Stepping Outdoors With Craig Blog Stepping Outdoors With Craig

  • Superior Vista Bike Tour

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    For a second year in a row, a small group of us headed east to Washburn Wisconsin for the Superior Vista Bike Tour. This ride offers a lot of various lengths, as you can see in the left photo, and is very well put together. Starting off from the shores of Lake Superior riders work their way west on various loops that take lightly used county and forest roads. On Saturday the rain stayed away for the first 20 miles of my ride, but then moved in to become pretty steady over the last 50. Still it was a lot of fun, and the pizza and ice cream sandwiches can't be beat. If you enjoy bike tours I would recommend putting this on your schedule, it is becoming an annual event for us.

    Superior Vista Bike Tour

    At the campground where the ride starts in Washburn is an artisian well, bottom right, and it is some of the best tasting water around. Just another added bonus for a great ride. I had planned on more photos to showcase this tour, but the fore mentioned rain prevented me from getting them.

  • Your Ride Awaits....

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    Once again you can pedal your bike between Hibbing and Chisholm. The Mesabi Trail has been reopened, and the new pavement is great! The reroute keeps the feeling of the MT with some rolling hills and nice views. Currently there is some minor flooding of the trail just outside of Chisholm before you go under the bridge at Highway 169. Get out and enjoy the new smooth trail.

    Mesabi Trail Reroute

  • Famed Jay Cooke Bridge is Gone!

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    When I was biking on the Munger trail Sunday, which is now closed, we made a stop at Jay Cooke State Park. When we were standing on the famed Swinging Bridge,(top photo), I made a comment that the river looked low and I thought it would be higher. The bottom picture is of what is left of the bridge today. The St. Louis River yesterday recorded it's highest level in history.

    Jay Cooke State Park Swinging Bridge

  • Boating with a Cooler? Read this...

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    DNR officers to crack down on drunk boating as part of Operation Dry Water

    Thinking about going out on the boat this weekend and tossing back some beer? Better reconsider that.

    Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officers and county sheriff’s water patrol deputies will be out in force June 22-24 for Operation Dry Water. It is part of a nationwide effort to give boating under the influence (BUI) enforcement high visibility prior to the Fourth of July holiday and peak summer boating season.

    Officers will be looking for boaters whose blood alcohol content is at or exceeds the 0.08 limit.

    “We intend to reach out to as many people as possible about the hazards of boating under the influence,” said Capt. Greg Salo, DNR Central Region enforcement manager. “Some boaters will face the consequences of boating under the influence. We would much rather arrest someone than to have to tell a family that the person is never coming home again.”

    BUI continues to be a major problem throughout the country. In Minnesota, alcohol was involved in 50 percent of 16 boating fatalities in 2011.

    “We want people to have fun while boating,” Salo said, “but the use of alcohol is a leading contributing factor in fatal recreational boating accidents. We recommend that people avoid drinking alcoholic beverages while boating. We have zero tolerance for anyone found operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs on Minnesota waters.”

    A boat operator or even passengers with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit run a significantly increased risk of being involved in a fatal boating accident. When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more probable and more deadly for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom capsize their boat or simply fall overboard.

    If arrested, impaired boaters can expect penalties to be severe. In Minnesota, consequences for BUI include a $1,000 fine, possible jail time, and loss of boat operating privileges for 90 days. Conviction for BUI goes on a person’s automobile driver’s license record and it may affect their car insurance. With certain aggravating factors, the fine can be even higher, there can be mandatory jail time, loss of car license plates and automobile driver’s license, and even forfeiture of the boat being operated at the time of arrest.

    Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. It can also increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion, which are “stressors” common to the boating environment, intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs and even some prescription medications.

    Operation Dry Water is a multi-agency education and enforcement initiative launched in 2009 in partnership with the Minnesota DNR, county sheriff’s offices and the U.S. Coast Guard.

  • 2 Tales of One City

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    Like many others in the Northland this weekend I was down in Duluth for the 36th running of Grandma's Marathon. First question answered...No I was not running. I was there as a spectator for the first time and it was a lot of fun to watch. Of course I had an interest since my daughter was running in the half, but it was fun to see how many others I recognized as well. While we spent quite a bit of time in Canel park on race day, we also took part of the weekend to do some biking on the Munger Trail.

    Duluth

    The photo on the left shows the finishing stretch of the race in Canel Park before any runners showed up. And a few miles away over looking the St. Louis River from the Munger Bike Trail. A great contrast of the all the things one can see and do in the Northland!

  • Why aren't these still around?

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    Perhaps the first roller skis, roller skates, or a combination? The year is 1923, and they still

    look like fun!

     

  • Making Progress on the Mesabi Trail

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    The reroute of the Mesabi Trail is getting closer to being completed between Hibbing and Chisholm. Work has been progressing on the bike trail at a pretty good pace as of late, and it looks like to this untrained eye that asphalt can't be far away.

