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Monthly Archives: January 2013

This past week I made several trips to Devil’s Punchbowl near Menomonie, Wisconsin. The ice in the bowl is the best I’ve seen in several years. On both trips I spent time photographing object encased in the ice both on the ice wall and the ice flows down the side of the bowl.





This past weekend we were driving through Superior, Wisconsin when we noticed a hockey tournament taking place in front of the Fairlawn Mansion. We decided to drive down to Barkers Island for a closer look. It turns out that the Great Lakes Classic Pond Hockey Tournament was taking Place all weekend.

Great-Lakes-Classic-Pond-Hockey-Tournament-13-1-_2109When we arrived it was just about noon and the youth hockey had just taken place. The tournament was at a noon break and folks were standing around the nice fire they had going. A young kid was running back and forth from the woodpile to the fire with small sticks. Several hours later he was still feeding the fire. We looked around and then decided to run some errands and return for the afternoon games.

Great-Lakes-Classic-Pond-Hockey-Tournament-13-1-_2122 The afternoon games were being played by the big kids and big kids like to drink beer so there was plenty of that flowing. Crazy Frank (orange cap) seemed to be everywhere. I’m not sure if he had a role or was just one of the local characters that show up at events.

Great-Lakes-Classic-Pond-Hockey-Tournament-13-1-_2129 As I mention the Fairlawn Mansion provided a backdrop for the tournament.


Great-Lakes-Classic-Pond-Hockey-Tournament-13-1-_2131The action was fast and furious. The older kids were playing for keeps.


Great-Lakes-Classic-Pond-Hockey-Tournament-13-1-_2158This young skater was practicing on one of the unused rinks when I stopped to take his picture. As soon as he saw me he stopped and posed for a photo.

 More photos from the event can be found on my website.



A few weeks ago we had a bright sunny day in Duluth so we decided to take a walk along the beach at Park Point. The closest access to the beach is from the south end of the Aerial Lift Bridge and goes for about 7 miles until you reach the Superior Harbor Entrance and Wisconsin Point Light House.

It was a cold winter day with some nice waves on the beach. The beach close to the water was covered in ice but most of the rest of the beach was frozen and covered with a little snow. It made for some easy walking when compared to the soft sand found in the summer.


All along the beach we found structures built in the sand. Some were more elaborate than others. I recognized a few of them from our hike on the beach last summer.


We also ran across a boat propped up along the shore. I has seen it last fall when we were hiking but didn’t realize it was going to be stored on the beach all winter.


We also found a small section of the beach covered with small pieces of ice buried in the sand. As the light changed later in the day it created some nice color on the ice.


As we were returning from out hike we encountered a surprising number of people out walking on the beach. Many were walking their dogs. It seems to be a popular place to walk dogs in Duluth. Others were just out enjoying the day.


I was rummaging through a drawer the other day and ran across a little packet of materials from the United States Ski Association. Back in the 1970’s the USSA and Kodak established a physical fitness program called Medals for Miles. The essence of the program was that you would record your miles skied, during the winter,  in a logbook and then at the end of the ski season submit the logbook to the USSA and receive an award. The award was a piece of paper and a pin or a patch.

Swedetown Ski Trails

Swedetown Ski Trails

 If you listen to the news these days it seems the only motivating factor in life is greed. I happened to be one of those folks that was always motivated by the challenge whether it be at work or sports. The thought of getting a pin or patch for skiing 150 -1000 miles really excited me.

Miljes Ski Trails

Miljes Ski Trails

 According to Kodak there were about a million cross country skiers in the 1970’s. Unfortunately there were not a lot of established ski trails, at least in our area. I happened to live on a farm so I created my own trail that ran for .7 of a mile out through the fields. Just about every night when I came home I would strap on the skis and ski around my little trail. It was usually dark by the time I made it home from work so I had to use a head lamp. In those days it was connected to a heavy 6 volt battery. I would try and ski about 10 miles every evening. The neighbors probably thought I was nuts.

Swedetown Ski Trails

Swedetown Ski Trails

 On weekends I would ski across fields, on golf courses, snowmobile trails and a few formal trails such as Telemark near Cable, Wisconsin. On each trip I tried to keep track of the miles I skied. It looks like I participated in this activity for about six years. I have several pins for 150 miles, one for 300 and another for 500 miles. There is also a patch for 750 miles and one for 1,000 miles.

Swedetown Ski Trails

Swedetown Ski Trails

 The number of miles skied was dependent upon the winter and the amount of snow we received. About the only year that I remember was the year I skied a 1,000 miles. We had an early snowfall and it stayed most of the winter. That was the year that my girlfriend (later my wife) and I went on an all day ski trip when it was 20 degrees below zero. All I could think of during the day was getting back to Hayward, Wisconsin and having a milk shake. My girlfriend later admitted that she couldn’t feel her feet half way through the day. By mid-march I was near the 1,000 mile mark but most of the snow was gone on the farm. I still had about 20 miles to go. My girlfriend and I drove up to Telemark for one last attempt to complete the 1000 miles. It was really a miserable day. It was warm and I was down to using Klister in order to ski. By the end of the day I was exhausted but had the necessary miles.

