Tuesday, April 18, 2017

North Shore Road Trip

Monday was a day off for Easter break for my kids and so we hit the road.  Jen and the girls headed one direction and Simon and I headed into the wind, for the North Shore of Lake Superior.  Down Highway One out of Ely, into the teeth of an April "snowstorm".  The flakes were huge and the further we drove, the more evidence of snow could be seen on the branches of the pines and forest floor.  It was April, though, so 95 percent of it wasn't destined to last the hour, let alone, the day.

We turned off of Highway One and onto Two on our way towards Two Harbors.  Easy on the directions, easy on the eyes.  We stopped at two points of interest on our way through the forest and the surrounding lowlands.  One was a little public access to a roadside lake and one was a forest service picnic area.

This particular spot has a sign titled, "Sentinels of the Past" and shares the fact that these old White Pines were already 70 years old when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.  Standing under them, with the last evidence of of winter desperately clinging to their branches I couldn't help but notice a chill running up my spine.  They are survivors and they are a constant reminder that the forest around us is a living, breathing organism.  It isn't simply a place to enjoy, it is, very much so, a part of our home that has a much longer history than we do.

How many have stood under these trees?  How many have stood there with their sons who are now men and are making preparations for college.  What kind of lessons could be learned with time enough to sit on a fallen pine that has been in this place for 300 years or more?  It was a quiet morning under the clouds and a perfect beginning to our road trip.

Ely is a great spot to visit and to kick off your Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness trips.  It has a lot to offer, including spending time around town and our area before and/or after your canoe trips.  The North Shore is less than two hours of driving that could include multiple wildlife sitings like moose and more!  Our bookstore manager, Jordyn, saw a moose the day before we drove down Highway One and so did Drew Brockett, our canoe trip outfitting manager.  Here's a shot of the one he saw on Sunday.

We continued our trip, down to Two Harbors and took a left to check out how the waters of Gitche Gumee were breaking against the shore and the Split Rock Lighthouse.  Driving through massive tunnels in the granite, pulling over at various rivers and rest stops, listening to music on the winding road.  Everything combined for a fantastic soundtrack to the best movie I've seen in years, right through the windows of the Mountaineer.  Best of all, whenever we wanted, we could park and walk right into the environment all around us.

The black sandy beach filled with battered and softened rocks and driftwood, the bike paths, the cold spray in our faces and the snowflakes that were by this time fading in their strength, these things woke me up to the beauty of Spring and the ice-out season.

We turned around at some point and headed to Duluth for lunch.  Afterwards, we returned by the Scenic North Shore route and stopped to experience anything that caught our eyes.  The sun had come out and the blue of the sky was now reflected in the big waters of our inland sea.

It was hard to leave...

No comments: