Monday, October 11, 2010

More On The North Shore

Isle Royale NP & Apostle Islands Trip - North Shore Minnesota – Day 2 – 8/29/10

No sleepin’ once the sun is shining. We ate a quick breakfast, packed up wet tents and set out on our Sunday explorations. We figured if we went a hundred miles an hour we would fit in everything that Cathy suggested for the day. First stop: Tettegouche State Park. FYI, all state parks in Minnesota have an entrance fee but you pay just one time per day. Good luck seeing how many you can tag in 24 hours.

Anyhoo, our first focus was on Shovel Point, a teaser from yesterday’s walk on Palisade Head. The unnamed short scenic trail took us past several awesome overlooks. As on most hikes, it takes a while for it to sink in that if you think the first view is great, just wait till the second and third and tenth views.

BTW, I am known for my camera troubles – well, the last time I lost a camera I replaced it with the latest version of my others, a Nikon Coolpix S3000. I was very disappointed with the picture quality and felt that only a little bit of the poor performance was due to operator error. So…before this big trip I invested in a Canon PowerShot SD1300. Operator error is still a factor, but I am much happier with the quality of photos, especially the macro shots. Tell me what you think.

Cathy chose a second route in Tettegouche SP featuring waterfalls along the Baptism River. First we checked out Two Step Falls.

Rose hips


We climbed up to High Falls, a spectacular gusher. Neil removed his boots and splashed around, but I learned my lesson yesterday in Lake Superior.

A springy metal bridge crosses at the top of the falls, fun for shaking and swinging.

Although I can’t find a name for our route on the park map, we saw a sign indicating that we were occasionally on the Superior Hiking Trail. A little research back home revealed that this is a 277-mile trail that follows the ridgeline above Lake Superior on the North Shore from Duluth to the Canadian border. There are parking areas spaced easily for day hikes and many backcountry campsites.

Backtracking to our cars, stomachs were growling, so we opted to eat lunch at a picnic table near the parking lot. Someone had the brilliant idea to spread out our wet tents in the sunshine while we ate. Backpackers are very resourceful people, always thinking about how to get chores done.

No, I don't think this looks odd

My lovely fuschia tent

Afternoon adventures commenced at Sawtooth Outfitters in Tofte, MN, where we rented bikes for some cruising on the Gitchi-Gami State Trail. I was a little nervous about this – I purchased a bike recently in anticipation of road biking the eastern part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, but my time in the saddle so far is limited. Today we had the opportunity to ride about 24 miles but I wasn’t sure I could stand that. But it was great fun to pedal along on the paved trail, stopping often to see the local sights. We crossed Highway 61 and coasted down to see Father Baraga’s Cross overlooking Lake Superior, a monument to the Slovenian priest who lost his life trying to travel in a small boat across the lake to help an Ojibwe tribe dealing with an epidemic.

Crossing the Temperance River, we saw the awesome hidden watefalls that have carved deep into the rocks as the water makes its inevitable journey to Lake Superior. I don’t think my pictures convey the power of the water.

The rest of the bike route paralleled Highway 61 going out and back to Sawtooth Outfitters, so I turned around early. Everyone else was stronger than me and some things you should quit while you are still enjoying them. I was cautious that for the next three days I had to hoist a backpack and didn’t want my legs to be all trembly.

What’s next on the list? Cathy's meticulous planning even tagged the best places to eat on the North Shore. We had dinner at the Angry Trout Cafe in Grand Marais, a fun-looking little place with absolutely fabulous food. Just hours earlier my lake trout had been happily swimming wild and free. I think it looks very good on my plate.

Our last adventure of the day had to be scratched because of the lateness of the hour (blame it on the wine at dinner) as we made our way to our campground for the night at Judge C.R. Magney State Park. We were a bit panicky as we set up tents because daylight was waning and we all had to prepare backpacks to meet the ferry at 6:45 a.m. for our Isle Royale backpack trip. It was about 25 miles to the ferry dock, so our departure time from camp was 6:00 a.m. – that means the rooster would crow at about 5:00 a.m. Yikes!

How much food? How cold will it be, enough for fleeces? Should we pack a bag with extra clothes and food to leave at the camp store for night #3 back in base camp? Will it rain? Should I put everything in ziplock bags? Can I just eat a cereal bar in the van on the way there in the morning? As I struggled with my own decisions, muttering and thumping and steam emanated from Mike’s van. He eventually emerged, declared himself ready, and we all crawled into our hovels to chase a little sleep.

At about 4:00 a.m. the pitter-patter of rain began.  

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein


Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

Sharon - the North Shore is definitely a beautiful part of the country. Did you have any problems with the state bird: the mosquito?

Or black flies for that matter...


smoky scout said...

The mosquitos were a minor annoyance on one day of the backpack trip, but otherwise we were pleasantly surprised. And for the first half of the trip the weather was crazy hot, up to 90!