2012 Superior Hiking Trail Illustrated Journal by caa54024


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									Hiking the Superior Hiking Trail
 Random Memories of a 70-Year-Old Rambler
     By Chet Anderson (aka Gray Ghost)

      Front: Ruth, Patti, Kevin, Skip. Back: George, Kris.

            September 9th to September 25th, 2012
    Journals, photos, and more available at: http://www.grayghost.info

The Superior Hiking Trail runs along Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior, paralleling the
lake, usually up on high land with many views overlooking the lake. Five people hiked all or part
of the trail with me. We started our 241.4 mile hike at Normanna Road, southwest of Two
Harbors. When finished, the trail will run northeast for about 300 miles, from Jay Cooke State
Park near Duluth to Otter Lake Road, just short of the Canadian border. Some trail is left to
complete, and some sections are closed due to storm damage. Starting at Normanna Road was
the best option because that was the furthest point south that the trail was continuous, and
where camping was allowed along the trail.

9-7-2012, Started 12:30 pm
8.5 miles, camped at Fox Farm Pond Campsite
Six people started with me. Ruth walked a few miles with us and then walked back to do
volunteer work on the Superior Hiking Trail over the weekend. I hoped they would have a good
weekend; they are replacing a bridge on Encampment River. If they are successful it will
eliminate a detour for us. Patti (Peppermint Patti) joined us for the first two days. Joining us for
the first 80 miles are Skip (Chili Man) who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in the 1970s and has
                                                                   done considerable mountain
                                          First night’s campsite   climbing, and Kevin (Bean
                                                                   Town or F-stop) who just
                                                                   graduated from college.
                                                                   George (Ole Smoky Lonesome),
                                                                   who hiked the AT and wrote a
                                                                   book about it, is hiking to the
                                                                   end with me. Kevin is the quiet
                                                                   type, which is probably good
                                                                   for us. The three of us men are
                                                                   all 60 plus and full of stories. It
                                                                   is nice to have somebody to
                                                                   listen to us. Patti and Dale, her
                                                                   brother in-law, hiked the trail
                                                                   in segments. They didn’t camp
on the trail. This gave them a chance to have amenities each night. Patti will be hiking a part of
the trail that has been added since they hiked it previously.

I had called Dixie’s Bar & Grill (218-834-2846) late in my planning and they were willing to hold
food drops for us. With Kris George’s wife and Ruth’s help we were able to locate vehicles at
trailheads ahead of us and leave our food boxes at Dixie’s Bar & Grill. This eliminated the need
for us to go to Two Harbors to resupply or carry food for 80 miles to reach Silver Bay.

14.6 miles, Ferguson Campsite
Peppermint Patti left us today. Now it’s four guys. Standards will probably go down from here.
She had fruit drinks and snacks in her car for us at the trailhead. I had brought along a digital
fish scale and had left it in Patti’s car in case anyone wanted to weigh his pack. Nobody chose to
take advantage of the opportunity. I sent my backpack hip belt home with Patti, letting me cut
another 8oz of my pack weight.

The next day at Dixie’s Bar & Grill when we picked up our food drop Skip and Kevin did leave a
number of items there to pick up on their way home. We had a nice meal at Dixie’s when we
                                             picked up our boxes. I was the last one into camp
                                             and there were a limited number of campsites. I
                                             decided to camp on the riverbed. The bed
                                             consisted of one large slab of rock; it made for a
                                             nice clean tent site. I did think about storms but
                                             not enough to change my position and look for
                                             higher ground. We did see distance views of Lake
                                             Superior today but we are too far inland for any
                                             good views.
                      My riverbed campsite
15.3 miles, Silver Creek Campsite
We had a nice clear day and a well-marked trail with lots of spruce and birch. When the spruce
trees are thick there is lots of moss; the rocks and stumps are often completely covered with
green moss. This makes lovely smooth mounds along the trail for a very picturesque walk.

I found a new joy by leaving my trekking poles home. Occasionally I would find a small birch
tree along the trail where I could use a little extra support. If the tree was about 1-1, 1/2 inches
in diameter and smooth it had the nicest
sensation on my grip. We met a southbound
hiker on his 11th day; he had completed
207.3 miles and had 34.1 miles left.

