Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fall colors

I think the only people who don't enjoy the fall colors are those who dread winter and see the bright reds, oranges, and yellows as harbingers of the brutal winter that will soon be sweeping down from the Northwest Territories. For those of us with short attention spans, its just another great season in the never ending cycle in the north country. Kayaking this time of year is absolutely the best. Not only is the scenery exquisite but the temperatures won't cook or freeze a person, the water is still comfortable, and most insects are deceased. Humidity has disappeared as well and the general enjoyment level is at a point that can only be reached in autumn in the north woods. As soon as I hit 'publish post' I plan on joining some cronies on the St Croix River, a National Wild and Scenic River, to view the color peak as it moves south. Last week in Duluth it was peaking for the wedding but we really had no chance for exploring and playing in the woods. That was not the case further north the weekend before when the VoiceOfReason, her sister the Mayor, and I paddled Lake Vermillion.

The plan had been to camp on the new park land that had been purchased in the spring from US Steel to form the Lake Vermillion State Park. That plan was modified by an 'attractive nuisance' in the form of Hinsdale Island up toward the northwest corner of the lake. We thought about paddling down to the park site, but on a 40 mile long lake distances become a bit daunting. Hindsdale Island has a number of campsites on various points and bays and is maintained by the DNR. They are first come first serve and the DNR lady I talked to assured me that there would be no shortage of available sites after Labor Day and she was right. Even though it was a beautiful weekend the lake was fairly deserted except for us and the hardcore muskie fisherman, whaling away in pursuit of the top predator in our freshwater lakes. It's tough work since it has been estimated that it takes an average 10,000 casts to catch a legal muskie. Our goal was to paddle, kick back with some good food and adult beverages, and enjoy the color. Which is exactly what we did. On Saturday we took a 14 mile trip to the outflow of the Vermillion River. It winds its way north to Crane Lake and the southeast edge of Voyageur National Park. After a crisp night where the temperatures flirted with freezing, we got up and paddled almost to the Trout Lake portage entry to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, another 14 miles or so.

But enough babbling. I gotta go get ready to paddle. Enjoy the images and be sure to get out and enjoy the fall colors. If you paddle on the right lake you might even be able to enjoy them from a real chair with a cold beer and a burger, but however you decide to savor the fall be sure to take the time to do it. Its a fleeting spectacle for sure and before we know it, we'll be waxing up the skis.

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