Showing posts with label hiking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hiking. Show all posts

Monday, October 3, 2011

Superior Hiking Trail, Fall Hike

Saturday found our little pack heading up the North Shore for the last organized hike of 2011!

From the Superior Hiking Trail website:

Caribou River Wayside to Cook Co Rd 1

9.0 miles. This hike climbs along the Caribou River with a chance to take a spur trail to the base of the dramatic Caribou Falls. It continues through birch and maple forests over the only covered bridge on the trail. After steeply descending from the ridgeline, the trail crosses Dyers Creek and continues along the Two Island River.

People I talk to have a preconceived notion about these organized hikes, such as we have to hike as a group, no dogs, etc.  I can assure the readers that this is definitely NOT true.  You hike at your own pace, dogs are allowed (leashed please - there are other doggies on the trail who are not dog friendly), you can stick with folks if you want or not.  The great thing about the organized hikes is the organized shuttle - everyone pitches in to help transport the group to the start point, everyone hikes to the end, then those who were shuttled, help get people back to their cars.  A fantastic way to through hike a segment. 

Morning temps started at about 27* and by the time we were on the trail it was probably about 40*.  As we hiked up the Cascade River Gorge, layers were quickly shed and as long as you kept moving - which is not a problem on the trail - you stayed warm.  Lunch for our little pack was at Alfred's Pond where the doggies could get a drink while we ate. 

This segment of trail is one of the easier sections.  The trail starts out with a gentle climb (gentle for the SHT, then levels off and follows the ridge for about 6 miles.  Through the dying birch stand you can see Lake Superior and - on a good day - the Apostle Islands of Wisconsin in the far distance.  The trail leaves the birch stand and makes its way through a blaze of golds, reds and oranges that define sugar maples in the fall.  Then it drops down to Sugar Loaf Pond, which this year was mostly just a cattail swamp.  The next notable feature on the landscape is Alfred's Pond, a deep dark pond surrounded by a floating bog.  Very cool.  And then the last couple of miles the trail winds through birch and maple stands before dropping back down into the a small river gorge and meeting up with the trail's parking lot. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekend Adventures

This past Saturday, the Husband and I joined a small group of eleven for an organized hike on the Superior Hiking Trail. These facilitated hikes really are awesome – they allow you to through hike longer segments. You can hike at your own speed as long as you don’t fall behind the "Sweep”, which is the last person in the group who should come off the trail to ensure that everyone does have a shuttle back to their cars. The segment being hiked was Cascade State Park to Caribou Trail, 11.0 miles.
Description of said hike: This section follows along ridgelines with many views of Lake Superior and the inland ridges of the Sawtooth range. The variety of habitats is as broad as anywhere on the SHT, with everything from mature maple forests to dense groves of cedar, from a massive beaver pond to wide-open hillsides. It begins with a moderately steep ascent but drops gently to a valley and crosses a beaver dam. It crosses two scenic creeks and enters into the west end of Cascade State Park.

What the blurb didn’t say was this is a challenging hike. We hiked it “backwards" (east to west) so we started out by going up, up up, down, up, up…oh wait! We go up again! Before finally hitting the ridge mid-day then eventually coming back down to the Caribou Trail at Caribou Lake.

We were on the trail about 10:30am, lunch at the group camp at Spruce Creek at 1:30p (which is almost exactly halfway) and ended about 4:00pm. I think. I don’t hike with a watch.

Downside, I didn’t bring my camera. Long hikes juggling two dogs, upwards of four quarts of water, backpacks, and poles are not conducive to hauling a camera with. I don’t even have a picture showing the awesome change in elevation.

And if I had thoughts of feeling smug about completing an 11 mile hike, I had to forgo them: a small group of people from Illinois were up doing a 33 mile hike in ONE DAY as a fundraiser for cancer. They started at 4am that morning and were finishing about 5p. Kudos to the group! These upper segments of the SHT are not easy, much less to hike 33 miles in one day.

And then there were the runners who were running 105 miles in four days as part of an ultramarathon…

I’ll stick with hiking, thank you very much.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Recipe Review from 7/11/11 and Weekend Adventures

This Saturday found the Husband and I driving up the North Shore of Lake Superior so very bright and early: 

Destination: North of Grand Marais. 

Reason:  A Lake Superior Hiking Trail Facilitated Hike as lead by friend S.

