Since we had a 3 day weekend I decided to try a bikepacking route on Anglesey that I thought looked like a lot of fun. It would go all the way around the island, about 100 miles in total. I was a bit on the fence about doing it, because…
A.) The weather forecast was looking increasingly crappy. B.) 100 is a lot of miles and I was nervous it would be too hard to cycle ~34 miles a day with a packed bike. I know I could do 1 day, but 3 days in a row? C.) The one person that said they wanted to join me never got back to me, so it was going to be a solo trip. D.) All the campsites I contacted were either full or required multi night stays, so I would have to illegally wild camp.
Despite all those things, I decided to give it a go anyway.
Prepping was really easy thanks to the shared spreadsheet my girlfriends and I had carefully curated for previous bikepacking adventures in Minnesota. So I spent my Friday night packing for an early Saturday 🚂 departure.
Saturday, 20 April 2022
It started off well; getting my bike on the train to Bangor for a 2 hour ride was easy and as I began my cycle, the weather wasn’t even that bad. A bit overcast, but warm enough for a t-shirt after climbing a few hills. I passed through Beaumaris which was super cute and I would love to go back and visit someday. But about 24 miles in, just after a 1 mile long descent toward the beach at Red Wharf Bay, I realized my rear brakes were no longer working 😱. A quick video call with Yen as I parked myself in the sand helped me to make some adjustments and diagnose a bit (Thanks, Yen!), but it was going to take more time and probably a professional to get to the bottom of what was going on. I continued on but it was getting scarier and scarier to ride because there were a lot of hills and it seemed like my front brakes were also starting to take a performance hit from being the only ones working. So I stopped for an ice cream to think, and decided I needed to make it a shorter day to really put some time into the bike. So I started looking for places that I might be able to camp. I passed by Din Lligwy stone settlement and thought I might be able to hide my tent behind the stones, but I’m still nervous to wild camp so I pressed on. I eventually passed by a sign on the main road advertising Tyddyn Isaf, a nearby campground. I gave them a call and huzzah! They had a spot for me for £20/night and I absolutely took it.
I feel lucky that I stumbled upon them, because it was a fantastic campsite! There was a great view of the beach, their bathrooms were very clean and modern (they won Platinum Loo of the Year Award for 2022 and I’m not even kidding about that), and they had a little mini takeaway restaurant/bar/shop with WiFi and local beer by Snowdon Craft Beer (branded specifically to their campsite!). So I could sit down at a table, warm and out of the mist, eating a stone baked pizza while drinking beer and binge watching disc brake maintenance videos on YouTube (I found this one by Park Tool particularly useful). Oh, and also planning a Direct AF GTFO route back to the nearest train station for the next day in case I discover that my brake pads are completely worn. I stayed sat there until they closed at 8pm because it was now raining and I didn’t want to address the bike in the rain if I could help it. When I realized it wasn’t going to stop, I just crawled into my tent and went to bed early – the brakes could wait until morning.
Sunday, 01 May 2022
Well, I was up early and it was still raining. So I went back to sleep, until 11 (ha!) when it eventually let up, I made some breakfast, had some coffee and flipped the bike upside down to start poking around. Thanks to that Park Took video, it was super easy to get the brake pads out. The good news is that I still had some pad left. The bad news was that one of them was unevenly worn down to the base on one side. My plan was to flip it to the other side, so that it could now use the side that actually had some padding. It took a bit of fiddling, but I got them in and with a quick pedal around the campsite, they appeared to be working?!? America’s Next Top Bike Mechanic, here I come. Er, maybe that should be Great British Bike Mechanic-off?
So yeah, I had brakes now, but still thought it best to follow Plan GTFO. I wasn’t going to be able to do the whole route anyway now, and who knows what else would be thrown my way? A gash in my tire, that’s what.
I thought the tire (tyre?) seemed a bit low, so I stopped to pump it up a bit. Having recently converted to tubeless, it should have sealed itself. But then I heard the hiss of air coming from the tire. I tried a couple of times to pump it up and ride a bit – because it was a slow leak – and I could ride for a short time before it got too flat. While doing this, I passed a bus stop where the bus to Bangor was about to stop. I waiting for the bus and asked if they’d let me on with my bike – and the answer was a solid “No”. So on with the loop of pumping up the tire and riding a little ways, rinse & repeat. At one of my stops to pump, the valve core came right out as I took the pump off, instantly deflating the tire. I think it had gotten stuck to the pump with the gooey sealant. At this point I was done. I started Googling cab companies. Luckily my first phone call was a success and I was promised a ride in 15 minutes, with my bike. And though they were a little over their time estimate, I was soon back at Bangor station with an hour to kill before the next train back to Shrews. As is usually the case, there was a pub across from the station, so I stopped in for a quick Guinness and to dry off a bit more.
This was a hard one, Type 2 Fun at it’s finest, and definitely a learning experience. I’m still glad I did it, and I’m sure I’ll be better prepared and leveled up in my bike skills the next time I try it 😉
Throughout the whole ordeal I had been in contact with some good friends back in the US, and without their encouragement and comedic commentary, I might have had a different attitude about the whole thing. So that helped a lot. And big kudos to Chris for the encouragement along the way (even though he was busy celebrating a birthday weekend in Birmingham) and for also picking me up from the station in Shrewsbury with chocolate in tow! Cheers to the next adventure!
Hikers: Betsy, Lacey, Colleen, & Lucas Route: Rock Harbor to Windigo via the Greenstone Total Distance: 47.5 miles Days: 6 days, 5 nights Dates: September 6-13, 2020 Photos:link
Sunday, September 6, 2020
A light sprinkle came down on us we started to get our bags loaded into the tiny float plane at the Grand Marais airport – probably the tiniest airport I’ve ever been to – and after placing Lacey’s pack, the pilot (John) got a call that a bad weather cell had developed north of the island and we would need to wait about a half hour to see how things developed. He had us bring our packs inside while we waited. The airport consisted of one waiting room surrounded by an office, a training room, two restrooms and a little kitchen. After hanging around in there for a few minutes, we went outside to enjoy a couple of hopeful pre-flight beers to pass the time. After a half hour, I went back in to check on things, and though John didn’t want to make the call just yet, he said it was not likely that we would fly that day. He later came back outside to confirm, and said that we should keep an eye on our emails and phones that night for a new plan.
While we waited for our new flight plan, we also made a new plan for how to spend the rest of the day. I suggested that we go hike the Pincushion Mountain loop and everyone was game. It’s a trail I’d visited before, but on cross country skis, so I was curious to see what it looked like while everything was green instead of white. And this would be a good chance for me to see what I was in for with my new hiking boots that I hadn’t yet broken in (yeah, I know…).
After the hike we ticked off two more of my Grand Marais bucket list items: food at Angry Trout, and beers at Voyageur Brewing. Not a bad afternoon! While at the brewery, Lacey received an email that our flight had been rescheduled for 11am the next day – huzzah!
Colleen reached out to her aunt who has a cabin nearby and they graciously allowed us to crash there for the night. We stayed the night in their camper after joining them for a nice bonfire that evening. The rest of the evening consisted of a little repacking of packs and removal of now unneeded backpacking food before we headed to bed.
Monday, September 7
Right as we were getting ready to head to the airport on Monday morning at 10:30, Lacey noticed another email from the airport that said our flight had been moved again, to 1pm that day. Since we had a little time to kill and I was a little concerned about how my feet would fare in my new boots, we went into town to look for some orthotics. I found some at the Tom Thumb while Lacey and Lucas waited in line for the World’s Best Donuts. The queue didn’t seem to move at all for them so we opted for ice cream instead after a quick visit to the Trading Post (another fave).
