Saturday, July 8, 2017
One of the last places I camped while on my massive road trip was Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. My first time camping there was years ago, and it was extremely hot, so I left early. This time, even though it was hot, I was determined to see the park and camped in the South Unit for three nights.
The sky is so beautiful in North Dakota, with puffy white clouds stretching out into thin wisps of smoke. You can get lost in the clouds if you're not careful.
I arrived at the Visitor Center around 1pm and it was HOT! Remember I am used to ocean breezes and fog in the morning! That is me in front of the Painted Canyon. I wanted to explore, but decided to wait until it cooled down.
Do you see any shade trees? No, either did I. Thankfully I brought my shade shelter which was impossible to put up in that heat. I did it anyway, even though it turned out lopsided. The following day, I moved to a site with a little shade, and one big fat rattlesnake that nearly bit me.
The Little Missouri River flows through the park, and is right behind the campground. Its not the kind of river you swim in, or even wade in. I don't know why, its just not. Pretty for reflections!
One morning I woke up early and jumped in the car to go out exploring. A misty cloud covered the ground and looked so cool in the morning light.
I passed this solitary huge bison who was very nonchalantly scratching his neck on the road barrier. He must have stood there forever, scratching this way and that. Not wanting to disturb him, I stayed in my car and took the picture through my open window!
Further down the road a herd of bison were coming down the hill and crossed the road right in front of me. I had no choice but to wait in the car until they all passed. After I got home I found out that the day before I left Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a tourist up in the North Unit was gored by a bison while out taking pictures of the beasts. Always best to keep your distance from bison, especially early evenings.
The Maltese Cross cabin was built for Roosevelt on his Maltese Cross Ranch. Following the death of his first wife and mother, both on the same day, Teddy Roosevelt spent nearly three years going back and forth between New York and North Dakota, immersing himself in the hunting and ranching lifestyle. Even though his ranch never prospered, he thrived and went on to become the 26th President of the United States.
The Badlands in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a place that fills ones soul with a desolate beauty.
Looking down into Wind Canyon nearly took my breath away. It was so incredibly gorgeous!
Wild blue violets grow in the park, and look so sweet against such austere beauty.
"There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm." Theodore Roosevelt
Wild horses roam the park and kept turning up in the most unexpected places!
"It was here that the romance of my life began." Theodore Roosevelt
Erosion has carved the sandstone into beautiful formations; a perfect sculpture in a hostile place.
I said goodbye to Theodore Roosevelt National Park and began the long journey home. My heart was thrilled to have nearly accomplished my personal goal to see all 59 of our National Parks. This road trip brought me to 54 out of our 59 National Parks that I have visited and camped at. After 9500 miles, 22 states and several months on the road, I finally found my way home. It was a wonderful journey, one that will remain in my heart forever. Happy Trails to you and yours, and may you find the time to step out and explore those wonderfully beautiful wild places known as our National Parks. Susan Little
Sunday, July 2, 2017
Lake Vermillion in Minnesota, tinted red by the morning sunrise. After my backpacking trip in Isle Royale, I had about 2 weeks before my canoe trip in Voyageurs National Park. For several nights I camped at Lake Vermillion and one morning while out exploring, I found this gorgeous sunrise reflecting in the lake.
My first encounter with mayflies was at Lake Vermillion. There must have been billions swarming over the lake in the morning and evening. Fortunately they don't sting or bite so I wasn't afraid of them and tried to just wipe them off my car and clothing each morning.
The windswept lake was cold and beautiful. I found quite a bit of sea glass on the shore, which technically would be lake glass!
The fairly close city of Ely, where I spent time looking through the shops and taking pictures. I got used to seeing canoes and kayaks on top of vehicles, rather than surfboards like I see back home!
After Lake Vermillion, I camped at the Kawishiwi River, which looks more like a lake than a river.