Segment: 4.9 miles. The trail follows the Brule River for over two miles and features the dramatic Devil’s Kettle Falls. After nice forests, the trail climbs to a rocky knob with a view of Lake Superior, then descends into the Flute Reed River Valley.

Last hiked: May 2008

About 15 people showed up for this organized event.  Friend S, as hike facilitator, gave his spiel on trail conditions, safety, and organized the shuttling of cars.  The Naturalist on this hike, Eric, gave his spiel on what we could expect to see on the trail today.  The great thing about these facilitated hikes is you can hike as slow (within reason, there are people waiting to make sure you get off the trail) or as quickly as you like, or you can hike with the naturalist,  and everyone gets to through-hike a segment thanks to the shuttle coordination.

We were on the trail about 10:30ish.  It was going to be a challenging hike with temperatures creeping toward 80*, extremely high humidity and high heat index.  In addition, these northern segments had experienced a wind storm earlier this year and there was significant downfall that the trail crews just hadn't gotten to yet.  (I heart the trail crews very much!) 

The Husband and I were amongst the first four off the trail - it helps that we have "Dog-assist" (aka, Ben) since he keeps us moving right along.  Because we were traveling with the hike facilitator, we had time to hang out, cool off, have a brewski, and change.  This was also Andy-dogs second hike and it proved a bit challenging for him what with the heat and distance.  He curled up in the shade with me and conked out.

Alas, I don't have any pictures from this year.  I forgot to pack the camera and even if I had, I don't think I would have taken any pictures.  Just too hot and futzy with the dogs. 

Changing topics, with a short week since my return from Madison, WI, only one recipe to review: 

Shrimp Korma and Basmati Rice    (Ckng Lght, June 2011)
This was getting positive reviews over on the Ckng Lght bulletin board, and a quick perusal of the ingredients told me all I needed was some shrimp and coconut milk.  Excellent!  This did come together fairly quickly. I didn't start the rice soon enough so I had to wait till the rice was cooking before I could do the rest.  I don't have "Madras" curry powder, only Hot and Sweet. The Husband opted for the Sweet.  My one complaint is that this turned out a bit on the runny side for my taste, but probably my fault as I didn't measure my flour precisely and I had added some leftover summer squash to use it up.  A delightful dish that I wouldn't hesitate to make again.

Whip up this spicy and flavorful Indian shrimp korma in just 30 minutes. Top the dish with a spoonful of thick, tangy Greek-style yogurt to counter the heat.
photo from CookingLight.com


2 teaspoons butter
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 cups organic vegetable broth
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup frozen green peas
1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
4 cups hot cooked basmati rice
1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt


1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper and onion to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add flour, ginger, and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add curry powder, garam masala, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 30 seconds, stirring. Stir in broth and 1/3 cup water; bring to a boil. Stir in milk and tomato; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Add peas, shrimp, and remaining salt; cook 5 minutes or until shrimp are done. Spoon about 2/3 cup rice into each of 6 bowls. Top each serving with about 1 cup shrimp mixture and 2 teaspoons yogurt.

Adam Hickman, Cooking Light
JUNE 2011

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Superior Hiking Trail Organized Hike, Oct 9

Waterfall in the Fall sun

Saturday found the Husband and I joining S and J and 35 other folks for an organized hike from Sonju Lake Rd to Finland Rec Center on the Superior Hiking Trail.  The lovely Joy from Hartley Nature Center in Duluth was our naturalist, though she admitted her passion is geology.  Which is great because I love rocks.  Temps were easily in the high 60's, low 70's, with a subtle lake wind to keep one cool. 

We all congregated at the Finland Rec Center for our pre-hike speech and to ask for a volunteer to be the Sweep. The Sweep's responsibility is to make sure everyone gets off the trail safely and the hike coordinator is to make sure the Sweep gets off the trail safely. 

Speeches and introductions complete, we all piled into as few cars as possible and made our way to Sonju Lake.  Everyone was quickly on the trail - there was 7 miles to be hiked.  We brought the hounds, and being in the back of the group was not working out so well.  D managed to get ahead, but it took me longer to catch up.  