We found ourselves at the airport again a little after 12, hopeful for our twice rescheduled flight. This time it was a go! Our packs were loaded and after a short taxi we were off! We could see the beginnings of the Autumn colors of Superior National Forest below us before setting out across the sea where we could see whitecaps below, Isle Royale to our right and Canada to our left, eh!
Park Ranger Bridget met us upon landing, and gave us our orientation after the seaplane peeps handed over our prepaid fuel (3 canisters – way more than we needed, oops). She explained that there are about 1,200 campers per night on Isle Royale during a regular season, but this year – Covid Season – there are only about 120 per night. She helped us review our plan for the week, agreed that it was acceptable, and wrote it down on our permit, explaining that we can change it if we like.
When hearing that our plan was to spend our last night at Washington Creek, she told us that it’s a great place for viewing moose; that there moose do a sort of conga line in the river every night. She made sure we brought extra food (because of the frequent seaplane delays), that we had sufficient water filtration systems, and quizzed us about what is considered an emergency when we asked for a phone number that we could call from our rented satellite phone if the need arose. We passed the test and she handed over the digits. After she set us free, we went to fill our water bladders, have a quick peek in the shop, use the restrooms, and take a group selfie before setting off.
The trail was pretty rocky but not difficult. We came to several large open rock faces with nice views of the big lake. Later on it became incredibly muddy and I was able to determine that my new waterproof boots do alright while walking through ankle-deep muddy water.
Before long, we came to a sign for “Suzys Cave” and stopped to go check it out. We climbed through the cave and out the hole on the other end, and then up to the top of the cave for a nice view of Lake Superior.
We passed Threemile camp eventually and saw a few groups had set up camp there. But we wanted to go further and make it to Daisy Farm since we still had plenty of daylight left, and had lost our first day. We ended up staying in one of the little cabins, site #1, rather than setting up tents. It was actually really nice and spacious!
Wildlife Sightings: Beavers – 4
Tuesday, September 8
Lacey declared that we did not need to be up early today, so we ended up with a very leisurely morning, including breakfast on the dock. We didn’t leave camp until a little after noon (!!). I’ve gotta admit, it was nice to not have to pack up any tents!
We left camp and headed up the Mount Ojibwe trail, which had tons of tall ferns that were nearing their end and turning a yellowish brown. Lacey and Lucas hiked up ahead of Colleen and I, and a little while later we hiked up and over a hill where we saw them both standing at the bottom with another couple of backpackers. Lacey had big eyes and a huge smile, so I immediately knew they had to have spotted a moose! Sure enough, there she was – standing in water probably just above her knees, not really caring that we were standing there, but sometimes slowly turning her head toward us whenever someone started moving across the boardwalk.
We stayed there for several minutes in awe. It was my first time seeing a moose in the wilderness. But eventually we decided we needed to move on and leave her to it, which I’m sure she appreciated.
As we continued to climb, we then came to a fire tower where we stopped for a snack and to take in the expansive views. There were other backpackers there as well doing the same.
Our lunch stop was a little while later and at a marked viewpoint on the trail, a large outcrop of rock with views of Canada. I pulled out my fancy raspberry ale cheese that I picked up at SuperOne in Two Harbors after having forgot my cheese at home – a very tasty substitute! Lacey did planks to warm up while waiting for everyone to be ready to move on.
The hiking ended up being a little longer than what everyone was expecting, I think 9.6 miles in total by the time we made it to West Chickenbone Lake. We only had one misstep along the way; in between the East Chickenbone turnoff and the West Chickenbone turnoff, we came to a creek and a fork in the trail. One of the trails was a portage trail and we took that one mistakenly at first, but realized our error when we came to the lake and started going the wrong way around the lake. A quick consult with the guidebook (which was very clear for this part, despite it’s pretty bad editing elsewhere) and we were on our way in the right direction again.
There were several other groups that had already made camp by the time we arrived. All of the lakeside sites were taken, but we took site #2, which was not that far away from the lake, but not right on it like site 1. Colleen and I spent a little time by the lake after setting up our tents, her reading and me knitting in my hammock. It started to feel a little too chilly by the lake so we made our way back to the site for dinner, featuring Creme Brulé dessert from Lucas and homemade Peach moonshine from Lacey.
Our neighbors at site #1 on the lake were in bed and snoring by 6:30!
I had intended to wake up for sunrise to look for moose on the lake, but didn’t sleep well and had a hard enough time getting up with my 7:30 alarm that we had set to get us up and moving by 8. Our neighbors at site #1 were, to our surprise, still at camp when we awoke. During breakfast, we could hear sandhill cranes in the distance, and the neighbs joking that they were hearing pterodactyls. As I walked to the outhouse after breakfast, I followed the two funny guys as they were heading out. They said they saw two moose in the lake very early that morning, one of them swimming across the lake. I was regretting my decision to sleep in instead up get up with the sun…
Even though we had a steep descent into camp the previous day, I was still surprised to find it a steep climb out of camp. Lots of up and down on the hike today, through various environments, with not as much mud as the previous two days. In one area filled with what we think were juniper bushes, we came across another couple stood on a rocky outcrop looking down into the woods below. They informed us they had spotted a bull moose down below! We continued on the trail as it seemed to go down toward where the moose might be. With a slight detour off trail, we were able to spot him from a safe distance away, munching on all his greens. And to our surprise there was also a cow moose not far away. The male made some moose noises as he made his way closer to the female (it was rutting season at the time).
Everyone’s feet and muscles were sore today and some were hiking a bit slower than the previous days. We had a few more rest stops, one in which Colleen was a canoe for Lacey to help soothe her aching shoulders.
On the spur trail down to Hatchet Lake, we came across what we determined to be baby moose remains. They were all spread out, obviously a meal had been made of it at some point (yay for the wolves?)
We scoped out all the campsites at Hatchet Lake, most of which were occupied; but we ended up snagging group site #2 – which seemed small-ish for a “group” site. There were 2 good tent pads, but other group sites on the trail have seemed to have more.
Throughout the evening we hung around at camp or by the lake. While at camp, we had a visitor! It was one we had been warned about — warned that they like to steal hikers boots and socks to lick the salt off of them.
Wildlife Sightings: Moose – 2! (A bull and a cow), Fox – 1, Beaver – 1 (Colleen)
Thursday, September 10
We woke up at 7 for the 7:24 sunrise to see if we could catch some moose down by the lake. I made some coffee to keep my hands warm while we waited for them to appear. They never did appear, but Lacey and I did witness a beaver out for his morning swim as well as a matchmaking in the Loon world. We heard the male loon call from the end of the lake just opposite us, and then the female loon call from the North East side of the lake, and immediately after they both started floating toward each other. When they met, they shared a kiss (okay I don’t know exactly what they did, but there was some sort of bird necking action going on), and then they went into what seemed like a flirtatious game. One of them would dive under water and then come back up a moment later and they’d “kiss” again. And this was repeated over and over again. Sounds kinda loony if you ask me.
Anyway, we gave up on morning Moose and decided to head back up to camp for breakfast and to break camp. We were on the trail by 9:20. It was a long steep climb out of Hatchet Lake, and felt harder and longer than the climb out of West Chickenbone. But I hadn’t been sleeping well so maybe I was just tired. The rest of the hike was really pretty, even though the guidebook stressed that there were absolutely. no. views. All of us enjoyed it. At one point, Lacey and Colleen got a bit ahead of Lucas and myself. I was last and walking slow, scanning the woods while I ambled. Soon I spotted him – huge antlers peeking through the green woods. It was a giant bull moose, lying down taking a rest. I stopped in my tracks, and he turned his head to look at me. I was nervous and trembling a bit, even though he was a safe distance away. After admiring him for a minute, I walked quickly ahead to try and yell for Lucas (but not too loudly). I was happy that he heard me and dropped his pack to come back in my direction; I didn’t want to be the only one to witness this big ass moose. I tried to walk him back to the spot where I had seen the bug guy. But where was he? I couldn’t find him again. We walked further than where I thought he’d been. Maybe if we walked back again in the original direction that I was walking when I first spotted him? Bingo! Lucas was able to get a decent photo, but I was a bit too nervous so didn’t even bother. He was a massive animal and I admit I was a bit scared to be so close to him. A moment later he stood up from his spot on the ground and stared right at us – probably letting us know that we had better move on, and so we did.
