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Anything outdoors!  Tornadoes, eagles, blizzards, or auroras.  If it is in the sky, running through the woods or swimming in the water, I'm there!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

April 12 2015 First Good Thunderstorms of the Season

Although sub-severe, central Minnesota had a round of thunderstorms which if nothing more, brought some much needed moisture to the area. With a cold front passing through the area with a little bit of elevated instability, a couple of lines of storms form. The first was on a pre-frontal trough / wind shift line and the second right on or just behind the cold front itself. Although there was some risk for hail or gusty winds, I was hoping for something at least somewhat visually appealing.

My son, Cullen, came home from work and hopped in just as I was leaving to check out the towers growing to the west of us. We headed to highway 15 north of Powder Ridge Ski Area where we had a clear view of the cells working their way up the trough.

Definitely better than I was hoping for.

The cool structure and colors faded out pretty quickly so we decided to head east with it a bit towards Clearwater.

We gave up on the storm just the other side of Clearwater as the most interesting structure was now north of the interstate and nothing coming up from the southwest looked very good.

A little later, (right at sunset) the cold front came through with a second line of storms. The light was awesome with everything from orange/yellow to electric blue all at once.

Cold front passage!

A little lightning on the backside of the storms to close out the day.

Looks like this week will be damp and cool coming up. Maybe another hiking overnight trip next weekend!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

April 10th and 11th Overnight In Tettegouche State Park Campsite E

Sleeping on a cliff above Lake Superior. Is it on your "to do" list? If not, add it. Last winter I participated in the Checkpoint MN scavenger hunt and walked away with a super nice Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 70 pack. It's probably more pack than I really need, but it works good for toting a night or two worth of gear and some photo and video equipment. So, up 61 again about 60 miles north of Duluth is Tettegouche State Park. Got the cart in / pack in site I wanted (site E. Normally I would avoid this park like the plague during peak tourist season, but having natural ability to tolerate cold I take full advantage of the less desirable times of the year. By doing this trip on a Friday and heading back on Saturday, I only saw one other person on a trail (the one which goes to the cart in / pack in sites) plus one more in a parking lot. Pretty nice I'd say.

Hmmm. Being I checked in on 4-10, does this mean I could have stayed for 2 months instead of one night? I didn't say anything as I highly doubted there would be much if any competition for sites.

Campsite E. Basically on a point with Lake Superior on one side and the Baptism River on the other.

Looking north/northeast towards Shovel Point from the campsite.

Hiked up the north and east side of the Baptism River stopping at Two Step Falls.

For the record, there are 202 man made steps to climb back up to the trail on the spur. This doesn't include dead falls, rocks, etc.

Hiked up to he High Falls. Pretty impressive as there are the highest falls fully contained within Minnesota. Beautiful scenery!

Went to where the state park trail meets up with the SHT then headed over the bridge back towards the drive in campground in Tettegouche.

Because 1/2 mile is a loooooong way?

After dinner, the auroral oval was really evident in the north sky over Shovel Point.  I took a few shots and called it a night.  Evidently the lights got a lot better as Travis Novitsky had some nice shorts from his place up by Grand Portage.

The Marmot Limelight 2 did great. No condensation on the inside as the temps dropped down to 23° on Friday night. I did have a fair amount of ice on the fly so the warm April sun did it's thing to thaw and dry it before packing up.

While I was waiting for the fly, I took some shots from around the campsite.

The Lake Superior side of the point.

The Baptism River side of the point.

It was a great first outing of the non-snow season. Very much looking forward to checking out more spots along the SHT and other vistas before the high traffic times hit as the weather continues to warm!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Last Ice and Otters!! plus our first thunder of the season!

It's a little early this year, but ice out time on most of our lakes has arrived!

These pics were shot the evening of April 2nd. By the afternoon of the 3rd this lake was ice free. The lake by our house is another story as it is totally ice locked yet. At 80 feet deep, it takes the ice a little longer to soften.

