Capturing the Spirit of Superior

Photo by Beverly Cedar
Photo by Beverly Cedar

The Ojibwe name for Lake Superior is Otchipwe-kitchi-gami, but one often also sees it spelled as gichi-gamigitchi-gami or kitchi-gami, depending upon different dialects. No matter what the name, this lake has held a mystique and reverence for people for thousands of years. Its size alone captivates the imagination; its immense depth and the chill of its waters, the ferocity of its autumn storms, the intensity of its ice in the winter – all make it nearly a force of nature on its own; very nearly a living being. The native peoples knew not to underestimate the water they called “the great sea”, and the European immigrants soon learned to respect it as well. 

The beauty of the land around Superior, along with the lake itself, calls to the souls of those who feel a connection to it on a cellular and spiritual level. It especially speaks to those who love to capture its beauty and majesty in photography, and one of those people is Beverly Cedar. 

Photo by Beverly Cedar

Not many people would think of camping along the shores of Superior in the winter! What goes into the preparation for a camping trip when one is looking at snow, wind, and potentially sub-zero temperatures?

Yeah, it’s a little crazy! There are definitely a lot of things to consider when planning a winter camping trip when the temps are extreme. The biggest things are letting someone know where I’m going, what clothes to wear, what to eat, choosing camping locations and how to keep my camera batteries from getting too cold. Everything is challenging when it’s below zero. Things as simple as drinking water are difficult, because everything freezes. So, I bring a portable stove to thaw snow and ice. Eating is also something that I really need to plan ahead for. I need about triple the calories per day in those temps than I would normally consume but trying to cook is not ideal. So, I eat a lot of trail mix, nuts, peanut butter, tortillas, avocados, dehydrated fruit, tofu that I’ve precooked at home. As far as clothes go, lots of layers are key and mukluks are a must have for me. The main rule that I have when winter camping is to stay outside the entire time. I don’t go indoors at all. Once I acclimate to the temps and know that’s what I have to deal with, it becomes a lot easier to accept. Even if I pass through a town, I won’t go into a restaurant or coffee shop. As soon as I go into a warm place, it makes it incredibly difficult to go back into the cold.

Photo by Beverly Cedar

Do you have certain areas up on the North Shore that you feel are better for camping and for finding unique landscapes for your photography?

Yes, I do have a few favorite places. I have a friend that has 20 acres between Duluth and Two Harbors, and do the majority of my camping there. I also camp at a lot of the state parks; I really love Tettegouche, Split Rock and the Finland State Forest for places near the north shore. I also like camping along the lakeshore in random spots. As far as finding unique landscapes for my photography, I’m always driving around up there and looking for new places. A lot of the places that I go to are not marked on a map or in a guidebook, they’re places I’ve discovered or people have told me about over the years. There are even places in the middle of Duluth that are amazing; Tischer Creek and Lester River are both incredible.

Your nature photography is always stunning. Do you prefer to shoot landscapes, such as while hiking on one of the many trails the state offers, or do you prefer to shoot while kayaking or canoeing? 

Thank you! I prefer to shoot while hiking and camping. I bring a waterproof camera with me when I go kayaking, but I never really take any serious photos with it, usually just snapshots of random things. I would love to canoe The Boundary Waters and do some serious photographing there. I’ve canoed there before, but I didn’t have camera gear with me. I really want to get back up there with photography being the main focus. It’s such a magical place.

Photo by Beverly Cedar

As a person who has a very strong spiritual connection to Lake Superior and the land surrounding it, could you tell our readers what Superior means to you? 

That’s a tough question! Lake Superior is an incredibly spiritual place for me. I don’t think I can really put it into words. Hence my reason for constantly photographing it. I’m always trying to express the beauty and sacredness of it. It’s a place that inspires me like no other and brings me great peace of mind. I feel like no matter what I go through in life, I can always go up to Lake Superior and find my balance again. She feels so timeless. I feel the same power and energy coming from her as I did when I sat at her shores as a kid. She is a loving ancestor who is always there for me. I feel incredibly blessed to be able go and sit with her and talk to her and swim with her. It’s so cathartic and healing on every level.

Photo by Beverly Cedar

You and your wife, Jen, recently got married on the shores of Lake Superior. Tell me about that, and what it meant to you both to make your commitment official in an area that means so much to both of you. 

It was an incredible experience! We eloped at Stoney Point at sunrise on the winter solstice last year. So, we got married in our favorite place on our favorite day. That was really powerful for us. There was a snowstorm and it was cold and beautiful. My wife Jen and I arrived about an hour before sunrise and started a big bonfire next to Lake Superior. We had the fire, fresh falling snow, the giant rocks, trees and of course Lake Superior. It couldn’t have been a more perfect scene. We were wearing giant parkas with hoods and mukluks. So you can’t really see our faces in our wedding photos, which I think is kind of hilarious. For people that know us, it’s the exact kind of wedding they would expect from us. I think most of them still think we’re crazy though!

To check out Beverly’s photography of her travels, visit www.bevcedar.com

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