We passed another couple hiking in our direction, and they had spoke to another couple about 30 minutes prior that said they saw 3 bulls sparring! What a cool sight that would have been! Could our bull have been one of those 3? Had he lost? Where was the girl moose they were sparring over?
Further on down the trail, we eventually found Colleen and Lacey. They were looking off into the trees — they had found her! She was munching on some branches, and probably not caring too much about the gentlemen that were fighting over her a bit earlier.
Lacey and Lucas made it to the South Desor Lake campsite first, Colleen was waiting for me at the junction and so we made our way in together. The first site we checked was #4, and were pretty impressed with it. It was a sunny spot with some nice flat tent pads. I held the spot while she went to check out the others. 1 and 2 were taken, and 3 wasn’t as good. The only other left to check were the group sites, which were surprisingly far away, but where we were hoping we’d find Lacey and Lucas. They had dropped their gear at group site 2. We agreed to stay at 4, although they were both nice. Everyone but me took a refreshing dip in the lake, while I set up my hammock to work on my knitting in the sun. It was nice to just relax after putting so many miles on my feet again.
Dinner was Beef Stroganoff from “Peak”, a new brand I saw at REI. It only called for ¾ cup of water, but it probably needed more. And more than the 10 minutes the instructions said to re-hydrate; some of the meat was still a little tough. I’d try it again, but with said modifications. Cache Lake Vanilla pudding (my fave!) for dessert, courtesy of Lucas.
Wildlife Sightings: Moose – 2! (Betsy and Lucas saw a bull and everyone saw a cow), Beaver – 1 (Betsy & Lacey)
Friday, September 11
Up at 7 so we could get a good start on our long hike day. Maybe a little over a mile into the hike, Lucas and Lacey were hiking up ahead and spooked a bull moose on the trail, who then ran off into the woods – up and over a hill. When Colleen and I saw their packs left on the trail we figured they had spotted something, so we followed suit and dropped ours as well so we could catch up. No moose was found in the end, and that would unfortunately be our only moose excitement for this day.
The guidebook warned us that there would again be no views on this long stretch of trail, but again all of us found it very pleasant (aside from our aching feet).
When we arrived at Washington Creek, we found a really nice tent site right on the water. The latrine felt luxurious compared to the others we had experienced on the trail; it had a latch on the door, and a hand sanitizer dispenser! We hung around camp for just a little while before deciding to walk down to the Windigo ranger station where we would be flying out come Sunday (hopefully). There was a huge dock with a couple of boats and we spent some time taking photos in front of the Isle Royale Windigo sign that greets newcomers as they step off the dock. We also went to check out the visitor center where they keep on display an adult moose skeleton and a taxidermied lone grey wolf, accompanied by an account of his sad story.
Lucas talked to a man from another boat that pulled up to the dock and was told about a “moose parade” that is pretty much guaranteed every night at Washington Creek. A Moose Parade or Moose Conga Line? Seemed like the chances were pretty good that we would see moose at this campground. Unfortunate moose was not in the cards for us this night.
Wildlife Sightings: Moose – 1 (Lacey and Lucas saw a bull), Beaver – 1 (at camp), Gray Jay – 1 (at camp)
Saturday, September 12
Today was just a day to do whatever we want, because our flight off the island wasn’t scheduled until Sunday. Lacey and Colleen decided to do a 10 mile loop hike to Hugginen Cove. Lucas slept in. I got up with Lacey and Colleen and had breakfast, but stayed behind, thinking I might do a hike later in the day after taking it easy in the morning and enjoying my coffee by the lake. Well, after breakfast it started raining, pretty consistently and somewhat heavily, so I meandered back into my tent and started knitting. It rained most of the day and I decided I was happy staying dry, so never went on that hike. I did eventually wander over to the visitor center for a while to look at the books and talk to the ranger (Jenna) there for a while. I told her about our hike and about the moose, fox, beavers, etc. I also showed her the photo of the wolf tracks that we saw, and she asked if I’d be willing to share that with the NPS! As I said goodbye, she mentioned that she would be giving a talk on moose down at the pavilion in about 10 minutes, which sounded super interesting to me, so I hurried back to camp to let the others know in case they wanted to join too.
The talk was great, and the audience was captive (mostly hikers stranded on the island due to sea plane delays). She showed us skeleton fragments from deceased moose from the island and explained how they probably died. We learned that moose can smell 4x better than a German Shepherd, so they definitely know when a wolf is nearby. We also learned why we’re probably not seeing any moose in this popular moose viewing area; things are a bit weird with it being rutting season. They normally come down to the creek to eat, but by this point in the season, they’ve done most of the eating that they normally do to prepare for the rut and winter. It would be fun to come back here earlier in the summer when they come down to the creek for a swim.
Everything at camp was wet so we ate our dinner at a wet table in a light rain that came and went. Sweet and sour chicken from alpine aire was not my favorite.
Sunday, September 13
We were told that the rangers would have the plane manifest by 8am Sunday morning, so we planned to get there a little early to have breakfast at the pavilion. We were happy to find that our flight was on as originally scheduled – 9am! We thought it may have changed because of all the delays and flights they now needed to fit in on Sunday. All the backpackers that had cancelled flights from Saturday were now hanging out at the pavillion to get updates on their flights. I think our group felt a bit cheeky when our plane arrived first – no delays for us and all the other groups had to continue waiting.
We got our gear loaded into the plane — I got the copilot seat this time and was excited for that, until our pilot hit his head on the wing of the plane, and proceeded to grab lysol wipes from under the backseat as blood dripped down from his head. We all cringed as he cleaned the cut with the wipes. He seemed angered at one of the other men on the dock, commenting that he wanted to throw him in the water. He eventually got into the cockpit and started things up. Now I was nervous; did this guy have a concussion? What if he passed out while we were in the air? I wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to fly, not to mention LAND a plane. It would surely be a cold and watery death for us all. Lucky for me, I was soon distracted by the views from above, and the Fall colors which had seemed to become even more brilliant after a week of us being on the island.
Soon we landed and any worries we (I?) had were gone. Lucas again provided beers from the back of his truck to celebrate the completion of a successful and fun trip. We made a stop at Cascade Restaurant on our way home – a first for me, and it was super yummy – and then we followed that with a short leg stretch at Gooseberry Falls State Park. The end!
Typically I make my trip notes in the Google Keep app while I’m on the trip, and then I’ll come back to it later to turn it into a blog post. Except, I’m a big time procrastinator and often times never come back to complete the blog post. I tried streamlining the process a bit this time by just making my notes directly into the blog during my trip. That makes the posts probably 80% done by the time I come home and I can post soon after the trip — yay!
Hikers: Betsy, Lacey, Colleen, Yen, Michelle & Gypsy Total Distance: 29.4 miles (+3.4 at Banning State Park) Days: 5 days, 4 nights Dates: Thursday, May 21 – Monday, May 25, 2020 (Memorial Day Weekend!) Photos: link
I’m writing this quite a bit after the fact, so everything is not fresh in my mind anymore, but with the help of Lacey’s travelog that she wrote while on the trip (thanks!). I have a few other backpacking trips that I still haven’t written about; out of state even, but I really want to get better about documenting them.