    Trail Construction

    In the top Photo crews were working on the last 30 feet of where the eastern end of the new trail will rejoin the existing Mesabi Trail. For those familiar with the trail, it comes back in just west of the swing and mine view. So that popular rest stop will remain part of the trail. The reroute itself doesn't make the trail much different in length and is a nice combination of flats and small rolling hills. It does bring you closer to the southern end of the mine view so you get some nice views of that from your bike. Soon it will be some of the smoothest riding around!

  • Where is everybody?

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    I thought this for a while now, but I'm starting to be convinced. The Mesabi Trail is one of the biggest secrets in our area. Sure everybody knows about it, but where is everyone?

    Not that I'm complaining but it does surprised me that I don't see many people out using the trail. Yesterday was the latest example, a perfect day for being out and in the 2.5 hours I spent on the trail I encountered 4 other bike riders and one jogger. That's it in a 40 mile ride.

    For those of us waiting for the trail to be reopened between Hibbing and Chisholm, the latest information I have heard is by June 15th. I'll keep you posted if I hear otherwise.

    So the next time your looking to get out and enjoy some recreation keep the Mesabi Trail in mind, it runs through just about every town in the Northland and has some fantastic views.

    Mesabi Bike Trail near Pengilly

  • Is anything better than an Afternoon on the Water?

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    Looks like the next several days are going to be ones you want to spend out on an area lake. Nice temperatures and low winds should make for some enjoyable time on the water. I took advantage of the first of this nice stretch and did some bass fishing.

    Bass Collage

    I also had the privilege to take a kid fishing yesterday, a neighbor of mine wanted to learn more about bass fishing. I think I taught him a few things, and hope we get to go out and catch some more again soon. The muskie season is also opening on Friday so there will be plenty of fish to go catch. Enjoy.

  • Cabin Style Memorial Day

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    Well this memorial day weekend certainly had it's share of rain showers! However we still managed to get in most of the activites we wanted. It's a good thing we had card and game playing on the list of things to do!

    Cabin Collage

    Over the weekend we were able to convince the dock it needed to go out into the lake for one more year. The rain took a long enough break to allow for some good reading and nature watching in the hammock. And our resident downy wookpecker made sure you didn't get too comforatable in the hammock. He spent a good majority of his free time over the weekend announcing his territory by hammering on the metal grill. Which, by the way, makes a most impressive noise!

  • Are you Biking?

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    Well some of us have been that is for sure and Minnesota is getting a bigger name in the world of bicycling.

    Bike Trail View

    The League of American Bicyclists has announced that Minnesota ranks as the second most bicycle-friendly state in the nation. This is a jump from the number four slot achieved in 2010 and 2011. Prior to that, Minnesota ranked fifth in 2008 and 2009.

    Approximately half of Minnesotans rode a bicycle last year, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation 2011 Omnibus Transportation Survey.

    "We are encouraged to see significant progress in top states like Washington, Minnesota, Colorado and Massachusetts," said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. "But, as the scores clearly highlight, there's much work to be done in critical areas like infrastructure and funding. We look forward to working with Minnesota to improve conditions for people who bike for transportation and recreation."

    Washington remains the top ranked state for the fifth year in a row, followed by Minnesota, Massachusetts, Colorado and Oregon. Minnesota received its ranking because of many factors, including:

    Partnerships among several state agencies and local/statewide advocacy groups that are encouraging increased commuter and recreational bicycle use and leading the Safe Routes to School program.

    Minnesota is recognized as the “Best Trails State” in the nation. The state features more than 600 miles of paved trails managed by the Department of Natural Resources. The DNR adds about 10 miles of paved trail to the system each year. National, regional and local governments manage thousands of additional trail miles.

    Nice Ride Minnesota, the first large-scale bicycle sharing system in the nation, is expanding into St. Paul. In summer 2012, the program will have more than 1,300 bicycles and 146 kiosks in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

    The Mississippi River Trail bicycle route continues to grow in popularity. The MRT efficiently and cost-effectively repurposes existing roadways and trails to create a new coordinated bikeway. The MRT in Minnesota now has interactive and printable maps and is Minnesota’s first U.S. Bicycle Route and state bikeway. 

    The Minnesota Department of Health’s Statewide Health Improvement Program has assisted more than 250 communities to increase access to bicycling and walking opportunities over the past two years, making the healthy choice an easy choice.

    Several state agencies, including the departments of Health, Natural Resources, Transportation and Tourism invest in bicycling as an important component of Minnesota’s transportation system. Bicycle tourism also has a positive impact on Minnesota’s economy and being physically active can decrease the risk of a variety of diseases such as heart disease and stroke, diabetes, depression and certain types of cancer.

  • First Wolf Hunting Season Details

    Posted by Craig Holgate

    Minnesota’s first regulated wolf hunting and trapping season will be conducted this fall and winter. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking public comment on details of the proposed season. You can enter input here at the online survey.

     Grey Wolf

    Consistent with state law, the state’s first regulated wolf season will start with the beginning of firearms deer hunting on Saturday, Nov. 3.

    The DNR is proposing to split the season into two parts: an early wolf hunting season coinciding with firearms deer hunting; and a late wolf hunting and trapping season after the firearms deer season for those with a specific interest in wolf hunting and trapping.

