On a pastel summer evening, small waves wash in from Lake Superior, the largest expanse of fresh water in the world, licking the ancient basalt along Minnesota’s North Shore.
Farther north, along the Canadian border, paddlers nudge their canoes ashore in the Quetico-Superior wilderness, weary from a long day on the water. Beneath grandfather pines, the canoeists unload packs, kindle a fire and settle in for the night. Later, smoke from their fire mingles with the Big Dipper. A loon wails long and sad.
On the same waterways two centuries earlier, French-Canadian voyageurs traded with the Ojibwe people for beaver furs. Later, European immigrants arrived to work the iron mines that still flourish in the region. They were resilient people who lived close to the land.
Their descendants still thrive here, where glaciers receded just 10,000 years ago and, in some years, all of Lake Superior freezes over. Summers are a sweet interlude -- cabin mornings and sauna nights. In fall, raptors ride thermals on Duluth’s hillside as they wing toward the tropics.
Those who call this region home embrace the country year ‘round, reeling trout and salmon from Lake Superior and walleyes from inland lakes. The Superior Hiking Trail delivers vistas of green on blue. Mountain bikers push the limits on Duluth’s burgeoning trail system.
In winter, Alaskan huskies whisk dogsledders down frozen lakes to winter camps. Cross-country skiers earn flushed cheeks whispering past paper birches.
North Country residents have a saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”
-Sam Cook, author and outdoors writer, Duluth News Tribune