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Tag Archives: Grand Marais

The next morning there wasn’t much of a sunrise in Grand Marais so we headed up to High Falls in Grand Portage State Park. The Pigeon River acts as the border between Minnesota and Canada. Given the low water levels we had seen in the other rivers we assumed that the water flow would be relatively low. In fact it was the lowest I’ve seen it on any of my visits. Typically it is difficult to photograph the falls because of the heavy spray falling over the observation points. It is particular the case in the spring when there is generally a heavy water flow. On this day there was no spray at all. In talking with the ranger, later in the day, she said that it was a very early ice out this year and a low flow spring.

High Falls

High Falls

High Falls

High Falls



Our last stop of the day was in Grand Marais, Minnesota. After a quick dinner we headed down to the harbor for some late afternoon and sunset shots. The sunset was not the best and it was a little early for any boats in the harbor but it was still a nice evening. One thing we did notices is that the lake is really high and many of the shots we used to take on the walk out to the lighthouse are now covered in water.





I just received word that my landscape photo, Surfs Up, was awarded first place in the Northern Wilds Photo Contest. This photo was taken several years ago in early January. My wife and I drove up to Grand Marais, Minnesota to watch a sled dog race. As we neared Grand Marais we noticed large waves on the lake. When we reached Grand Marais we drove out to the harbor to watch the waves pound Artists Point and the Lighthouses. The wind was so strong that it was difficult to even stand-up to photograph the waves.

East Breakwater Light

East Breakwater Light

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

When I visit Grand Marais, Minnesota I always make it a point to visit Artists Point and the harbor area at sunrise. These are a few shots from my last visit.

Grand Marais Harbor

Grand Marais Harbor

Grand Marais lighthouses

Grand Marais lighthouses

Sunrise at Artists Point

Sunrise at Artists Point

On our trips to the Minnesota North Shore we usually plan to end our day in Grand Marais. This allows me to spend time in the evening photographing the Sunset. It was a cloudy day so there wasn’t much of a sunset but there was some nice light on the Coast Guard Station late in the day.

Coast Guard Station

Coast Guard Station

Grand Marais Harbor

Grand Marais Harbor

We drove up to Grand Marais Harbor last week. This is really a two day trip from Duluth if you want to stop along the way but we did it in one day. Normally we drive to Grand Marais and stay then drive up to the Canadian Border the next day before returning to Duluth. This gives us plenty of time to make stops along the way.Grand-Marais-Lighthouses-14-2-_1014

I had hoped to get some nice intimate ice photos on the rocks outside the breakwater but there was just too much ice this time. This was a shot taken several years ago.Ice-Patterns-Grand-Marais-Harbor-12-2-_0329

The walkway on the breakwater was solid ice so we walked on the frozen water part of the way out before giving up. A snow squall started while we were out on the breakwater and the wind was blowing.West-Breakwater-Light-Grand-Marais-Harbor14-3-_1371

When we left Grand Marais little did we realize that our adventure was just beginning. This is the time of year that the deer come out of the hills and gather along highway 61. A few years ago we counted several hundred between Grand Marais and Duluth. On the way up we only saw a few dead ones.Grand-Marais-Breakwater-14-3-_1364

Just out of Grand Marais we saw a car just ahead of us hit a deer. The driver was ok. The deer was still alive and the car was totaled. We saw where another car hit a deer a short time later. The driver was checking out the front of the car and the dead deer was a little ways behind the car.

Unfortunately deer weren’t the only problem. Highway 61 has passing lanes every so far and we had pulled into the right lane. As the lane ended we pulled back into the main lane. Just then we saw a herd of deer in the road so my wife started pumping her breaks to alert the car behind us. Rather than slowing down he sped up so he sped up and drove on the right shoulder to pass us. Fortunately he missed the deer.

Before we got back to Duluth we had one more exciting moment. We were going slower than normal because all of the problem along the road when a van passed us on the left and at the same time a car passed us on the right shoulder. We were very happy to make it back home.

Gichigami-Express-Dog-Sled-Race-2013-1-_2679As I noted in an earlier post one of the goals this winter is to attend some sled dog races. One of the first races of the season took place last weekend on the Minnesota North Shore. It was a staged race with the first stage starting at Grand Portage and ending at Hungry Jack Lodge. Day two was from Windigo Lodge to Devils Track Landing and the final stage from Grand Marais to Grand Portage. The final leg had to be rerouted because there is almost no snow in Grand Marais. The final leg started at Devils Track Landing.

Gichigami-Express-Dog-Sled-Race-2013-1-_0107 We weren’t sure we were going to take this race in but given the lack of snow for cross country skiing we decided to head up to Grand Marais to watch the first ever Gichigami Express Sled Dog Race. The plan was to drive to Grand Marais on Monday and watch the finish of the second stage of the race at Devils Track Landing. However, when we reached Grand Marais there were strong southeast winds creating huge waves along the coast. We decided to watch the waves instead. More about this in a future blog.

Gichigami-Express-Dog-Sled-Race-2013-1-_0102On Tuesday morning we decided to skip breakfast at the hotel and go down to Sven and Ole’s where the local Lions Club was having a pancake breakfast. We always try to support local events when we have the opportunity. Unfortunately it didn’t look like the breakfast was well attended but we had a great time talking to some friendly folks from Grand Marais. The pancakes were good particularly the blueberry pancakes.

