Grand Island – Lake Superior shrinkage…

Trout Bay

Sorry for the delay! There has been a ton of things going on including gradution and preparations to move to Bend, Oregon. The Midwest Outdoor Blog will be going through some changes in the coming weeks, but stay tuned!

We are headed to Grand Island in Lake Superior (Gitche Gumee) for some kayaking and backpacking fun as part of a midwest “Bucket List”. We will be some of the earliest campers/ paddlers on Grand Island’s shores, and the 40 degree water will be sure to make us feel fairly “puny”.

The plan is to take an open water kayaking course on Thursday, then tour the dramatic cliffs of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore that same afternoon. On Friday we will paddle across the channel to the island and spend the next two nights beach camping on the shore of Trout Bay in Lake Superior.

I will give a full update when we get back!

Porkie Pow(d)er!

Backcountry Porkie Powder!

We all know that Porcupine Mountains State Park “The Porkies” are best served in the fall, when the color wheel of leaves is awe-inspiring.  But as locals will tell you, the winter will offer the solitude you crave, and the opportunity to frolic in some of the deepest, lightest snow east of the Rockies (around 200 inches per year).

Porkies Yurt

The park has almost 100 miles of designated ski trails that come complete with panorama views of Lake Superior “Gitchee Gumee” shoreline, and peaceful glides through deep forest in a winter wonderland!  For a quick six-miler, follow the interpretive trail to the south from the visitor center and the Nonesuch trail past the ski area to the Superior Loop.  On the way enjoy sweeping views of  the big lake.  The Deer Yard Trail will loop you back home to the visitor center, but you can also turn this into a weekend trip.  Reserve a spot and get one of the rustic backcountry cabins that are ski-in (Details HERE).  Be sure to book in advance!

Gitchee Gumee

Aurora Borealis…Where to see it?

Did you now that an 11-year sun cycle that influences the intensity of Aurora Borealis (better known as the Northern Lights) will peak during 2012 and 2013?  Perfect!  Enough time to plan a trip to one of these two places, to catch a glimpse of the best Northern Lights show in the Lower 48.

Spending a night beneath this natural, psychedelic light show really ought to be on your backpacking bucket list, especially if you live in the Midwest!  Really getting it right is key, and there are a couple of key factors that come into play when deciding where and when to go!

Part 1.  Go NORTH!  Duh…

Parts 2 & 3.  Consider moon phase and equinox – This is because on a moonless night you will be able to see the phenomenon better, and equinox, because the Earth’s magnetic fields will align with the sun and it helps intensify the glow.

Lake Superior Northern Lights - credit Travis Novitsky

To get north with ease consider heading back into the bush of Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota, or the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Both places should provide northern exposed views, and little – if any – light pollution.

Snowshoe deep into the lakeshore near the vernal equinox (March) or do it bug-free in the fall (September).

For Boundary Waters Minnesota, consider Angleworm Lake for low light pollution and camping spots on northern facing shorelines!
EJ