We hiked along Silver Creek before our
campsite. This was the first time I saw the
effects of the June storm of this year. There
were large log/ brush jams in the river bed
and lots of debris washed up against the
trees up on the shore.                                                        Silver Creek log jam

9-10-2012, the morning temp was 42°, the high temp for the day was about 70°
13.8 miles, Gooseberry River Multi-Group Campsite
The Encampment River Bridge was finished two days ago. It was great not to have to make a
road walk detour. We extend a big thank you to the Superior Trail Association and their
volunteers. There was hardly any water in the Encampment River but I did see many small fish
as I filtered water from a pool.
I took a river bath and did laundry in the Gooseberry River. Nice.
During the night we could hear machinery noise and thought it was from the ore docks at Two

We have seen lots of flood damage from this
summer’s rains. There are big sections of the
river banks that are washed away, taking
sections of the trail away, too. It is hard to
imagine how many tons of earth and mud
were washed into Lake Superior during the
floods. We are seeing huge areas of earth
cracked and sliding towards the river. These
landslide areas are still being eroded and
washed into the lake nearly three months
after the June 20th flood that caused the                          Eroding bank
initial damage.

9-11-2012, morning temp was 45°
9.3 miles, Southeast Spilt Rock River Campsite
Chili Man’s camera died. He was changing lenses on his camera and the lens did not attach
properly. When he went back to the other lens, the camera did not work. We were hoping we
could leave the disabled camera at the park visitor center at Gooseberry Falls State Park but
that is against park policy so he will need to carry the camera the rest of his 80 mile hike. I was
hoping to visit with Carly who previously worked at Crex Meadows wildlife area near us and
leave the camera with her but she had transferred to the Jay Cooke State Park.

I was asking the park people about pictures of the flooding. They had a few pictures of the
flooding at its peak when the water was thought to be more than nine feet over normal. The
person at the desk said it took five days for the river to go down. The pictures were amazing to
see. A sign at the Temperance River said it is one of the longest rivers on the north shore at
38.6 miles. I find it hard to imagine that much accumulated water in such a short distance.
Especially with all the different rivers that drain into Lake Superior along the north shore.

For those of you who don’t know: there was what I heard referred to as a 500 year flood on
Wednesday, June 20, 2012 along the North Shore. Two figures that I could find say that 7.43 or
10.1 inches of rain fell in 24 hours at different places. There was lots of damage to the Superior
Hiking Trail and its bridges. The Superior Hiking Trail workers are an amazing group; they had it
back in shape for us to hike through.

We hikers walk at different speeds so we are not always together. We agree where to meet up
one or more times each day and where we will camp at the end of the day. We usually see each
other more often but we like to have check points to make sure everyone is okay.

On this day, we camped at Split Rock River and I took another river bath and did my laundry
again. Laundry consists of washing the clothes I am wearing. I dry my clothes by wearing them.
My body heat speeds up the process, but this can be pretty chilly if I do it too late in the day.

9-12-2012, the warmest morning on the trail: 60°
13.5 miles, South Beaver River Campsite
Our campsite was on Beaver River, lots of large rocks which can make a nice clean place to
spend the evening cleaning up and washing and drying clothes. F-stop found it very nice for
photos. I admired a flower in full bloom growing out of a crack in the rocks. It was unique for
me; I don’t think I have seen one like it before. If I have, it
wasn’t at that stage of bloom. I took pictures that evening and                     Turtlehead
when I left in the morning, I went to take one last look at it; to
my surprise there was no blossom left. Something had eaten all
the blossoms off and did not touch the rest of the plant. With
lots of help we have identified it as Chelone glabra, or
turtlehead, because of the serrated leaves. The other possible
flower was Gentiana alba, creamy or yellow gentian. I find it interesting that both flowers
mentioned bloom in mid-summer or fall. Wikipedia states that Chelone glabra is a popular
browse plant for deer.

The second night my tent zipper broke. I decided not to worry about it. There were hardly any
bugs or mosquitos so it shouldn’t be a problem. Within a few minutes of getting in my sleeping
bag I heard a noise next to my head and there was a mouse on my ditty bag about 6” from my
face. The mouse was gone as soon as I saw him. I had another go at repairing the zipper. This
time I was able to get the zipper working again.

We had light rain during the night. It sounded like it was really raining but in the morning
everything was dry. The sound of raindrops falling on the tent, and the dread of packing up a
wet tent let my mind magnify their sound.