 Gichigami-Express-Dog-Sled-Race-2013-1-_0014After Breakfast we headed out to Devils Track Landing to watch the start of the final stage of the race. When we arrived everyone was just starting to get organized for the day. I was surprised that things were so quiet. Usually at the start of the race the dogs are going nuts. We walked around taking photos of the various teams that would be participating in the race. Three of the teams were from Alaska. As soon as the first dog was put into its harness bedlam broke out. The dogs knew that the race was going to start and they were really excited to get started.

 Gichigami-Express-Dog-Sled-Race-2013-1-_0129Just before the start of the race one of the race officials came by and asked if we were spectators (as opposed to mushers and helpers) and if we were would we be willing to go out onto the lake and forma a line so the dogs would know which way to go. The start of the race was the top of a boat landing heading down to Devils Track Lake and then out onto the lake. Normally they have hay bales set along the start to get the dogs going in the right direction but maybe because of the change in the starting location they didn’t have them on hand. At any rate my wife and I headed out to the lake to help form a line.

 Gichigami-Express-Dog-Sled-Race-2013-1-_0173The line worked fairly well for the first part of the race but then people started gathering in groups to talk and as one racer came down the boat ramp there was too big a gap in the line and the dogs dashed through the gap and headed the wrong direction. The musher quickly got them under control and headed off in the right direction.

Gichigami-Express-Dog-Sled-Race-2013-1-_0134 We watched most of the race from the lake. It was a cold morning, about 15 degrees when we reached the race area. There were lots of ice crystals in the air out on the lake.

Gichigami-Express-Dog-Sled-Race-2013-1-_0219 Toward the end of the race we walked back up to the starting gate to get some photos of teams at the starting gate and the teams being brought to the starting gate. It was interesting watching them bring teams to the gate. It takes quite a few people to get a dog sled team to a starting gate. About 5-9 people were helping with each team. Some teams required more help than others.

Gichigami-Express-Dog-Sled-Race-2013-1-_0196 This was the first time I had seen the use of four wheelers and snowmobiles to help get the dogs to the starting gate. They attached a tow rope from the sled to the snowmobile. This prevented the dogs from just taking off and probably reduced the number of people required to get a team to the starting gate.

 Gichigami-Express-Dog-Sled-Race-2013-1-_0179At the starting gate they had a heavy chain across the snow. It was held in place by pickup trucks that were parked on each end on the chain. The chain was used to anchor the sled once it was at the gate. Each sled carries an anchor that can be used to prevent the dogs from taking off before the start time. Someone stands on the anchor until just before the team starts.

 You can find more photos from the race on my website. There are also some great action photos from the race course on the Gichigami Express website.

This past weekend we took a road trip to the Minnesota’s North Shore. We didn’t know what to expect because a major storm had moved through the Northern Wisconsin earlier in the week. Duluth was supposed to receive a major blizzard but it turned out the storm track moved south at the last minute and on the farm we received over 15 inches of heavy wet snow. As we neared Superior we found they had not received any snow. In fact most of the snow was gone from the ground.

Amnicon Falls

Our first two stops were in Wisconsin. Anytime we head for the North Shore we always stop at Amnicon Falls State Park. This was my first visit to the park when the snow and ice were starting to melt so I was able to capture some photos that were not already in my portfolio.

Wisconsin Point Lighthouse

The second stop is usually Wisconsin Point Lighthouse. There was some ice in the harbor entrance and the ice along the shore was piled so high that it was difficult to see the Lighthouse. The recent storm had pushed the ice onto shore.

Two Harbors Lighthouse

That evening we stopped at Two Harbors for a fine dining experience at the Black Woods Bar and Grill. I had hoped to get some nice sunset and sunrise photos but conditions were not all that good. I managed a few photos of the lighthouse and some of the ice hanging on the railings on the breakwater.

Gooseberry Falls

Icy Steps Gooseberry Falls

The next morning we drove up to Gooseberry Falls State Park. I really didn’t expect to find much water running since it had been cold but there was enough running to start the spring breakup of the ice. Again I had never been at Gooseberry when the ice was starting to break up so it offered a different photographic experience. As you can see from the photo on the left the walking conditions are not the best this time of year. We wore traction devices on our boots.

Ice Formation Tettegouche State Park

After Gooseberry we headed on up to Tettegouche State Park. We basically stopped at this park to use the facilities but things quickly changed when we discovered that the storm that passed through earlier in the week created some surreal ice sculptures. I described this stop in the previous post.

Ice Patterns

After spending most of the day at Tettegouche we headed up to Grand Marais to rest up after a difficult day of bushwhacking around Tettegouche looking at the ice formations. We did take a little time to take some photos around the harbor. The day had been warm so what would have been interesting ice patterns among the rocks was just water trapped among the rocks. I concluded that it would be much more interesting after a cold night. We headed off to a great dinner at My Sisters Place and then called it a day.

Ice Patterns

On Sunday morning we again went out to the harbor for some photography and to look at the ice formations. As I anticipated they were much more interesting after the water trapped in the rocks had a chance to freeze.

White-tailed Deer

This is defensive driving  season on the North Shore. On the drive from Two Harbors to Grand Marais we saw well over 100 white-tailed deer along the road. We had to stop 5 times to let them cross the road. The highway is along a south facing slope which is the first area to see snow melt and uncovered grass. The deer seem to gravitate to the area in the early spring. Of course we saw a large number of dead deer along the road. This also attracted crows and bald eagles. We saw at least 15 eagles along the road.

We then headed home with a stop at Betty’s Pies, just outside Two Harbors, for lunch.