    A total of 6,000 licenses will be offered, with 3,600 available in the early season and 2,400 in the late season. Late season licenses will be further split between hunting and trapping, with a minimum of 600 reserved for trappers. The target harvest quota will be 400 wolves for both seasons combined, and will initially be allocated equally between the early and the late seasons.

    The early hunting only season will be open only in the northern portions of Minnesota where rifles are allowed for deer hunting. It will start on Saturday, Nov. 3, the opening day of firearms deer hunting. It will close either at the end of the respective firearms seasons in the two northern deer zones (Nov. 18 in Zone 1 or Nov. 11 in Zone 2), or when a registered target harvest quota of 200 is reached, whichever comes sooner.

    The late hunting and trapping season will begin Saturday, Nov. 24. It will close Jan. 6, 2013, or when a registered total target harvest quota of 400 in both seasons combined is reached, whichever comes sooner. The late season will be open statewide.

    “The DNR is taking a very conservative approach to this first season,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife populations program manager.

    Total proposed licenses and target harvest quotas are consistent with DNR testimony during the Legislative session, Merchant said. While Minnesota’s wolf population of approximately 3,000 animals likely could sustain a much higher harvest rate, this first season is designed to provide information on wolf hunting and trapping interest and success rates that will help inform the design and implementation of future seasons, Merchant said. The proposed season is consistent with the goal of the state’s wolf management plan to assure the long term survival of the wolf and address conflicts between wolves and humans.

    The DNR is also continuing to consult with tribal governments and tribal resource agency staff on the proposed state wolf season.

    Wolves were returned to state management in January 2012 when they were delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act. Prior to their complete protection under federal law in 1974, wolves were unprotected under state law and DNR had no wolf management authority. This proposal marks the first regulated harvest season for wolves in state history.

    Wolf numbers and their distribution have remained relatively stable for the past 10 years and have been well above the federal wolf recovery population goal since the late 1990s.

    Merchant said wildlife experts took into account wolf damage control mortality when setting the harvest number. Typically, about 80 farms have verified wolf depredation complaints each year. Over the past several years, an average of 170 wolves have been captured or killed each year by federal trappers in response to verified livestock depredation. About 70 wolves have been trapped and killed so far this spring following verified livestock damage complaints, primarily on calves.

    Wolf hunting licenses will be $30 for residents and $250 for nonresidents. Nonresidents will be limited to 5 percent of total hunting licenses. Wolf trapping licenses will be $30 (limited to residents only). A lottery will be held to select license recipients. Proof of a current or previous hunting license will be required to apply for a wolf license. The application fee will be $4.

    The DNR is required by law to take public comment prior to implementing a wolf season. While decisions about whether to have a wolf season and when to start it have already been made through the lawmaking process, the DNR is seeking public comments on remaining details, many of which are outlined in this announcement. The complete proposal is available on the DNR website.  Given how soon the season must be put in place, the DNR will only take comments through an online survey through June 20.

    Specific details of the wolf season proposal include:

    Season Structure

    • The early wolf hunting season (legal firearms or archery) will be concurrent with the deer season and open only in that portion of the state where rifles can be used to hunt deer.
    • The early season dates are Nov. 3-18 in Zone 1 (Series 100 deer permit areas – northeastern and east-central Minnesota) and Nov. 3-11 in the rifle zone portion of Zone 2 (Series 200 deer permit areas – central and northwestern Minnesota). The early season will close before those dates if the target harvest quota of 200 is reached sooner.
    • No trapping will be allowed in the early season.
    • The late hunting and trapping season will open Nov. 24 statewide. It will close Jan. 6 or when the total target harvest quota of 400 is met, whichever is sooner.
    • Licensed wolf hunters will be responsible for checking each day to assure that the season is still open.
    • The bag limit is one wolf per licensee.

    Licensing

    • A person cannot purchase both a hunting and a trapping license. A person with a hunting license may take a wolf only by firearms or archery; a person with a trapping license may take a wolf only by trap or snare.
    • 3,600 licenses will be available for the early season and are only valid for the early season.
    • 2,400 licenses will be available for the late season (at least 600 trapping) and are only valid for the late season.
    • The number of hunting licenses offered to nonresidents will be capped at five percent for both the early and late seasons.

    Application process

    • Application materials will be available online on or around Aug. 1
    • A person must have proof of a current or previous hunting license to apply
    • Trappers born after Dec. 31, 1989, need a trapper education certificate or proof of a previous trapping license to purchase a wolf trapping license.
    • The application deadline will be Sept. 6; online winner notification will be no later than Oct. 14. Licenses will be available for purchase no later than Oct. 15.
    • Groups of up to four individuals many apply as a single group and may assist another licensed wolf hunter but may not shoot or tag for each other.
    • Applicants can apply for only one of three license types: early wolf hunting; late wolf hunting; or late wolf trapping.

    Registration

    • All animals must be registered by the day following the day of harvest (can be done electronically at ELS agent or by phone).
    • Harvest registration information/reporting will be available online and via a toll-free phone number.
    • Carcasses must be surrendered for collection of biological data.