I eliminated 25 ounces this trip, by leaving my trekking poles at home and sending my backpack
hip-belt home with Peppermint Patti. The dry weight of my pack is 14 pounds, and total gear
weight is 18 pounds, including my shoes and clothes I am wearing. Food and water add a
varying amount to this weight. I am going to quit carrying water because of how often there is
water along the trail. I know I can go five to ten miles without water at this time of the year.

I am really enjoying the camaraderie of hiking with others on this trail after my many miles of
hiking alone on other trails.

Kevin (Bean Town) wants to be a professional photographer and has taken about 300 photos so
far on this trip. His picture taking has given rise to a potential new trail name, F-stop. Kevin has
blisters on the bottoms of his feet and between his toes but it doesn’t seem to be slowing him
down much; he seems to be enjoying himself.

9-13-2012, morning temp was 50°
9.9 miles, East Palisade Creek Campsite
We had 4.3 miles to hike in the morning to reach the trailhead parking lot for Silver Bay. This
was as far as Skip (Chili Man), and Kevin (Bean Town, F-stop) were going. They had reached
 First Northwestern College group                  their van. They gave Ole Smoky Lonesome and
                                                   me a ride into Silver Bay to pick up our food
                                                   drops at the post office. We all had breakfast
                                                   together, and then they took us back to the trail
                                                   before heading down the road. Having a ride to
                                                   town and back to the trail sure made
                                                   resupplying easy for us. My food weight leaving
                                                   Silver Bay was 8 pounds, and the next resupply
                                                   was at Tofte, 63 miles ahead.
We had just got back on the trail when we heard a woman shouting. Ole Smoky Lonesome
called out to her and she responded she was okay. It turned out to be a man and a woman
looking for a group of 10 kids. That sure set off my heart rate. He quickly explained that the
“kids” were freshmen from Northwestern College in Illinois. The woman was wearing tights and
a tutu. I have never seen a hiking outfit like that in all of my miles of hiking. They asked us to tell
the kids to wait if we saw them. I caught up to the group and passed on the message.

I then continued hiking and made a wrong turn which led me to Bean Lake. I realized my
mistake within 100 yards but decided to go down to the lake and take a look anyway; I still
hadn’t seen or heard a loon (and still no luck). When I was back on the SHT, I only hiked a short
distance and there were the 10 kids again! I thought I had not only gone down the wrong trail,
but now I was heading back to Duluth. Thankfully that was not the case. They had decided to
move further along the trail to find a better spot to wait for the lady in the tutu.

On the trail we met Kristine, who was hiking for a few days. We hiked together for the next few
miles and she camped near us. In talking to Kristine I learned that her ex-husband was from St
Croix Falls. She now lives in the Twin Cities. The three of us spent the evening telling stories.
Our evening with Kristine was one of those good memories of this trip.

13.7 miles, Section 13 Campsite
We had lots of ups and downs for the day. We met the second Northwestern College group;
they camped nearby.

We are seeing lots of birch trees that appear to be sick, with most of the small branches gone.
I’m not sure what is causing this. I found this comment on a UM discussion board. “Bronze birch
borer may be involved; the more serious culprit is a combination of drought, thin/poor soils
(particularly up the north shore), and simply old age.” A lot of the birch trees rot while they are
still standing. When they fall down they will break into shorter pieces. I removed at least 100 of
them from across the trail. Many of them were quite large in diameter. My involvement in trail
building and maintenance has
                                                                          Dead birch trees on trail
changed my view of the trail as I
hiked. I can no longer just step
over a log or walk through brush
without thinking I should take
care of this. I didn’t remove all
that were possible, but often I
couldn’t ignore them any longer,
and started moving them off the
trail. George suggested that we go
into Finland for breakfast in the
morning. With my no-stove
hiking, I’m always ready for hot

9-15-2012, left camp at 6:25 am, 40°
13.7 miles, for the day plus 2 ½ miles for Finland for breakfast, East Branch Baptism River
In the morning I crossed a large beaver dam on a boardwalk alongside it. There was frost on the
plant leaves (colder here than at the campsite). Just after the beaver dam there was a sign-in
box. As I was signing in, I heard a beaver slapping its tail; I had not seen it as I crossed by the
dam. George said he saw it when he crossed shortly after I did.

The road to Finland was 6.2 miles from camp; I was cold and pumped thinking about a hot
breakfast. I moved out and did it in 2 ½ hours. Ole Smoky Lonesome came along shortly. As we
were hiking into town, the Superior Shuttle went by and turned around and gave us a ride into
Finland. We did have to walk back, so we did walk 2 ½ miles extra for breakfast.

