Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota

Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota

Camper truck

Camper truck

The North Shore of Lake Superior shows off the beauty of the northwoods of Minnesota.  Someday I’ve love to drive the entire perimeter of Lake Superior.  The views of the lake a few miles north of Duluth grant long vistas in what must be fifty shades of blue.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

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We stayed a couple of nights at Gooseberry Falls State Park, sleeping in a tent and truck camper.  We hiked the park’s trails along the Gooseberry River, which were lined by a mix of mostly deciduous but some evergreen trees.  The trails offered peek-a-boo glimpses of the multi-tiered Gooseberry Falls.

Rocky and wild shoreline of Lake Superior

Rocky and wild shoreline of Lake Superior

View of the Gooseberry River from the trail

View of the Gooseberry River from the trail

River reflections in green

River reflections in green

Deer track along the trail

Deer track along the trail

View of Gooseberry Falls through the trees

View of Gooseberry Falls through the trees

Tree roots

Tree roots

Gooseberry River

Gooseberry River

Lichen on tree bark

Lichen on tree bark

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From our campsite we could walk a short path to bluffs overlooking Lake Superior.  I loved the natural beauty of this Minnesota State Park.

Watercolor sketch from my Minnesota travel journal

Watercolor sketch from my Minnesota travel journal

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Andy Goldsworthy, Strom King Wall, 1997-98

Andy Goldsworthy, Storm King Wall, 1997-98

I’ve traveled great distances to see Andy Goldsworthy’s extraordinary art.  The last time I was in New York, my husband and I saw his Garden of Stones at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan.  In April, I went on a five-day guided hike in France where I saw nine Goldsworthy installations along the trail.  (You can read about that experience here and here and here.)  The $46 bus tour ticket to Storm King to see Goldsworthy’s walls was a much smaller investment than a trip to France, and the rewards of seeing the art in its natural setting was just as satisfying.

I was surprised at how long the wall extended.  It started in a straight line atop a hill, then dropped down to a lake, and finally continued in a sinuous curve on the other side of the water.  The part that curved around the living tree trunks was quite visible seeing that the trees were bare this late in the season.  The lake was like a reflecting pool, magnifying the beauty of this setting.

Distant view of the wall on the hill

Distant view of the wall on the hill

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I was also surprised to learn that Goldsworthy constructed a second wall at Storm King in 2010.  Much shorter than his first wall, this one is called 5 Men, 17 Days, 15 Boulders, 1 Wall.  I think the title says it all.

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Snowshoers on the trail

Snowshoers on the trail

This weekend was the annual Team Survivor Northwest Snowshoe Event at Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascades, and it was my one day to play in the snow this winter.  (Although winter is not yet over, and March can hold some surprises.  My mother always used to say of March, “In like a lamb, out like a lion.”  And this year in Seattle, March 1st was a mild day.  So it is always possible that we might get a snow storm yet this month!)

I, of course, wanted it to be actually snowing, but the temperature was too high.  We were fortunate that the rain held off while we were in the mountains.  (Back in Seattle, it was a very rainy day.)  The light was flat and gray, and the magnificent tall trees along the trail were cloaked in darkness.  The colorful jackets of the cross-country skiers and showshoers along the trail contrasted sharply with the dim, cloudy surroundings.  It was still and quiet though at times we could hear the hum of the distant freeway traffic.

There was something almost gloomy about the still forest in the muted light.  Along parts of the trail, trees were moss-laden or furred with lichen.  I came to play, but this wasn’t a playful landscape on this day.

“Many trees are soulful.  These are trees that are old enough and large enough to shelter us.  These are the ones that draw a stillness in us.”
— Jean Shinoda Bolen, Like a Tree:  How Trees, Women, and Tree People Can Save the Planet

“And there never yet has been a nature writer who, confronted with primitive forest, has not resorted to the vocabulary of architecture.  Indeed, since it has been impossible to visualize or verbalize nature in terms free of cultural association, the woodland interior has been habitually conceived of as a living space, a vaulted chamber . . . curved and bent boughs and branches suggesting arched portals to some grandiose vaulted hall.”
— Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory

Lichen-covered trunks of tall trees along the Cold Creek Trail

Lichen-covered trunks of tall trees along the Cold Creek Trail

Moss-laden trees along the trail

Moss-laden trees along the trail

Piece of fallen moss on snow

Piece of fallen moss on snow

Lichen-covered branches

Lichen-covered branches

Fallen lichen on snow

Fallen lichen on snow

Lichen on a cracked boulder

Lichen on a cracked boulder

My eyes were drawn to the branching patterns on the tall evergreen trees.  They seemed quite fern-like.

Layers of branches in a cascade down the trunk of s tree

Layers of branches in a cascade down the trunk of s tree

Branching patterns

Branching patterns

Branches like ferns

Branches like ferns

Fern revealed under melting snowbank

Fern revealed under melting snowbank

I was startled to see blue — almost a tropical blue — in the shadows of the snow along the trail.  Where did this blue come from?  There was no sunshine to reflect and refract the light on snow.  It was as if the snow held its own glowing lantern.  Miraculous!

Glow of blue shadows on snow

Glow of blue shadows on snow

Pleated snowbank

Pleated snowbank

Something restful about the soft curves of these snowbanks

Something restful about the soft curves of these snowbanks

Slush in a creek

Slush in a creek

Cold Creek Trail at Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascade Mountains

Cold Creek Trail at Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascade Mountains