North Country Pilgrimage

Three nights of winter camping in a yurt can change your perspective on life. Jim Gregory and his son David joined me for the adventure.

Jim Gregory’s water color of our yurt.

Often working with only the light of his headlamp and a lantern, Jim was able to create his work. This was his first experience using water colors. When we left, Jim generously gave his painting to the owner of the property.

Plenty of time for creative activities.

City boy
Brought a cell phone charger
Now I am out of juice
Can’t plug it into a pine tree.
City boy

Jim Gregory on the trail

Creative Snow Plops – Nature is the Artist

Snow bird
Snow Moomin
Climbing Snow Creatures

Lost my glove liners
Tearing everything apart
Going crazy
Heck with the liners…
Going skiing
Out on the trail now….
I adjust my hat
And feel something.
Hey! I found my glove liners.

Gray Jay

Whiskey Jacks
Pirates – Scavengers
Fearless ……If food is involved
Gray Jay

Culinary Art by David Gregory

I went out before sunrise, skiing. When I returned to the yurt, I was hungry and was going to make some hot cereal. David had not skied, but made this special meal. In 50 years of camping, I have never had a breakfast like this. It was a wonderful gift.

Canada Lynx Tracks
I originally thought these were the tracks of a cougar. But my tracker friends, told me that the 16-18 inch distance between the tracks was too small for a cougar.
Canada Lynx Track.
A wolf track would have visible claws. This is a 4 inch wide track, but has no visible claws. The claws of cats are tucked into the skin until they are ready to be used. It wasn’t a bobcat, because their track would not have been so wide.

The foot is very wide on a Canada Lynx, to keep it from sinking in deep snow. It has been classified as a Federally Threatened Species. Barbara Young, the owner of Poplar Creek Guesthouse said that she has seen many lynx over the years. Once she saw a lynx jump 5 feet high and knock over a bird feeder.

Two nights – The same dream
The eyes of wildness
Burning into my Soul
Waking me from a restless sleep.


On the ski trail
Fresh tracks of a Canada Lynx
The lynx’s essence
Passes through me
But remains unseen.
The eyes of wildness
Deep in my bones.


David Gregory used cross country skis for the groomed trails. He carried Back Country Skis that are a modified ski/snowshoe for the deep snow, off trail.

When David was two, I carried him on my back while I cross-country skied. I often wonder if that has something to do with his love of skiing and the outdoors.
Jim Gregory

White Pine

There were no more than a dozen mature white pine near our yurt. Loggers cut down most of the giants in the early 1900’s. I can only imagine what this land was like when the old growth white pine dominated the area.

More work by Jim Gregory.
Jim says, “This highly grained wood chip fascinated me and consisted of a lot of detail.”

Where Does Beauty Hide?

In the lichen on a fallen birch
In the fresh tracks of Snowshoe Hare

Where Does Beauty Hide?

In the shadows of the branches on the snow
In moss and fungus on the birch tree

Where Does Beauty Hide?
In the simplicity of nature
And deep in my heart.

Do you need to make a Northwoods Pilgrimage?
Contact Barbara Young at Poplar Creek Guesthouse. 11 Poplar Creek Drive.
Grand Marais, MN 55604
(218) 388-4487

This entry was posted in Connecting to Nature, Nature Poetry, Photography/Art, Winter. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to North Country Pilgrimage

  1. Laurel says:

    Wow what an incredible adventure and such a gift to experience this. Some of my most vivid memories as a kid are the few times we went up to this area to ski.

  2. Grace says:

    If you turn the snowshoe hare tracks upside down, it looks like a rabbit head.

  3. Marc Anderson says:

    I loved seeing your journey, through your pictures.

  4. Bob Sable says:

    What beautiful pictures and a great adventure. Thanks for sharing this.

    Best,
    Bob Sable

  5. Michelle says:

    I always enjoy your posts…
    and this one brought some peace to my crowded day.
    Thank you for sharing.

  6. paul Gagner says:

    you all certainly know how to live right and to express your love and appreciation for Mother Nature.thank her and thank God for giving us the sense’s to take it all in. I wish I could have been along! What a wonderful story, thank you all!

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