[at-l] Minnesota adventure Part 3
mvhudson at gmail.com
Sun Sep 19 17:47:57 CDT 2010
This is the rest of the Superior Hiking Trail -
8/23: South Carlson Pond -
Yes, heavy dew and some skeeters this morning, plus blue skies and sunshine.
Right thigh pain gone – left shin pain – NO! Couldn't bear the thought of
putting crunchy socks on, sacrificed the last clean pair to the trail gods.
Maybe a half mile of pretty well cut back brush to start with, socks may
have got a little damp but certainly not squishy. Fairly easy trail to work
out that left shin, took a LONG time to loosen up, that or the Aleve finally
kicked in. Going on the flat is okay, going uphill is easiest on that pulled
muscle, going downhill is painful. Eventually figured out that if I didn't
get my left foot in front of me on the downhills it hurt much less.
Did I mention it was cool last night, but warm this morning? And getting
warmer fast? More on that later...
Met an older couple at the Jackson Creek Campsite, just getting ready to
head out. They had taken yesterday off at camp, he had pulled a muscle. We
chatted a bit and left together, but I soon left them behind. Lots of
overlooks today, VERY warm out in the sun. First glimpses of Lake Superior,
but the haze won't show the lake in any pictures yet.
Somewhere in the course of the morning some stupid little black fly made a
kamikaze run into my left eye. I thought I got it out right away, but an
hour later the eye puffed all up. I stopped several times to rinse it out
with water and Visine; I must have been quite a sight gimping down the trail
with one eye swollen almost shut. It's getting better now but still a bit
Then, on this nice hot day, somewhere around the Arrowhead Road parking area
bridge I dropped my bandana/sweat rag. I don't suppose I need to mention
that the sweat running into my eyes wasn't doing me any good either?
Much more of a climb from the bridge to the North Carlson Pond Campsite than
I expected – using my t-shirt as a sweat rag. Sign on a tree at the campsite
said “Bear Cable” but I didn't see any cable, and there's no sign like that
at this site.
Met a guy out with his dog after I crossed Arrowhead Road, said it wasn't
far to the campsite, and that there were four people hanging out by the
water. It was probably another half mile – I ran out of water on the way
(did I mention it was warm?), and the foursome was gone when I got here. The
next campsite is dry, so they're either packing water or have quite a ways
to go. [Just found the “Bear Cable” sign here, but no cable again]
Hit camp around 2:30, mostly because of very few breaks and a very short
lunch. I was afraid that if I stopped too long the left shin would tighten
up and make things harder. If I added things up right today was a 15.5 mile
day. [Just found the “Bear Cable above and behind the sign].
Trail grew in a bit later in the day, fortunately the dew was long burned
off before I got there. Didn't have to navigate at all either, except around
one wet area where I met the guy with his dog.
So, for all the complaints about the day, I'm being serenaded by the wind
blowing through the leaves in the birch grove where I'm camped. The birds
are chirping, I'm sure there's a resident chipmunk here waiting to join in
too. The rush-rush go-go of the “real” world is wearing off, my body is
going back to the cycle of sunrise-sunset, hunger-feed, and tired-rest. I
think my mind is finally getting to “here-now” too...
Camp is in that birch glen, on a ridge in a BIG beaver pond. Nice breeze and
amazingly NO skeeters! - killed plenty today BTW.
Hmm, while I don't have a mirror, it sure took me long enough to think of
taking a look at my eye with the camera. “Puffy” hardly describes it, it
doesn't look like I've been in a fight because it's not black and blue. It
does pretty much look like hell tho. At least it's functional, and doesn't
feel funny when I move or blink. Hopefully it's better tomorrow or I may
have to get it taken care of in town.
Meanwhile, while waiting for dinner – yes, there are a few mosquitoes here.
And some yahoos burned their foil and cans in the firepit and left them. Why
do some people think the rest of the world should clean up after them?
Oh, and my pack is starting to look as trail worn as me – there's another
hole to repair when I get home.
8/24: North Little Brule River Campsite -
Woke up sweating last night, glued to the sleeping bag. Had to pee – then
had to hunt down the mosquitoes that snuck in the tent. 5 am the wind
started kicking, 5:30 we had a ten minute squall; just to make sure the tent
was wet and the rocks and roots slick, and the weeds loaded with water.
Out on the trail at 6:40; cloudy cool and breezy. Hit Tom Lake Road (dirt)
for a road walk. Promptly found flooding, switched to my Crocs and waded it,
then found the double blazes that would take northbounders around it. Very,
very easy walking today – if there were a day to go for the twenty miles
this was it. That and a seventeen tomorrow would put me in Grand Marais on
Wed. Two things, one being my left shin, and second being the idea of
arriving in town on a six mile day is appealing to me, if I can score a room
for Friday night it's essentially a day and a half off. If I can just get a
room for Thursday I hang out as late as I can on Friday and then head for
the nearest campsite.
