April 8, 2015

Manitou Falls | Pattison State Park, WI

We crossed the bridge to Wisconsin last week and headed for Pattison State Park, located nearby in the northwest corner of the state.  
The park, at a glance, looks very... park-like.  There are large groomed grounds for picnics and playing, and some good old CCC buildings for gatherings, all near a small man made lake (which is a strange concept coming from northern MN.)  The campground looks nice.  But what drew us were the waterfalls beyond the recreation area.
Pattison State Park features the highest waterfall in Wisconsin.  At 165 feet high, Big Manitou Falls is roughly the same height as Niagra Falls (but a great deal skinnier!) and is claimed to be the 4th highest waterfall in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains. 
The Native Americans who originally settled in the area around the falls believed they heard the voice of the Great Spirit within the roaring of the falls and gave it the name "Gitchee Manitou."

The kids and I stopped here with family last fall, but it was a hurried visit, and we missed the smaller falls.  This was a great day to return for a closer look.  With spring thaw there was plenty of rushing water while still some nice ice formations. 

Approaching Big Manitou Falls..

Nearing the drop off, a long way down!

(Photo above taken last Fall.  Spring 2015 below.)

Viewing of Big Manitou Falls is limited from lookouts on the wooded rim.  There is no access to the gorge, and climbing in it is prohibited.  These limited vantage points make for deceiving photos taken at a downward angle.  It looks so much larger in life!
At the bottom of the falls, the Black River quickly disappears, hidden by treetops in the rugged gorge, flowing on toward Lake Superior.  It would be amazing to look down and see the depth of the gorge and the river winding along, but I appreciate that it's been left wild and full of trees.
(Photo of the gorge and horizon also taken during our Fall visit.)

We had a pretty good view from the other side of the gorge. 
Notice the ice arch over the falls, really cool!

Headed upstream to Little Manitou Falls, which did not disappoint! 
Little Manitou Falls drops just 31 feet, but makes up for height in width and open views. The falls form a bit of a punchbowl before the river moves on.  I'm guessing that in summer months when the water is low, one might be able to climb around in this open area.
We walked downstream along the river.  Spring runoff had created huge frozen veils of ice coming down the sides of the ravine.

Back to Little Manitou Falls, I climbed down a steep wooded hill for a better photo opp. 
If you've been around for any of my other waterfall adventures, you'll notice I never think to bring a tripod along, but prefer a longer exposure for moving water.. so I have to make do. 
All of these photos were taken with my camera wedged on a stump or rock.  They aren't great, but I'm always pleased that they're better than I expect, given the circumstances.  Holding still is hard!
I found a place to sit between trees and watched and listened for a while.

"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water."
— Loren Eiseley

I took some short video clips to capture the movement and sound.
I don't usually do video, I hope it works!

A little history:
Martin Pattison was a lumberjack and miner who began logging the Black River in 1879. He eventually sold his lumber interests, but in 1917, he heard about a plan to build a hydroelectric dam on the river which would've destroyed the waterfall.  To block the development, he secretly purchased 660 acres along the river, saving Big Manitou Falls.  In 1918 he donated this land for public use, saving the waterfall and surrounding forest.

"In being able to grant this site to the public, I have accomplished one of my chief ambitions. For years I have spent much time amid the surrounding of the falls and have received so much enjoyment there that it gradually became a part of my life."

Our thanks to Mr. Pattison.  We had a great day here! 

Peace, Love, and the Voice of Gitchee Manitou,

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April 5, 2015

Spring Finds

Mitch and I found ourselves crossing the bridge to northern Wisconsin Monday. 
We enjoyed a visit to Big Manitou Falls (Wisconsin's highest at 165 ft) and Little Manitou Falls in Pattison State Park.  It was quiet there, we saw just 3 or 4 other people from a distance. 
Ice on the river was breaking up and we found water rushing nicely. 
Finding time to explore together is one of my favorite things.

I found this stump in the shape of the letter "C." 
It had me thinking of all I have to Celebrate this week.  It's been good. 

I also found this small nest on the ground, reminding me that Spring is time for building new.
Birds do it year after year.  We can, too, if we choose to.

To our surprise, we found a chicken on our front porch this week.
This is Matilda, the first chicken to perch on our porch or park herself on our doorstep.  (And she doesn't budge for visitors who wish to enter.)  

This afternoon I found an onion in the garden, left from last year.
It's amazing to me that it wasn't withered from the deep freeze of winter.
Just a little peel of its outer layer and it was all bright, shiny & beautiful.

Tomorrow morning our kids will find Easter Eggs hiding all about.
However you celebrate Easter, I hope it finds you well!

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March 27, 2015

Backward Glances and Spring in My Step

I found the photo above at random on my phone- taken by accident with the front facing camera feature when instead I was aiming the other way at the kids in kayaks on the pond.  (Our pond had opened up a couple of weeks ago.  It's once again frozen over.)
When I saw this image, I liked it so much I kept it.  A beautiful blooper. 
Fitting for the quote, because it is indeed a backward glance over my shoulder! 
True words, applicable to Northern Minnesota, especially in March and April. 

Random Five:

1.  Last week was a hard week, explaining my absence for a while.  I attended funeral services for a friend and visited our dearest neighbor in the hospital the same day.
The loss of a friend brought on a great deal of thought, which I hope to share more about soon.  Thank goodness our friend and neighbor Marianne is on the mend.  We care a great deal for her.  She had me worried! 

2.  If you haven't had fresh parsnips dug up from the frozen Minnesota ground in March, you don't know what you're missing.  Marianne's sons come visiting the homestead each March for their birthdays (one of them turned 70 this year) and take to the garden with a pry bar.  They shared a few of their prized parsnips with us.  DELICIOUS.  I'll be giving parsnip seeds a go this gardening season.

3.  Late Saturday afternoon after a quiet day of recuperating, my phone rang with a surprise invitation to go hiking with Marianne's visiting daughter.  We agreed to meet in the field at 4 o' clock and enjoyed three hours of cold fresh air, hiking through the woods together.  My phone said we put on 7.1 miles.  I'm not sure if that's accurate, but it was sure was invigorating. 

4.  My hiking visit, as well as a few long chats with friends came at wonderful times last week. Often solitary by nature and largely family oriented, I'm thankful for connected conversations and friends I can pick up with wherever we left off, as if a few months is no different than a few moments.  Isn't is wonderful to be understood? 

5.  I had the snow tires swapped off of my car yesterday for regular tires once again..  optimistic that I won't need them anymore this year.  :)

It's still quite cold here, but I'm feeling a whole lot of Spring in my step.
Peace, Love, and PARSNIPS, 
(Try them!)

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