I used the Superior Hiking Shuttle
to get me from Cty Rd 6 up to Cook Cty Rd 1 on the Superior Hiking Trail
. Susan rented a car to go to her mother's for a week. This left me her car. That meant a backpacking trip was in order. I left Friday. That gave me a four weekend to hike about 35 miles. I ended up completing it in three days.
This section of trail runs along the ridges above Lake Superior like the rest of trail, but then heads inland after going through George Crosby-Manitou State Park to go around some private land. Above is the new Dwyers Creek Bridge built a year ago. The A-frame design makes a very solid bridge.
September 2nd and there is already signs of fall arriving in some of the birch and aspen sections of the forest.
The first 7 or 8 miles was very easy walking.
A view up the shore with the peaks of some of the the Sawtooth Mountains rising above Lake Superior (just out of view on the right).
An ever changing forest...red pine plantation along this section of woods. I could walk on the cushy pine needles all day long.
The red pine plantation gave way to a stand of birches and sweeping views of Lake Superior.
Crystal Creek bridge.
A fancy new bridge over the Caribou River. This was helicoptered in about 3 years ago.
Just below the bridge the river drops through a narrow gorge leading to a some falls that can be seen from a spur trail.
I am still amazed by our blue blazes. It's hard to believe we painted nearly four thousand of them over 200 miles of trail back as contractors for the Superior Hiking Trail Association. These blazes Susan and I painted back in 2006. Some have held up well, some haven't.
From the Caribou River to the other side of the Manitou River the trail becomes very rugged. Lots of short steep ups and downs...almost relentless. No big elevation changes, but you never get a break. And it becoems much rockier.
Colored up stand of Aspens with the big lake beyond.
I made it to Horseshoe Ridge campsite the first night. I was only planning a 8 miles day. But I reached that by 3:00. So I pushed on another 3 miles. I was joined by a hike named Nate. He was out for 8 days on the trail from Florida. We had a fire and lots of conversation. It was a good evening.
The rugged terrain continued for the first 4 or 5 miles. At least I was rewarded with sweeping vistas at the top of some of the climbs.
The pattern would repeat itself over and over. Down into the woods, then back up to a small rocky knob or ridge before dropping back down into the woods again.
And then finally the big drop into the rugged Manitou River valley. Straight down, across the river, and straight back up.
The new bridge over the Manitou. Also flown in by helicopter a few years back.
George Crosby-Manitou State Park is a unique park in the Minnesota State Park system. It is relatively undeveloped. But does have a dozen or so remote backpack sites and hiking trails. The sites are very quiet and along the river. The above picture is the trail through the park. A bit rugged for sure.
Once leaving the park the trail heads inland and follows the meandering Baptism River.
East Branch of the Baptism River.
Very easy walking for about 11 miles.
Sonju Lake. Two campsites on this lake at about mile 10 for me. Still early. I pushed on another 3.5 miles to the next campsites.
That's a beautiful blaze!
Egge Lake. This is where I camped. The clouds looked to be building, but a wind came up and it cleared off by dinner time. It got quite windy.
Here's a tip for you backpackers. Don't squat at the side of a lake or stream when filtering water. I take a MSR Dromedary bag and the green lexan coffee cup (seen above) down to the lake. Fill the bag with the cup and then carry it back to the campsite. I let the water sit for bit while any particles in the water settle to the bottom. Then I sit on the campsite bench and leisurely filter my water as I need it. Sure beats squatting at the side of a lake with tired legs after hiking all day.
The new Big Agnes tent. Very luxurious for 3.5 lbs.
Sunset over Egge Lake.
This day would turn out to be one of those days when it's raining one moment, sunny the next, and then raining and sunny the next. One of those days when you finally decide it's raining hard enough to drop your pack and get your raincoat out. And by the time you get it on and get your pack back on, it's stopped raining and the sun is shining. This went on all day.
I spent a lot of this hike admiring our blazes.
An old bear's den.
At the end of this section of trail there is a .2 mile gravel road walk.
The next section from the Finland Rec Center to Cty Rd 6 is a bit more rugged. A climb up a ridge. A drop down into a boggy area, and then a dramatic climb up to the Section 13 Cliffs. The first ridge was all hardwoods. I love walking through a hardwood forest with it's thick canopy above an open forest floor.
Couldn't pass up this log for a break. This would be the last picture on my camera. My battery would die on me. The rest of the pictures were taken on my iPod Touch.
An interesting boulder in the middle of the woods. Must have been deposited here by a glacier during the last glacier age.
The trail crosses this bog, or beaver pond, on 440 feet of boardwalk.
I'm not sure which was a bigger engineering feat, the boardwalk built by humans, or the dam and hut built by the beavers.
Another bog, another boardwalk across a beaver dam. Cliffs looming over me on the right.
The trail went vertical until I was standing on top of a rocky knob on top of the cliff. I was so high up I almost felt like I could touch that black cloud over me. The wind was really blowing and then the rain started to come down almost horizontally. It was quite the rush.
The black dot is some kind of vulture or hawk playing on the winds.
Spectacular views inland. The water below is the beaver pond I crossed earlier.
The Sawtooths along the big lake, which is on the other side of that ridge.
35 miles of beauty over three days. I've hiked over 3,500 miles of trails in nearly 30 states, and I still think this trail is one of the most beautiful trails in the country. I don't think I will ever get tired of it's scenery.