No views all day, other than hitting the state park and getting the “wooden
railing” tourist views of the Devil's Kettle Falls. Pretty falls, too many
tourists. Had lunch at a picnic table alongside the parking lot and tanked
up on (tap) water. Weather had changed to mostly sunny, I was working up a
sweat after lunch. Still made it to camp about 1:30 (14 miles?)
Recipe for sore shin:
2 Aleve for breakfast
Don't speed lace the left boot
Wandered down to the “river” for an Outward Bound shower. Napped in the
tent while reading. Can hear some of the heavier traffic down on the
shoreline road, wondering if it's Bob Dylan's 'Highway 61 Revisited'?
Saw another garter snake today (the third). Been seeing coyote and bear scat
ever since Ely, but now it's getting rarer. There's a woodpecker near here
rapping away, for a bit it sounded like somebody rapping a plastic bottle...
'bout it on the wildlife. Forgot to mention last night's barred owl
serenade; an adult bird calling and a young one trying to learn the song.
And unless someone is *very* nearby with their dogs I just heard some
coyotes at 3:30 in the afternoon!
Chauncey and his son Gage rolled in to share camp – they heard the coyotes
too and I think Chauncey was a little unnerved. :-)
Looking at that left shin, I wish I knew what I did. The bottom of the shin
is red and swollen in the front, the bone bump on the inside of the ankle is
mostly hidden by swelling... bruise and sprain? Bruise and strain? As long
as it doesn't stop me...
Oh and asked Chauncey about my eye – he says it's red – I guess that's an
8/25: Woods Creek Campsite -
On and off sprinkling last night, cool sunny and breezy this morning. Am I
detecting a pattern here???
Out of camp about quarter to seven, easy mile and a half run down to the
lake (Superior) walk. I've certainly never done any other hiking like that
in all my travels, beautiful! The walking was a bit hard as it's a “pebble”
beach, unlike sand where you can walk the water's edge where the sand is
hard – the pebbles keep shifting. Your best bet is to find the strands of
larger stones (2-4”) that don't shift so much. And why doesn't the guide
mention the beach camping??? Passed several canoe camps and a couple of
Waves rolling in, sunshine, cool breeze off the lake... since you can't pick
out the other shore I kept looking for seaweed and expecting the water to be
salt... Dipped my boots and poles into the great waters – the lake didn't
Headed out into rolling terrain to the Kadunce River; on the coolest,
windiest day on the trail I pass the best creek bathtubs, sigh. BTW, creek
here means enough water to cook dinner, river means enough to do an Outward
Met a father out with his daughter at the river, I'm remembering to get
“people pics” on this trip!
Both the eye and the shin doing much better today. The last couple of days
I've had Johnny Cash's 'Folsom Prison' stuck in my head. Today it's the
Gibson Brother's 'Mountain Song' - “Going up to the mountain, to find a
little peace”.. I'm getting “there” again, slowly but surely...
Met two young guys going north from Grand Marais, they camped at Cliff last
night with the couple that started the same day I did – now I don't expect
to catch them, especially if they don't take a day off in town. Then I met a
guy out hiking with his dog, doing a GPS survey for the NFS.
Stopped for lunch, turned out I was about 1/3 of a mile short of Durfree
Creek, so I had to stop again for water. Hitting more up and down, but still
hit camp at 1:30, despite more breaks and a real lunch today. Shin is still
a bit swollen, but almost pain free – I can go downhill normally again. I
was hiking strong today and it felt good!
There was a dayhiking couple here when I rolled in, then I remembered it's
only 0.6 to the next trailhead. 6.5 miles to the Gunflint Road, maybe a mile
road walk into town, I'll be there for lunch I hope!
I think I could get used to these easy days – hit camp at 1:30 or so, pitch
camp, clean up, read, nap, write in the journal :-)
BTW there must be less of me, the pants keep getting looser. Also looks like
the Visine must have fallen out of my pocket somewhere on break today. It
was already on my shopping list for town, but still...
The overlooks now all give views of Lake Superior, but how do you take a
picture of it? It's lost to scale, kind of like taking a picture of the blue
sky and expecting it to mean anything...
Doing some rough calculations on the schedule ahead I found a small error, I
thought Finland was halfway between Grand Marais and Two Harbors, it's
actually a bit south, so what I thought was going to be two 6-day segments
really looks like one 6-day and one 5-day. The net is that it looks like
I'll have three days to kill in Duluth... not sure what I'll find there.
Oh – NO mosquitoes at all while hiking today – MUCH too windy! :-)
Been a few days since I heard the loon's call at McArthur Lake, and I miss
them. It had been much too long since I heard them before this trip, some
wild part of my soul comes to life when I hear that eerie call, I need to
seek it out more often...