The shuttle driver recommended Our Place, a nice bar and restaurant. It was good, reasonably
priced food, served by Anne, a pleasant young waitress with a sense of humor. There was no
reception on my Verizon phone for me in Finland. Ole Smoky Lonesome had reception on his
phone. We met the third Northwestern College group today.

Sonju Lake had an 80’ boardwalk going to Lily Island. It was a pretty island with a sweeping view
of the lake. I saw my only Belted Kingfisher on the trail from the island. There are a few covered
boxes along the trail with notebooks in them to register in if you choose to. There was one on
the island but not many hikers made that short walk; it had been quite a few days since anyone
had signed it.

9-16-2012, 45° Slight drip/drizzle
14.8 miles, Sugarloaf Pond Campsite
I passed Archer (trail name) and his adult son sitting along the trail smoking pipes. Archer had
                                                           arrows and a traditional bow. He had
                   Archer and son
                                                           attached a protective cover on one
                                                           end of his bow so he could use it for a
                                                           hiking staff. It was 9:20 am and they
                                                           were done hiking for the day. They
                                                           were going to spend the rest of the
                                                           day fishing. We met Bob Myer, a
                                                           birder and trail maintainer who had
                                                           binoculars, a hand pruner, and a bow
                                                           saw in his pack. Nice way to get out in
                                                           the woods, by combining two
                                                           activities. I wish maintainers would
                                                           prune high enough for tall hikers,
especially where one must concentrate on foot placement. For example, on a hard, rocky climb,
I walked right into a limb and broke the skin on my nose. I know I am responsible for myself, but
this is a problem I have on all trails. End of rant.

Ole Smoky Lonesome talked to Steve, who was carrying food for 3 weeks. I’m not sure how far
he was going each day, but probably not far since he was still in camp at 11:00 am. I took
another river bath and did my laundry in the Caribou River.

My hiking style is catching on: Ole Smoky Lonesome is sending his stove home at Tofte. He has
been heating water for me to use in my Mountain House meals to use up fuel prior to sending
the empty bottle home.

9-17-2012, left camp 6:26 am
12.5 miles, Temperance River State Park
The campground is right on Lake Superior but quite a few feet above. We could hear the waves
all night from our campsite. It is kind of nice; unlike a couple of rivers we camped near which
were a little too loud.

Tom & Jan, from Richfield, Minnesota were sitting at the picnic table at our campsite when we
walked up. We thought there had been a mistake but they were just having a picnic lunch and
                                                  were looking over the lake from our assigned
                                                  campsite. They offered to take us to the Tofte
                                                  Post Office even though it was the opposite
                                                  direction for them. They said they would wait
                                                  for us but we didn’t want to ask them to do
                                                  that. Tom & Jan also left us grapes, baby
                                                  carrots, crackers and one pear to split; the
                                                  pear was perfectly ripe. What a
                                                  mouthwatering delight that was! Ole Smoky
                                                  Lonesome had two things to pick up from the
                                                  post office, but the package containing a spare
Diana at Tofte Post office
                                                  camera battery hadn’t arrived yet. Diana at
the Tofte Post Office was super nice and offered to pick up Ole Smoky Lonesome at the park on
her way to work in the morning. After the Post Office, we went across the highway to a Holiday
station for some miscellaneous items. There was a young woman pumping gas who looked like
she was going our way so I asked her if she could give us a ride. She said her father had advised
her not to do things like that. We decided our charm was all used up and walked the two miles
back to our campsite.

When we came back, Amy, who works in the Temperance Park office, didn’t know we had been
to the Post Office and offered us keys to her car if we needed to go to Tofte for any reason.
We’re not sure if we had a little charm left or if people just feel sorry for a couple of old guys.
Ole Smoky Lonesome hopes his camera battery will be in the morning mail. Diana starts work at
8:00. She sorts the mail that comes in overnight and then opens at 8:30. Ole Smoky Lonesome
went to the gas station nearby to pick up more food while he waited for her to open; he was
back by 8:15 since she was already open and had his battery.

Ole Smoky Lonesome has included a pound of beef jerky with every food drop. He found he
couldn’t chew that much in fifty miles. His jerky supply was building up on him.

We were able to have our only showers of
the trip at the Park. A hot shower with
soap was so nice that I had a second
shower in the morning, and washed my
clothes and partially dried them under the
hand dryer: just enough so I wouldn’t
freeze while they finished drying on me.