One morning I was walking on the path by the river and surprised this little fawn. She was running down the path straight for me and skidded to a stop when she saw me. Then she promptly turned around and tore off in the other direction. Hoping to see her again, I got out my camera and stood perfectly still. Within minutes she came walking down the trail and stood right next to my leg. Maybe she thought I was a tree! She sniffed at my feet and then quietly walked off, so I snapped this shot of her. A precious encounter.
Have been working on my photo skills and was quite pleased with this dandelion photo!
After the Kawishiwi River, you try pronouncing these names, I drove up to Crane Lake, where my friend Jerry's wife has a family home there. Jerry was very good about giving me tips on all the places to see in Voyageurs, so I followed his advice. Thank you Jerry!
I had coffee at one of the lodges at Crane Lake, then went down and relaxed by the water.
My next stop was Ash River, where I found a gorgeous campground right on the river. The grass had been freshly mowed and smelled so good and a delightful breeze kept the bugs off of me.
This was my view every morning for one week! My campsite looked out over the Ash River, which also looks like a lake. It rained a little bit every day, which made for beautiful clouds.
This little Leopard Frog lived along the shore line, and each morning I walked down to visit with him. I told him all my secrets, and I am sure he kept them to himself.
I was very excited to finally arrive at Voyageurs National Park, located in northern Minnesota near the Canadian border. This shot was taken at the Ash River Visitor Center, where I was climbing around on the rocks. For years I dreamed of visiting Voyageurs National Park, and now I was actually here and overflowing with joy!
Meet Wild Billy, or so his friends call him. He came into my campsite one day and invited me on a boat ride. Of course I accepted and he told me he would return in 30 minutes to take me out on his motor boat. It started raining while he was gone and I wondered if he would come back. Sure enough he did.
While I stood on the shore of the Ash River waiting for Billy, a rainbow appeared over the river, and then he showed up. Two miracles.
Billy took me way out into Lake Kabetogama, and officially into Voyageurs National Park, where we saw the sun setting. Over 95% of the park is in water, so I was thrilled to have a sneak preview before my canoe trip. However, they don't call Billy wild for nothing....needless to say, I was glad to get back on shore and into my warm, cozy little Subee....alone.
A selfie out at the Beaver Pond overlook in Ash River.
I was so nervous to finally go on my canoe trip. It was the kind of trip where all the participants paddle, cook, clean up and what not. It was such fun hanging out with our three guides and seven other participants. That would be me with Ricky just after we got loaded into the canoe and were setting out.
Our first campsite on Bald Rock. Kai is on the far right, and the four teenagers are John, Kapawlaw, Anika and Ricky. I grew to love them all in just 5 days time.
Paddling to our second campsite on Cutover Island nearly killed me, but was fun just the same. At camp, I even jumped in the lake and swam around in my life vest! The pretty young girl in this picture is Kapawlaw, my tent roommate on the trip. I miss her quiet, sweet ways so much. She and her boyfriend John are originally from Thailand.
Ethan showed me this birds nest he found while out looking for mushrooms. So sweet.
Ethan, Katie and Kai, our guides for the trip. We had great food, warm fires, fun card games, lots of talking and laughing, all led by these three talented people!
That would be Ethan, sleeping in his hammock after a hard days work.
Here I am feeling quite happy. I was so worried I wouldn't be able to keep up with everyone, but I did, even though I was the first one in bed every night.
Our last night back on Bald Rock, where the storm clouds came in.
An ominous sky gave way to rain, pouring soaking rain, that hit us in the morning as we were preparing breakfast and packing our gear. It was pretty miserable. Fortunately our paddle back to the Ash River was short.
We arrived at the dock, gathered our gear, and sorted it out of the huge waterproof bags. It was an awesome trip, so much fun, so many wonderful people. Yes I was glad to be back at my Subee, but I would do it all over again. Thank you Wilderness Inquiry for a fabulous experience!
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
The Beaver House caught my attention, as you can see. I was on my way up to Grand Portage in Minnesota and stopped at Grand Marais for some coffee. I nearly jerked my neck off while passing this sporting goods store. Everything you need for fishing, that's for sure!
