Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall Colors

Since we were gone traveling in Europe most of the summer our truck and camper didn't get much of a workout. So we decided to make a spur of the moment trip to the north shore of Minnesota to see the fall colors. It was a good chance to try out our new camper fridge and the furnace that we hadn't had occasion to turn on yet. We were rewarded with beautiful weather, great scenery and some good camping spots. It did get cold at night- froze the water in Rocky's bowl. But the sun was bright and the sky blue during the day. The furnace worked flawlessly. We didn't really need the fridge with the weather, but it worked flawlessly too. We can tell that will be a luxury we enjoy in the summer. Even now, an afternoon ice cold beer without the hassle of ice and a cooler was a treat. The aspen and maples were near their peak color and the landscape was spectacular.

For those readers not from Minnesota, the term "north shore" refers to the shore of Lake Superior that stretches from Duluth to the Canadian border. The big lake, small towns, state parks and the Superior National Forest make this area an outdoor lover's dream. It is home to some of the oldest rocks on earth, abundant trout streams and is the gateway to the renowned Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Of course, we had to stop on the way for some good food at the Scenic Cafe on old highway 61. The "new" highway is four lanes for a stretch after Two Harbors, but the old highway along the lake shore remains. Two lanes beat 4 lanes any day. The proximity of Lake Superior shore makes this stretch of road pretty special and the food at the Scenic Cafe is pretty special too. We each had a pistacio-crusted baked walleye sandwich with vinaigrette greens and a house green aioli on cranberry nut toast. Pretty good!

We camped the first night at the Temperance River Forest Service campground north of Tofte.

 We enjoyed the sound of the river next to our camp. Rocky was most interested in what was happening on the table.

(note: click on the images to view full-size)

The next day we took a hike on Oberg Mountain.

The trail passes through maple/basswood and aspen forest...


... and eventually emerges from the forest to reveal stunning views of the surrounding forest landscape.

The camera didn't do the colors justice. I think the long views require a sky filter which my little Kodak point and shoot can't accommodate. 
 The contrast between the distant scenes and forest details made for a very enjoyable walk.

The warm sun contrasted with an extraordinary fog bank over Lake Superior.


A view of Oberg Lake

Panorama from the Oberg Lake overlook

Our second night of camping was at the Poplar River forest service campground which we had all to ourselves, except for a fox that wandered through. Another night of being lulled to sleep by the sound of rapids.

We had some great campfires under an almost full waning moon that made the time in darkness easier to pass until the effects of the fresh air and exercise made sleep irresistible.

Thursday's weather report called for the first winter storm of the season- high winds with snow and rain mixed in. This year's color show was soon to be over. We packed up and headed for home by the back roads, refreshed with a good dose of nature's beauty and savoring every moment until the last.


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