Monday, May 23, 2011

Copper Harbor Mountain Biking

Birds aren't the only things flying in Copper Harbor these days. The hard work of the Copper Harbor Trails club has been recognized by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) by being designated an Epic Ride. There are only about 50 Epics in the country, so yeah, it's a big deal.

Sam Raymond of Keweenaw Adventure Company hooked me up with a couple local riders for a quick session on some of the sweet new bridges and banked corners the trails are known for, as well as cliff-hugging views along Brockway Mountain.

There is a lot of hard work that goes into building these types of trails in this harsh terrain, so get on up to the Harbor and give a nod to the trails club and their Epic ride.

PS--This coming weekend (May 27-29) would be a good time. It's the Ride the Keweenaw Weekend and the IMBA Great Lakes Mountain Bike Summit.

And now for the pictures. I was feeling a bit artsy.

Keweenaw Raptor Survey

I went north again this weekend, this time to Copper Harbor to work on a story about the Keweenaw Raptor Survey and Copper Harbor Birding Festival.

The KRS is a three-year study of the migrating raptors that whiz by Brockway Mountain overlook just outside the little town of Copper Harbor at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Current data is showing that while the numbers of migrating birds is less than Duluth to the West and Whitefish Point to the East, it's still a respectable number (2,500 hawks on one day recently) and important flyway.

Brockway definitely wins when it comes to the cool factor though. Hawks, eagles and falcons  cruise by at eye level and are identifiable with the naked eye. Sometimes an over enthusiastic sharp-shinned hawk will nearly collide with observers as it pops over the ridge on a thermal updraft. It's an amazing place and a great place to start learning your raptors.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Oh Canada!

Just got back from two weeks shooting in Northern Ontario, working on a couple paddling-related assignments with writer Conor Mihell. Now, it has been rumored that my absence from the USA during the demise of Mr. Bin Laden is no coincidence, but I assure you I am not a secret Navy SEAL. Though parts of this recent trip did resemble SEAL training at times...

First we ran the Agawa River, in Lake Superior Provincial Park, a beautiful whitewater river running through a deep canyon and only accessible by train. Rails to rapids sort of thing. We were the first to run it this season so water was high and the snow was still deep in parts of the woods. Great river and a great time. We worked on this for the travel section of a major Canadian newspaper.
Loading boats on the train in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
The train drops into the Agawa Canyon where it meets the river.
Portaging down the tracks.
A nice bit of Class II rapids.
Agawa Falls in flood. The 75-foot falls isn't listed on maps and must be portaged.

Next we headed east to the Temagami region, an untamed land of deep lakes, rugged hills and rich native culture. Our goal was to reach a lake named for Conor's family, Mihell Lake, and celebrate his 30th birthday. Ice out was a bit late this year, so we had to do a little "hard-water" paddling. Vanilla Ice drummed in our heads through long days of smashing through, and dragging over ice. It was a unique experience for sure, and made for some great images. All in all, it was a good trip, but not one that any of us imagined it would be. I can't say too much about the trip, but you can get all the details in an upcoming issue of Canoe & Kayak magazine.

Dragging across a frozen lake with wingman Jim Leaf.
Fire was our friend this early in the season.

Beautiful but brutal--paddling through brash ice.
Sunset on icy Smoothwater Lake.
Conor on open water.
Our goal for the trip: Mihell Lake.
A twilight portage.
The novelty of paddling in the ice quickly wore off.

Thanks to these great companies for supplying equipment for this and future stories:

And a special thanks to my wonderful wife and the grandmas for holding down the fort while I was "working."