We rolled into September with very mild temps, but yet a sense of change in the air. The amount of green down by the lake is misleading to the time of year we are in, but the fall colors are slowly appearing. The same goes for a few miles up inland. Last weekend, we took a hike up past the Temperance and though along the drive we were greeted with vibrant oranges and reds, just a few miles up on the trail itself, was covered with bright green and not a shade of fall to be found.
It seems as though there is a band or color that runs parallel to the shore, just a few miles inland. Any further on either side is predominately green. But with the temps starting to dip into the 50s and low 60s, we’re expecting colors to start becoming more vibrant and widespread over the next week.
We are excited to announce details for this year’s Fall Food and Wine Event. The weekend will be comprised of three events; a Friday evening reception, a six-course dinner on Saturday, followed by a Sunday jazz brunch.
This Fall’s culinary adventure will feature dishes inspired by the flavors of a Minnesota harvest paired with wines from the Mondavi family and the newly opened North Shore Winery. We also look forward to welcoming guest chef, Judi Barsness as she teams up with our executive chef, Rob Wells in developing and presenting a series of “chef duet” courses.
A little rain sure can get us a long way as we progress into summer. When out on the trail these days, I am again surrounded by the multiple shades of green in the forest similar to the environment I experienced when I first moved up here last September. The deciduous trees are in full bloom, the conifers are especially aromatic, and the mosses and lichens are lush.
Vibrant patches of color are also scattered among the forest floor as the wildflowers are now starting to pop up. Eager to use my field guides that I got for Christmas, I grabbed my wildflower book and started identifying them on my most recent hikes. The book is titled “Wildflowers of Wisconsin” by Stan Tekiela who is a naturalist, wildlife photographer, and originator of many other popular field guides. Although the book was based on Wisconsin wildflowers, it is still a legitimate resource because Minnesota and Wisconsin share similar ecosystems.
Following are pictures of the most common wildflowers out there right now. Now if you come upon them, you will know what they are!
Bunchberry, named for its tight bunches of red berries
Bluebead Lily, berries are not edible!
Nodding Trillium, naturally facing downward
Marsh Marigold, easy to identify because they reign in the marshes
Spring Beauty, as it truly is!
Harebell, look as if they should ring in the wind
Downy Yellow Violet, one of the many colors of violets
Wild Strawberry, sweet snack while on a hike
Baneberry, could be white or red
Lilac, lovely smell
Star Flower, you can see where they got that name
Columbine, have a taste of the nectar filled spurs
I would highly recommend this field guide if you are ever interested in I.D.ing plants; clear, colored pictures as well as all of the information you need condensed on one small page. Very easy to navigate through as well for the flowers are categorized by color. He has many state-specific guides, so if you live elsewhere, you can more than likely find a book for that location.
Learning to interpret the environment is an interesting and exciting activity to do while hiking. Especially in the spring when all of the new plants pop up. A little advice to make for a better learning experience: when identifying plants, try for only two or three at a time so you are not over loaded with information. That way, you can really get each plant down individually.
Not only is I.D.ing plants something fun to do while hiking, but also allows you to see your environment with a different perspective. Instead of seeing a tree as a tree or flower as a flower, you know them by name and perhaps a few special characteristics about them, such as edibility, growth patterns, and their various uses. It’s kind of like getting to know people, instead of just another face in the crowd, you know them by name and who they are as a person, tying more sentimental value to them.
The more people you know, the better; the more plants you know, the better. Take advantage of our short summers when everything is in bloom and make and effort to get to know the plants that you walk by every day. You never know when your environmental knowledge could come in handy!
The spirit of summer has officially been set off today at Lutsen Resort as we hosted our first sea kayak tour of the season. Activities Director, Drew Price, took a full group of our guests out on Lake Superior to enjoy the sunny afternoon.
Guests learn the basics before heading out to sea
As I was watching Drew go through the fundamental paddling techniques with our guests, I was brought back to last September, which was the end of the kayak season of 2014. I remember thinking how I had a whole nine months before I was able to lead one of these tours, but it came so fast! We will be in the full swing of things before we know it.
Guests adjust the boats on shore prior to heading out
It was an ideal day for the first tour of the season. Winds were calm and therefore the waters were flat. The sunshine and upcoming long weekend rendered extra energy and enthusiasm.