Thursday, May 21 The five of us met at Colleen’s house in NE and shortly after were on our way North, after a much anticipated group hug after having been isolating for weeks and weeks! Our only stop along the way was at an empty rest area overlooking Duluth to eat our packed dinners and change clothing for the trail. We would then drive to the Britton Peak trailhead, hike about a half mile in to the Onion River campsite where we’d stay the night. We hit the trail in the dark at about 9:50pm – a short and sweet flat hike – about 25 minutes.
When we arrived, we found there was one other backpacker there who had setup camp and had already retired for the night, so we quietly set up our tents far away from theirs. Bear hangs were difficult at this site; we were surrounded by lots of pine trees with short branches. On this night was when we discovered our champion bear bag hanger would be Lacey – she had the best aim and throwing technique of all of us by far. And it was from her that I learned to use a slightly filled Nalgene bottle for some weight on the rope when throwing (even if we did end up breaking two of the cap attachments for my bottles…easily replaceable – thanks REI).
Friday, May 22 Friday morning, after breakfast and a little scare when Michelle’s dog, Gypsy snuck out of her harness and went for a little joy run, we then hiked out of Onion River Camp back to Britton Peak trailhead, and drove both cars to the Lutsen trailhead where we’d end our hike. We left my car at Lutsen and crammed all of us + dog + packs into Michelle’s car to head to our starting point, Temperance River State Park. When we arrived, we found that the roads leading back to the normal overnight parking spots at the State Park were closed, so we drove across the street to where the trailhead was located and luckily happened upon a parking lot that had been temporarily designated as the SHT overnight lot while the State Park lot was inaccessible.
We started off on the trail in the state park, and…I may have been responsible for us starting out the trail in the wrong direction. We hiked for about a mile on the West side of the Temperance River when we should have been hiking on the East side to bring us North on the trail. Oops. Well, we got to see more of the park? And it was not entirely unpleasant.
The hike this day included a tough hike up to Carlton Peak, but we were rewarded with some nice views. There was also a trail register at the base of the spur trail to the top that we signed; Colleen noticed her neighbor had also recently signed!
After Carlton Peak, we eventually came to the Britton Peak trailhead, where I was excited to learn that there were some mountain biking trails there as well (added to the “to do bike trail list”, which currently is only a mental list, but I should probably put in writing). Moving on and about half way between the trailhead and our camp for the night, we came upon a full field of ramps which Yen identified. I would not have known had it not been for her, and boy were they tasty! We all picked a few to include in our dinner later that night – SO worth it!
It was on this part of the trail that some in the group learned that Fiddleheads are calls such because, well, they look like the head of a fiddle 🙂
We shared camp with a few other campers – a couple (Blake & Abby) with his son (Matthew) from Rochester, MN and a couple of friends (Christian & Brent) from Duluth and Superior. Everyone kept their distance (except Gypsy, who gobbled up all the attention she could get) as we shared a campfire together in the evening, which we waiting to be invited to for Covid reasons.
Saturday, May 23 Saturday morning came with an unfortunate event as Colleen got some boiling water on her hand while preparing breakfast. Lesson learned to bring some burn cream on the trail for next time, but she was able to cool it in the creek immediately. We left camp around 10am and proceeded through a forest covered with tons of fragrant little flowers that smelled SOOO good. We also saw more ramps, but left them alone this time.
Eventually we came to the Leveaux Pond campsites with a nearby beaver dam and stopped to check them out.
Not long after the campsites, we hit the Leveaux spur trail and 4 of us decided to drop our packs to go check it out, while Michelle and Gypsy took a break in the shade.
We found the perfect lunch stop at the Onion River where we could soak our feet in the water, dip our heads in the water (while creating some fantastic boomerangs for the ‘gram), apply some bandaids, and eat some much needed lunch.
Next was the spur trail to Oberg Mountain, which I had been on before with far worse views due to heavy fog. Packs were dropped again to do this loop, while Michelle and Gypsy continued on toward our next campsite. We noticed some big temperature differences while hiking this loop — on the big open rocky faces it got quite warm, but back on the trails in the woods it was refreshingly cool. There were an incredible number of lookout points on this loop – definitely worth the hike! At one of them, Lacey found the perfect butt shaped hole in a rock to sit in – a “butt pocket”, if you will.
We were all pleasantly surprised when we arrived at our next campsite, West Rollins Creek, and it was probably my favorite campsite of the whole weekend. Lots of big trees for hammocks, flat tent pads, and lots of space in case other campers ended up joining, which they did. We shared the camp with another couple, Evan & Brittney – one of which lives in St. Paul and the other in Marquette, MI, and another younger guy who kept to his tent most of the time (Covid? Or just shy?)
Sunday, May 24 On our way out of camp the next morning, I stopped to check out the other (east) Rollins Creek campsite, and was glad we stayed at the West one – it was much prettier and more spacious.
Hiking on, we came to the spur trail for the Lutsen gondola, but did not take it (that’s okay, I’ve seen it before). We also came to a very muddy and tippy boardwalk, where we had to take Gypsy off leash in order for her to pass, with a little encouragement.
We also saw signs of wildlife. I’m guessing the poo on the left may be wolf or coyote, but what is the one on the right? Ranger Rob says maybe raccoon or opossum.
Lunch was at Mystery Mountain campsite – a place I had camped at least 2 other times before, both in the rain. Luckily our lunch stop here was clear and sunny. After lunch, we walked toward the Lutsen trailhead, where Yen, Michelle, and Gypsy would end their trip and head home after getting a ride from Colleen to Temperance where Michelle’s car was parked – but first we got to cross the bridge over the roaring Poplar River, which has yet to disappoint.
Lacey and myself continued on to our (hopefully) next site for the night: East Poplar River Camp. After stopping to check out an overlook, we soon ran into Colleen who was heading toward us – to my surprise. But…she was supposed to be behind us on our way to camp after dropping off the other? Turns out when we stopped to look at the overlook, I accidentally led us astray AGAIN, and started us going back the way we came. Don’t trust me with your navigation, unless you want some surprise extra miles!
West Poplar River Camp was reportedly “closed” by the SHTA due to Covid, so we passed that one by without even giving it a look. We were happy to find the East site unoccupied when we arrived, and lucky for us that we got there when we did, because another large group came by while we were taking a dip in the river to scope out the site for themselves. It was just too small for all of us though, so we think they moved on to check out the West, closed site. The rest of the evening consisted of hammocks, dinner, beers that Colleen had grabbed from the car, and a very pleasant sunset-y view over the river!
Monday, May 25 – Memorial Day There’s not much to say about the hike back to Lutsen in the morning – it was uneventful and we had hiked the same bit the day before. We did run out of fuel that morning during breakfast though – eek!
On the drive home, we did a call head order from the best pie place for some pie, and made a stop in Duluth at a Subway for Colleen. We even had time for an extra hike at Banning State Park on our way home – I had never been to that State Park, and although it was humid and buggy, it was worth the stop!
Hikers: Betsy, Rob, Todd Total Distance: 18 miles Days: 4 days, 3 nights Dates: August 30 – September 2, 2019 (Labor Day Weekend!) Photos: Betsy’s, Rob’s
Friday, August 30th Left late in the day, and after a dinner at Tobie’s in Hinkley, made it to George Crosby Manitou State Park around 10pm, with views of the northern lights while driving inland toward the park. It was a New Moon, so it was incredibly dark and easy to see the aurora! The hike in the dark was a bit creepy, and luckily we made it to Aspen Knob camp to find that we wouldn’t be disturbing other campers at such a late hour. The hike ended up being 0.6 miles when I had told everyone it would be 0.4 miles. They were starting to doubt my navigation skills I think – oops! Next time I should check the route from where we’d actually be parking the car. We were pretty much set up by 11pm – Rob & Todd with their ITSU (impossible to set up) tent and me with my little 2 person Marmot. We got a small fire going to stay warm while Rob ran off into the woods to take some photos of the sky. A few sips of whiskey and wine were had by the fire. The temps were a bit colder than we expected; the car said 42 degrees as we pulled into the park, and I was cold during the night — not sure how far the temps actually dropped, but we survived.