This segment is rolling, but not challengingly so.  Once up on the ridges, you pass through maple forests - now with all the leaves down in a brown carpet broken only by the tree trunks and the sky - with a few scenic overlooks that span the Sawtooth Mountains.  No lake views on this portion.  There are two lakes the trail passes, great places to pause and reflect on the calm inky water and the golden tamaracks reflecting in them. 

The Husband and I did this in about 4 hours - most folks seemed to hit the parking lot at 4 1/2.  And the Sweep made it in at 5 hours.  A group of us then rendevouxed at the Rustic Inn for a fabulous dinner complete with awesome pie.  And I do mean awesome pie - cranberry pear ala mode. 

Swimming dog on Egge Lake

Home again by 8:30p, unload and call it a day.  October doesn't get any better than this.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

SHT Trail Maintenance Day!

This past weekend I had the good fortune to be invited to help clean up a segment of the Superior Hiking Trail from Beaver Bay to Silver Bay, MN.  I helped last year and had a splendid time:  Trail Maintenance 2009. 
 Our Crew (L-R):  Fearless Leader S, J, and D

For my readers out there in blog world who may not be familiar with the Superior Hiking Trail, this is a 260+ mile hiking and backpacking trail that runs adjacent to Lake Superior. The trail is maintained in part by a large group of volunteers who adopt segments and walk them twice a year to check for problems and clean them up.

 This segment is 5 miles long. Going from South to North, is begins by paralleling the Beaver River before meandering up the ridges to provide some great overlooks of the Beaver River gorge and Lake Superior. With the Fall colors just beginning to turn, it was very dramatic. The day itself was crisp, clear, and sunny with just some high clouds.  We had some rain recently so the Beaver River was running full and muddy.

Admiring the view.

J having technical difficulties.  Many suggestions being offered...

And if you find yourself in Duluth on Oct 9, and want to go for a hike on this marvelous trail, there is a SHTA guided hike being offered.  I've done this one twice now and it's a lovely hike for the fall. 
October 9 10:00 a.m. Sonju Lake Road to Finland Recreation Center

7.5 miles. A beautiful hike through maple forests. Hike along the east branch of the Baptism River and by Sonju Lake (with an island you can walk out to) and Egge Lake. Meet at the trailhead parking lot at the Finland Rec Center. From Hwy 61 milepost 59.3 go 6.2 miles on Hwy 1 through Finland. Turn right on Co Rd 7 and go 1.3 miles to parking lot by ball field just past Rec Center.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Superior Hiking Trail Guided Hike, Aug 21

If this post seems a bit like deja-vu, that's probably because it is!  I initially reported on this segment back on August 2, after the Husband and I hiked it in anticipation of this weekends facilitated hike.  The Husband wasn't able to join me due to an injury, so I hooked up with a couple friends and we had a dandy time. 

Twenty-two hikers and one dog showed up at 10:00am Saturday morning under less than auspicious skies.  Lake Superior was having her own way with a heavy fog bank and significant mist.  We had some folks come flying in at the last minute, not anticipating heavy construction coming through Duluth (even the detours have detours now; seriously, that's how bad it is!).   I went through my safety spiel, a hike preview, and basic introductions before getting people organized into shuttle cars to get us to the start point at the Lake County Demonstration Forest. 

People can hike at their own pace and soon everyone sorted themselves out into smaller groups according to ability and chattiness.  By about 12:00 the sun broke through the foggy-mist and really brightened the hardwood forest into a melange of greens and browns.  I noticed that the first hints of  Fall are appearing - a yellowish hue to the maples and ashes.  

On this segment, there are really only two decent lunch spots - one at the Stewart River Campsite and one on a rock knob about a mile beyond the Stewart River site.  Most of the group chose the campsite, and about half of us hiked on to the rock knob.  There was plenty of water for Kiba, the newfie-lab mix, with full creeks and ditches. 

The faster people in the group hiked this in about 5-5 1/2 hours.  About what the Husband and I hiked it in several weeks ago.  The slower paced people in the group finished in a respectable 6 hours.  We celebrated the successful completion of the hike with the traditional brrewski of choice, while chatting and changing out of wet boots. 

I think everyone had a good time - there were a lot of smiling faces and great conversations throughout the day. 

