just as our vessel began losing seaworthiness. We had sailed approximately 500 feet. However the real journey was into the depths of the human heart. Do we in fact have missing time as we suppose? Did we sail into a mist and live on the Isle of Avalon for untold years, before charting a course back to our day-to-day lives?

Underwater views of ice sheet breaking up

 

Game Changer: A Watershed Moment

Duluth-based Blue Forest Films produced this short feature about Alyssa Nelson’s transition from UMD Bulldogs athletics to fly fishing and nature education. Game Changer was screened last weekend during the Great Water Fly Fishing Expo at Hamline University in St. Paul.

Another Blue Forest Films production, Bigotry to Brook Trout, screens on Friday in Duluth during the Watershed Arts & Film Fest.

Tons of People’s Free Skate Rink Freakout Footage

Video by Lane R. Ellis

Going out today to rebuild the rink

This week will be cold but relatively free of precipitation, so any rinkspace recovered will likely survive a few days. It looks like a blasted moonscape out there right now, but a couple hours of shoveling will uncover the byways of our lost civilization, that culture of pure leisure we established whose spirit survives.

Lost in the Woods

Under cozy plush sheets and a thick comforter, I wait for heat from a newly lit fire to reach me. Chilly mornings in Lakewood Township, and by chilly I mean winter cold, have a different meaning to me than to most. I didn’t realize how accustomed I had become to this way of life until a visitor asked why I get ready for bed with a light winter hat nearby. I show my guests how to start and feed the fire. I tell them the alternative to rising from their warm cocoon is to simply yell through the blanket, “My head is cold,” and I will resolve the situation.

Mornings aren’t tough here. There are no winter boots that get put on to tend to livestock or sled dogs. I do not crawl into a chicken coop to gather breakfast. There is running water, but I don’t drink it. Instead I fetch water from the natural spring off Highway 35 and Midway Road. There is electricity, but no Wi-Fi or television. Life here is a little, alternative, I shall say. Alternative in a slightly archaic fashion, but by no means, difficult. I only notice my gradual slip into this alternativeness when I open the door to the outside world and along with it comes a want for “normalcy” that has become unfamiliar to me.