One by one, Drew sends each boat out
The water is still sitting at a 37.3 degrees F. Not quite warm enough for a swim!
These sisters are ready to go!
Front desk employee, Katie, and her sister joined our tour today as well. If you happen to be at the main lodge while she’s working, she can tell you all about it.
Drew paddles to catch up with the fleet
Drew has been looking forward to this moment all spring. Paddling sports are kicking off for the season. We added a new activity to our program this year: stand-up paddle boarding. Make sure you check our activities calendar for the upcoming dates and details for those tours.
There they go!
Make your Memorial Day weekend more memorable by taking advantage of this beautiful weather we have in store and partake in summer activities. Fishing, paddle sports, camping, cook outs, biking, hiking, etc., all offer an excellent reason to come visit Lutsen. The summer of 2015 has officially begun; let us make it a good one full of new adventures and fond memories starting this weekend!
Happy National Travel and Tourism Week everybody! These past 20 years I spent living in this country and I had no idea this even existed. Thought I’d spread the word in case you were unaware as well. Check it out: U.S. Travel Association
What I found especially interesting was the “Travel is_____” at the bottom of the page. I believe traveling is stepping out of your element and doing something different, which can take place anywhere from your hometown to taking an airplane to New Zealand.
What I am implying is that you do not need to necessarily venture to far away places and spend tons of money to “travel.” Doing something outside of your daily routine can have profound effects on your well-being, so long as it is a positive and healthy activity. The excitement of engaging in something out of the ordinary can yield feelings of freshness, youth, and liberation.
Celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week from May 2 to May 10 either with a spontaneous vacation to a far away land or from the comfort of your home. Suggestions:
Try a new outdoor activity, or at least something you haven’t done in a while (bicycle ride, canoeing, running, rollerblading, bird watching, etc.)
Try a new food or cook an ethnic meal
Go for a walk somewhere you have never been before
Do some research and make a list of places you want to go in the next ten years
Go to a restaurant, coffee shop or bar you have never been to
Read a book or watch a movie from a different culture than your own
Take a drive and visit a completely random town you have never been to
Call up an old friend and catch up
Participate in a community class or social gathering and meet new people
Listen to a different music genre or new bands
Teach yourself a new skill (language, guitar, card trick, bracelet making, etc.)
Rearrange your living room
Trying new things, exploring new places, and switching up the daily routine on a small to large scale are all examples of “traveling” to me. I encourage you to use National Tourism and Travel Week as a reason to get out and “travel” in any kind of way that is most convenient and satisfying for you. Enjoy and feel free to share your stories.
We have had splendid spring weather this past week on the North Shore. The vast natural environment we have in Cook County allows us to host outdoor events such as running and biking races. Yesterday, the 2015 Ham Run Half Marathon took place up the Gunflint Trail. There were roughly 60 participants who prevailed through the hilly course in the whopping 72 degree weather.
On the drive up, we knew it was going to be a scorcher, but the breathtaking scenery along the course made every bound of the way enjoyable.
The course meandered through various bodies of water such as lakes, swamps, ponds, rivers, and creeks, which all looked very temping to jump in to. The lack of wind made the lakes and ponds look like sheets of glass reflecting the surrounding trees and homes on the shoreline. The sound of the flowing creeks and rivers alongside the road felt very refreshing to hear as we pushed ourselves mile by mile.
Rolling hills in the distance
Creek alongside road
The finish line was right next to a big lake that many of us took advantage of. Immersing into the shocking 50 degree water actually felt amazing after the 13.1 hilly miles in the heat.It was definitely a challenging course, but the surrounding views, feeling of accomplishment and sense of camaraderie made the feat worthwhile.
Lake at end of course
Coming up next, we have the Superior Spring Trail Races taking place on May 16 right here in Lutsen. The races take place on the Superior Hiking Trail starting at Caribou Highlands on the ski hill and traversing down and back along the Sawtooth Mountain Range. Racers have the option of either a 25k or 50k run through the rough yet spectacularly scenic terrain of the North Shore.
Switching gears, it’s also that time of year to lube up the chains and get the wheels rolling on our bicycles that have been oh so eagerly awaiting riding season all winter long. After all, May is National Bike Month, established by the League of American Bicyclists in 1956 to celebrate the benefits of riding your bicycle.