Wildlife seen: – Bunny running for it’s life, in front of my car headlights, for a really long time. – Mouse sneaking around behind us as we sat by the fire.
Saturday, August 31st Oatmeal and coffee for breakfast for all. Rob made the walk back to the car in the morning to drop some gear that he didn’t think he’d need, and also to pick up an extra fuel canister for us. We were on the trail by 10:50am, and stopped for water and snack break at the Baptism River bridge near Blesener Creek Camp. While there, a big group of ATVs came riding across the bridge and stopped for a break as well.
Took a quick photo of the Blesener Camp for future reference before moving on. There was only really one good tent pad there.
Our next planned stop was to be one of the Sonju Lake campsites for lunch, but there were people in both of them that we didn’t want to disturb, and there also happened to be an awesome little island called Lilly’s Island that was a much better lunch spot than the campsites would have been. According to the trail guide, the island was named after a dog that loved the trail 🙂 So we spent a little time there relaxing, ate lunch, and signed the trail register.
I think because we got going so late in the morning, the rest of the hike started to eventually feel pretty long and we kept hoping to hit our final destination for the night, but it just never seemed to come. Along the way we saw the beginnings of Autumn, some cool fungi, and the old trapper’s cabin, which was very dilapidated. Eventually we made it to the Egge Lake campsites, the North site already had a large group of 10-15 college students so we moved on to the South Egge Lake campsite where there were only 7 people who had set up camp, but they were all very nice and welcoming, and helped us find some space for our two tents. We met Michelle, a woman who owns her own business, Backpack the Trails, where she guides folks on backpacking trips in various locations including the SHT, and we also met her 78 year old friend Mary, who I was pleased to see knitting socks when we arrived at camp, and who also had some great advice on making homemade backpacking food. The South Egge Lake site had a Bear Cable set up for hanging food – something I hadn’t seen on any other campsites during all my times on the trail – it was super handy and nice to not have to go searching for a good bear hang branch.
This weekend was forecast to have clear views of the northern lights, and so after some hangout time around the fire, Rob set up his camera at a clear spot looking north on the lake. He got some great photos, and you should definitely go check them out. Be sure to watch the time lapse!
Wildlife seen: – Red squirrel by camp and various places along the trail. – Loon @ Lily’s Island
Sunday, September 1st On Sunday, we were up earlier and managed a 9:30 am departure. I forgot to take photos of the camp all set up with everyone’s tents, but I took a photo of each of the tent pads before we continued on the trail. I think the guidebook said 4 tent pads were available, but we managed 6 tents with everyone in the group, and though Todd and Rob were on a bit of a slope, and I was nearly blocking the entrance to camp, I think everyone felt okay with how it turned out. Though, with the busy sites, we thought we should maybe try to get to our next site, Section 13 a bit earlier, as it’s known for being a nice site high up on the cliffs, and popular.
On our way we passed a sign for an old bear den, but we could see no signs of the bear den, and it wasn’t mentioned in the guidebook from what I could tell. Most of the hike that day was relatively flat, through very green forests showing hints of Autumn. But we also passed over a boardwalk in a bog area with a beaver dam that was pretty neat.
Lunch was at Leskinen Camp, a very large group site, right off of the trail. Keeping with the busy trail theme of the weekend, there was a large group of college students at this site as well. I attempted the first use of my Bandito, and although I was hopeful that a natural, deet-free mosquito repellent would actually maybe work, the Bandito was no match for our state bird of Minnesota. To be honest, the bugs weren’t really that bad this weekend, but there were a few of them. And even while holding the Bandito (with a new battery and fresh scent pack) right up close to the buggers, they continued to try and penetrate my clothing and make a meal out of me.
Continuing on, we eventually came to this huge glacial erratic!
And since we’re on the subject of rocks, and we had a geologist in our group, I learned about BIFs (Banded Iron Formations) when we came across one on the trail.
We were all anticipating (dreading?) the steep, rocky hike up to Section 13. And it was steep and rocky. We debated getting water from a small, trickle of a creek 0.5 mile north of the campsite, but ultimately decided we would hike (what the guidebook said was) 0.5 miles south of the campsite for water after dropping our gear and setting up our tents, to avoid carrying more weight on the climb up. We arrived at the site, surprised to find that we were the first ones there at around 4pm, so we swiftly set up our tents to claim our spots, and even made a bit of use of the hammocks we dragged with us.
Rob and I eventually went on a water quest, and stumbled upon some great overlooks and an “unofficial” Section 13 campsite shortly after heading South from the the official campsite. However, we did find that the 0.5 mile water source was not really a thing. We walked about 0.9 mi to get to a water source that wasn’t even really that great, but it did the job. To our future selves and anyone hiking to Section 13 — get water when you can if you’re debating it like we did! The 0.5 mi water source on either side of the site is not reliable.
After getting back from our water errand, we came back to find our camp full, and the unofficial camp occupied by several campers as well. We were all relieved that we made it early enough to nab some spots. Our site was shared with 3 thru-hikers, all hiking their own hike, and another local backpacker from Duluth just out on the trail for a while. The conversations around the fire were somewhat entertaining, as the local backpacker told us about his snake nightmares and repeatedly asked how much money people paid for shuttles on the SHT, as he plotted his own business ventures into the field, while at the same time planning his defense against his would be competitors that are already well established in the North Shore shuttle business.
Around 9pm, our entire group from official camp walked down the trail to the overlook just South of us to try and see the northern lights. The stars were amazing directly above us, but some large clouds were rolling in over the horizon, preventing us from seeing a good glow of the Aurora, and they eventually affected our view of the stars as well. Our camp buddies enjoyed and were impressed by Rob’s knowledge of all things night sky related during the hour or so that we stayed out there.
Overnight weather was weird; muggy but cool, so I didn’t want to stay in my sleeping bag, but I didn’t want to be out of it either. There were craaaazy winds in the night, maybe around 3 or 4 am, but it was silent and calm when everyone got up in the morning.
Monday, September 2nd Everyone was up and out of their tents around 7:30/8am. We weren’t in a rush, because instead of making a reservation with the Superior Hiking Trail Shuttle, which runs on a specific schedule, we made one with Cadillac Cab out of Silver Bay, which allowed us to be more flexible with our leaving time.
We ended the trip with a food, beer, and pie at the Rustic Inn, and then made our way back to the cities! I’m super pleased with this trip! It wasn’t as rigorous as usual, and didn’t have nearly as many overlooks and views of Lake Superior as many of my previous trips, but it had its own beauty and it was nice to have some relatively flat hiking for once 🙂
Wildlife seen: – 2 Grouse, one on the trail (see video)
Hikers: Betsy, Colleen Total Distance: 21 miles Days: 4 days, 3 nights Dates: May 24- 27, 2019 (Memorial Day Weekend) Photos: link
Friday, May 24 We took a half day at work and left Minneapolis by 1pm after having a quick sort through all our food and gear at Colleen’s house. Arriving at the Lutsen trailhead in a light rain, we only found 1 car parked in the 3 car lot, and hit the trail in our rain jackets and our packs covered with their bright blue rain covers.
