Go North, Part 1

Last Sunday my family & I pointed our van North and started driving. Our destination was Gooseberry Falls, a state park just north of Two Harbors, Minnesota which is about a half an hour drive up the North Shore of Lake Superior from Duluth. We were packed to the hilt for a week of shoulder season camping along the North Shore — tent, cots, cold weather sleeping bags, food, knitting, sweatshirts, raincoats…


The list goes on (and on and on). I’d like to point out that the SPAM and allergy pills are for Moose. After his severe allergic reaction to black fly bites a couple years ago, I pack the meds and the SPAM (which he is not allergic to and I can shove the pills into and he’ll eat even in the throes of severe allergic distress) whenever we head out beyond the city limits with him, just in case. The rest, well, knitting, book, water bottle — check. Essentials for a week of camping!

In any case, with our van full of gear and SPAM and allergy pills we made excellent time and were crossing the state line into Minnesota by mid-morning. Did you know there are mountain in Minnesota? Complete with tunnels that go through them?


It’s 100% true! They aren’t the bare granite peaks of the Rockies, but more like a small version of the Appalachians rising up from rock that is beyond ancient.

We left early and arrived a bit before lunch time to do some hiking around along the Gitchi-Gami, the Ojibwe name for Lake Superior…


For those who have never visited the Great Lakes, they really are not unlike gazing across the ocean only they smell like fresh water instead of salt water.


And no matter how many times I walk up to the edge of Lake Superior, it’s always something I have to stop and take a minute to take in; to breath in its depths, soak up its colors, and lose myself in its endless peaks and troughs. It was the perfect start to our vacation because the kids played and bounded along on the rocks and burned off their kid energy while Mr. Knitting Sarah and I had time to just be.

Moose waited patiently, tired from an afternoon frolicking in and around the Big Water, while I set up the tent and Mr. Knitting Sarah started working on gathering water and getting the kids set-up.


And eventually, we all settled down to the classic camping tradition…


The campfire.

We awoke from a very brisk night — it was somewhere in the mid-30s — shortly after 6am. We quickly made coffee and got moving. Getting going, of course, is the best way to get warmed up. Coffee in hand, we hopped in the car and headed up to Tettegouche State Park for a hike up to the High Falls.


By the time we got to the trailhead, the sun was up and it was chilly, but one of those days you could feel would warm up. We hiked along serenaded by the Sapsuckers, Chickadees, Robins, and a lone Pileated Woodpecker, with the reverberating drumming of the Ruffed Grouse in our bones, a sound you feel before your ears recognize what it is.

Up, up, through the big woods and across a footbridge suspended over the Baptism River rapids…


And for all our efforts, we were rewarded with this scene…


On the way back to the van, I was moving slower and I used the slower pace to see all the little details…


Warmed by the sun and the activity, we headed back toward Gooseberry Falls for lunch and then struck back out to explore more. We checked out the beach near where the Gooseberry River empties into the Big Water and spent some time viewing Northern Flickers and a Red-Necked Grebe and we found…


SNOW! We spent a little time hanging out, looking around…


And I soaked up the colors of the ancient rock that surrounded us.

We ended our evening with a short drive up to the Split Rock State Park and a little rocky beach…


In a word, this place was perfect. We found a piece of wood along the shore and tossed it in the water and took turns hucking rocks at it. It’s a favorite family game to play when we’re at a rocky beach. It never gets old.

While we were sitting on the beach, Mr. Knitting Sarah noticed a bumblebee struggling in the water. We found a downed branch, extended it out over the water and it was able to grab on…


And on his little rock, he proceeded to clear himself up and dry himself off. We found him a protected spot away from the water and the beach to get his bearings and took our leave.

We headed back to camp and made some dinner while the kiddos read about astronomy, hoping for a clear night.


But with clouds rolling in, we opted instead for another campfire…


Because we had a pretty good idea what the next day would bring.


Part Two of Go North will appear on the blog later this week, so stay tuned!




17 thoughts on “Go North, Part 1”

  1. Love your pictures, especially the one of the moss? on the tree, so simple but beautiful. I know your family thrives on these trips but give me a Holiday Inn and a yarn store nearby, and I’m happy 😉 I know different strokes for different folks.

  2. All my childhood vacations were spent camping. I remember all the adventures we had. Your children will be able to look back on these days with fond memories. And I enjoy reliving MY childhood adventures through your stories.

  3. Sounds like a good Knitting Sarah family vacation so far… but, clouds rolling in? Snow? What will happen? Can’t wait for the next episode!

  4. Thanks for taking me along. We have, in the past, spent a ton of time on the north shore. For almost 30 years, we had a close friend who lived right on the lake,and we’ve hiked all the parks. Did you stop at Russian Kendall in Knife River for smoked salmon or trout? We give it a best in state.

    1. We did not stop there, but I will put it on the list for next time! We did stop at another traditional Scandinavian spot further up the “coast” — it was yummy! In fact, everywhere we stopped was delicious!

  5. OMG, what a wonderful trip – the photography is amazing! My favorite part HAS to be the bumble bee. I knew Mr. TKS was a good guy, but he just went up in rank to angel. Love it.

    1. He routinely moves turtles out of the road, too! He is definitely one of the best!

      Oh, and Mr. TKS gets credit for the waterfall picture and the one where I’m making a funny face crossing the bridge. XD

  6. This made me all nostalgic for my childhood and a bit homesick. I grew up in MN and this was pretty close to how we spent every summer. I never get tired of look at Lake Superior and sailing there. Thanks for bringing back some great memories and I can’t wait for part 2!

    1. You know, I’ve been a few places on this Earth and the North Shore is definitely top 3 places that I enjoy going. I’m not a huge waterfall person, but I love the deep forests and the chill of Lake Superior and all that ancient rock. It just resonates with me! Clearly I’m not alone! ❤

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