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Old 9th October 2011, 00:24   #16
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Default Re: North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

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Originally Posted by akbaree View Post
I use a Nikon D8700. Although P&S, still it has magnesium alloy casing. I love the camera and what makes it amazing is amount of abuse that it has taken and just continues.
Wow! And I thought you were "armed and dangerous" with a hefty DSLR and an assortment of barrel like lens kits.

My compliments to you. Excellent narrative as well.

--Ragul
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Old 9th October 2011, 06:21   #17
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Default Day 3 (Continued)

Day 3 (Continued)

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0132.jpg

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0122.jpg

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0117.jpg

After traveling some 16 miles south from the Canadian border, we reached small town of Hovland. The lady at Grand Portage National Monument had suggested Hovland for buying fur products. While searching for the coveted shop that sells fur products, we instead ran into a shop run by a Russian lady. She didn't had a credit card machine but she still managed to give things off to my wife. I am now mailing a check. So beware. Sadly the shop that sells fur products was closed - don't know why.

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The Map
Please refer to the map for the trail names, the link will take to Google maps. This is my first attempt and I am not sure if there's a better way to share a map. Suggestions welcome.

The trip is taking a different turn now. At Hovland we enter Superior National Forest leaving HWY 61 behind.

Lake Superior in the background
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0133.jpg

Just after a mile or so, the road sent our pulse soaring. Seeing unpaved road like this and no traffic for a few miles, we told ourselves - we have arrived.

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The tree was shining that bright in sunlight.

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We were on Arrowhead trail, having a ball, driving thru some of the most amazing views and first real sense of wilderness. Every couple of miles we will descent into a valley or climb a mountain or pass through some really old Pines and Aspen/Birch meadows. The Sawtooth mountains are not a real mountain range but were took shape when the glaciers receded after the last ice age. They have unique persona.

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn01421.jpg

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Road was becoming more gravelly and there was no going back for next 24 hours.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0149.jpg

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We soon hit the junction of Forest Road 313 and switched to it, as 313 will take us from Arrowhead trail to the Gunflint trail. We were getting ambitious each passing mile. And we decided to switch on the GPS.

Everything has a consequence. Amidst the noise of pure forest air, a digital voice screams at us that we should take a right at next junction. Our notes indicated we should continue on 313. But road to right (USFS 144) looked narrower and we told ourselves this is THE road we always wanted to take. The caution was thrown in to the forest wind that was kind of carrying us.

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn01571.jpg

As can be seen from the photograph it was getting dark. But our world was lit. We were having the adventure that we came for. A big noise - what was that - the car's bottom just hit a boulder pretty bad. And then road kept deteriorating...
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn01581.jpg

Slowly but surely the euphoria was settling down (even if for a moment). All my effort to keep car's bottom off boulders were paying some dividend but half a dozen boulders still managed their aspiration. It also meant our speed was less than 5 miles per hour. It was quite turning out to be a mini off road experience. I have already shut my camera couple of miles back. We were putting our trust in the GPS for guiding us outta here. It says Gunflint trail is now just a mile and a half ahead, so we press on.

Until we faced the eventuality. We hit a dead end. It was already 6:30 PM. Sun was barely peeping through the horizon before we get covered under a cloud of darkness. And here we are - after navigating a muddy dirt road full of boulders.

My heart suddenly sank to ground. I can't believe this is happening. The GPS says Gunflint trail is just 0.3 miles. But all I see is stream of flowing water.

All sort of thoughts are running my mind. I haven't felt worse in my life. I have two very small kids with me. We may have seen only a couple passing souls in last two hours. What if my car is struck in the mud. What if I hit the boulder hard enough to break the car. The mobile has no range. I don't think this is the kind of adventure I was prepared for.

I some how managed to turn the car. I had to drive EV couple of notches to get the picture below as we turned back.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn01601.jpg

My fear is driving me to speed and I want to ensure that I don't hit the boulder out of carelessness. So I kept reminding myself - you are gonna get past this, please don't do anything stupid. And for next 1 hour I kept driving with a pounding heart till we reached our cabin.


P.S.:
Deep inside jungle the logging still continues. I felt sad. But then in India we cleared all forests long back. In US logging is big industry.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn01351.jpg


P.P.S.:
When I look back at the incident, I got into panic mode too soon. But if the worse would have hit us, we would have found our way out.

To be continued...