Marty & Peggy from Brainerd had a
teardrop trailer camped near us. They had
pictures of three birds on their power lines,
with the birds looking into their house.                    Ore boat on Lake Superior
They had shown them at the DNR exhibit at the
Minnesota State Fair and they weren’t able to help identify them. I was able to identify them as
Black-crowned Night-Herons. In the morning when I was leaving they treated me to a culinary
delight: Spam fried in olive oil.
My food weight leaving Tofte was 7 lb. 6 oz., for the next 46 miles to Grand Marais.

9-18-2012, left camp at 8:05 am, 40°
12.1 miles, East Rollins Creek Campsite
My camera quit. I think I may have put pressure on it getting in and out of the tent or rolled on
it during the night. I plan on sending it home with the Westigards. The good news is that it will
cut another 8.4 oz. from my pack weight. This was one of the few things that I have not worn
out or replaced with lighter items. I carried it on all my hikes. I doubt that I will replace it; my
iPod has a camera on it and though the pictures aren’t the same quality, it is one less item to
carry and worry about. [After using the iPod camera on the Border Route Trail at the end of
October I decided that I needed better pictures. I have now bought a new Nikon Coolpix L610
with 16-megapixel photos and 14x optical zoom. This is still a low-end camera, but quite an
improvement over my old one, which had 7.1-megapixel photos and 3x optical zoom.]

Because Ole Smoky Lonesome had to go to the Post Office, I thought I was miles ahead of him. I
enjoyed the rock faces as the trail passed by Carlton Peak so I decided to take the spur trail to
the top. Very nice views, but not much different from many others we had seen. The West
Leveaux Pond Campsite was on the trail with lots of sun. I thought that it was a nice place for a
snack and nap while I waited for Ole Smoky Lonesome. I filtered some water laid my pad down,
and dug out some food. I no more than lay down and along comes Ole Smoky Lonesome. Diana
at the Post Office was too much help; he didn’t lose as much time as I anticipated.

We have different hiking styles. Ole Smoky Lonesome likes to get up in the morning and keep
moving until he reaches the goal for the day. This works nice with two of us because we can
swap stories in the evening. When I am hiking alone I like to take longer breaks and eat my big
meal in the middle of the day when the temps are best. Then I hike right up to dark and set up
my bedroom and crawl into my sleeping bag. This worked great on the Pacific Crest Trail; it
meant that I didn’t need as many clothes for sitting around when it was cool in the evening and
I wasn’t hiking during the hottest part of the day.

Ole Smoky Lonesome said he is looking forward to eating cold ramen noodles. I thought when
he sent his stove home he would keep a pot and soak the ramen noodles but he is eating them
like popcorn. I tried a bite and they weren’t too bad by my standards. I suppose that statement
coming from me doesn’t carry much weight as a food reviewer. He gives me his flavor packets
to me to add seasoning to my Mountain House meals because they don’t adhere to the dry

I met Marius and Iris, his dog, who were day-hiking from Oberg Mountain trailhead to Carlton
Peak and back (a 14 mile round trip).

We met the fifth and last Northwestern group. We have slowly found out more about them.
They are freshmen from Northwestern
University in Illinois. This was a way for the
students to meet others at the start of their
college experience. There were two counselors
for each group of 10 students. They were not
allowed phones. They all slept in one tent,
actually a large tarp, set up like a pup tent.
There were 18 different groups out like this.
                                                                 Tent for Northwestern group
I don’t think all of the groups were on the
Superior Hiking Trail. The counselors were there for general help but did not necessarily
chaperone them like they would a youth group. This trip was taking place before classes
started. I thought this was a wonderful way for them to start their college life.

We crossed lots of short, nice, new heavy duty bridges in the afternoon, and encountered one
great set of switchbacks. We saw more maple trees than usual today.

9-19-2012, left camp at 6:43 am
13.9 miles, camped at snowmobile shelter one mile short of Spruce Creek Campsite
Light rain during the night quit by 6:00 am.
I had packed up a wet tent in the morning; everything felt damp. I found a very nice sunny rock
overlook to dry and air my things during the day.
I saw one of last year’s black bear cubs on the trail at the top of Moose Mountain less than 20
feet away. I had no chance for a photo, because once it saw me it headed down the mountain.
We stopped at Lutsen for breakfast, but a crew laying asphalt said it was closed.

