SHT – George Crosby Manitou State Park to County Road 6

SHT

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.

Aspen Knob Camp

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.

View from Lilly’s Island
Trail register @ Lilly’s Island
Rob, Todd, and I at Lilly’s Island for our lunch stop. Photo from Rob’s camera.

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!

Northern Lights view from South Egge Lake campsite. Photo by Rob Engberg.

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!

Todd in front of the glacial erratic, for scale.

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.

BIF (Banded Iron Formation)

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.

Overlook South of Section 13 Camp.

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.

Group selfie from the Section 13 cliffs just before finishing our hike.

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)

SHT – Lutsen to Cascade River State Park

SHT

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.

At the Lutsen Trailhead.

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.

Overlooking the Poplar River on our way from Lutsen Trailhead to Mystery Mountain camp.

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.

Overlooking the Poplar River again, this time 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.

Overlook of Caribou Lake from White Sky Rock

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.

East Lake Agnes Campsite – So lovely!

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!

Entrance to Indian Creek Campsite. Forgot to get a photo of the actual site itself 🙁

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!

SHT – Forest Rd. 343 (Temperance River Road) to Caribou Falls State Park

SHT

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
Photos: 
Betsy’s

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?).

Aspen Knob Campsite

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.

Kieran resting in the tent at Dyer’s Creek campsite, like a good girl.

Maria and Anita’s additional route

SHT – Beaver Bay to Lake County Rd. 6

SHT

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!

Stopped for a beer at Bent Paddle on our way up North.

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.

20150612_164257
Maria looking down on Bear Lake

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! 🙁

20150613_160457

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.

Steph & Maria @ Park Point, Duluth

Highlights…

  • Swimming in Bear Lake!
  • Meeting fun campmates

Next time…

  • 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
  • Cream of Wild Rice Soup (Cache Lake) – didn’t use
  • Fryin’ Pan Bread Scones with Blueberries + Lemon Pudding (Cache Lake)
  • Scrambled Eggs with Bacon Flavored Bits (Cache Lake)
  • Vanilla Pudding (Cache Lake)
  • Apple Dessert (cache lake)
  • Starbucks Via
  • Fryin’ Pan Biscuits & Gravy
  • Fryin’ Pan Bread Scones with Blueberries
  • Lunches: jerky, hard boiled eggs, cliff bars, trail mix, apples/oranges

 

SHT – Bally Creek to Cascade River S.P.

SHT

[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.

07 August
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.

Our very short hike on Saturday after spending the day in Grand Marais drying out.

The whole gang at Cut Log campsite, with Steph’s great fire.

08 August
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.

Nissy and the cut log seat at Cut Log Campsite

Heading back to the car.

Route from Cut Log Campsite to Cascade Falls State Park

Notes For Next Time:

  1. Caravan to trailhead if in multiple vehicles (because of horrible phone coverage).

SHT – Britton Peak to Lutsen (My 1st SHT Hike!)

SHT

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.

Britton Peak Trailhead

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.

Mushrooms

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.

Poplar River

A New Home for my Trail Logs

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.

3L4awgl

(Umm…he totally said that, right?)