Chippewa National Forest, MN

I had recently been talking to my cousin, Brandon, about Michigan. I distinctly recall him telling me to put Sleeping Bear Dunes on my to do list… which is not possible because he’s never been to Michigan. Oops – memory… Anyway, we got to catching up and talking about trees.

He’s very interested in tree identification which got us into the Audubon tree field guide I recently bought for Ev and Jack which led to foraging. Two people less likely to be talking about wild foraging 10 years ago could not be found.

Camping in Chippewa

Pulling into an overnighter in the Chippeaw National Forest in the middle of Minnesota on Rt 2, the plan was simple: make dinner, clean up, go to bed and get back on the road. However, when meeting the campground hosts, Scott learned about a talk on tree identification the next day followed by leaf rubbings.

I never thought I’d be so excited about trees. Funny. They’re actually very interesting and… only the lungs of the planet. Worth an hour of time to learn more. We quickly made adjustments to our schedule.

Turns out, despite a completely full campground, we were the only ones excited about something like that. I’m not sure how that could be the case, but it was. No one else showed up.

Leaf Peeping

The intern was very sweet and she gave the talk with enthusiasm. Bonus for her – she had 2 enthusiastic students. She taught them how to use her field guide (and later dug theirs out to see that it was the same system… super exciting!).

They identified 5 or 6 trees, some coniferous, some deciduous. We collected samples and then returned to the lodge to do some rubbings.

Brandon – thought of you all morning. You’d like Chippewa. Wish you could have been with us. I haven’t forgotten our assignments to decide if the white birches in front of Pink Camp are paper birch or the other one. The challenge is accepted. We’re officially tree huggers now (which comes as a surprise to no one).