We met Janusz, an older hiker who had some interesting stories. He was born in Poland and
was a professional violinist and pianist in Germany. He has lived in Germany, Italy and other
places that I don’t remember. Since the 1980s he has lived in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He has a
school there, where he teaches music.

It was raining so we camped at a log Adirondack shelter just past the Haul Road. This was a
snowmobile shelter with an outhouse. It was a very nice place to sit out of the rain. After a
while the rain quit, and since I wasn’t carrying water, it meant that I had to hike one mile to the
next campsite to get water to bring back. It would have made more sense to move to the next
campsite but I was fixated on spending the night in a shelter.

Ole Smoky Lonesome developed a habit of cleaning up our campsites. The shelter needed
                                           considerable policing before it was fully
                                           enjoyable. Most of the litter was old papers and
                                           kindling for starting fires scattered around on the
                                           dirt floor.

                                               We are sitting in the shelter thinking we are out in
                                               the wilderness and Amber comes jogging by from
                                               behind the shelter. We all three were quite
                                               surprised she said she never sees anyone there.
                                               She said something about the area behind the
       Shelter after cleaning                  shelter (a wide spot on the snowmobile trail)
being used for helicopter landing and taking injured people out. I’m not sure why there was the
need, but I didn’t want to keep her out in the rain to answer all my questions.

We are hiking at a good time of the year. We almost can see a daily change in the color of the
leaves. They are not yet at peak, but many are bright and beautiful. There seem to be no ticks
and hardly any bugs. One drawback is the shortness of the days.

9-20-2012, morning temp was 42° at 6:50 am
16.2 miles, North Bally Creek Pond Campsite
We met Hiking Dude on a southbound hike with a friend who was walking part of the way with
him. This is his second long trail; the first was the Arizona Trail. He has an interesting website.
He has plans to hike all 11 of the National Scenic Trails and the year that he will hike them. The
list goes up to 2023 and he will still have three left to complete.
We met Marie-Anne and Gregg Westigard in Cascade State Park. They were ready to join us for
two nights. They had camped in the park the night before and walked out to meet us on the
Superior Trail where it goes through the park. They had brownies for us and Marie-Anne was
ready to start hiking with us and spend the night also, in a hammock. Gregg would camp at the
park again and meet us at a road crossing the next day.

Marie-Anne brought a coffee pot along that has been used over many campfires. She brewed
an excellent cup of coffee over an open fire in the morning. Ole Smoky Lonesome and I never
build fires on our hikes so Marie Anne had to make the fire herself. Ole Smoky Lonesome and I
are willing to gather wood and drink hot coffee in spite of our self-imposed rule to never make
a fire.

Gregg, Marie-Anne, Ole Smoky Lonesome                          Cranberries

10.6 miles, East Devil Track Campsite
The trail ran along the edge of a huge swamp and Marie-Anne spotted a few cranberries. She
was able to spot them quickly, but Ole Smoky Lonesome and I had difficulty finding them. We
wonder if this is something to do with women being the “gatherers” and men being the
“hunters”. The cranberries tasted great.

We met Ellie (trail name ‘Cheese’) from Rhinelander. She was southbound. She hiked the
Appalachian Trail in 2010. She had the nicest smile and worked at a cheese house/factory.
When we were doing introductions and she heard Ole Smoky Lonesome’s name, she lit up
because she had his book.

We met Cedar (trail name) southbound. He had 14 days food and 14 days to finish the trail
because of a wedding he was participating in. He lives in Alaska during the summer, and is from
Duluth. Cedar carries a ukulele and has a tattoo of a cedar tree on his arm.

We met Gregg at the parking lot on Gunflint Trail which is the closest route into Grand Marais.
We had food drops at the Post Office and hoped to have a hot meal. Gregg had been to the
dock where fish are brought in. The recommendation for the best place for a fresh fish meal
was the Crooked Spoon so we took that advice and had the catch of the day, a white fish lunch.
We had a pleasant young waitress that was soon expecting her second child, a daughter. It
rained as we ate lunch; it was nice to be inside. We were happy that it quit before we started
back on the trail.

Gregg hiked with us the rest of the day and Marie-Anne drove the car to the next trailhead
north of us and hiked back so all four of us could camp together. That night gave us our only
evening rain the entire trip. It chased us into our tents early and cut short our story telling time.
The tent sites along Devil Track River weren’t the best for a rainy night. The Westigards moved
uphill to another well-used (but not official) site so that they could avoid the water running
under their tent.

