Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Bikes Get Some Exercise

Our last stop on the U.P. of Michigan was right on the border of it and Wisconsin in the town of Ironwood. 

There was a rail-trail there that we wanted to ride.

All packed up and ready to ride on the Iron Belle Trail!

This rail line was unique in that when it was opened in 1911 Trolley Cars ran on it not trains.

The line was 12 miles long and fares were seven cents.

Not long after we started out we came upon one of our first bridges.

There are a few things unique about this particular bridge.  It was built in 1896 and was made of wrought iron instead of steel.

It is also a good example of a Baltimore Thru-truss style bridge (which is a variant on the Pratt style).

If you look at the 'X' in the above picture you can see where only one truss runs all of the way through.  The other two legs of the 'X' are scabbed in. 

IMG_7410 Green Heron Bird (4)
There is a nice little wetland area that we stopped at twice and watched for wildlife at for a while. 

A local told us that it did not usually have this much water in it though.  So, we were fortunate to have seen it thriving and saw turtles, deer and several familiar birds including Kingfishers and

IMG_7410 Green Heron Bird (2)
the Green Heron.

At one point along the trail we stopped to look for butterflies and spent some time turning over leaves in a hunt for caterpillars.

We did not find any caterpillars but we did find something unique to us...

This little fella is miniscule in size and really challenged the macro on the camera.  We have just discovered that he is a Wooly Aphid.  How cute is he?  We think very cute.

We continued our ride a little past the light at the end of the trail in this picture before turning around and then having lunch on a bench where the light is at the end of the trail in the above picture.

IMG_7447 Red-eyed Vireo Bird (1)
This Red-eyed Vireo serenaded us throughout our meal.

On the return trip we spotted

IMG_7449 Common Wood Nymph Butterfly
The Common Wood Nymph Butterfly and

this cool White-faced Darter Dragonfly hanging out

on some Equisetum hyemale - more commonly called Scouring Rush or Horsetail.

IMG_7472 Ebony Jewelwing Calopteryx maculata Dramselfy
Although we did not manage to get a good photo, it was exciting to see our first Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly - Calopteryx maculata.

It felt good to get eight miles on the clock.

So good, in fact, that we decided to add another path along our upcoming drive. 

We cruised through the smallest part of Wisconsin (sorry, Wisconsin, we do plan to come back to explore you more) and arrived just outside Duluth, MN to take a ride on the Willard Munger Trail.

Is finding a white Mayfly on your window the morning of your ride a good omen? 

Who knows.  But it is cool because we had not seen a white one before.

Let's go!

Another beautiful trail.  We don't tire of them.


One of our reasons for selecting this trail was that it was supposed to have some pretty riding through rock cuts.

And, it did.

As if there wasn't already enough sunshine!

IMG_7509 Great Spangled Fritillary Speyeria cybele Butterfly (1)
Pretty sure this is a poor shot of our first Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly - Speyeria cybele.  But we'll have to wait for another sighting and a better photo to confirm.

IMG_7513 Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) Dragonfly
This Libellula luctuosa - Widow Skimmer Dragonfly - was a nice sighting.

The rock cuts got taller as we went along.

At another point in the ride it opened up into a field of grasses

and flowers where we spent time chasing down uncooperative butterflies.

IMG_7523 Indigo Bunting Bird (3)
This Indigo Bunting was a bit more cooperative and sang us a tune.

This Black-throated Blue Warbler though was not in the mood for photos and hid behind the leaves.

After watching it fly for some time, Nicole was pretty confident this little one was a lifer in the Butterfly category.  However, it stared us down which prevented a defining view!

A few more miles added in and a really nice ride on a pretty trail.

Doing our best to get caught up.  An intense heat wave has us holed up at the library and other air conditioned locations for a few days. 

So, with any luck we'll make some ground.  Check back soon.