Whether it be recreational trail and road riding or for commuting, Cook County caters to all. The Sugarbush and Pincushion mountain bike trail systems should be opening up pretty soon and the Gitchi Gammi paved bike trail is always a great option for a nice paved cruise.
To celebrate National Bike Month, Superior North Outdoor bike shop, located in Grand Marais, will be hosting bicycle related events in Cook County to promote bicycle safety, commuting, etc. throughout the month. But no matter where you reside, you can participate in National Bike to Work Week May 18-22.
Biking, running, walking and hiking are all sustainable activities that give you a reason to get in some great exercise outside. Take advantage of this wonderful spring weather we are having with the endless opportunities of recreation up here in Minnesota’s North land and join us for a relaxing visit before the summer bustle begins.
Fisherman enjoying the calm morning in front of resort
Well, we had a nice long run of sunny days, but the rain must come as part of the spring package. Looks like we are heading into a stretch of rain/ snow mix here for the next few days. As enjoyable as the clear blue skies and warm temperatures may be, the gloomy days that bring along precipitation are equally as important to the North Shore environment and can be appreciated for their own reasons.
Reason #1) Roaring waterfalls
The runoff from the melting snow combined with the rainfall raises the water levels and rapid speeds substantially. This time of year is great for touring waterfalls and there are tons of rivers in the area that provide these wondrous views.
I took this shot a couple weeks ago on a trip down the North Shore. The epic Caribou Falls is located just outside of the Cook County border and is definitely worth the 1/2 mile hike down the Superior Hiking Trail to check it out. I awoke to snow covered ground on this particular morning but it did not stick around for long. I took a group of guests down here for a tour on a more recent occasion during our streak of warm weather and the ice and snow was obsolete.
I visited Gooseberry that same day and walked the “Falls Views” loop. It was probably about a mile long and offered amazing views of the high, middle and low falls from all different perspectives. Great leg stretcher while driving up for a visit to Lutsen.
Reason #2) Fishing
The steelhead are running now and the determined fisherman are lining the mouths of the rivers awaiting that promising tug on the line.
The mouth of the Poplar River flows right into the shoreline in front of the main lodge here at Lutsen Resort. As the water warms up, the steelhead migrate from the big lake and go upstream the rivers to spawn. Following the spawn, they return back to the big lake and must pass through the mouths of the rivers, creating an ideal fishing hub. I have noticed many fisherman frequenting here recently and a young boy reported yesterday that he had a few catches. Another local fisherman said the day after a rainfall is prime time to get out and fish because the rain increases the run of the steelhead.
Upstream the Poplar River
The rivers are very brown with runoff right now. This creates a noticeable contrast between the water close to shore and the water further out on the big lake. The brown color hugs the shoreline and then dissolves back into the original color of the lake about 30 feet out. I notice that the blue hue of the lake on a given day reflects the sky; this morning it was a gray/ navy blue color:
Shore line of Lake Superior
Reason #3) Alleviate drought
Rain is an essential asset to our ecosystem in order for the vibrant natural colors of the spring and summer foliage to come out. A kin to human beings, plants also need water to flourish and the lack of such lately rendered very dry grounds. So this rain is contributing to the life cycle of the North Shore in a positive way. I was down in Minneapolis this week right after a rain spell and came upon this blossoming tree. The streets were also lined with green grass:
Spring in Minneapolis
It will only be a matter of time until spring makes its way up here, and we also will be surrounded by pinks, greens and blues. Until then, we can only appreciate the inconsistent weather patterns for what they’re worth. As an old Minnesota proverb says:
“There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.”
We started out the year working diligently to complete the residing of the hallway outside our Pub. It has a livening effect on me in the morning as I walk through that area to clock in and grab a cup of Joe. The fresh, new wood really does wonders brightening up the hallway, as the natural light from the courtyard and the lobby windows illuminates the light brown hues on the walls.
April is a month to celebrate and emphasize acts of environmental sustainability with Earth Day right around the corner. In that regard, the most exciting part of the renovation is the addition to our “boatwood” tables and chairs, which add more seating space outside our Poplar River Pub. These chairs are made of recycled Balinese fishing boats. The rustic splash of color complements the new wood walls quite well.
