Getting close.

Recreational trail connection through West Duluth is looking ready for paving.

Two things are getting close I noticed on my Sunday ride yesterday. The new trail near my home is about ready to be paved. And the trees are starting to leaf out.

This was full of mud holes and ruts from illegal ATV use.

I enjoyed a leisurely ride around the area and on this somewhat loose gravel base. This 1.5 mile new trail will make a big difference in the way I get around the area.

The new trail simplifies getting to and from the Munger Trail.

The map above is from my ride yesterday. The long straighter section is the new trail being built. The zig-zag route on neighborhood streets is the way I’ve been taking to get to and from the Munger trail. The Munger Trail starts at the bottom left of the map near that water inlet. Hwy 23/Grand Ave is a busy four way county highway. I’ve ridden the highway many times. But it no longer was an option last year or this year due to major reconstruction of the roadway. Last Summer and this Spring/Summer it’s down to one lane in both directions. Once the trail is paved my route will be 100% quiet neighborhood streets and trail corridors. I’m looking forward to that.

Now, let the Spring commence.

A hiking shuttle by bike.

A bicycle is a great way to shuttle ourselves when we go hiking.

Yesterday was our Annual Spring maintenance hike on the Superior Hiking Trail. This is our 15th year maintaining this section of the trail. We’re responsible for walking the section once in the Spring and once in the Fall. We report any maintenance issues and do any maintenance we feel comfortable doing. Mostly we do trail clearing. Winter snows bring down trees and branches. Heavy snow and ice weighs down smaller trees blocking or encroaching into the foot path. We carry saws, loppers, and a Gerber axe to clear the debris.

This section is along the North Shore of Lake Superior, 90 miles up the shore from our home in Duluth. It’s near Schroeder, Minnesota. We drive up and take one of my bikes along. I drop Susan and our gear off at the trail head where we will start our hike. Then I drive to the trail head we plan to finish at. I leave the car, take my bike and ride back to where I left Susan. It involves some gravel county roads. I hide the bike in the woods while we hike. Afterwards, once we have finished the hike, we then retrieve the bike. Works very slick. We’ve done this roughly thirty different times over the 15 years of maintaining this section.

The trail crosses the Cross River on a bridge where the river narrows as it runs through a gorge. It roars through this spot. You have to yell to have a conversation here.

The Superior Hiking Trail is is a 310-mile footpath that largely follows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior. It is spectacularly beautiful. It crosses many rivers and waterfalls and has panoramic views of Lake Superior all along it’s length. The highlight of our section is the walk along Cross River.

Lunch break at a campsite along the Cross River.

We had a cold May 14th for our trail project. It took all day for the temperature to claw it’s way to 40F/4C degrees. It was blustery with occasional snow flurries and sleet. I pride myself in always being able to dress appropriately for any weather condition. I somehow missed it for this hike. I was barely dressed warm enough while moving. When stopped I got cold quickly  with no extra clothing to layer. Very rare for me not to be prepared. I carried twice as much water as I needed. Another miscalculation. Somehow I wasn’t realistic about the conditions that were present. My mind must have been on warmer weather.

Ice along the Cross River. Every year this spot has ice well into May. It’s in a narrow gorge on a wall that gets no direct sun light.
Too big for our axe.

There was an unusually large amount of debris on the ground along the Cross River this year. I figure it was caused by a mixture of heavy snow combined with high winds. We found at least a dozen 5 foot sections of evergreen tree tops that had been snapped off. I’ve never seen that before. And of course many fallen trees like the one above. There were two at this spot. I had already removed the smaller one with my axe before taking this picture. This one would have taken a hour or more to cut out with our axe. We decided to write it up and let a chainsaw crew take care of this one. This is on Superior National Forest land. You have to be certified by the National Forest Service to use a chainsaw here.

It took us 7 hours to walk this 6.5 mile section of trail. So we did a fair amount of work. We look forward to volunteer work. It gets harder each year as we grow older. But it’s always a nice day when working in the north woods.

The other tree we didn’t attempt to remove ourselves. Except for the small amount of green starting to appear, the cold wind and snow flurries reminded us more of November than mid-May.
The bridge over Fredenberg Creek is aging. It’s deck is starting to warp.


Our new house guest.

Meet Abby.

Ever since we lost our beloved Ciro in February we’ve been a pet-free home. It’s been a hard adjustment. I’ve had pets since 1990. Susan had Ciro and a ferret when we met in 1997. Our home has felt particularly empty since Ciro passed.

We have known since before Ciro passed away that Abby would be coming to live with us in May for anywhere between 4-12 months. Her human Sara, a former co-worker of Susan’s, is on a big travel the world doing work-for-stay adventure. We were concerned that cranky old Ciro may strongly object to another cat in the house. Sadly he is not here to “welcome” Abby. But it does make a nice, quiet temporary home for Abby. She’s 15 years old and was not keen about being taken out of her home and dropped off at ours. It was a sad good-by. Since last Friday she has lived in the back of my closet only to emerge to eat and use the litter box. The fact she’s doing that is a good sign. We’re confident she’ll warm up to use soon enough.

She emerged from her hiding place at bed time last night. She boldly joined us on the bed, settled in for 10 minutes and then disappeared back into the closet. We’re getting there.

A few minutes of bravery.

Sunday ride pictures.

Crossing the Bong.

I headed out this afternoon to take a longer ride. It was such a nice sunny day, although a bit cool with a wind off the big lake, I ended up only riding 17 miles. I crossed over into Superior, Wisconsin. My rides don’t take me over there too often. I did a little bit of exploring today and did some picture taking instead of a long ride. It was most enjoyable. I’ll leave you with the pictures. Here’s my route: //  I couldn’t figure out what was going on with the elevation profile when I crossed the bridge. It showed a drop in elevation when in reality I climbed up the bridge. Turns out it recorded the elevation of the river and not the bridge deck.

Crossing the Bong.
Old buildings.
Old Soo Line Superior Depot.
The (HE)RBERT C JACKSON getting a new paint job at the Fraser Ship Yards. They can dry dock a nearly 900 foot laker at this shipyard.
Before the high bridge was built this was the main road to the swing bridge that connected Duluth and Superior. Now it’s a hard to find dead end with a mix of industrial buildings and private homes built in the late 1800’s. There is harbor access off both sides.
Steel hulled boat. You had to be a thin person to get into to that cabin door.
The Blatnik.
Avoiding the highway, picked up a couple of Wood Ticks in the grass.
Abrupt end to the Osaugie Trail.
The inner harbor near Barker’s Island.
A ship as a museum. A rare flat bottom Whaleback.
Duluth as seen across the Harbor.

We’re hotter than you!

Northeastern Minnesota is the hottest place on the weather map… weird!

I talk about the weather quite often on this blog. We’re in such a unique sub-climate compared to most of the the lower 48. Our weather is different from what else is going on around the rest of the country, most of the time. However, it’s usually our early winters, or our harsh winters, or our late winters. We are never the hottest place in the nation….until today. Two Harbors on the map above is 20 miles northeast of Duluth. We broke a record high temp by 11 am today. The record was 82degF set back in 1934. The new record finally settle in at 91degF. Ninety-one degrees and the leaves weren’t even out this morning. Spring was just revving up. And then WHAM…’s summer. Not only was it hot, but extremely low humidity. I heard our air was drier than Phoenix Arizona’s was today.

A sudden Spring. The leaves burst out of their buds today.

I got out for a short 12 mile ride on my Ellis today. It’s taken me most of my life to realize I need a couple of weeks to acclimatize to weather above about 82degF. I used to just drink lots of water in hot weather and thought that it would save me. Not so. My body overreacts to heat when I’m not yet acclimatized to it. I can sweat buckets of water. And I can sweat it out at much faster rate than I can replace no matter how much water I drink. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had symptoms of heat exhaustion. Then it takes me several weeks to return to normal. So today I took it very easy. I drank two bottles of water during the hour ride. I think I’m okay this time.

It was nice to see the rapid progress on the new recreational trail link between North 63rd Ave West and the Zoo. Almost ready to pave. I am so excited about this mile and half extension. It will allow me to completely avoid a busy four lane county road. It follows a route I know well from winter biking it. This is an old railroad bed. Most of it goes through an abandoned rail yard. Up until now it’s been used as an official snowmobile trail in winter and illegal ATV/motocross trail in the summer. I’m going to start calling Duluth “trail town”. Because every where you look new human powered trails are being built.

(As I was writing this a line of severe thunderstorms came through, dumped rain, and dropped the temperature from 91 to 66 in about 20 minutes. Crazy stuff!)

Shawn’s having a sale!

I got mine today!

I’m a bit late with this announcement. Shawn over at Urban Adventure League has extended his sale through tomorrow (Saturday May 7, 2016). Go over to his on-line store to save some money on his wonderful art. Don’t wait, go now!

I’m off work today, it’s 84F unbelievable degrees right now (normal is 59degF), I’m getting out on a bike, then I’m going to do some porch sitting with a cold beverage and enjoy my new zines. Happy Weekend!

Northern Spring arrives.

Photo. Finish.

Finally a weeks worth of warm weather forecasts. We were supposed to hit a high of 62degF. We hit 70F degrees in my neighborhood. I point out “neighborhood” because depending on your location in respect to Lake Superior there can be a 15 degree difference in different parts of town. It was one of those days where the grass is starting to green, the sun feels hot, and people are in shorts and t-shirts. And you finally get the feeling it just might stick this time. It really does happen late here.

I rode past the local high school on the way home from work today. A big multi-school track meet was happening. I stopped to watch a few minutes. They were running heats of the 100 yard dash. I can remember just three years ago the track you see in the picture still had several inches of ice and snow on it only a week earlier.

Welcome Spring!