Wednesday, June 28, 2017

High Falls of the Pigeon River & Grand Portage.

Thursday, June 8, 2017; High Falls of the Pigeon River, Grand Portage and Horseshoe Bay.

Morning at Horseshoe Bay.

The Forest at my campsite.
The Canadian border is less than 20 miles from Horseshoe Bay, but it's not that which interests me, but the Pigeon River which forms the border here, between Minnesota and Canada, and the High Falls (and coincidentally the highest in Minnesota), upon that river.  This river has history written all over it.  It was this river, only 27 miles long that led to the series of lakes and streams that provided the way into the interior of Northwest Canada, and thus the fur trading highway that built Canada [as an aside ... I've always thought that the Canadians made a mistake, last century, when they chose the Maple leaf as the symbol for their national flag; the Beaver would have much more apt ... I mean, whoever built a Nation with Maple leaves?].  But the the first few miles of the Pigeon is blocked to canoe travel by a series of waterfalls and rapids, of which the first is the High Falls, a couple miles from where the river discharges into Lake Superior.  Thus Grand Portage (just a few miles down the coast from the Pigeon), became the natural place for a transshipping point at the beginning of the 9 mile portage trail that bypassed the first few miles of the Pigeon.  Here it was that the French Voyageurs from Montreal (known as Montrealers), in their 30' birch-bark, freight canoes, with their 8000 pounds of cargo, rendezvoused  with the Voyageurs (known as Northmen), from the far interior, in their lighter, 20', birch-bark canoes still capable of transporting 4000 lbs. of Beaver pelts.  Here they rendezvous once a year, mightily partied-down, then went their separate ways; the Pork Eaters (another name for the Montrealers), back to Montreal with the Beaver pelts, and the Northmen back northwest into the interior, with their loads of trade goods to trade for Beaver pelts.  Etienne Brule almost certainly stood on the eastern shores of Lake Superior by 1608, and I like to think that some unremarked Frenchman stood on these Minnesota shores of Lake Superior by the time the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620.  I arrived at Grand Portage at closing time for the stockade and buildings making up the replica transshipping post of the early fur trade of 1793, but there is still much to be seen. 

The trading post at Grand Portage.

Birchbark canoe.
Framework of an Anishinabe bark lodge; the three rolls of bark to the right of the lodge are Birchbark ready for cladding the frame.

A fully clad smaller more tee-pee like structure.

Beaver lodge.
Looking out on Lake Superior
Mist shrouding Grand Portage Island.
The earlier part of the day was spent at Grand Portage State Park, on the Pigeon River, and of course going to see, and of course photograph the the High Falls.  I spent more time doing this than I had planned, because there was a certain amount of time wasted while sheltering from rain showers under trees, and even in a loo during the one really heavy shower.  I finally did get the photos I wanted of the High Falls, even though I had to retrace my steps several times, due to the rain.

The Pigeon River. 

The High Falls of the Pigeon; as it happens 
this is the highest Waterfall in Minnesota
 at approximately130 feet.

Hat Point; Grand Portage is the other side of this.

The Susie Islands lost in fog.
The Horseshoe Bay campsite was again unoccupied, thus I was able to have a leisurely evening over supper, watching fog banks come and go out on the lake, and finally the Moon rising through the mist.  This would be my last night Up North, and I enjoyed it to the full.

Evening fogbank off shore.

The mist closes in.

The Moon rising through the mist.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Cascades of Cascade Falls

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - Esther Lake to the Cascade Falls

Morning on Esther Lake.

Blueberry Blossoms at Esther Lake

Morning on Esther Lake
Land of Sky Blue Waters

Paper Birch Wood
This journey Up North has turned into a photo-recon mission of the North Shore Waterfalls, as I familiarize myself with the new camera, and reacquaint myself with familiar landscapes.  After taking a few photos from the point at Esther Lake, I left my bijou, buggie campsite (although I will admit the pesky creatures were quite lackadaisical this morning), and headed down the Arrowhead Trail, then south through Grand Marais to the Cascade River.  Here is to be found Cascade Falls, with a series of smaller falls beyond known as the Cascades (but of course).  In the several times over the years I have visited here, I never realized there was a differentiation in the naming of these falls; I always considered the whole series to be "Cascade Falls."  Now that I have become aware of this, I can see that why thereof.  When looking upriver at the Cascades, you see a series of smaller falls within the gorge, and it no doubt would be a task to give each one names, such as: lower middle falls, middle middle falls upper middle falls ... you get the point; best call them the Cascades and be done with it!  But I never had a problem calling the whole series of them "Cascade Falls," either.

Cascade Falls

Downstream from Cascade Falls towards Lake Superior. 

The top of the Falls. I first took a photo from this vantage back in `'77. It was quite a scramble to get down here. In 2006 there was too much undergrowth to attempt it, but this year that was gone, and I managed to scramble down again, but it was nerve racking, and I took but one photo ... I'm not as young as I once was.
One of my favorite views on the Cascade Riverb this is just above the second Falls, and I guess you might call it the third falls. I painted a Watercolour of this twenty some years ago, which sadly was stolen by the Grassland Gallery, when the owner disappeared. 

Orange Lichen on the Canyon Wall.

Much to my surprise I spent six hours here on photo-recon.  I could spend several days just here, drawing & painting, as there are so many different vantage points and intimate views, and the variables in lighting, as the Sun moves through the day, makes each of them a different painting for almost every hour of the day; factor in the seasons, then a year here would be well spent.  But my time is limited in my beloved Northwoods; I must soon move on into the West painting and drawing over the next few months on my way back to Oregon, and so I will let the photographs tell the story.

Views of the Cascades from the footbridge.

Along the Cascades ... these stairs always make me think of forest Elves.

View downstream from the Elven Stairs.
Farther into the Canyon of the Cascades.
The last Falls.
Above the last Falls from the other side.

Turning towards the view upriver.
Upriver from the Cascades.

Turning to look downstream ... the last Falls is around the bend.
Strolling back downstream. 

Afternoon light at the Cascades.
I was prepared to head back up the Arrowhead Trail and try out the small campground at Devilfish Lake, not far from last nights Esther Lake campsite, but the Horseshoe Bay campsite was unoccupied, and so I saved myself some petrol, by not having to drive into the interior.  Early enough into camp to be able to have supper finished by sundown, and to enjoy the evening Moon over Lake Superior.

Evening light at Horseshoe Bay.

Moon over the Islet.
Day's end.