Thursday, August 25, 2011

August Mini-Vacation

Took a few days off and headed north to the Gunflint Trail. The original plan was to take the motorbikes on their first camping trip. Thursday night, while performing a pre-trip fluid check on the R65 we discovered:
- the oil in the gear box was pretty nasty looking, requiring a change (which we accomplished, as well as changing the oil in the final drive) and
- the final drive filler bolt had stripped threads.
This meant the bikes would stay at home and I would spend much of Thursday night doing research of fixing stripped threads in a BMW final drive.

Plan B involved loading the Fit (my trusty blue car) with our mountain bikes and way too much stuff and heading north after taking care of some business in town Friday morning. We had left the motorbikes behind due to mechanical issues but ended up dealing with a tire issue on the Fit. While stopped at a scenic overlook midway along the Gunflint Trail we noticed that the left front tire seemed a bit low and would need to be pumped up. Luckily Mr. Wildknits had tossed the full-sized bike pump (as well as the frame pump) into the car. We (well really Mr. Wildknits) spent a lot of time filling that tire in the next two days! We finally arrived at the Trails End Campground and set up camp in the site we had reserved alongside Seagull Falls.

We explored the campground via bike, then headed back for dinner and beverages while we watched the sun set over Gull Lake. The next morning we pedaled over to the boat landing and hiked the nature trail along Seagull Lake. This campground is in the area affected by the Ham Lake forest fire and, while devoid of large trees in many places, the fire was good for the blueberry crop! We snacked our way along the trail which ended at the lake shore where I spotted this tiny little plant. Since my wildflower field guide was back at camp I took photos:
Common Pipewort

and later looked the plant up in my favorite field guide - Newcomb's :

We headed back to camp and after packing up drove down the Gunflint trail with a plan to run the Magnetic Rock Trail.

Mr. Wildknits heading up the trail to the main attraction.

I climbed up on a bit of the rock that had fallen off to lend scale to this photo. I am 5'2" on a tall day.

After our run and a picnic lunch at the trailhead we drove to the Flour Lake Campground. We checked out sites before settling on this one:

It was a bit of a hike in but the reward was a small, private sitting area right on the lake. After setting up the tent we brought the chairs down to the shore and just sat - enjoying the sun, the view, our reading materials and a little bit of knitting:

A White Admiral butterfly (Limenitis arthemis arthemis) took a liking to our gear and hung out with us much of the afternoon.

After this nice break we set out on the mountain bikes to explore the surrounding area. We headed out on some ski trails that link area resorts, but after about a mile turned back as the ground was getting steadily damper (aka boggy). We ended up back on the gravel road, though I kept turning off on side trails until Mr. Wildknits requested fewer detours and more riding ;->

Sunday we packed up and set off for town. But first another run! Our original plan was to explore the Daniel's Lake Trail - a spur to the Border Route Trail. Once we tracked down the trail (the guide was less then explicit on how far the parking area was from the trailhead) and got a look at it we opted instead for the Lima Mountain Trail. This is Minnesota's fourth highest peak at 2,238 feet. It is a relatively short, but steep trail. The run had the added challenge of being overgrown with several downed trees. The best view actually occurred mid-way up on a exposed shelf we traversed. Once we reached the summit we were a bit underwhelmed by the view:

There was an extended family that was also hiking the trail and Mr. Wildknits and one of the guys set off through the underbrush to find the remnants of the fire tower. Mr. Wildknits came back with this little guy (or gal) to share with the kids:
Sphinx Moth species caterpillar

Remnants of the fire tower

USFS electrical "closet". There was evidence of old batteries and electrical hook ups inside.

We finished up the run with a playful sprint down the road back to the parking area. After a bit of exploring in the area, playing with the seedpods of Jewelweed, and a picnic lunch it was time to pump up the tire for the drive into Grand Marais. We stopped briefly to enjoy the view from the Pincushion Mountain parking area, then made the final drop into town and found a gas station with a working air hose for a final filling of the tire prior to the drive home.

One of the highlights of a north shore vacation is a stop in a restaurant for a meal of locally caught fish and chips. We bypassed the Dockside as it was busy and instead headed to Beaver Bay and The Crossings at Cove Point. We had an excellent meal of fresh caught Lake Superior Herring (aka Ciscoes).

The next two day's of our vacation were spent at home taking care of chores, having a new set of tires installed on the Fit, picking up some new to us canoes, and getting in a nice run on the Knife River section of the SHT with some bonus miles for me into the village of Knife River and down Hwy 61 to the wayside rest near Stoney Point.

I headed into work Wednesday very relaxed, caught up on my sleep and, I hoped, ready to dive back in.

Edit: Not sure what is up with Blogger but this last bit was invisible for awhile(sorry - looked okay when writing and missed when posting). I can't explain the font changes. Get what you pay for I guess!


SteveQ said...

Now I have to add Magnetic Rocks to my list of places I must go someday. Not the next trip north, though, that one's already overscheduled! The view from Lima's far better than Stony Tower Hill - for that, just take a picture of random bushes.

wildknits said...

Steve - bring your compass!! I wished I had known before we headed out - would have been fun to see the effect as we approached the rock.

I don't think I mentioned that all the other rocks are laying in a whole other plane. Makes you wonder how this rock got to be where it is!

Jean said...

I am way behind in my blog reading! :)

Fantastic pictures! I love the White Admiral butterflies, and that rock formation is incredible. I have never been there, or even seen a picture of that before.

Looks like a fantastic trip!