Courtney & Leigh Interiors of Superior, WI turn the journey of retired fishing boats re-imagined into designer furniture. Every piece is authentic and unique, built with boatwood from the exotic island of bali and crafted with original wood and paint from retired boats.
The hallway improvements also included a new quieter space for our computer station; new coffee station and a built-in bookshelf, which opens up a whole shelf for more reads.
Improvements in the resort will continue as we plan to replace all the windows on the West side of the Lodge this spring and a major portion of the Lodge exterior will be painted. Changes like these will give you something to look forward to seeing during your next stay while also enjoying the original Lutsen Resort tradition.
I took a group of guests out on an evening excursion along Temperance River on a recent clear and crisp Friday night. This spot along the Superior Hiking Trail is ideal right now because the snow has melted off the frozen falls revealing the intricate ice formations.
Bird’s eye view of the hidden falls
I did not make it to Temperance at all this winter, so it feels good to be back leading tours there because it is such a beautiful area. I enjoy looking at the variety of lichen, moss, and fungus that grow on the rocks. The combination of the green, orange, and brown hues with the bit of white snow left over juxtaposed with the dark rock creates a natural masterpiece of art.
The running water underneath the frozen cascades is visible as well, producing a flitting effect. Hearing the river flow again is very refreshing after the winter; sure sign of spring. The sun light shining through the trees as it goes down for the evening illuminates all of the different colors of the forest and produces a glistening effect on the ice, snow and water.
I shared this experience with seven other guests of Lutsen Resort. One couple had been to Temperance before, last winter, but said this time was a “totally different experience.” I have noticed that myself; no matter how many times I have walked the same path, each hike renders a unique perspective or observation. The way the sun is shining, the time of day, the company, whatever it may be makes every tour memorable in a different way.
Our enthusiastic group of hikers
One of my favorite aspects of the Temperance River hike is that the trail goes on both the inland side and the lake side, so guests get to see a little bit of both worlds. The sunset colors over the lake offer a mesmerizing sight, and one can only look forward to the stargazing that is guaranteed with the nightfall of these clear skies.
Sunset over the lake
Throughout my time here, I have lead morning, afternoon, evening, and night tours and I tell you, every hour of the day offers unforgettable views that you just won’t find anywhere else. A breath of fresh air and a picture of new scenery feeds and rejuvenates the soul- always worth your while.
Believe it or not, we still have snow along certain sections of the Superior Hiking Trail. I took our guests on a guided hike to Lake Agnes, a pristine lake located about five miles inland up the Caribou Trail. The photo (below to the left) is of the surrounding maple forest, which is fitting because this time of year the trees are tapped to make syrup.
When the temperature drops below freezing during the night then rises to well above freezing during the day, the sap flows through the tree and therefore can be best extracted by placing a “tap” into the tree allowing the sap to drip out. Caribou Cream and Wild Country, our two local maple syrup facilities, are busy at work this time of year tapping and boiling the sap into delicious maple syrup concentrate.
Maple forest along the Superior Hiking Trail
There is still about a foot of snow up over the ridge line, so we brought snowshoes along for the hike. Once we made our way closer to the lake, the trail along the shoreline was pretty bare due to its direct exposure to the sunlight.
Lake Agnes houses a large population of beavers. Along the trail by the lake, we found many trees that beavers had cut down for their food and homes. Beavers are the only mammals besides humans that restructure the environment around them to build their homes, by honing the ability to build both dams and lodges.
Our group of snowshoers
Our hiking group made it all the way to our destination of Hunter’s Rock overlooking the entirety of the lake. From this spot, you can see the rolling hills in the distance, the looming white pine over the lake (right side of this shot) and a beaver lodge, which I could not get a close picture of. You will just have to go see for yourself!
One of my favorite parts of the Lake Agnes hike is the wild juniper plant at the top, a rarity, as far as I’ve noticed, along the trail. I discovered this time that the snow has melted off (for now) and we can enjoy its distinct and awakening smell again.
The smells, sights and sounds of spring are in the air, the season is young but one heavy snowfall can bring us right back into winter again. We can only wait and see what the weather will do, and from there find joy in whatever we get.