Our BWCA Adventure 2017!

This trip was so amazing! Last week Ari and I went into the boundary waters with our six year old (you know him as "Hani the Intern"), my sister (Jen) and her five year old boy (ollie) for three nights. Be prepared for a long post about our adventure, or if you'd like, just scroll through and look at the pretty pictures!

We started our adventure by camping at East Bearskin campground on the Gunflint Trail outside of Grand Marais, Minnesota before paddling in the next day. Because we're crazy, we decided to take one car, Jen's Subaru, with three adults, two kids, two canoes, and a whole bunch of gear. It was a tight squeeze, but we made it. 

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The morning that we paddled into the boundary waters brought rain... lots of rain. Taking down our tents in the downpour was a challenge, and we failed miserably at keeping the insides dry. After loading up our sodden gear, we went a little farther down the Gunflint Trail to the Trailhead Center for a cozy breakfast. That hot breakfast really hit the spot, and as we sat at our window seat staring out at the drizzly Poplar lake, we seriously considered staying there all morning until the rain cleared up. But we knew that campsites would be hard to find later in the day so onward and yonward we went!

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 I realized a little too late that my rain coat needs a new waterproof coating. So I bought this rain suit, which kept me dry until the first portage when it started shredding! The thing is now in the trash...  Hani and Ollie shared the Trail Center's famous pancake. I think between the two of them they only ate bout 1/4 of the giant thing!

As we paddled in, we passed many people on their way out; fed up with the rain. We ran into another group traveling with kids who said it had rained on them the entire time and they had a leak in their tent! Three out of four of their kids were balling. I did not envy them, but we remained optimistic and paddled on.

After three portages, we reached horseshoe lake. By now, the rain had stopped and the sun was finally starting to come out. We unpacked our gear and  started to dry things out. Jen's tent was so tiny she just set it up and hung the whole thing on one of our makeshift laundry lines to dry. By dinner time, we were feeling pretty good! Ari had prepared a whole bunch DIY dehydrated meals for us to eat while camping and it felt so good to eat a "home cooked meal" on that chilly evening. 

 In an effort to keep my sensitive tummy happy during our trip, Ari made all our food at home, dehydrated it and packed it in. It all tasted amazing! Check out his new blog  finnkidd.com  to read about it!

In an effort to keep my sensitive tummy happy during our trip, Ari made all our food at home, dehydrated it and packed it in. It all tasted amazing! Check out his new blog finnkidd.com to read about it!

 The sunset from our campsite on horseshoe lake that night was so worth the paddle in the rain!

The sunset from our campsite on horseshoe lake that night was so worth the paddle in the rain!

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On our second day, the sky was clear, the sun was out, and it was beautiful! We spent most of the day exploring the lakes around us. We were hoping to spot a moose on our way through the swampy area of horseshoe lake where they were known to be, but we got going way too late in the day for that. 

 Goofballs getting ready for a day of exploring! They handled our six portages that day like champs!

Goofballs getting ready for a day of exploring! They handled our six portages that day like champs!

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 Hani was Ari's canoe buddy, he did great!

Hani was Ari's canoe buddy, he did great!

 A water fall at one of the portages on Horseshoe lake. I had fun playing with my new  underwater housing bag , I'm skeptical about dunking the whole thing underwater, but it was fun to half submerge it.

A water fall at one of the portages on Horseshoe lake. I had fun playing with my new underwater housing bag, I'm skeptical about dunking the whole thing underwater, but it was fun to half submerge it.

 Swimming break at lunch! It was still a pretty chilly day, but not too chilly for these boys!

Swimming break at lunch! It was still a pretty chilly day, but not too chilly for these boys!

 Poor Ari had to carry both of those 85lb canoes, but he was the one who decided we should portage six times on this day trip so it is what it is.

Poor Ari had to carry both of those 85lb canoes, but he was the one who decided we should portage six times on this day trip so it is what it is.

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 Some well deserved relaxing at camp!

Some well deserved relaxing at camp!

 Another gorgeous sunset, this time with my camera half underwater with the help of  my underwater bag !

Another gorgeous sunset, this time with my camera half underwater with the help of my underwater bag!

 A gorgeous clear night!

A gorgeous clear night!

Our third morning was yet another beautiful day filled with sunshine and adventure! We explored in a different direction on this day, seeking some cliffs that turned out to be farther away than we expected so we never made it there. But we still saw some pretty sights along the way.

 Ari was up to capture the sunrise on this morning.

Ari was up to capture the sunrise on this morning.

 We forgot all of Hani's markers in the car, so he improvised with some charcoal from the campfire from the night before. Turned out to be pretty fun, I made a drawing or two as well!

We forgot all of Hani's markers in the car, so he improvised with some charcoal from the campfire from the night before. Turned out to be pretty fun, I made a drawing or two as well!

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 This portage had mud past our knees!

This portage had mud past our knees!

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 We found a rock just barely under the surface of the water, Hani wanted to make it look like he was standing on the water and paddling!

We found a rock just barely under the surface of the water, Hani wanted to make it look like he was standing on the water and paddling!

 Another shot of that milkyway

Another shot of that milkyway

 Star trails while the moon rose!

Star trails while the moon rose!

