Banning State Park Photography

As mentioned in my last 2 posts (here and here), I partook in a photography workshop at Banning State Park Saturday morning with my friend Kendra. Thursday evening while perusing my Facebook feed, I happened upon an event announcement from MN State Parks & Trails advertising the workshop. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do a few different things: go hiking, explore a new park, play with my camera, and have some quality away-from-work hangout time with Kendra. I had decided to go whether or not Kendra could, and got rather excited when she said she was in.

Maple Leaves BSP

I’ve only been really working on my photography skills for about the last 3-4 years. The hobby really took off right when my thirst for travel was revving up. Up until this workshop, I’d never had any “formal” training in photography. It was all by trial and error, reading some stuff online, and studying other people’s photos. I learned a lot just from looking at other people’s photos. Anyway, the workshop was pretty basic. The official title was “Digital SLR Nature Photography for Beginners.” Megan, our Naturalist running the workshop, did a great job explaining different ways to take photos, aperture, shutter speed, and other basic photography items. It was a nice review for me, and I even learned a new thing or two.

Little Leaves H2O BSP

If you have a State Park nearby, I would highly recommend checking out the different types of events they are hosting. Megan talked about how in Minnesota, the Naturalists get to decide based on their own strengths and interests, what kinds of workshops they host. Topics could include photography, birding, plant identification, story time, fossils, archery, junior naturalist, and much more. This means there are fantastic learning opportunities for everyone in the family for little to no cost…which is awesome for people like myself who are forking over a lot of money to pay back grad school loans. On Saturday, our only costs were the gas to get there and back, a day pass for the park, and lunch after our hike.

Little White Flowers BSP

Saturday’s hike wasn’t too hard. It was around 4 miles total with our main destination being a waterfall on Wolf Creek. Banning State Park is gorgeous. It was just so green. The trees just kind of hugged you as you hiked along. It had rained the night before so there was some water and mud on the trail. The mosquitos were out in full force. I didn’t get bit up too bad as they were more of a nuisance than anything else. We had a group of 12, plus the Naturalist. It was nice to chat with Kendra during our hike. We both mentioned that we would have broken out our cameras a lot sooner than we did because of the fact we were hiking with a group of people…and we were at the front of the group. Oh well. I still took plenty of pictures. 150 in total. Here are the rest of my favorites taken during the workshop.

Waterfall 1 BSP

Waterfall 2 BSP

Fern BSP

Well, I hope you enjoyed this adventure into Banning State Park. Take a look at the photos Kendra took during the workshop.

North Shore Adventures

I ventured up Lake Superior’s North Shore yesterday for some quality hiking at Gooseberry Falls State Park. In my mind, it was the perfect day to go hiking. It was 40s/50s, sunny, and a slight breeze. I also really wanted to see the different waterfalls peaking with all the snowmelt. The rushing river and overflowing waterfalls did not disappoint! I hiked the Fifth Falls Trail into the park, upstream on the Gooseberry River (aka: away from the Lake Superior shoreline & the crowds). It was my 3rd time hiking this trail and I still love it. I try to hike it earlyish in the spring because Gooseberry is extremely popular once tourist season is in full swing. I had some fun with my dSLR camera, but I still need to look through and edit those images. So, here are a few shots I took on my iPhone.

The main waterfalls at Gooseberry

The main waterfalls at Gooseberry

Rushing water between the 4th and 5th waterfalls upstream on the Gooseberry River

Rushing water between the 4th and 5th waterfalls upstream on the Gooseberry River

My snack time view - bridge goes over the 5th waterfall of the "Fifth Falls Trail"

My snack time view – bridge goes over the 5th waterfall of the “Fifth Falls Trail”

I also spent some time on my favorite beach at Flood Bay just north of Two Harbors. Found some beautiful rocks and loved listening to the rhythm of the waves.

Hanging out on the beach at Flood Bay

Hanging out on the beach at Flood Bay

Voyageurs Preview

This past Saturday I crossed off another item from my 29 for 29 list! My sister was visiting for a long holiday weekend and we ventured up to Voyageurs National Park near the Canadian border. The park is about a 3 hour drive northwest of Duluth. We drove through the woods most of the time and it was a beautiful day! One of the main things to do at this park is hang out on the water. If you’re not on a boat, you can’t see much of the park. Since we were just going to the park for the day, we checked out one of the Visitor Centers (got another cancellation for my NPS Passport!), had lunch next to one of the lakes, and went for a hike. The ranger warned us that our hike would have a narrow path and it would be laden with roots, rocks, ticks, and black flies. We set out on our adventure covered in sunscreen and what me dad would lovingly call skeeter dope (aka bug spray). I swear there was this one fly hanging around my head during the entire hike. No ticks though! It was one of the tougher hikes I’ve completed. It was about 2.7 miles, which really isn’t that far. However, it was tough because of the tricky footing throughout the hike. We were hoping for a moose sighting, but no such luck. We did have a pheasant scare the crap out of us as it flew away as we walked by where it was hiding. We look forward to returning to the park in the future. Maybe we’ll hang out on the water next time.

Here’s a little preview of what we saw at the park. I still haven’t uploaded the photos from my camera to my computer. However, I did capture some of the moments on my camera phone. I sent out photos via Instagram as we explored the park because as unbelievable as it was, I had amazing reception in the park. 🙂

Packed and ready to go for the day. Loving my new day pack I recently picked up at the Eddie Bauer outlet (the teal bag).