Next SHTA Guided hikes:
  • Sept 18 and 19, the upper most two segments - from the Canadian border south.  Great hikes, both of them.  Should be some decent Fall colors pending any windstorms between now and then.   This is set up so the hiker can stay over night in Grand Marais or camp somewhere north of Grand Marais.
  •  September 18 10:00 a.m. Jackson Lake Road to Otter Lake Road                          8.7 miles. The trail reaches its highest elevation of 1829 feet on this section. It includes a scenic old growth maple forest and overlooks of Jackson Lake and Swamp River valley. Challenging with steep ascents and descents. Meet at the Otter Lake Rd trailhead parking lot. At Hwy 61 milepost 128.9, turn north on Arrowhead Trail and go 4.5 miles to Jackson Lake Road. Turn right on Jackson Lake Rd and go 8.4 miles. At T-stop, turn left on Otter Lake Rd and go 2 miles to trailhead parking lot.

  • September 19 10:00 a.m. Jackson Lake Road to Arrowhead Trail

    5.1 miles. The trail descends creek valleys and climbs rocky ridges with great views of Lake Superior and Isle Royale. Meet at the trailhead parking lot on Arrowhead Trail (Co Rd 16). At Hwy 61 milepost 128.9 turn north on Arrowhead Trail and go 3.3 miles to parking lot.
  • Oct 6Sonju Lake Rd. to Finland Recreation Center   7.5 miles. A beautiful hike through maple forests. Hike along the east branch of the Baptism River and by SonjuEgge Lake. Meet at the trailhead parking lot at the Finland Rec Center. From Hwy 61 milepost 59.3 go 6.2 miles on Hwy 1 through Finland. Turn right on Co Rd 7 and go 1.3 miles to parking lot by ball field just past Rec Center.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lake Superior Hiking Trail Guided Hike: Aug 21

I've participated in several of the Lake Superior Hiking Trail Associations facilitated hikes over the last couple-three years and they really are a lot of fun. Everyone cooperates in shuttling people to the start point, you hike at your own pace, you can talk to a naturalist if you want,  hike on your own or with others. I've met some great people doing these facilitated hikes.

The next one of note is:

August 21, 10:00 a.m. Lake County Demonstration Forest to Reeves Road
11.0 miles. New section! The highlights of this section start with the Lake County Demonstration forest, which has an interesting collection of hiking trails, including an interpretive loop. The relatively level section also features several old growth maple forests and the scenic Stewart River.

Meet at the Reeves Road Trailhead. At Hwy 61 milepost 26 in Two Harbors, turn north on Hwy 2 (Lake Cty Rd 2) and go 5.5 miles. Turn left at Reeves Road and take an immediate left into the trailhead parking lot.

What can a person expect from this hike? The first five miles go through predominately maple forest, at some points the canopy is so thick that there is just a carpet of leaf debris on the forest floor and a few scattered twisted stalk. There are a few rock knobs covered in lichen and moss that bring you up out of the forest before dropping back in. The trail then crosses the west branch of the Stewart River, crossing through a low area made up of ash, before coming to the Stewart River campsite and the river itself. A good lunch spot.

Happy hikers!

The trail then meanders through Lake County managed forests, crossing recent harvests and young spruce and red pine plantations. The path drops down into ash types, and through hardwoods. The hardwood stands are notable as Lake County Land Department is doing a variety of management opportunities such as thinning and patch cuts. A neat way to see how hardwood types can be perpetuated.

This trail is a bit different from other SHT segments in that it is moderately easy to rolling for the Superior Hiking trail. It doesn't have the huge rock outcrops that predominate the more northern segments. It also crosses numerous woods access roads, the North Shore Trail (a snowmobile trail in the wintertime) and goes under a railroad bridge.  A good hat and sunscreen are recommended!

North Shore State Trail crossing under the RR bridge

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Superior Hiking Trail - Canadian Border to Jackson Lk Rd

As I mentioned in the previous post, over Memorial Day weekend the Husband and I hiked 8.7 miles of the Superior Hiking Trail from the Otter River Rd (near the Canadian Border) down to Jackson lake. This was an interesting segment of trail, as it doesn't really follow the shore of Lake Superior like most of the other segments do.

Which can be disappointing if you want "Lake Views". But since the Husband and I are foresters, we certainly didn't mind the woodsy transitions. The trail starts out in a 3-5 year old aspen clearcut. And at 70*, ground temp feels much warmer. Ben-dog was thrilled with this bit as he was allowed to run off leash. At about the twp mile mark, the cut transitioned to a 'natural plantation' that looked to be about two growing seasons old. The pine regeneration was already putting on its first growth spurt and if they get some rain up there, it should really take off this year.