On our fourth morning, we packed up to head back to the city. As we were packing up, we heard a ton of loud splashing from across the lake. I thought it was a loon taking off, Ari said "I think that's a moose!" So we ran down to shore to check it out. Through the mist we could see nothing, but we were certain as to what was there. Ari ran back up to snatch Hani from his sleeping bag, Ollie ran to get his binoculars and Jen. When they came back, a momma moose and her calf emerged from the morning mist and crossed the lake. Man are they beautiful and man are they loud! They were very far away, but we could still appreciate their beauty and it is a moment that we will remember forever. I feel very fortunate that Hani and Ollie were able to experience that at such a young age! I've waited my whole life to see a moose, what lucky boys!

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After the shock of our moose sighting wore off, we continued to pack up camp.

 Hani wanted a job this morning, so he made everyone breakfast! I was so impressed with his helpfulness around camp and on the portages this trip. He seemed to really get it this time around, that camping his hard work and that's part of the fun of it!

Hani wanted a job this morning, so he made everyone breakfast! I was so impressed with his helpfulness around camp and on the portages this trip. He seemed to really get it this time around, that camping his hard work and that's part of the fun of it!

 Since Ari had to portage both canoes, it was my job to carry "Big Greenie". It only took my down once, which was a challenge for me to stand back up again since I was alone and I couldn't take it off and put it back on again on my own. Eventually I made it to my feet again. 

Since Ari had to portage both canoes, it was my job to carry "Big Greenie". It only took my down once, which was a challenge for me to stand back up again since I was alone and I couldn't take it off and put it back on again on my own. Eventually I made it to my feet again. 

What an amazing four days, we can't wait to get back out there!

BWCA Moose Sighting!

So... This magic happened yesterday...

We just got home from 3 days in the BWCA. On our last morning, as we were packing up camp to head home, we heard a crazy amount of splashing from the other side of the lake. Ari thought it must be either a really obnoxious paddler, or a moose! So we ran down to the shore to check it out. Through the mist, came these incredibly majestic creatures! A calf and its momma! They were far away, but we could still appreciate how beautiful they are!

Summer Adventure! The Lake Superior Hiking Trail!

We recently got our feet wet into the world of backpacking! A few weeks ago, Ari and I set out with some friends on the famous Lake Superior Hiking Trail. We've always been into camping and hiking, but we've never before done a trip where we carried everything we needed on our backs. For this adventure, we were lucky to have one experienced hiker along with three newbies and a friendly dog! 

On Thursday, we camped at Jay Cooke State Park so that we could get an earlier start on the trail the next morning. On Friday, we entered the trail at the Cook County Rd 1 trail head and began our trek. Our First day was only 5.3 miles to where we camped on the banks of Cross River. It was a beautiful spot, but also very popular with other backpackers so we had plenty of company on our first night out on the trail. 

On the 2nd day we hiked a whopping 9.1 miles to Springdale Creek! That might not seem far to many, but for this newbie wearing a borrowed pack that didn't fit me, trail running shoes for footwear, and knees that I inherited from my father; it was quite a feet. I hobbled into camp that night, parked my butt on the crude bench by the fire, and didn't do much else until bed time!

Our third day was easy! I awoke feeling sore, but excited and was smart enough to chase my breakfast with some ibuprofen! Plus, we only had to go 4 miles that day! We exited at the Oberg Mountain Trailhead and headed for home. 

Going into this trip I wasn't so sure I would like backpacking. Carrying everything on my back sounded exhausting, and it was! But a good kind of exhausting. Here's a few images from our weekend on the trail!

 These handy little guys gave us peace of mind that we were indeed still on the trail.

These handy little guys gave us peace of mind that we were indeed still on the trail.

 The brown river water didn't look too tasty, but it actually tasted really fresh! We filtered  ours with a platypus filter.

The brown river water didn't look too tasty, but it actually tasted really fresh! We filtered  ours with a platypus filter.

 Cross River and the site of our first campsite.

Cross River and the site of our first campsite.

 Temperance River at Temperance State Park. It was a bit odd to come crashing out of the woods and find ourselves amongst well dressed (and by well dressed, I mean clean) tourists and others camping in the "luxury' of the State Park.

Temperance River at Temperance State Park. It was a bit odd to come crashing out of the woods and find ourselves amongst well dressed (and by well dressed, I mean clean) tourists and others camping in the "luxury' of the State Park.

 We parked our dirty selves on the rocks of the temperance river right in the middle of the tourists and ate our lunch.

We parked our dirty selves on the rocks of the temperance river right in the middle of the tourists and ate our lunch.

 Our boots got pretty wet the 2nd day. When the guidebook says "tends to be muddy", they mean lakes of mud to transverse across!

Our boots got pretty wet the 2nd day. When the guidebook says "tends to be muddy", they mean lakes of mud to transverse across!

 The aftermath of our footwear. Although my trail running shoes served me well, I think my feet would have been happier in some proper hiking boots...

The aftermath of our footwear. Although my trail running shoes served me well, I think my feet would have been happier in some proper hiking boots...

A Spring Hike with my Favorite

The hubby and I managed to squeeze in a spring hike at Chester Creek last weekend while in Duluth visiting family. It was a bit of an effort as the trail was shear ice in the shady spots, which put both of us into some pretty hilarious situations and by the end of it we were both sweating profusely. Such a refreshing hike and a much needed breath of fresh air for both of us. chester-river-sring-hike-duluth-northern-minnesota-northshore-melanie-mahonen-photography

North Shore Waves

We spent an awesome weekend up on the North Shore last weekend. No snow, but the recent rain and wind led to some amazing, roaring waterfalls and crashing waves. Here's one shot from our awesome weekend! 01-north-shore-minnesota-lake-superior-lutsen-crashing-waves-warm-december-melanie-mahonen-photography