At Grand Portage I camped on Lake Superior with the Chippewa Native Americans, before taking the boat over to Isle Royale. The Native Americans were very sweet to me, which was especially appreciated in such a far-away place. I must have been sweet to the bugs, as they came to visit me in horrendous clouds of mosquitoes and black flies. Crazy.
The Voyageur II was the boat that took me on a 2-hour ride over to Isle Royale in Lake Michigan. Great crew, fast ride. I didn't even get sick. That made me happy.
There are several places you can land on the island, and I chose Windigo on the southwest end of the island. On shore I pensively waited for my backpack to be unloaded, and then I was on my way.
Isle Royale is a remote car-free island in Lake Superior with 36 campgrounds and a lodge on the far eastern side of the island. The lodge was out of my price range so I got to sleep in the dirt.
Backpacking is not my favorite mode of travel, but in order to see Isle Royale, you have to do some walking. That would be me, bravely walking 4 1/2 miles to my campsite in Huginnin's Cove. Most people walked the entire length of the island about 40 miles, but I knew this gal would collapse and croak if I tried that. Along the trail, I surprised a moose and he turned around so fast and galloped away like a horse. Surprising for such a large animal.
At last I reached my little campsite in Huginnins Cove. I had to filter my water, which didn't go so well, so I decided to boil it instead and promptly ran out of gas after the second day. Then I had to eat cold food and drink cold instant coffee, with water filtered by my questionable water filter.
After setting up camp I spent the rest of my time building fires, exploring and taking pictures. I saw thousands of rocks, but did not take any as Isle Royale is a National Park, and you cannot take anything.
One of the other hikers told me he saw ice on the trail by the water, so one morning I set out to find it. Sure enough huge blocks of ice sat in a small cove, slowly melting in the warm sun.
Fragile flower blooming in the rocks and dirt.
Perfect reflection in Lake Superior. I saw all kinds of wild birds while camping on Isle Royale; an Osprey catching two fish, very large seagulls, wild geese and ducks. You can barely see the birds in my pictures, so I didn't even post.
My sister Dorothy is the one who got me looking for mushrooms. When I went to Alaska I found hundreds of mushrooms and started taking pictures for my sister, then I got hooked and started taking pictures for myself. Eventually I will look them up and get the proper names.
A small butterfly on the rocks.
This wonderful family, Becky and her dad, plus her two nephews were camping alongside of me for one night. She watched over me as well as her own family.
On the last day at Huginnins Cove, everyone that was camping with me packed up and hiked out. I had the whole place to myself and explored to my hearts content. It was wonderful! The following morning the Merganser ducks were making so much noise that it woke me up. I jumped out of bed, got dressed and rushed out hoping to see them swimming. They were out there, but so far away I couldn't get a good picture, however, the sunrise was spectacular!
On my way out, I had to cross dozens of these little bridges, very difficult with my heavy pack on as most of them had no handrails. By the time I got back to Windigo I was very tired. Had to spend one more night, where I saw another moose wading in Washington Creek. The following morning I woke up with a raging migraine, and was puking in a large baggie while trying to pack up, when a ranger came by. She was so kind and packed all my stuff, carried my pack, and helped me to the boat dock. I had to wait several hours for the boat, and was absolutely miserable. Surprisingly Becky, the gal I had met at the cove, came by and along with several other ladies helped me into the shade, brought me a drink and kept checking on me. Its all a blur, but I made it back on the boat, rode with the wind and the rain, found my car on the mainland and drove away. God bless all those people who helped me!
It wasn't long before I was feeling better and headed over to Ely to find a place to camp. Along the way, this house caught my eye, and I took a picture of the photographer getting ready to take his picture!
One last reflection in a pond and I will say good-bye. I thank the Lord for taking care of me on that trip and sending people to help me. He is a good, good God, and I am loved by Him! Good night to one and all. Susan Little
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