Kris & Ole Smoky Lonesome celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary today.

9-22-2012, morning temp was 37°
16.7 miles, Northwest Little Brule River Campsite
Marie-Anne made a small fire and had a pot coffee again. Gregg hiked with us and Marie-Anne
drove to meet us later at another trailhead. Marie-Anne had gone to town and was waiting with
coffee and pastries for us when we came to the trailhead. Trail Magic from a Trail Angel.

Shortly after Marie-Anne and Gregg left us, we hiked the 1.5 mile lake walk. This is the only
time the Superior Hiking Trail reaches the Lake Superior shore after Duluth. The walk is quite
challenging; it consists of small stones that shift under your feet like beach sand. If the waves
                                                        had washed up rocks a little bigger,
                                                        walking wasn’t so difficult but that never
                                                        lasted for long. I had an added problem
                                                        because my trail running shoes were worn
                                                        out and had openings where the tops
                                                        were separating from the soles. That
                                                        meant additional discomfort; the insides
                                                        of my shoes would gather small pebbles.
                                                        Near the end of the lake walk we met a
                                                        middle-aged southbound hiker. He asked
                                                        us to use his phone to take a picture of
                Ole Smoky Lonesome on beach walk        him to send to his wife. We had a lot of
concern for him because he was so unsteady on his feet that it was hard to imagine him doing
the lake walk, let alone the trail.

9-23-2012, morning temp was 42°
15.2 miles, South Carlson Pond Campsite
We camped near a beautiful beaver pond. The campsite was elevated, and in shade from trees
with wind blowing through, which made it quite cold. We spent the evening on the shore of the
                            pond where we had sun and no wind. I did see some wild rice on
                            beaver ponds but never saw enough that it looked harvestable.

                                 We heard two Trumpeter swans come in after we were in our
                                 tents. They were still on the pond in the morning as we left. We
                                 had planned to meet at the parking lot in Judge C R Magney State
                                 Park. The trail went close to the park camp grounds and I decided
                                 to use the campground bathroom. They had taped a sign by the
                                 door saying it was for registered campers only. They probably
                                 have trouble with SHT hikers showering there. I cut my visit short
                                    and only washed my face and hands with hot water and soap.
Wild rice plant on beaver pond   I had left my pack on the trail to let Ole Smoky Lonesome know
that I had gone into the campground. I picked up my pack and continued to the parking lot.
After spending a short time there and still no sign of Ole Smoky Lonesome, I started to wonder
if we had a communication gap about are next meeting place. It turned out that he missed a
turn and took the interpretive loop trail. Surprisingly, this was the only time that I was
concerned that I didn’t know if Ole Smoky Lonesome was ahead or behind me. On other trails I
have seen people hiking fast to catch up to somebody that they think is ahead of them only to
find out later that they were behind them. I was greatly relieved when Ole Smoky Lonesome
walked into the parking lot.

Finished the Superior Hiking Trail at 3:15 pm
17.1 miles, end of trail, camped at Swamp River
We crossed an interesting bridge today. A
beaver had felled a tree about a foot and half in
diameter across a small stream. The Superior
Hiking Trail crew had nailed 2’ x 6’ planks on the
sides to make supports for deck boards on top.
This cut the cost and effort of hauling in
stringers for support. Somebody was thinking!
                                                                Bridge on beaver’s log

We reached the highest point of the trail: Rosebush Ridge 1,829’ where there were no views
and no rosebushes. The ridge was covered with mature trees. I like a term used in the guide
                                  book for some high points: “seasonal views”-a euphemism
                                  for wooded.

                                   We met Fred and his wife on a day hike. She has been
                                   working on completing the Appalachian Trail for 25 years.
                                   Next week she is hiking on it near Pearisburg Virginia. I asked
                                   how her AT hike was coming; she said not too well. She
                                   didn’t volunteer how many miles she has left to finish it.

 The guide book said that there was a campsite with an outhouse at the Swamp River Access.
This was true but surprisingly, it was not well marked and a little bit into the woods. We
couldn’t see any sign that anybody had used it or that they had ever cleaned up to make tent
pads. But the outhouse had TP and with a little effort, soon we were set up for two nights. One
nice thing about the Superior Hiking Trail was having benches to sit on and latrines at every
campsite. A few even had some sort of table.

