Tag Archives: MN North Shore

Minnesota North Shore – The In-Between, Day 4

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day4This was finally the morning where there was no fog to speak of.  Although waking up at 4:30 a.m. while on vacation seems a bit crazy, sometimes it pays off.  The Grand Portage Trading Post (gas station) is not open at this hour.  You are stuck with the coffee in your room.  We made our way to Hollow Rock Resort for a sunrise shoot.  It is a very short distance from the casino.  It was a cool morning and the mosquitoes where a titch unruly, but manageable…at times.  Our Hallow Rock Point sunrise shaped up nicely – no fog, clouds on the horizon and beautiful color.

Grand Portage National Monument was next on the list.  There is some amazing history to learn about there.

The journey didn’t end here.  We ventured into Canada.  I have never been into Canada from this entry point and finally my curiosity was going to be over.  Not far in we spied a cheese sign and had to check it out.  Thunder Oak Cheese Farm was a nice little pit stop along our way and certainly filled the void during snack time, which happened to be at that very moment.

We made our way through the city of Thunder Bay on our way to find some Amethyst.  There are a few veins of the purple rock North and East of the city.  Amethyst Mine Panorama is where we ended up (B on the map above).    The mine is about 80 miles from Grand Portage, MN and 63 km from Thunder Bay, CA off of the 11/17 Trans Canadian Hwy.  How exciting this destination is – is directly related to how much you like Amethyst.  The mine tour is pretty minimal.  You exit the office and walk by some really big Amethyst rocks and then stand there overlooking a hole in the ground.  The gist of it is that there are two miners picking out the premium Amethyst.  What they don’t want (the not-so-premium stuff) they dump in an area where you can go and dig around yourself.  That is precisely what we did.  They have tools for digging and buckets to collect your treasure in.  When you are done with all of that, there is a washing station to scrub your gems clean to get a closer look at them.  Once you have decided what you cannot live without, it is a short trip to the office to pay $3.00/lb.  Cyndie found some really interesting specimens; for $12 we got to bring them back home.  *WARNING* — *BEWARE* — crazy Canadian blood-sucking vampire gnats abound in the treasure hunting area.  We suffered a bit of a casualty that beautiful July afternoon.  Cyndie was bit in the eyelid a few time – enough to make her one eye swell almost completely shut and there were also a couple of swollen welts on her neck.  There were a few eye patch and pirate jokes.  She was a trooper.  The gnats didn’t bother me, but the crazy Canadian blood-sucking vampire mosquitoes were all over me tapping me for much O Negative nectar.

Here are some shots from our visit to Amethyst Mine Panorama

We had a pleasant excursion into Canada.  We had planned to visit a couple of provincial parks, but didn’t make it there.  We made our way back to border crossing and then back to Two Harbors.  That was a long day (just shy of 3oo miles), but we saw a lot of beautiful country.

Here are my shots of the Minnesota North Shore – The in between, Day 4

The In-Between, Day 3 | Minnesota North Shore

Fall 2013 North Shore series
[Honeymoon Bluff – Gunflint Trail] [Sunrise @ Grand Marais] [Sunrise @ Hollow Rock] [North Shore Abstracts] [Grand Portage State Park]
[The In-Between, Day 1] [The In-Between, Day 2] [The In-Between, Day 3]

Day 3 was the day – the morning actually – the sunrise shoot we had hoped for back in July when we planned this trip.  I love it when a plan comes together!  Hollow Rock was right outside our cabin; a mere 100 yards or so to the shooting location on the rocky beach.  That morning was absolutely gorgeous.  Everything came together nicely.  The clouds, color and sun all working in perfect harmony.

After an epic sunrise experience we set out to explore forest roads between the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage.  The color around Grand Portage [although past prime] was better than Grand Marais.  I’ve never seen so many Ruffed Grouse in my life.  I seen as many birds on this trip as I had all the years I used to upland hunt.  We were also searching for the third waterfall, Partridge Falls, on the Pigeon River and eventually found it.  We were unable to find a decent falls vantage point down river for a good photograph, but enjoyed the location just the same.  It is quite peaceful out in the middle of nowhere.  Natures beauty really consumes and carries you around from one location to the next.  At one point our travels were impeded by the handiwork some busy beavers.

One bit of advice whilst out and about in strange lands and big wilderness – study a map or two before you set out.  GPS, on more than one occasion, failed to provide adequate direction.  A little bit of mystery is fine, but having a general idea of where you will be traveling – starting and ending up – is paramount to a good trip.  “Ready to Navigate” displayed on the GPS, although humorous, is not helpful at all.  As you can see from the Lightroom Map below from GPS data, we covered some ground over three days.  It was a fabulous trip and experience with my betrothed.

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Here are some photos from Day 3.

The In-Between, Day 2 | Minnesota North Shore

Fall 2013 North Shore series
[Honeymoon Bluff – Gunflint Trail] [Sunrise @ Grand Marais] [Sunrise @ Hollow Rock] [North Shore Abstracts] [Grand Portage State Park]
[The In-Between, Day 1] [The In-Between, Day 2] [The In-Between, Day 3]

Day 2 began exquisitely.  We made our way down to waters edge for the Sunrise @ Grand Marais shoot.  Nature cooperated nicely.  From there, we back-tracked a bit to Cascade River State Park for a beautiful morning hike up the river gorge among the picturesque cascades.  Next we got off the beaten path (Hwy 61) and made our way towards another destination (Hollow Rock Resort).  After checking in we were off on the Gunflint Trail to drive a loop through the forest in search of Devilfish overlook.    We got closed, but missed a road and stumbled on a Red Fox – cute little bugger; then just continued on our way.  We decided to take another run at a sunset at Honeymoon Bluff that overlooks Hungry Jack Lake off the Gunflint Trail.  The second attempt yielded better results than the first.