One of the first things of note on our short hike to the Mystery Mountain campsite was the bridge over the Poplar River. There was a fog settling over the trees in the distance and the river was roaring and powerful. It was a really great first impression! The second thing of note was the mud. Lots. of. Mud.
We arrived at the campsite to find only one other person there – all tucked away in their hammock, and we very quickly set up our tent as the drizzle continued. We arrived much earlier than anticipated and weren’t quite sure how to spend the rest of evening, as we weren’t hungry for dinner immediately. But we did have trail beers – and there is always room for a trail beer. We also explored the campsite and walked south on the trail for a bit – until hitting a big patch of mud and decided we were good for now. The Mystery Mountain campsite is pretty good, although in early season – which it was at the time – when the leaves have not quite filled out – the latrine is quite visible from the main camping area. So it was a good thing we only had the one hammock guy, who never emerged from his hanging home (at least until morning).
Dinner time came, and we boiled water for our freeze dried meals. And this is where Colleen earned her trail name, “Spice Pack”. She opened the little “do not eat” packet from her meal, dumped it in and stirred it around after letting the meal sit for the designated time. Luckily we had extra freeze dried meals in the car, which we would pass by again anyway!
Wildlife seen: a very large rabbit, a grouse
Saturday, May 25
Throughout the night and the next morning we heard grouses drumming. It had stopped raining by the time we got up (around 9?). We made oatmeal for breakfast, and set out some stuff on the wooden benches to dry a bit as the sun sometimes peeked through the clouds. At 10 on the nose, we set off from the campsite and headed back the way we came so we could stop by the car for extra food packets and continue North on the trail. It was difficult not to stop for the same view over the Poplar River we had seen yesterday, only this time it was more clear.
Just after continuing on to the spur trail back to the main SHT, we came across a large pile of snow! The trail climbed a bit and we got some great views of Lake Superior and the Lutsen ski hills (also still hanging on to some snow). As we got closer to the Poplar River, the quantities of mud we came across increased, but we were treated with finding some moose tracks in the mud! The trail eventually came right up next to the river, which was very high and practically running over the trail. Somehow we missed seeing the West Poplar campsite, where we had intended to stop for lunch – but it wasn’t far to the East Poplar campsite, so there we stopped. I think the SHT guidebook listed more than one tent pad at this site, but from what we saw, only one looked good enough to put a tent.
Continuing on, we saw lots more mud and eventually made our way to both Lake Agnes campsites after signing the trail register at Hunter’s Rock and stopping to admire a very busy beaver’s handiwork on the lake. We skipped going up the steps to check out West Lake Agnes camp, which was high above the lake so that we could claim our spot at East Lake Agnes, right on the lake before anyone else could.
There was only one other tent set up when we arrived, but by the time everyone had arrived, there were probably 2 other tents, and 4 “mockers” set up for the night. After setting up camp, we left our gear and went for a hike to take the spur trail to White Sky Rock. It was really nice to be walking without our packs – and we walked through the “Most Magical” place on the trail, where the scenery completely changes to this quiet, dark, ancient forest that felt almost mystical, with it’s moss and old pine tree roots blanketing huge rocks all around, and where the air felt more dewy and still than the rest of the trail.
We eventually made it to White Sky Rock, where the sun kept threatening to come out, we had a great lookout over Caribou Lake, and were able to enjoy a bit of a lay down with our boots and socks off.
The evening was spent by the fire getting to know the hammock guys. Turned out a couple of them were YouTubers, and had been filming their entire hike (which happened to be mostly the same as ours, but in the opposite direction). They were interesting and friendly – one of my favorite things about hiking this trail is meeting new people at the campsites you share. One of them even put us in their video 😀 Watch starting at 08:58 for the Lake Agnes portion – but the whole video is worth a watch, if you’re into hiking trails.
The Lake Agnes campsite was next on my list for parts of the trail I wanted to visit – and it was indeed very beautiful, but it was also very busy, and being only 1 mile from a trailhead, you get a lot of day hikers passing by on the trail which runs right through the site. Many stopped to wander the campsite and look around, which was a little weird, considering there were campers occupying the site, and most that wandered in weren’t intending to camp there. One girl that was wandering through was even throwing her orange peels on the ground, which was not cool. Leave it better than you found it, yo. I’m glad we stayed there, but I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to stay there again.
Wildlife seen: Hummingbird, a very blue Blue Jay, Snake Tips picked up from other campers: Try fritos or funions + siracha in your Chili Mac
Sunday, May 26
As we sat eating our breakfast back by our tent, our hammocking camp-mates were preparing to leave. But not before setting up a tripod for filming a staged and directed exit (see above video at 15:18. “AMERICA! Pew pew”). We left camp about a quarter after 9 and started making our way north. Our next camp would be at Indian Creek camp, about 8 miles away. Our lunch stop was really lovely at Spruce Creek camp…I would love to camp there sometime – it was right on the river and very beautiful. Apparently there were warnings not to use the bridge, as it had been damaged from high water — but it seemed in perfectly good condition to us and everyone else…
The hike from here to Indian creek was partially up along a tall ridge overlooking Lake Superior, and partially along a snowmobile trail. The ridge was beautiful and the views were great most of the time – but we also found a lot of downed trees that required crawling under, over, or around. At one point, as we stood overlooking the ridge, a bird flew by us, only a couple of yards away from the cliff, at eye level, and we could hear the flapping of it’s wings. It was really incredible. The snowmobile trail was full of signs of wildlife – we saw lots of poo from what we think were probably some pretty badass animals – mostly wolf and one from a bear. We also saw some kill scenes, with only animal hair and bones left on the trail. I imagine that part of the trail would be a little more creepy at night.
We arrived at Indian Creek camp to find a couple of other tents set up, but luckily it was quite a large group camp and we found a nice spot down by the second fire area, near the river. We quickly set up our tent before it started to rain a bit, and another couple arrived just after us, looking for a place to put their tent. We had quite a lot of time to spare before dinner time, so I thought I’d work on getting a fire going, since it was feeling a little chilly. Colleen tried to read down by the water, but came back after about 20 minutes because it was too cold. It was probably in the 40’s, and felt much colder by the river. After dinner we joined the rest of camp up at the other fire area (they had a much better fire going), and we learned that Colleen used to work with one of them at REI – small world. We expressed our gratitude to a father/son duo who had been out clearing all of the downed trees that we came across. They reported clearing 49 trees that day! SHT Volunteers — we appreciate you!
Wildlife seen: Turtle at Jonvick Creek, Grouse, Bunny
Monday, May 27 (Memorial Day)
The next day we woke up to rain and couldn’t be bothered to get the stove out and cook breakfast – so we ate some granola bars and snacks instead. We were scheduled to arrive at Cascade State Park for our shuttle pick up at 11:45am, so we set off at about 8:40am to give us a little extra time in case of some mishaps or unexpected circumstances, of which we only had one 🙂 We ended up going down the 97 steps at Cascade and walking a little ways north before we realized we were supposed to be going south down the river and toward Lake Superior. So back up the 97 steps we climbed to take the other trail! Walking down along the Cascade River toward the state park was quite breathtaking, as the river was raging and there were a few waterfalls to stop and take in.
As you can see from the elevation on the map below, this hike was mostly downhill. As we finished our hike, we ended right by the river as it spewed out into the big lake – and we thought that was a pretty great view to end the hike.
Our pickup by the Superior Hiking Shuttle, which we had scheduled earlier in the week was to be at the Cascade River State Park trailhead – but during our stay at Indian Creek we had it changed to the Cascade Wayside pickup instead, after talking with some of our camp mates who had also planned to be picked up there. Well, when we arrived at the wayside – over an hour early – we found a guy in a Superior Hiking Shuttle van waiting there. He encouraged us and our buddies to go back to the trailhead for pickup instead, as there was a trail center there where we could wait, and it might have a fire going. This sounded good because it was rainy and cold…so we went, as he called the shuttle driver to let her know where to find us. Pickup went as planned, and we made it back to our car at Lutsen! What a great trip!