After three miles you leave the forest management and move into sugar maple forest. I really liked this part of the trail - up up up! we climbed to the highest point on the Superior Hiking Trail at 1800' above sea level. This part of the trail is definitely up and down as it moves through sugar maple, aspen-balsam-spruce and back to sugar maple. This would be an amazing fall hike with the golden glow of maple leaves surrounding you.

The last bit of the trail comes off the ridges and makes its way around a drainage and cedar-spruce bog before climbing gently upward into a 20 year old aspen regeneration stand and back to the road. This part of the trail was nicely shaded and a welcome respite from the heat.

The white blob in the middle of the pond is a Tundra Swan. I think.

Two of us did this in about 4 - 4.5 hours; miles 1-5 were without Ben-assist, after mile five (the highest point) we put Ben on the leash again as I was concerned the goofy dog would give himself heat stroke with all the running he was doing. Thus the term - "Ben-assist" (or as the Husband calls it Ben-joring after the term ski-joring). Kia-dog knew to pace herself and was in quite fine form.

I think I have only one more trail segment north of Grand Marais to finish. For anyone in the area who might be interested in picking up some of these northern segments, the Superior Hiking Trail Association is doing two back to back day hikes on the upper two segments September 18 and 19. Accomodations can be found in Grand Marais.

I thought this was a good segment for dogs, and pack additional water (for humans and dogs) if hiking during dry conditions.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Grand Marais 2010

For the past 7 years the Folks and I have made a yearly trip up the North Shore of Lake Superior on Memorial Day weekend. The objective (beyond a bit of R&R) was - and still is - to hike the northern segments of the Superior Hiking Trail that aren't accessible by day tripping. The first two years we hiked around Silver Bay and Beaver Bay, the last five years have been Grand Marais.

This year, for the first time, the Husband was able to join us in our adventures. The weekend goes rather like this:

Drive up on Friday. Hang out, walk downtown, shop, meander back to camper, eat and have a campfire. Decided 58* was cold and didn't bring enough cool weather clothes.

Saturday: D and I hiked the northern most segment of the Superior Hiking Trail (9 miles) from the Canadian border south which I will post about separately. Took us about 4 hours. 70* up on the ridge. 58* at campground. Ate at the Gunflint Tavern and decided that Saturday at 7p was NOT the time to go. Long wait for food. Had the same experience last year - you'd think I would learn.

Sunday: more lounging. Walked downtown for fresh donuts at the Worlds Best Donut shop. Napped. Went up to Naniboujou Lodge (above) for afternoon tea where it conveniently rained while we were inside. Thought about eating there but decided we had plenty of food back at trailer so we had brats instead. That and the two boys running through the dining room unattended was not conducive to a quiet meal.

Monday: D and I packed up and headed back to tend to the more mundane aspects of life like watering the garden, laundry, swapping tires out on D's bicycle, and catching up on e-mails.

Most interesting - I ran into two people I knew from Duluth up in Grand Marais this weekend. Pretty cool.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Two Harbors Snowshoe Hike 3/6/10

On Saturday, about 20 people gathered in 39* temps just outside of Two Harbors, MN, for an organized Superior Hiking Trail snowshoe hike. The great things about these organized hikes are you can hike alone or with part of the group, and everyone has transportation from one end of the trail segment to the other. It is a good way to hike segments that would otherwise be avoided because of transportation logistics.

This is a new segment of trail, just put in in the last year or so. We met at Co Rd 301 just outside of Two Harbors, shuttled up to Gun Club Road, and hiked back. It was a very enjoyable 3.4 miles. The snow remained mostly firm except at the beginning and the end where it was more exposed to the sun.

I would like to get back and hike this one in the summer - the trail follows Silver Creek for most of the length and it would make a great quick summer get away.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Guided Snowshoe Hike!

(Snowshoeing the Split Rock river 2009)

I didn't think of posting this earlier (drat and bother!) but there is an organized snowshoe hike on a new segment of the Superior Hiking Trail Saturday! Weather should be decent as they are predicting drizzle for the evening.

The hike facilitator has already scouted the trail and reports back that it is in good condition. It took him only 90 minutes, but he has 4' long legs and covers some serious ground. Give it two hours for us normal legged people.