Another full day on the MN North Shore.  Love this place.  There is a surprise around every corner.

The In-Between, Day 1 | Minnesota North Shore

Fall 2013 North Shore series
[Honeymoon Bluff – Gunflint Trail] [Sunrise @ Grand Marais] [Sunrise @ Hollow Rock] [North Shore Abstracts] [Grand Portage State Park]
[The In-Between, Day 1] [The In-Between, Day 2] [The In-Between, Day 3]

Any long-time follower of this blog knows that with Cyndie and I; although destinations are great, it is all about the journey in between those destination that really stand as lasting memories through the years for us.  This trip was no exception.  The in between was great!

Our first day we made it as far as Grand Marais.  This is by far my favorite area on the MN North Shore to be.  Its close proximity to The Gunflint Trail, Judge CR Magney State Park, Cascade River State Park, Temperance River State Park and all of the back roads, forest roads and loops you can travel are via car are phenomenal.  It’s beautiful country.

Along the way to Grand Marais we stopped at Temperance River State Park.  Later in the afternoon we made out way out to Honeymoon Bluff.  There was no sunset to be had as it was cloudy and overcast, but we made the best of it.  It was full day.  Even Though the color was 100% or past peak (in most areas), there was still some great color and likely 80% less people than a week ago.  Day 1 was pretty smooth sailing; Day 2 though, we were part of a 3 car traffic jam on a forest road.  The congestion cleared soon enough though.  Here are some shot from day 1.

Grand Portage State Park – Gunflint Trail | MN North Shore

Fall 2013 North Shore series
[Honeymoon Bluff – Gunflint Trail] [Sunrise @ Grand Marais] [Sunrise @ Hollow Rock] [North Shore Abstracts] [Grand Portage State Park]
[The In-Between, Day 1] [The In-Between, Day 2] [The In-Between, Day 3]

A favorite destination along the North Shore – actually all the way up to the northern tip – is Grand Portage State Park where the Pigeon River flows over the tallest waterfall in Minnesota.  It is a pretty spectacular site.  It is one of the destinations along the shore that Cyndie and I very much enjoy photographing.  A great attribute of the park is that it is handicapped accessible with a paved trail, boardwalk and ramps to a viewing platform.  The path the falls is a short distance through the forest.  It was overcast that day, but that didn’t seem to dampen the glow of yellow and orange of the Autumn color – it was quite brilliant.

There is a 3.5 mile trail out to middle falls as well.  We found the third waterfall on the pigeon river too (Partridge Falls).  Partridge Falls is pretty good size, but it lacks a decent down-river vantage point.  More on that later…

Here are two views of the high falls and another of the pigeon river flowing toward Lake Superior.

North Shore Abstracts – Gunflint Trail | MN North Shore

Fall 2013 North Shore series
[Honeymoon Bluff – Gunflint Trail] [Sunrise @ Grand Marais] [Sunrise @ Hollow Rock] [North Shore Abstracts] [Grand Portage State Park]
[The In-Between, Day 1] [The In-Between, Day 2] [The In-Between, Day 3]

You can find yourself doing all sorts of things when you are out and about.  We made good use of our midday going to and from locations.  The lovely Autumn colors provided some great backdrops for some abstract shots.  It is something different to do photography-wise and some time you get some pretty interesting shots.

For those of you who have never done anything like this, you can get shots like this with a small aperture (f/16 – f/32) and a slow shutter speed.  Click the shutter and move your camera either up or down from where you started.  Side to side works well to.  You can also zoom in or out to create a pretty neat effect.  Go nuts; there is no wrong method.

Sunrise @ Hollow Rock | MN North Shore #time-lapse

Fall 2013 North Shore series
[Honeymoon Bluff – Gunflint Trail] [Sunrise @ Grand Marais] [Sunrise @ Hollow Rock] [North Shore Abstracts] [Grand Portage State Park]
[The In-Between, Day 1] [The In-Between, Day 2] [The In-Between, Day 3]

resortlocationHollow Rock is located a handful of miles South of Grand Portage, MN.  Hollow Rock Resort is situated in between Hollow Rock Creek and Hollow Rock Road.  The rock formation is located right off of the shore from the resort.  Cyndie and I stayed in Cabin #5 – Moose; Hollow Rock was right out the cabin’s front door.

Being right on location was certainly nice.  All that was needed was to wake up, have some coffee and then set up to shoot.  The in-floor heat was a plus; it made the cabin nice and cozy.  I was also happy to see the tank-less water heater.  It is always good to have hot water.  This is what I like to refer to as remote/comfortable.  There is no cable TV, cellular service or Internet here.  It was quite peaceful.  A great place to get lost for a few days.

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Here are a few other shots from the cabin and around the immediate area outside the cabin.

At this particular time of year, the sunrise lines up nicely with hole in Hollow Rock.  We had a picture-perfect morning for a sunrise.  The weather, clouds and color came together quite nicely.  Here are four frames from that magnificent sunrise shoot.

I continued to practice my time-lapse photography at this location as well.  I had the same issues as before, but I am pleased with the results.

Part One

Part Two