8/26: Grand Marais Municipal Campground -
Earliest start yet – something about the call of town, but also the call of
More running downstream alongside Woods Creek, an then a long run upstream
on the other side. Crossed several drainages and pretty much the same kind
of upstream/downstream jog with the Devil's Gulch River. Crossed a road in
there and a hawk was perched on a trailhead sign, it cooperated nicely and
flew up onto a branch to pose for it's picture :-)
The Devil's Gulch really was a canyon, bet there are some great swimming
holes in there, of course it was the coolest morning of the trip, my hands
were actually cold after packing... only other trail note of the short
morning is that I took some kind of a detour through the Pincushion Hill
X-country ski area (not enough signs), and saw another hawk and I think a
fox in there. Hit the trailhead and then the one mile out to the Gunflint
Road – almost missed another turn in there – signs, folks, SIGNS! Switched
to my clean clothes just before the road, and then walked the mile downhill
Only about 9:30, so I made the laundry my first stop (it was also the first
thing I came to). Clean socks! <g>. It was still a bit early to be scoping
out motel rooms after that, but there were a LOT of “No Vacancy” signs and
it's not even the weekend yet. After hoofing it up and down Main St I
decided on the campground: - one, the weather is gorgeous (65 degrees and
sunny), two – it's close to the main drag, three – the money I'm not
spending on a room I can spend on food and drink :-)
Got a walk-in site – then hit the taco place on Main St for lunch. The P.O.
To send maps home, some shopping at the grocery, and the library to send
e-mail. Need to finish the grocery shopping tomorrow. Back in camp to find
my sleeping bag isn't as dry as I thought it was at the laundry, it's spread
over the tent now.
8/27: Still Grand Marais -
So, how do you kill a whole day in a town as small as Grand Marais?
Breakfast at South of the Border; while overhearing conversations about the
price of red potatoes and leveling refrigerators... off to the library,
grocery shopping (the gent at the Co-op says I'll have no problem
resupplying in Finland), the donut shop, the outfitters, throw in multiple
trips to the campsite... scoring dark chocolate coated espresso beans in a
little shop in town... another outfitters, lunch at the taco place... dinner
at Gunflint Lodge, phone call home... and too much walking for a day off.
Tomorrow brings one last hot shower, one more breakfast, and then off to the
8/28: Big White Pine Campsite -
Up early to shower and pack, then off down the road for breakfast at South
of The Border. I think it was warmer at 7am than it was all day yesterday.
The mile-plus climb from Grand Marais back to the trail, plus the short
climb to the height of land from there, must easily be the longest climb
I've done so far. The good news is that the trail this morning was VERY well
maintained and almost ridiculously easy. The bad news is that there was
almost nothing to see – some few, broken views northward through the
trees... met a family of three doing lunch about a mile and a half short of
the Cascade River, had a nice chat and then I moved on. Lunch under the
bridge at the river, dangling my feet in the cool water... Three cars in the
parking lot; the noise of children playing in the water upstream, two guys
Most of the days miles were done when I moved off down the West Side Trail,
two small campsites on this side, thought it might be quieter here on a
Saturday night. Met a couple dayhiking in my direction, and one young guy
going the other way. Was going to stop at the first site, but I thought the
water was dry – turned out to be after the site. Only another half mile to
here, the water is not convenient at either site... oh well. In early, read,
nap... not even dinnertime yet. Still warm but a nice breeze...
Had the chance to look up “shin splints” on the library computer, whatever I
have I don't think that's it. If I remember right shin splints is supposed
to be soreness on the outside bottom of the shin. Mine is more dead on the
front, with redness, swelling (still), and limited motion of my foot (up and
down). It's not slowing my hiking down, or even bothering me much now, but I
do wish it would go away.
Had dinner at the Gunflint Lodge again last night, they do have some good
vegetarian selections <g>, and some good conversations with my neighbors at
the bar. Dave bartends part-time in Duluth, and he had some suggestions for
spending my days off there – one being a Celtic jam on Thursday nights at
the bar (Sir Ben's). I know there's also a maritime museum there, and it
would be nice to find a good book store so I can kill some time during the
Thought I heard a few more dayhikers pass, but I can't see the trail from
this campsite. Camping alone seems too quiet after being in town, but I
doubt it will take me long to appreciate it again.
The couple I met earlier were telling me about an “unofficial” campsite
farther down the trail, along the river. Being (I think) inside the state
park boundary, on a Saturday night, I decided to stick with the official
site. But it would be nice to find a spot for a wake-up swim in the morning.
More voices on the trail, 5:40 and no company... tomorrow I head for Lake
Agnes (sounds beautiful in the guide), but the next night may be a dry camp
– one freeze dried meal left...
More voices on the trail, none stopped. I have company tho, a snowshoe hare
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