We were eating our dinner by the Swamp River Bridge because it was in the sun and warmer. I
was low down by the water and out of sight of the road, and apparently Ole Smoky Lonesome
was hidden by the bridge guard rail. A couple in a Class B motorhome stopped on the bridge to
admire the Swamp River. I thought that they had seen Ole Smoky Lonesome and wanted to talk
or offer help so I stood up. You can’t believe how fast they got out of there when they saw me.
Must have thought we were homeless. I can picture them saying, “Even out in the wild the
homeless are living under bridges-what is this country coming to? “

Ole Smoky Lonesome and I finished one day sooner than planned. That meant we had to take a
zero day waiting for my brother Gordy and sister-in-law Judy to pick us up. There was lots of
frost on everything in the morning. The tops of the wood railing on a bridge across the Swamp
River were completely white with frost. I met Mark Tessier, a professional photographer who
was walking out one mile to a vista on the Border Route Trail. I mentioned to Mark that Kevin,
the young hiker who started the trail with us, was interested in becoming a professional
photographer. Mark commented that he had better get used to a frugal way of living. Mark
lives off the grid: his house is two stories, made out of hay bales. He hauls in his water, has an
outdoor toilet, candles and lamps are his light, and just two cords of wood provides his winter

          Ole Smoky Lonesome                                        Gray Ghost

                                         End of the Trail
I joined Mark on the walk to a vista on the Border Route Trail, and found it was a marvelous
view. They call it the 270 degree overlook. Looking south you can see the Swamp River and the
valley flowing north into the Pigeon River which separates the US and Canada. Looking east you
can see ridges that are between you and Lake Superior, and with my binoculars I think I can see
Isle Royale through some of the low spots. Below you are the Pigeon River and miles of
undeveloped land that is Castle Creek Provincial Nature Reserve in Canada. Yesterday Ole
Smoky Lonesome had pushed for the finish, saying “I’m not hiking tomorrow.” But I was able to
persuade him to walk to the vista. We both agree that would be a much better place to end the
Superior Hiking Trail. (I found out since we finished that, by popular demand, they have
changed the end of the trail to the 270 degree overlook.) George was a United States
Geological Surveyor and he was quite happy to find a survey marker at the top of the vista.

We each ended up hiking about ten miles around our campsite, on the road, and out on the
Border Route Trail. The Border Route Trail starts 0.2 miles west of the end of the Superior
Hiking Trail, on Otter Lake Road. It heads north, then west, through the Boundary Waters Canoe
Area for 65 miles, ending at the Gunflint Trail.

For the entire trip, I saw no sign of moose until the last ten miles of the trail. Then I saw what
may have been fresh tracks, and a few old droppings. We did see ruffed grouse every day on
the trail. I did not carry water for the last 180 miles unless water was uncertain at campsites.
This meant I only carried water for 2.5 miles of the last 180 miles. Also, I never missed my
trekking poles and hip-belt.

Pack weight at end:      13 lb. 9 oz.              We spent 18 days on the trail.
Shoes and clothes I wore: 4 lb.                    We averaged 13.4 miles per day.
Total:                   17 lb. 9 oz.              I lost 7 lbs. of body weight.
         The 50 Birds I Identified on the Superior Hiking Trail
American Crow                    Common Merganser           Red-breasted Nuthatch
American Goldfinch               Common Raven               Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel                 Dark-eyed Junco            Ring-billed Gull
American Redstart                Downy Woodpecker           Ruby-crowned Kinglet
American Robin                   Eastern Bluebird           Ruffed Grouse
American Tree Sparrow            Eastern Phoebe             Sandhill Crane
Bald Eagle                       Golden-crowned Kinglet     Sharp-shinned Hawk
Barred Owl                       Gray Jay                   Spruce Grouse
Belted Kingfisher                Hairy Woodpecker           Trumpeter Swan
Black-and-white Warbler          Lapland Longspur           Turkey Vulture
Black-capped Chickadee           Mallard                    White-breasted Nuthatch
Blue Jay                         Nashville Warbler          White-crowned Sparrow
Brown Creeper                    Northern Flicker           White-throated Sparrow
Canada Goose                     Osprey                     Wild Turkey
Canada Warbler                   Pied-billed Grebe          Wood Duck
Chipping Sparrow                 Pileated Woodpecker        Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Loon                      Pine Grosbeak

     270 degree view of Canada                            270 degree view of Swamp River


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