From the Superior Hiking Trail website:

March 6 Showshoe Hike 10:00 a.m. New section - Gun Club Road to County 301 Trailhead
3.4 miles. The trail moves through mixed forests to scenic Silver Creek, following the creek with views of snow-draped white pine on the opposite bank. Meet at the County Road 301 Trailhead. At Hwy 61 milepost 28.5, turn left on Lake Co. Rd 3 and go 2 miles. Turn left on Lake Co. Rd 301 (Fors Rd) and go 0.3 miles to the parking lot on left.

All SHTA hikes begin at 10:00 a.m. rain or shine. All hikes are free of charge and open to the public. Each hike is led by a member of the Superior Hiking Trail Association and includes an orientation and briefing by an area naturalist. Wear sturdy boots or hiking shoes, bring lunch, beverages and insect repellant.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Superior Hiking Trail, Fall 2009 (maintenance)

On Saturday I was invited to partake in trail maintenance on the Superior Hiking Trail. This segment was just south of the strenuous 11.1 mile bit I did last Saturday. For my readers out there in blog world who may not be familiar with the Superior Hiking Trail, this is a 260+ mile hiking and backpacking trail that runs adjacent to Lake Superior. The trail is maintained in part by a large group of volunteers who adopt segments and walk them twice a year to check for problems and clean them up.

This segment is 5 miles long. Going from South to North, is begins by paralleling the Beaver River before meandering up the ridges to provide some great overlooks of the Beaver River gorge and Lake Superior. With the Fall colors just beginning to turn, it was very dramatic. The day itself was overcast, about 50*, with a light drizzle that turned to rain at the end.

(our fearless leader S.)

This segment has maintained by S. for about 10 years (if I remember the conversation correctly) and he pulled together a crew of 10 for the day. Armed with loppers, hand pruners, one chain saw certified person, a bow saw (me!), shovels and polaski's, we headed out. The group collectively checks for low hanging branches, fallen trees, obstructions to the paths, loose rocks on the steeper climbs/descents, and does campsite maintenance. Most of the group has done this before, I think there were a couple of us newbies along - I figure we're in training.

(D. and S. with Greta and Toby)

Lunch was on a great rock knob that provided quite the view of the lake shore and parts of Beaver Bay. This segment of trail does wind through Mining Company property so there is more evidence of industry here than other segments. Also due to it's proximity between the two towns, there was the occasional sound of alternative recreation (ATV's). I don't mind the ATVer's; they have their trail and I have mine and I think it's great that people are just getting out and about.

We were off the trail by 1:30ish and back in Duluth by 3:30. Everyone parts ways, runs home to clean up, then meets back at S.'s for a fabulous dinner and great conversation. Someday I'd like to know how everyone met S. and ended up being a part of this wonderful tradition.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Superior Hiking Trail, Fall 2009

Saturday I found myself out on the Superior Hiking Trail for another Fall Guided Hike sponsored by the Superior Hiking Trail Association. I went on one last October that was amazing and so I found myself returning this year.

(View North from Bear Lake)

This segment was 11.1 miles (yes, that .1 mile is important!) from Silver Bay, MN, to Hwy 1 just north of Tettagouche St. Park. The first segment takes the hiker past Bean and Bear Lakes, with some truly stunning drop-offs and overlooks. Then the trail meanders its way down into maple/birch forest with a relatively flat stretch. But what goes down on the SHT must come back up again and you find yourself climbing climbing climbing up to Round Mtn and then after a little dip, up to Mt. Trudee with again, some fantastic overlooks.

(View West from Mt. Trudee)

But the trail doesn't end there, and it winds its way through Tettagouche St. Park, down across the Baptism River Gorge and up the opposite side. The trails through the park are wider and less cobbly than the SHT trail...that is until one gets to the that last .1 mile, where you hike straight up this rock knob, admire the amazing view, then follow the trail down to the parking lot at Hwy 1.

Like I mentioned above, this was a "guided hike"; we met at one trail head and half of the group shuttles everyone down to the opposite end. Forty-three people turned out for the hike on Saturday. The sun peeked out briefly, sending temps soaring to a humid 65*, then the clouds slid in and a breeze picked up moderating everything quite nicely. By 3p a front moved through pushing those clouds out and clearing the skys for a splendid late afternoon.