Had to stop and take pictures with the official park sign!

Lunch next to Kabetogama Lake.

Julie and I during a quick break on our hike.

Our hiking destination…a small bay that was completely deserted. It was at this point that we thought if we were watching a National Geographic special about the park, that a moose would go by.

I’ll be posting more photos and information about the park soon. Julie and I both remarked how much we liked the lack of people. We could enjoy the park in peace and at our own pace. If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone, or any of the other big, popular National Parks, Voyageurs is basically the complete opposite when it comes to crowds. At least that was our experience. Another bonus, entry to the park was free! I think the reason is because there are way too many entry points into the park to really regulate entry fees. We did our part though and spent some money at the Visitor’s Center.

Photo Friday: Tettegouche State Park

A few weekends ago I went hiking at Tettegouche State Park up the North Shore from Duluth. I did a little reflecting from a top a cliff and posted it on the same day. You can read it here. I had a wonderful time hiking Shovel Point and I cannot wait to return to do more hiking and exploring of the park. According to the Minnesota DNR’s website for the park, the terrain in Tettegouche SP is semi-mountainous. I believe it! The area was formed by lava flows and glaciers and continually is shaped by erosion. The park’s website mentions that the whole North Shore was formed by basaltic lava flows and Tettegouche’s coastal highlights of Palisade Head and Shovel Point are made of “rhyolite, a light-colored volcanic rock that contrasts with the more common, dark basalt along the rest of the shore.” If you want to read more about the geological coolness of Minnesota, check out the US Geological Survey’s website. I saw an array of wildlife at the park including: 2 hummingbirds, a loon, a pair of toddler squirrels (not babies, but not full grown), a blue jay, and lots of butterflies. Ok, now for the pictures. These were taken with my Nikon point and shoot.

Signage welcoming me to the park.

Beach that I hiked down to before hiking the majority of Shovel Point.

Some wave spray on the beach.

View of Shovel Point – where my hike was going to take place.

View from up high of the beach I was on.

Coast line – the major rock outcropping on the top of the photo is Palisade Head.

Coast line view from the other side of Shovel Point

Pretty brown & white butterfly

Monarch butterfly

Hiking for Wellness

In the world of Student Affairs, we often talk about work/life balance, wellness, etc. Some people follow these principles more closely than others. I try not to bring my work home with me if at all possible. Because of my summer in Oregon a couple years ago, I fell in love with hiking. Hiking is my escape from the working world and my opportunity to enjoy the natural world. The opportunity to take care of myself, explore my photography hobby, to be active, and to have an adventure. I often return home refreshed and ready to tackle life.

A couple Saturdays ago, I ventured out for my first hike of the spring. I believe I tweeted something along the lines of, “Off to commune with nature.” I was blissfully happy. I drove up the North Shore to Gooseberry Falls State Park and hiked the Fifth Falls Trail. I wanted my first hike of the season to be something familiar. I first hiked this trail last July at the end of crazy hot spell we had last summer. Hiking it during early May was a totally different experience. It was refreshing to not be hot and sticky throughout the entire hike. I had the trail mostly to myself except for right at the beginning and end. It was nice to take my time and not feel rushed because of the people around me. Here are some of the moments I captured while on my hike.

Gooseberry Falls

Using layers of perspective between the tree and the water. Totally dropped my camera moments before this and had a mini-panic attack. Just ended up with a few scratches on the zoom knob.

Trees starting to leaf out

Some flower blooms in the woods

Bird sighting. No idea what it is though.

View of some waterfalls through the trees

Inspired by Nature

Where do you find inspiration?

Is it a painting or another work of art? A city skyline? A quote? A person? Nature?

While sitting on a cliff a couple hundred meters (totally guessing, but it’s quite high) above the Lake Superior shoreline, I have found inspiration. I spent my Saturday morning at Tettagouche State Park hiking on Shovel Point. I cannot get over the sunshine, the blueness of the water, the green of the forest, the sound of the waves, the clearness of the water at the shoreline, the haziness of the sky (think of when you draw a line with chalk and the smudge it with your finger), and the general beauty of nature.

In the distance, I can hear rock climbers enjoying their thrills. There is a gentle breeze that picks up every once and awhile. I can hear the soft sway of the trees behind me. Again, the waves. Such a beautiful sound. I’m inspired. I’m not necessarily inspired to do something. I’m more inspired to stop. Take it all in, and not necessarily through the lens of my camera. Just with my own eyes and ears.

So there you go. Just some thoughts, from atop a cliff.

Lake Walk

Last night after work I drove down to the lake to go for a nice long walk. It was almost 40 degrees and the sun was still out so I thought an outdoor workout was called for. Actually, I don’t think you could call what I did was a “workout” because I’d stop every so often to take pictures of the waves. Anyway, we have this fantastic trail aptly named the Lakewalk that runs along the shore of Lake Superior in Duluth. I was joined on the trail by runners, walkers, and people with their dogs. I’m sure once we start having decent weather (40s, 50s, etc.) the Lakewalk will be hoppin’.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite shots from my walk. I wish it wasn’t so overcast, but what can you do? The waves were fairly active and there was a ton of ice along the shore due to the 20ish inches of snow that have fallen in the past week.

Seat with a view

Waves crashing

Floating ice chunks near the shore

The shoreline