Sunday, October 10, 2010

Into tall pines

The best pine forest on the Minnesota shore of Lake Superior isn't on the North's on the west shore, Duluth's long stretch of sand spit known as Minnesota Point. Tall white and red pines rise out of the rolling dunes and frame views of the open blue lake beyond. They are so perfect they're part of a state Scientific and Natural Area.

Sally and I left the boys at home this afternoon and took the poodle out for a walk at "The End," the locals' name for the forest and dunes at the southern end of Minnesota Point. The Park Point Trail is a favorite of many Duluthians, and today was no exception: the parking lot by the airport was full and there were more than enough hikers to keep Chloe on edge the whole time we were out.

Under the canopy of one stretch of these pines, an old family cabin still stands, boarded up against vandals but with the loveliest view of the Superior Harbor. I could totally hang there for hours stretching into days with the wise pines.

Tall pines humble me and pull at my memories. I feel like a child walking at knee level of the wise old ones. I've hiked six miles through the California redwoods to see the world's tallest tree, and I've joined in a group tree hug of the giant spruce of the Olympic rainforest, and those are nice. But it's the needle-strewn pine trees of northern Minnesota, be they shorter and drier, that really move me.

The tall pines of Minnesota Point recently faced a severe threat from the Sky Harbor Airport's incessant need for open space for the occasional small plane. With the power of the FAA and the weight of a few influential plane owners, the airport has been trying to keep the approach path to the runway clear of those darn tall trees, and a year or so ago  announced plans to cut hundreds of them down, and top off hundreds more. Here's some background from Minnesota Public Radio:
Encroaching trees a safety concern at Duluth airport | Minnesota Public Radio News

Fortunately, a compromise is being worked out and most of the pines will still stand. Come on down to The End yourself; you won't be disa-"point"-ed.

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