As I was last in line for the biffy at the trail head, I hiked with the "sweep" (the person designated to make sure everyone gets off the trail safely) a lovely gal from Rochester, MN. Because we were following the slowest person on the hike, it took us 8 hours to finish. I have no complaints, it was just simply too nice of a day to rush things. The bulk of the group probably finished in about five to six hours and the slower folks in seven.

I hope to get out on a couple more October hikes, but we will see how the weather cooperates. Next Saturday I will be lending a hand for some trail maintenance so I look forward to reporting back about that. Stay tuned!

(late blooming asters along trail)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Grand Marais, MN, 2009

For the last four years, I have joined the Parents on a Memorial Day trip up to Grand Marais, MN. It's just a short drive for me - maybe 2 1/2 hours max from my driveway to the Municipal Campground. I usually come up on Friday, but this year I was able to get away Thursday night. I just love the drive up there, as Hwy 61 winds along Lake Superior and you get to catch glimpses of it through the budding aspen trees or along the rocky stretches where the road follows the lake shore a bit more closely.

We've actually been doing these trips for about five or six years, and they've all involved hiking stretches of the Superior Hiking Trail. A lot of the trail is day-tripable from Duluth, but once you get north of say, Lutsen, MN, those stretches require an overnight stay.

This year we hiked the second segment down from the Canadian Border - a 5.2 mile stretch that followed a beautiful ridge line that went in and out of a mature aspen/birch forest with fantastic overviews of Lake Superior. In a couple spots you could even see Isle Royale! We knew from experience that that interesting island was at least 30 miles away. Very cool.

That was my only big hike for the weekend. I had hopes of doing the very first (or last depending on which way you are hiking) segment, but our travels and plans didn't get me back up there. Otherwise we lounged around the campground, reading or in my case, knitting; I did a lot of 2 mile walks with the hounds; and we did a 2 mile loop trail up the Gunflint Trail in anticipation of Afternoon Tea at the Naniboujou Lodge.

Now that was just lovely and I highly recommend it to anyone needing a calming respite from their travels up the North Shore. Tea is served in the lodge's solarium, which over looks the lake and the Devil Track River. A pot of hot tea is brought to your "table" accompanied by full plates of tea sandwiches, scones, jam, chocolate dipped shortbread cookies, chocolate orange bundt cake and some red grapes. Yum yum! We took a stroll down the beach afterwards and skipped rocks.

The weather this year was a bit on the cool side...no, I tell a lie...it was darn cold! It think it got up to about 50* when we were hiking (which honestly, it the perfect temperature for hiking), but otherwise the evenings stayed right around 35-40*. The leaves were just starting to leaf out.

Oh, heavens, I could go on! But I'll leave you with these pictures instead:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Split Rock River Snowshoe Hike

Icicles along the bank

Possibly the last snowshoe hike of the season. My friend and I were contemplating doing the Superior Hiking Trails guided hike, but we decided we wanted to do our own thing and bring the hounds. And so it was we met at 9:00 at his place, loaded up the dogs and headed up the North Shore of Lake Superior.

We ended up at the Split Rock River Loop/wayside. The loop trail itself is 5.0 miles and we discussed hiking up one side then coming down the river, but in the end we did the river. With other people using the trail and three active dogs, it's best to give them room to run elsewhere.

Cody, Kia, and Ben

I think we got on the trail about 11ish - we stopped off in Two Harbors for a munchie and to look at the Harbor and orr docks. Then we got talking and missed our river and ended up in Taconite Harbor and checked out the safe harbor there. Once we realized the error of our ways, we headed back down the road and got suited up.

You couldn't have asked for a better day. The sky was an incredible bright blue, the weather started about 25* and I think it got up to about *35. Snow conditions were fantastic - the snow did "go" after about 1:00, but all that did was slow the hounds down a bit.

Had one heart clutching moment - my Ben likes to climb up. I don't know why, but he wants to go up things. Well, he found a way "up" and knowing he was out of my sight I whistled for him to come back. Gosh DARN if the little guy didn't come off the SIDE of the bank! I watched him fall (leap?) 16 feet! I thought my day was over right there.

He was fine. It didn't even slow him down.

We took a picture of where he came off we were so amazed. Ben came down from the splotch of snow straight above my friends head.

Waterfalls to climb up (and down!)