Last edited by akbaree : 9th October 2011 at 06:23.
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Old 9th October 2011, 11:45   #18
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Default Day 3 (Continued)

Day 3 (Continued)

We finally reached our cabin at around 8:00 PM.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0161.jpg


A word on the Cabin!
My colleague had recommended this cabin to us and I was not sure what to expect. We booked so that we don't have to return to a town to stay for the night. It turned out to be a great experience.

Our cabin was on Clearwater Lake, Cook county. Clearwater Lake is one of the official entry point for BWCA. Here's the link for more information on BWCA. Basically it is a world renowned area for canoeing. It is a Real vast area (thousands of square miles) of lakes where (during summer) canoe lovers from world come to experience. Together with Voyageurs National Park and Canadian Quetico and La Verendrye Parks, Boundary Waters is such a large of continuous wilderness lakes, that one would new few lifetimes to canoe around. Pure wilderness, camp, paddle, fish, eat, camp, and if you like hike. No one will ever find you unless you want to.

Here are some pictures of the cabin. It is one of the oldest cabins ever built on Gunflint trail. I don't even want to imagine number of prime trees each cabin would have consumed. Those are stems of grown trees stacked one over other. I was told that no nail was used in cabin's original construction. It was built using interlocks alone.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0166.jpg
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The guy recently bought that property and was very friendly. He tells us that it is going to be a good night to gaze stars. The temperature outside was 4-5 degrees Celsius. But the deck on the lake was just outside the cabin.

All I know is that some places are better than other to gaze night sky. But I will never forget the half hour we spent on the deck that night. I have never seen such a littered sky. It was so full of stars, actually I have no words to describe. I also saw my longest broken star (would have traveled at least couple of seconds). And the reflection of brightly lit sky (stars) in the endless lake was wonderful.

To be continued...
Tomorrow we drive thru more forest roads to enjoy fall colors and the drive back home (Minneapolis)

Last edited by akbaree : 9th October 2011 at 11:47.
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Old 10th October 2011, 10:49   #19
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Default Day 4 (10/2/2011)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragul View Post
Wow! And I thought you were "armed and dangerous" with a hefty DSLR and an assortment of barrel like lens kits.

My compliments to you. Excellent narrative as well.

--Ragul
I wish I was armed in that sense. Thanks for the compliment and I am glad that you enjoyed reading so far.

************************************************** **

Day 4 (10/2/2011)

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0194.jpg

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0195.jpg

It was a misty morning indeed. But after a good night's sleep, we were in good spirit. I don't know where my son got the idea of paddling but he has been wanting to paddle all through the trip. We happened to be in paddling mecca. So I go to the cabin office and inquire about renting a canoe. He first looks at me and then tells " sir, it comes with your cabin". We would be perhaps only folks that would have rented his cabin not to enjoy the canoe and just to spend a night.

Well, what else, we took to the lake. Neither me or my son had paddled before. We have done paddle boating but paddling a canoe? Anyways the guy was kind enough to give us a 101. He informs us - the lake is 7 miles long and 130 feet deep. And he also gives us a detailed map of the lake and points to couple of good hiking options. I tell him - don't worry, we are like gonna paddle for couple of hundred meters.

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0205.jpg

Paddling was fun. Without realizing we almost reached a distance that our cabin was barely visible. Honestly I enjoyed so much that when I look at any travelogues on TBHP now that has a lake (e.g. Kaas log), all I am thinking is me in a canoe in those lakes. The views were amazing, I think it is almost impossible to get views from a road or a hike that you can get from a water body. I had latent desire to course some rivers. It now looks like I am gonna fulfill this dream some day.

To be continued...

Last edited by akbaree : 10th October 2011 at 10:56.
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Old 10th October 2011, 12:08   #20
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Default Day 4 (Continued)

Day 4 (Continued)

Canoeing was impromptu. This trip was full of impromptus. We had planned to cover couple of designated fall trails (drivable) in Superior National Forest. While in Duluth, with the help of online Google map, I had worked out a route map to cover these Fall trails without needing to come back to HWY 61. The idea was to stay in the forest. After yesterday I was shaken a bit. I and wife discuss the prospect of taking this route. All we have is my personal notes taken down in haste. And for traversing 40 miles I have 4 full pages of notes - that much twisty the route is if we have to avoid HWY 61. We decide that if just see a track with tall grass between tracks, we will retreat to HWY 61.

Here's the map to first section, please click to open in Google
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We started our day with a short hike to Honeymoon bluff. Here's a magnificent view of Hungry Jack Lack - may be 5% of the lake is visible in the panorama
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-lakes-honeymoon-bluff-gunfling-trail-2.jpg

On Gunflint Trail to HWY 61, we took a right turn (south) on Pine Mountain Road. We don't know what to expect from here on. Now we are on my impromptu route.