Frost - Red Cedar State Trail

Frost – Red Cedar State Trail

 When I mentioned, to my wife, that I had found the metals she reminded me that I had convinced her to participate in the program as well.

ABR Ski Trails

ABR Ski Trails

It’s been cold around here. On Tuesday it was -15 degrees but today it was a relatively balmy 10 ten degrees. Earlier in the week my wife and I were trying to decide which day to take off and go for a hike. Since the warmest day of the week was going to be Wednesday we decided to try and fit in a hike.

 Most of the hiking areas around home are ski trails in the winter and are closed to hiking so we decided to drive up the Chippewa Moraine Segment of the Ice Age Trail. Its located just north of Bloomer, Wisconsin. It had snowed a little overnight and the roads were a little slick on the drive up.


As we drove up to the visitors center we noticed quite a few cars in the parking lot. This was a little surprising since it was so cold out. Along the road a bunch of kids were playing in the snow. When we went into the visitors center it was packed with kids all working of a project to see who could find the most things listed on a list they had been given. We talked to the ranger a bit and he said that students usually come if the temperatures are above zero. We are a hardy bunch in Wisconsin.


It was supposed to be cloudy in the morning but when we reached the visitors center it was a beautiful crisp sunny day. There was not a lot of snow on the trails and we figured they might be icy so we both wore ice grippers on our feet. Turns out that the week before all of the trails were glare ice but a light snow and some thawing provided good traction. However, if you are considering hiking in this area ice grippers are a good investment.


It was supposed to be sunny in the afternoon but by the time we were half way around the 4.5 mile loop it had clouded up and started to snow. The wind picked up making the wind-chill around -2 degrees. Nevertheless it was a great day to be out hiking and getting some exercise.


My wife and I happened to be in Duluth during the last week of the shipping season on Lake Superior. There were still a few ships out on the lake. I had been down to Canal Park earlier in the morning to photograph the sunrise but there was no ship activity. When I returned to the condo I checked the AIS/Marine Information from Thunder Bay and notice a ship heading toward Duluth.


The ship was the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin. It was still quite a ways out in the lake so I kept an eye on its progress. As it approached Duluth my wife and I walked down to watch the ship enter the harbor.

Paul J. Martin 2013-1-_0758

When we arrived at the entrance to the harbor the Martin was still a ways out in the lake. It was a sunny but cold day but we decided to wait until it came through the shipping canal. I was hoping to catch a photo of a ship covered with ice but the weather had been so warm that there was no ice to be found in the ship or in the harbor.


We watched it go under the Aerial Lift Bridge and turn make the left hand turn towards its destination dock. 


Shipping usually ends in mid January when the  close the Soo Locks close. The official start of the shipping season will start on March 25th when the Soo Locks reopen although intra-lake shipping can begin before the Soo Locks open. In 1979 the shipping season remained open all season when ice breakers were used to keep the shipping lanes open. This was just a test to see if it could be done. It was successful but at a high cost to keep the lanes free of ice. With the warm weather of recent years Lake Superior has not frozen solid and consideration is being given to extending the shipping season.

I haven’t been able to photograph my Pileated Woodpecker for a while. He’s been around but I haven’t had my cameras setup at the right time. One day he was at my Suet feeder when a Hairy Woodpecker also showed up. It was fun watching them chase one another. One would get on the feeder and the other would be sitting a short distance away. Then the other would take over the feeder. Unfortunately no camera was setup. On a snowy day I did have my camera setup when the Pileated turned up.




Ok they really aren’t breaking ice but it was sure fun watching these Mallard Ducks navigate around the ice in Lake Superior. They were working hard to get around and over the ice near the shipping canal.




I love photographing birds on a snowy day. They seem more intent on eating at my feeder and less worried about someone being around. The only problems is that I’m usually photographing in low light conditions. Here are a few photographs from the last snow storm.

Northern Cardinal male

Northern Cardinal male

Pileated Woodpecker male

Pileated Woodpecker male

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

On a recent trip to the Minnesota North Shore I decided to drive up to the Canadian Border and check out conditions at High Falls in Grand Portage State Park. I’ve been to the park in all of the other seasons but never in the winter. It happened to be one of those days when things weren’t going right. When I left home I had forgotten my tripod. On the walk to the Falls I remembered that the camera I intended to use was back in the car. I did have a camera with a wide angle lens so I used it to take a few photos. Fortunately I wasn’t too disappointed because there was not a lot to see at the falls. I would have expected considerably more ice but with the drought the water flow is much lower than normal.  As the ranger said someone turned off the spigot upstream.