Backing up to April 1st, a cold front produced our first thunderstorms of the year. While the dewpoints were not handled well by the models (as happens pretty much every April), there was just enough. The big story of the day was the south winds howling with gusts to near 50 mph and the horrible wild fires near Green Isle and Ostego.

I was getting some work done from home this evening so I didn't go set up to get some lightning shot. GoPro to the rescue. I had nearly 2 1/2 hours of footage but the timelapse is nothing. At least managed a few lightning strikes but those get boring so here are a couple just to show something for the day.

OK, jump forward to the 4th. Open water means time to get the kayak wet!

I always try to pick up some garbage when I am out and about. Aside from an industrial 6" pump I saw in the clear water, I thought this find was pretty appropriate for the day.

That morning though I did find a pair of sandhill cranes. What a weird ritual to impress during mating season. Throwing dead vegetation up into the air. Good thing sandhills can't buy trucks with lift kits and oversized tires.

Back to the kayak trek. Total round trip paddled was about 3.75 miles on a large lake near my home which has tons of waterfowl on it during the spring migration.

Had to check on one of the local eagle nests. Pretty sure their eggs have hatched now. Didn't see either parent bring food into the nest unfortunately.

However, on my way out, I spotted a couple of otters catching fish and just fooling around as otters do. These guys let me get fairly close and also lead me to their home where their was a third otter. I observed them for about an hours before making the 2 mile paddle bad to my take out spot. Otters are definitely one of my favorite mammals around here.

And a few close ups to finish out the day. Paddling with the 150-600 was kind of a challenge and since my yak is more designed for speed than stability, even with the VR IS on the lens, I had way more misses than keepers. Next time I go out there I'll take my daughter's Viper and see how that does to shoot from.

Weather looks wet and cold up here this week. Good luck to everything heading to OK and KS this week for what looks like a pretty decent set up for supercells....if the cap breaks. So, I'll be cheering you on from the comfort of my chair and laptop!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

March 28 2015 Big Stone City South Dakota Eagles

Got a tip from my friends Nick Elms and Amanda Hill there were 200-300 bald eagles hanging around the Big Stone Power Plant as there was winter fish kill in their holding ponds.  Being it was a Saturday with nice weather (by March standards as a 40-45 southeast wind is still cold at 45°) I decided to make the 3 hour drive over to check it out.

I got distracted on the way over on 12 by a huge flock of specklebelly geese in a WMA. I have some video from here which I should post sometime as it is kind of cool when they take flight.

My mom drove down from Fergus Falls to hang out for the day and the Whitehills also came down from Fargo.

For the most part the eagle action was ok...from a distance. 98% were juveniles since all nesting pairs of adult eagles have been at their nests for weeks now. Lots of birds but at a distance for the most part The ponds were still partially ice covered. We counted 31 eagles in a hundred square yards at one point and a total of about 100 within our field of view. With all the eagles in the air and in 4 tree groves, there were over 200 easily. The ponds are also surrounded by a large berm topped with chain link security fence.

Saw a lot of locals trying this. Scares the eagles away from the edge and you are still shooting through a fence. Not worth it.

I really don't have any photos from this day I like, but for the purpose of recording the day, here goes:

While doing some scouting on Google Earth before going over there, I notice there was a round barn still standing according to a photo tag which showed up.

I found the barn southwest of the power plant but unfortunately time is taking a toll on it.

Mom and I decided to take a spin through the Big Stone NWR since we were there.

Took a .7 mile trail walk which was fun. Huge granite outcroppings are not found just on the north shore of Lake Superior. If you are in the Ortonville area, make sure you check this place out. It's really cool visually.

After the walk, we parted ways as she headed north towards home and I headed east.

Not as spectacular was I was hoping, but I had to stop at a WMA near Danver's MN to catch the sunset.

Maybe thunder on Wednesday this coming week!