It started with birch and aspen trees intertwined with pines
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0221.jpg

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0226.jpg

Soon we realized that whoever named the road, named it aptly. We had some wonderful Pines on the 10 mile stretch that ended at Devil Track Road.

I wish I had more depth of field on these few next photos. It was amazing layer of aspens, pines and hills in the background.

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0222.jpg

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0227.jpg

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0228.jpg

In this part of the world one is never more that few hundred meters from a lake.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0225.jpg

Suspiciously, we continue to follow the notes. The Devil Track road and subsequent roads continued to became narrower and more.n more gravely. But we were finding landmarks as noted and so we continued. As we turned on Forest Road 161, after a mile the road turned into a track with tall grass. And then we see a vehicle from Storm Chasers parked perched into trees. It turned out that someone from Storm Chaser was enjoying dirt driving on his ATV. When I looked at the map (after returning) with sufficient zoom, it does hit various streams. We were at a dead end yet again. So we had to retrace to HWY 61.

Here's the retrace map
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We managed good views anyways
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-stitched_002.jpg

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-fall-colors-superior-national-forest-2.jpg

To be continued...
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Old 10th October 2011, 21:41   #21
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Default Day 4 (Continued)

Day 4 (Continued)
This is the concluding post...


After retreating to HWY 61, we decided to quit and return. We have had so much fun already. However something still felt missing. After all we came here for a Fall drive. With everything else, we have had our share of colors but we there was an itch for more. Though we were driving back home, the eyes and heart were still wondering.

So 16 miles into our drive, I see a board for Caribou Trail and it lit my senses. I remember this trail. I stop my car and go thru my notes. And voila. The dead end from where we retreated, was to end on Caribou Trail. We are back in business. We take westwards again. Honeymoon Trail and Forest Road 166 (6 Hundred Rd) are some of the most colorful trails during Fall. We are onto them.

Here's the map for our last westward sojourn in to Superior National Forest. Please click on the picture to open in Google maps.
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And in this 65 mile detour, at least 40 miles were full of colors - colors in front of you, on sides of you, behind you and on top of you

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0235.jpg

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My favourite
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North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-fall-colors-forest-rd-166-.jpg

The colors finally consummated our trip. As everyone is saying - stay hungry and stay foolish.

From Beaver Bay to Minneapolis, it was around 225 miles of uneventful drive except some frustration from high traffic and road work on I35. We reached home just after 10:00 PM.

___________

Concluded
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Old 11th October 2011, 01:43   #22
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Default Re: North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

Amazing trip log anant. Thoroughly enjoyed the pictures and the narrations, you have made me desire a trip to the mid west, now probably next year.
Just curious what kind of speed did you have to maintain these roads? was it the standard 35-40mph
Thanks for sharing
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Old 11th October 2011, 09:59   #23
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Default Re: North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

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Amazing trip log anant. Thoroughly enjoyed...
Thank you

Quote:
Just curious what kind of speed did you have to maintain these roads? was it the standard 35-40mph
The forest roads in Superior National Forest had no posted speed limits. But you cannot do more 20-30 miles unless you are driving an SUV. On some really narrow stretches you will be able to do 10 miles only. On some of the broader sections of the road (perhaps because these roads connect communities (forest products), you will find rogue SUV crowd. Be prepared for a smashed windshield or window glass from loose gravels as speeding SUV's show no mercy.

P.S.: Before I left for the trip, I was a little upset that my new set of tires didn't arrive in time for the trip. But later I felt happy. The bad roads would have destroyed my new tires.
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Old 11th October 2011, 11:32   #24
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Default Re: North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

Excellent pics and narration once again akbaree. I have rated this thread 5 stars.

Can you post a snapshot of the overall route map as per Google ?

Last edited by vasoo : 11th October 2011 at 11:34.
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Old 12th October 2011, 08:26   #25
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Default Re: North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

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Excellent pics and narration once again akbaree. I have rated this thread 5 stars.

Can you post a snapshot of the overall route map as per Google ?
Hi Vasoo - thanks for the rating. And I am glad you enjoyed the log.

Except the tricky trail maps that I have posted on the log, the trip otherwise was straight forward. I35 (Minneapolis - Duluth, and HWY 61 Duluth - Canadian Border). But I will create an overall route map and post it over the weekend.
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