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Tag Archives: Minnesota

We met up with a friend in Duluth before heading up the North Shore to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. Our goal was to hike the five mile Split Rock River Loop Trail. When we arrived at the trailhead the trail looked to be in good shape. We debated taking our ice grippers and finally decided to take them along. Good thing we did because we we encountered ice on the trail at we crested the first hill. If we didn’t have the ice grippers we would not have been able to make the hike because the trail was very icy and steep. In some places a slip would have meant a long slide down the gorge into the River.

Split Rock falls was still iced up with just a little water flowing at the bottom of the falls.

We crossed over a small stream and made our way over the the main section of the Split Rock River. The River was still mainly ice but water was flowing in some places.

In a few places the rushing water was producing foam formations one of which looked like a volcano.

As we started the hike we noticed a sign indicating that the foot bridge over the Split Rock River was closed. Last spring when we hiked this trail the bridge looked like it wasn’t safe but we still used it. It looked like the park service had cut the bridge down because only the footings on either side of the river were still standing. We walked down the river a short distance before finding a snow bridge over the river. You can see a portion of the bridge in the background.

We were happy to make it over the river because returning on the same trail would have been difficult because of the ice conditions. There were still some icy conditions on the trail but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the hike up.

As we emerged from the forest we had a great view of Lake Superior. The wind was blowing at about 25 miles an hour out of the East and there were some nice waves hitting the shore. We decided to drive over to the Split Rock Lighthouse and check out the waves.

It had been a number of years since we last visited the Vince Schute Wildlife Sanctuary so we decided to make a return trip. The Sanctuary got its start back in the 40’s as a logging camp. Bears kept breaking into the cook shack searching for food. For a number of years the loggers shot the bears. One day Vince Schute decided there might be a better way to solve the problem so he tried feeding them. It was so successful that what started out as one bear on the dole turned into close to a hundred. By the time Vince died friends were helping him feed the bears. Today it is a coordinated effort of many volunteers. A Raised observation platform was build to protect the bears from the tourists. Volunteers are on hand to explain bear behavior and talk about the bears who visit the sanctuary. Most of them have names and a history with the Sanctuary. If you have never visited Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary it is something you should put on your bucket list. Our visits have been the last two weeks in August and we have been fortunate to see many bears.


These two were probably yearlings. They were in a tree right next to the viewing platform during the entire time we were there. They were either playing or sleeping during the evening. The last photo answers the age old question “Do bears s**** in the woods?”





During this visit there were probably 50 bears in the area. It was a hot night so they were not as active as our last visit. Staff walk among the bears feeding them a combination of nuts, grains and honey. We were asked not to photograph the individuals doing the feeding. Feed is placed on rocks, stumps and in troughs made out of logs. Notice that the bears can be a little protective of their food. The last photo is of a bear that was full and decided to take a break.









This yearling was having his problems. Every time he heard another bear huff he would race up the tree. When the perceived danger left the area he would come down only to race up the tree when the next bear came along. It didn’t help that there was a feeding station at the bottom of the tree. The third picture shows why he didn’t want to come down the tree. Finally at end of the evening he was able to have a little dinner all to himself.





On this visit we saw about 15 cubs most of them in trees.  This was one of the smallest cubs we saw on our visit and was born this spring. He had climbed higher into the trees than the other cubs and was a crowd favorite. While we were watching he climbed way up into the tree. The last photo shows a small cub on the ground with its mother. This one was probably also born this spring. We were told that late in the evening the cubs would come down out of the trees.





This bear was the only one tagged and collared. He was part of an ongoing research project being conducted by the Minnesota DNR. The ear tags were supposed to protect him from hunters. Hunting is allowed in the area but is discouraged on ethical grounds because the bears in the area are used to being around people.


On a recent trip up the North Shore to Split Rock Lighthouse we stopped in Two Harbors to see if there were any ships in the harbor. As it turned out the Tug Donald L. Billmaier and Crane Barge Howard J. Schwartz were just coming into the harbor. The Billmaier is an Army Corps Of Engineers tug. It along with a smaller tug were bringing the crane barge and several barges loaded with rocks to Two Harbors. It looked like they were going to be repairing the breakwater. We watch for a while then continued on to Split Rock.

Tug Donald L. Billmaier and Crane Barge Howard J. Schwartz

Tug Donald L. Billmaier and Crane Barge Howard J. Schwartz

Tug Donald L -Billmaier

Tug Donald L -Billmaier

Tug- Hammond Bay and Tug-Donald L. Billmaier

Tug Hammond Bay and Tug Donald L. Billmaier

The next day we returned to Two Harbors hoping to see the Howard J. Schwartz in action. Unfortunately the crane and the two tugs were docked in the inner harbor. However, there were two ships loading taconite. We watched for a while before heading to Gooseberry Falls for some hiking.

Tugs-Donald-L. Billmaier and Hammond Bay with Crane Barge Howard J. Schwartz

Tugs-Donald-L. Billmaier and Hammond Bay with Crane Barge Howard J. Schwartz

Spruceglen and Philip R. Clarke

Spruceglen and Philip R. Clarke

When we returned later in the day we found the Philip R. Clarke just pulling away from the loading docks before heading out on its Journey through the locks and down to Gary, Indiana.

Philip R. Clarke-

Philip R. Clarke

I happened to be in Duluth, Minnesota during the last Blue Moon so I walked down to Canal Park to take some photos of it rising over Lake Superior. It was a beautiful night and people were walking along the breakwaters. Quite a few of them were surprised when the moon came up over the lake.




A few photographs of the sunrise shot from Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota.

North Breakwater Light Duluth Minnesota

North Breakwater Light Duluth Minnesota

North Breakwater Light Duluth Minnesota

North Breakwater Light Duluth Minnesota

Waterfront Plaza Marina Duluth Minnesota

Waterfront Plaza Marina Duluth Minnesota

Duluth, Minnesota has some great firework and in an beautiful setting. If you are in the area this 4th of July try and take them in.

My first year of watching the Duluth Fireworks was from our balcony on Michigan Street. All of the shots were close-ups of the explosions.


The second year we walked down to the North Breakwater and photographed them with the Lift Bridge in the background.


Last year we walked down to Leif Erickson Park and watched them from the shoreline of Lake Superior.


More Duluth fireworks photos can be found on my website.

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.





After hiking around the beach at the Lighthouse and a hike to Split Rock Falls we noticed a number of cars parked at the parking lot at the Split Rock River. Since we hadn’t seen anyone on our hike to the falls we decided to walk down to the lake and see what was going on. Turns out there were a number of people fishing for Rainbow Trout. I was more interested in the pilings at the mouth of the Split Rock River.





When we arrived we hiked out to the Beach to Photograph the Lighthouse .


After photographing the Lighthouse we walked along the beach looking at the ice formations.


After walking the beach we drove down the the Split Rock River Parking lot and hiked to Split Rock Falls. For some reason we remembered that it was a long hike but it turned out to be only a mile round trip.


We hadn’t stopped at Gooseberry Falls for a while so we decided to walk around and check out the frozen Waterfalls. For the most part they were not all that interesting this winter. After looking at the waterfalls we decided to drive down to the beach and check it out. This turned out to be well worth the visit. There was some great ice in the beach area.