July 6, 2007

The Witch Tree

As we drove away from this small community, this sign reminded us of how important it is to slow down and find those special places, off the beaten path.

We realized that we had missed an important landmark for this area...the Witch Tree. This legendary cedar is said to be in excess of 200 years old, and is surrounded by sailors myth & lore. It appears to have little or no source of water or nourishment, standing alone on the bare rock, and is considered a sacred "spirit tree" by the local Indians.

We had to ask several people for directions to it's whereabouts, and actually backtracked ten or so miles to discover this treasure of Nature!

Circle Tour - Duluth to Grand Portage

This week marked the start of our Lake Superior "Circle Tour" although our plans will not take us all of the way back around (1200 miles total) to Duluth. We intend to do the Northern portion thruohg Canada, then hook back down Westward to the Pictured Rocks area in Michigan's UP. Kim has seen most of the areas North of Duluth, but it was a real treat for me, and we enjoyed sharing the experience. First stop was the Split Rock Lighthouse, probably the best known on the Lake and is said to be the most photographed. http://www.mnhs.org/places/sites/srl/aboutsrl.html

We were greeted with a cold wind and some fog at the bay below the, but did get just enough of a break for a few photos and a short hike along the beach.

We spent a couple of nights at the Temperance River State CG, which is an area featuring interesting geology, and a narrow gorge cut by the River, accompanied by many small and beautiful waterfalls upstream. In addition to hiking the area, we took a bike ride to the shoreline, and were surprised by the clear water, colorful rocks, and fabulous views along the coastline. The blue waters reminded us of being on the Pacific! It's hard to believe that Superior is a land-locked freshwater lake.

Evenings were usually spent sitting by the side of a river or lake, next to a warm campfire enjoying a glass of our favorite wine!

Next stop was at the Cascades Falls, where Sam enjoyed the cool temperatues near the River.

Then onward to Tettegouche S P,where we crossed an interesting swinging bridge to get to it's two beautiful waterfalls.

We continued on the idea of a bike ride, we found a trail out to a high overlook onShovel Point with some amazing views!

In addition to the spectacular Lake views, we were treated to beautiful flowers along the cliffs and trails....

When we arrived at Grand Marais, we promptly discover a wonderful local; resturant....whose owners pride themselves on using only the finest fresh & locally grown (caught) products whenever possible. The entire cafe is operated with minimum impact to the environment, and was a delight to visit!

Everything from the flowers out front to the food on the tables, to the bathroom in the back was unusual and beautiful.
If you are ever in the area you must drop in and try their wonderful dishes! You can learn more about them at http://www.angrytroutcafe.com/ATpage3.html

As we continued further North, approaching the Canadian border, we made a final stop at Grand Portage, the original site of the Fort where fur traders gathered after a long season of trapping to exchange their pelts for goods, supplies and cash.
The Fort is staffed with volunteers that were very knowledgeable of the history and crafts of the era. Kim enjoyed learning about early Indian family life while I spent much of the time in the canoe building shop.

We enjoyed talking to the volunteers at the Fort, this lady was very knowledgeable of Indian ways & crafts. She explained that she & her husband were full-timers, volunteering at the post for the summer in trade for a place to park their camper.
Another area of particular interest was the kitchen. Lake trout were roasting on the open pit as we entered. The cook was very helpful in explaining how things were done in the old days, and that all their ingedients were locally obtained, including veggies grown in the garden out back.

The views of the upper end of the Lake were especially rewarding form this area. We tried to book passage on the ferry to Isle Royal, America's only island National Park, but were unable to due to heavy reservations & bookings.