Hikers: Betsy, Stephanie, Maria, Anita Total Distance: 18 mi. for me and Steph, 25 mi. for Anita & Maria Days: 4 days, 3 nights
Dates: Sept 22- 25, 2016
Now the title of this post isn’t the route we intended to take. We intended to hike from South to North, George Crosby Manitou State Park to the Temperance River Wayside. But that is not the way it turned out!
Thursday, 22 September
Steph and I left Maple Grove at 5pm and arrived at Crosby Manitou State Park around 9:45pm. We hiked a mile South to Aspen Knob campsite, where we had planned to meet Maria & Anita. Only, we found that they were not there, even though they left much earlier than us. We set up camp and attempted a fire, but the wood was pretty wet and we couldn’t get it going for very long. By bedtime, there was still no sign of the other two girls and we had no way to contact them because of terrible cell phone signals up there. So, we hit the hay hoping that they’d either be here by morning or we’d run into them back at the parking lot at the State Park when we start our hike the next day. So instead of 3 adult women in a 4 person tent and me and the dog in my tiny “2-person” tent, it was two 6ish foot tall women and the 60lb dog in my tiny backpacking tent! It was…cozy. There was not enough space for us both to use a sleeping pad, so I let Steph use one, and I slept without one. The ground was cold, and I shivered most of the night 🙁 Heard dogs barking/howling, people’s voices, and cars from a nearby road (Blessner Lake Rd?).
Friday, 23 September
I was up early at 6:45 thanks to the pup, so I had breakfast and packed up stuff. Steph was up at 7:45 and we were back to the parking lot by 9am to find Maria and Anita waiting there in Maria’s car. They had gotten lost and taken a spur trail for 3 or so miles in the wrong direction. One of them was very upset, and one of them had the giggles! After everyone calmed down, we fit all 4 of us, plus gear and dog in my car, and headed for Temperance Road (Forest Road 343) Trailhead. We now decided to hike North to South instead of our original plan to go South to North. I switched out my 40° bag for the 0° bag because of the cold and we hit the trail. All of the campsites we passed in the first section of our hike looked great; Cross River, Ledge, Fredenberg. My feet were starting to hurting badly. We camped at Dyers creek campsite with a young married couple (Ashley and Alex) and a hammock-sleeper man from Houston (Dave) who had started hiking from the end of the trail and was going to Martin Road. Rain in the middle of the night, I stayed dry. Alex and Ashley got wet.
Saturday, 24 September
I woke up before everyone else. Kieran hung out in the tent by herself while I packed up. We were ready to go about 9:30am, and the rest of our camp had cleared. It was a beautiful morning with blue skies. We stopped for snacks at Sugarloaf Road Trailhead. And took a rest on a bench at Calico Creek. Steph and I split off from Maria and Anita at Caribou Falls because my feet were hurting really bad and I didn’t feel like I could go on. Steph and I took spur trail to parking lot to try and get shuttle, while they continued on trying to make it 6-7 more miles to the car. We couldn’t get the shuttle, so we set up my tent at the trailhead (is that allowed??) to wait for either Maria or shuttle next morning.
Hikers: Betsy, Stephanie, Maria Total Distance: 24.7 miles Days: 4 days, 3 nights
11 June – Beaver Bay Trailhead to North Beaver River Campsite I left work around lunch time, picked up Maria, then headed to Steph’s where we would sort through our food and decide what would stay behind and what would come with us. After much dilly dallying, we were finally packed and on the road (~6pm?). We stopped at Bent Paddle (yay!) in Duluth (~9pm) so that I could pick up a growler and we could have some delicious food truck eats. I was incredibly happy to be having a pint of my favorite (as of lately) local beer, their Cold Press Black Ale, straight from the source before hitting the trail for a few days. Two hours later, we arrived at the Beaver Bay trailhead (~11pm) and began our hike. I had miscalculated thinking we would only have to hike about a 1/2 mile to the site, but I think it ended up being closer to 1 mile. We arrived at the campsite around midnight and found 1 tent set up, and one body sleeping on the ground outside in their sleeping bag. We found a nice spot for our tent, set it up quietly, hung our food (after a few attempts) and then settled into bed. Fell asleep to the sound of the rushing Beaver River. The stars were amazing!
12 June – North Beaver River Campsite to Bear Lake Campsite (7.2 miles) We awoke a little after 8am, and our camp buddies were still sleeping. Scrambled eggs with “bacon flavored bits” for breakfast. And coffee (Starbucks Via) — very important. On our hike out, we passed the South Beaver River campsite, which looked way more awesome than the North one — slightly higher than the trail, and overlooking the river — good to know for next time. The hike to Bean and Bear Lake had some difficult and rocky trails, with lots of ups and downs. At one lookout, Maria found a frilly, flowery chair cushion someone had left on the trail, and promptly picked it up and attached it to her pack (the envy of all hikers all weekend!). A steep climb down to the Bear Lake campsites, where we discovered that the 2 (which we thought would be 4) tiny campsites were full. Hiked back up the steep hill to the additional sites in the woods and set up camp. We ended up sharing the site with 4 other parties – mostly dad/son combos (one from Maple Grove — pretty much Steph’s neighbors!), and then one couple, Will & Julie. Chili Mac and Chicken Teriyaki for dinner + wine! After dinner – a hike down to the lake to get water, and take a swim in our undies (with the people from the lake campsites looking on — whatevs, we didn’t care). Back to camp for dessert — vanilla pudding (amazing!) and hot cocoa. One camp buddy hung our food for us! People on the trail are the best! Bed around 11pm.
13 June – Bear Lake Campsite to West Kennedy Creek Campsite + a little detour (12 miles) Up early (~6:30ish). Biscuits and gravy for breakfast, plus some egg/bacon hash that our camp buddies shared with us. Left camp around 10:30am. Signed trail register (at Round Mountain?). Steep hike up Mt. Trudee, where we met two parties from our camp at Bear Lake (one a young boy – trooper!). Took a wrong turn at trail marker “B” and ended up doing 2 extra miles — which brought down our spirits – we were tired, feet hurt, etc., but we got back on track and made it to High Falls on the Baptism River at Tettegouche State Park, where we stopped for a break. Lots of other people in this area checking out the falls. Steph’s feet were in rough shape, and we had a brief “what should we do” moment — quit? continue? We decided to continue, and we were glad we did. We made it to West Kennedy Creek campsite around 6:30pm, where we shared camp with 3 other parties: the couple from the night before, two high school aged girls (who had one of the lake sites at Bean & Bear lake the previous night), and 2 (handsome) gents from the Twin Cities who shared their Coloradan whiskey with us. We had also decided to check out the East Kennedy Creek campsite, which was supposed to have 4 tent pads. A couple and their dog had set up camp there already, and despite the “4 pads” mentioned in the book, we could only find 3, and the 2 that were not taken were flooded. Mac ‘n Cheese with peas for dinner, and an apple dessert. The girls went to bed early and us older folks drank wine & whiskey, and exchanged stories — fun night! Ran out of wine! 🙁
14 June – West Kenney Creek Campsite to Lake County Road 6 Trailhead (4.5 miles) Leisurely morning. Blueberry scones and lemon pudding for breakfast. The girls left a nice note for everyone. We left camp around 11am. Easier hike, and we had extra time before having to get to the trailhead for the shuttle at 3pm, so we took the spur trail to Picnic Rock, which was a great place for a little break; there were several large boulders in the shade that we could rest on at the bottom of a large rock cliff. Made it to the County 6 trailhead at 3 on the nose. Caught the shuttle — some confusion about the price of the shuttle, and now we know for next time. Much deserved dinner at New Scenic Cafe in Duluth. BEST MEAL EVER. Drove out to Park Point in Duluth to walk in the sand and dip our feet in the water.
