I just got back from a great four day trip up on the North Shore of Minnesota and I thought I'd share my adventure.
My father called me earlier in the week to see if I wanted to jump in the RV and have a little father and son trip, so I got my shifts covered for the weekend and of we went. We left Minneapolis mid-morning on Friday with a target of spending the first day and night a Temperance State Park. By the time we arrived it was a perfect day in the upper 60's with the sun shining. Once my dad got situated in the campground and after a late lunch I grabbed my gear and headed off to explore the park. Now before any of you start thinking that it's not really a father and son week-end if I'm off in the woods and he's in the RV, we were both doing things we loved to do and we would meet back up for meals and stories.
Before we had left I had heard that the north was in some what of a drought, but by the look of the river it didn't seem to be. The park wasn't to crowded that day most likely do to the time of the day. I did meet a family from Montana who were on there way to a friends cabin for the weekend. The Dad and I got into a conversation about backpacking and how he always was interested in trying it but thought it would be to difficult to haul all that gear on you back. That's when I pointed out the fact that he happened to have a three year old child strapped to his back and we where talking two miles from the trail head. He thought about it for a moment and said he was going to give it a try. When we got to the part of the conversation when he asked me about what kind of tent I used, I abruptly kicked him in the shin and stormed off. But really, when I started telling him about my HH he got kind of a blank look on his face so I decided one conversion was good enough for me. I bid him well and off I went further into the woods. After bounding around the park for a few hours I headed back to the RV to show my Father the pictures and to get started on dinner. Once dinner was done we cleaned up, had a few beverages while we played some cards and then it was off to bed. I tried to stay in the RV that night but after listening to him snore for over an hour I promptly busted out my HH and was off to slumberland in no time.
Day two we drove up to Grand Marais stopping at all the State Parks and Historical Markers on Hwy 61 along the way. We pulled in to the RV park late afternoon and decided to do the tourist thing for the rest of the day. Once again you couldn't of asked for a nicer day. After an wonderful pizza at Sven & Ole's we walked back to camp to finish the night with some beverages and Anchorman on DVD. Before I climbed into the HH I thought it would be a good idea to check the weather report. You know you are true Minnesotan when a freeze warning in the end of May excites you. While the idea of putting my stones to the test was exciting I was worried I may regret leaving the second part of my pad combo at home this trip. Not much I could do now except add some layers and hope the cold didn't drive me into the snoremobile. So with a combo of a Exped MultiMat and a Alps Mountaineering 20deg bag and some layering of Smartwool and fleece I had a great night of sleep on the shores of Lake Superior. ZZZ
Day three was my favorite day of the trip. A true North Shore Day with a projected high of 46deg and precipitation throughout the day. That means I should have the trail all to my self. After a hearty breakfast my father fired up the Winnebago Warrior and drove me the Kadunce River trail head to start my days adventure. I left him with a copy of my map and down the trail I went. Less then ten minutes in and I already felt disconnected from all the trivial thoughts that swim in ones head. After climbing in and out of flowing creek drainages I came to my first bluff overlook with amazing views up and down the the lake. This is when I realized that the sounds I was hearing while hiking was not light rain hitting the canopy it was small ice crystals. After looking around for a few minutes and hoping the ice would turn to snow I headed on down the trail. The next few miles were more of what makes the norther part of the SHT so beautiful the creek/ river valleys and high bluff overlooks.
After stops for lunch and the exploration of all the campsites on the trail I eventually made it to possibly my favorite river on the SHT, Devil Track River. I think the reason this might be my favorite is I hardly ever see other people on the trail here. Plus it's hard to beat hiking along shear red cliffs with the sound of the river muffling your foot steps allowing you to sneak up on some of the areas other inhabatents. After crossing the river I bumped into the first people I saw this day. They were a couple of trail workers that came to clean up the camp sites on the river. We chatted for a few minutes while I built up my reserves for the steep climb out of the gorge. Good conversation and some toasted pine nuts prepared me for the 150 steps out. Once the burn in my legs had subsided and I refueled the body and it was onward to the last big push of the day. I made it to the top of Pincoushion Mountain late in the afternoon with a steady rain coming down. I decided to take a small break to snap some photos, smoke a cigar, and think back on the days hike. That's when I when I shockingly met the second group of people on the trail that day. It was a group of five teenagers and two guides from the cities. After some quick chit chat with them I got back on the trail double time until I couldn't hear there hootin' and hollrin' anymore. I finished my hike with a leisurely stroll back into Grand Marais to meet up with my pops at the campgrounds where he was preparing fantastic pork roast dinner with all the fixings.
After another 30+ deg night in the HH we packed up camp and headed on down the road. Since we were making such good time and neither of us had any reason to be back in town early I decided we should stop at Crosby-Manitou State Park for lunch and to allow me to do some short day hikes. I hiked approximately seven miles or so through the interior of the park and I have to reiterate some of the things Pizza said on his report. This is a rugged and unmaintained park that has some beautiful sights. The damage from the March ice storm seemed to be more prevalent here than the other sections of the SHT trail I was on. Even with the damage the park was beautiful. Looking at my watch it was time to get back in the RV and head back to civilization so I can build up more reasons to take another trip like this.
P.S. If you if you've ever hiked any portion of the Superior Hiking Trail please think about making a small donation to the trail association. The work they have done to clear the trail is tremendous. I had a good idea of what it was going to be like by reading posts from the SHTA and from the few reports on this site but seeing it first hand is another story.