Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chapter on Cold

Last night I was able to read author Greg Breinings' chapter on cold for our upcoming book,
"Paddle North."

Great timing!

Today we will be experiencing another arctic outbreak here in the upper midwest. Failing to address the issue of extreme cold in our neck of the woods would be a mistake when covering the BWCA. Breining has brought home the concept of cold in his words and descriptions. You'll enjoy his musings. Since I spend a great deal of my winter out in the wilderness cold, selecting images for this chapter will be a treat.

Some of my fondest winter moments seem to happen after a fresh snowfall. The reasons are obvious I think. There's a softness and calmness that comes with a fresh, cleansing snowfall.
Making fresh tracks in the snow make you feel like you are the first to leave your mark on winter. Observing tracks of wildlife, like fresh wolf tracks is exhilarating. A story seems to unfold right in front you. When were they here? What did they see? Were they chasing something? Or, just traveling by?

Getting a glance of a wolf is akin to a celebrity sighting. Its pretty rare and almost always memorable. In an earlier blog here, I had spotted a cluster of five wolf pups when my daughter, Austin and I were looking for Erik Simula completing the last leg of his epic journey last summer along the Grand Portage. Austin and I still talk about that thrilling moment in the woods.

Winter can warm your soul.

Monday, January 4, 2010

-38 F Below Zero

Winter has returned and with it those cold temps that seemed to elude us in past years. Those of you who reside in geographic locations outside of the upper Midwest will no doubt cringe at the thought of below zero temps. Of course, as a photographer, these weather situations offer visual opportunities unseen in warmer weather.

Ah, that feeling of fingers hurting so badly when the gloves had to come off to change the media card in the camera, or that sliver of wind cutting into your skin through that tiny little opening the wind found (and it finds it every time) in your jacket. Yeah, good times!

Amy Voytilla, a guide at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge in Ely, Minnesota wrote of guiding her winter camping trips last week with temp.s hovering the minus -30's F. It reminded me of a magazine assignment I had a few years back where we were covering winter camping in Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area. That year too, was very cold and every day was in the Minus -30's. I snapped the photo below of polar explorer Paul Schurke, owner of Wintergreen, on a crisp morning. While making breakfast, tossing up a ladle of hot water from our oatmeal water, into the air hot water vaporizes instantly into powder. Now, you can't get that image on those warmer days like -5 minus F!! This is part of winter magic.

Such is life in the northern wilderness in winter. A chapter in our book will be dedicated to cold and those activities that transpire when canoes are put to bed for the winter. Motorized vehicles are not permitted in the BWCA in winter. So, the landscape of snow covered lakes are
etched with tracks of wildlife. Wolf tracks dot the lake, criss-crossing back and forth, perhaps in pursuit of a moose or deer, imprints of raptors softly detail wing patterns in soft snow, and deep shadows of black spruce covered in snow appear as bubbles in the snow cover. Dogsled teams break through deep snow and snowshoe tracks leave frozen fossils of their journey.

Winter can be a marvelous time to enjoy the Boundary Waters. Today is minus -26 F up North.
All I want to do is get out in it! And, of course, take a sauna when I come back in.....

Sunday, January 3, 2010