Swimming in Bear Lake!
Meeting fun campmates
Steph: new boots/shoes
Lighter food? Those breakfasts we brought were heavy.
Bring maps — not just guide book pages.
What we brought for food…
Chili Mac (Mountain House?)
Chicken Teriyaki (Mountain House?)
Mac ‘n Cheese + Dried Peas (Cache Lake) – forgot the tuna to go with it
[Posting this nearly 3 years after the actual trip, using notes I made on my phone during the trip. Unfortunately I can’t remember which campsite we stayed at the first night and I didn’t make a note of it, but I assume it was one of the Bally Creek Pond campsites or the Sundling Creek Camp.]
Hikers: Betsy, Steph T., Stephanie M., Maria, Nissy, Lauren, Annaleise, Kieran the dog (biggest group yet!) Total Distance: Somewhere between 1 and 3 miles, depending on the people, plus maybe a little more at the state park. Days: 4 turned into 3 Dates: August 6-8, 2015 (originally planned Aug. 6-9) Photos:Steph T., Stephanie M.
This trip was full of rain and plans had to change – we didn’t do nearly as much hiking as we planned, but it was still a good trip because I got a bunch of teenage girls out into nature for a little bit, and they enjoyed it.
06 August – Bally Creek Trailhead
Drove 2 cars, one with me and Steph T., and everyone else in the other. Departed Steph T’s house around 1:45/2. Rained almost the entire drive. Dinner in Duluth at Va Bene – Italian. Tiramisu dessert! Check debacle. Cute waiter.
Steph T. and I headed to Cascade River State Park to get me a new SP pass so I could leave my car at the park for when we finished. Super friendly lady at park office, provided Goo Gone, Windex, and a scraper for me to get my old pass off the window. Filled out a form for them, so they knew we were on the trail. Bought maps for entire SHT. Then headed toward Bally Creek Trailhead. The other car was not there like we expected. Nobody else at campsite. Set up my new little marmot tent in light rain, then went back to car. Drove back to Cascade for cell service, and hoping we’d find them, but didn’t. We eventually heard from them. They were at some trailhead past Grand Marais. We met them at an SA in GM, them had them follow us to trailhead. Trailhead had spots for only 3 cars, and there were 2 others there, so I parked mine on the road. Tried to hang food, but food bags too heavy and car was close, so we brought the food to the car. Everyone in their tents around 11ish? Steady rain. Girls chatting away and giggling in their tent until after midnight 🙂 Kieran tired.
Rained all night. Packed up camp in light rain. Decided not to hike from where we were. Went into Grand Marais for breakfast and to make a plan. Stopped in some shops and had coffee. Found a laundromat to dry sleeping bags, and hung tents up to dry a bit, then re-packed them. Drove to parking area on county road 45 at north end of Cascade River loop. Hiked just over 1 miles south to Cut Log Campsite. Set up camp – very nice site, with a log with a seat cut into it – hence the site name. Beautiful view from the latrine! Chili mac for dinner – our fave. Chocolate and vanilla pudding for dessert. Steph T. made an awesome camp fire, despite all the wet wood! Successful food hanging. Drank all our wine and liquor. Fun night.
I was the first awake so I took the food down, then went to get water and dip my head in the river. Coffee and cereal for me for breakfast. Everyone else had cooked egg meals. Packed up camp. Steph T, Maria, and Annaleise hiked south to the state park, and Stephanie M, Nissy, Lauren, and I hiked back to our cars so we could drive to the park and meet them. Met up at the falls and hiked a little more. Picked some raspberries at the park entrance before heading back to Duluth.
Notes For Next Time:
Caravan to trailhead if in multiple vehicles (because of horrible phone coverage).
Hikers: Betsy, Uli Total Distance: 18.2 Miles Days: 4 days, 3 nights Photos:Betsy’s
29 August 2014 Took a half day at work, and hit the road around 1:30pm.
Stopped at the Superior Hiking Trail Association building in Two Harbors. Bought maps and a SHT patch.
Hit the trail from Britton Peak trailhead around 7:10pm. Trail was pretty muddy from rain earlier in the day. My dog, Kieran didn’t like walking on the wooden planks on the trail, so she walked in the mud/water instead.
Skipped spur trail to make it to campsite before dark.
Arrived @ Springdale Creek campsite around 7:50pm. Shared camp with a group of 3 and their dog – a 4 year old German Shorthair / Chocolate Lab mix. Dog’s owner was the owner of a soon-to-be-opened brewery in Uptown (which I’ve since enjoyed several times!). Campmates very kindly shared their liquor and leftover dinner (sausages) with us. Made spaetzle for dinner, and pudding for dessert. Hung food, then to bed around 11:35pm.
30 August 2014 Didn’t sleep well – Kieran woke me up at 4am to go out, and I was uncomfortable most of the night.
Breakfast: Blueberry Kodiak cakes with Hazelnut butter (because I forgot the syrup).
Left camp around 11:15am, campmates had left earlier.
Lunch at West Leveau Pond campsite.
Lots of mushrooms on the trail! Many parts of the trail were pine forests, and smelled like Christmas.
Hiked Leveau Mountain spur trail — the whole loop.
Stopped at Oberg Mountain parking lot for outhouses, and recognized the parking lot from skiing the previous winter.
Hiked the Oberg spur trail loop. I was tired and feet were hurting. Best views of the weekend, though. Also the busiest area so far; lots of day hikers. Rested at a bench after the loop, and Kieran fell asleep under the bench 🙂
Hiked 1.6 more miles to West Rollins campsite – piney forest, big shady trees – great site! No campmates this time.
Had camp set up by 6pm, relaxed in hammock. Red squirrels chirping.
Dinner: beef teriyaki, dehydrated corn. Dessert: chocolate pudding, dehydrated ice cream.
Tried to get a fire going, but the wood was too wet — gave up.
31 August 2014 Kieran woke me up a little before 7am, took her out then tried to sleep more in the hammock. It was a little chilly.
Breakfast: blueberry chia seed Kodiak cakes with nut butters.
Hit the trail again just before noon.
Steep climb up Moose Mountain, nice overlook at the top.
Took spur trail to the gondola at Lutsen Mountain — civilization! There was a chalet with a restaurant, restrooms, etc. Had (trail) lunch at a picnic table near gondola lift. Lots of people waiting to ride back down. Filled water and disposed of trash bags.
On way out, found another overlook with railings — took some pictures.
Some hilly hikes to the next campsite, Mystery Mountain, but very enjoyable. Arrived by 6pm, shared site with 3 others from the Twin Cities. They offered whiskey — which was happily accepted.
1 September 2014 Morning: woke up to a thunderstorm and heavy rain — waited it out in tent.
Hiked to Lutsen ski resort to catch shuttle back to Britton Peak trailhead.
I’ve been wanting a place to log my backpacking trips, so that I could remember where I’ve been and use it to help plan future trips. Just as sailors have ship logs, so should hikers have trail logs.
Since last fall, I’ve taken a handful of trips to the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) for some backpacking on the North Shore of Lake Superior. I suspect this is an activity that I will continue to do as long as I am able to — because I’ve (re)discovered that the woods are my happy place. I’ve logged each of my previous trips, the old fashioned way — with pen and paper — but will work on porting them over here, to the future.
So watch for my previous and future hiking trips (and maybe some other travels as well) to pop in here! I’ll add them as I find time.