Boardwalk across water on hiking trail near Crosby Manitou State Park.
Today’s destination was Crosby Manitou State Park. Ed dropped me off at the trailhead on Lake County Road 6, then headed home. His time on the trail was up. Sniff! Today’s forecast called for a 30 percent chance of rain in the morning. Not too bad. It did drizzle on and off, but nothing that got me too wet, so that was nice.

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Unfortunately, I did something with my backpack – leaned it over too far, I think – and a bunch of water leaked into the bottom of the pack and then dripped all over my shorts. So they got soaked. I stopped and took a microfiber cloth and sopped up as much water from my shorts as I could, then applied Body Glide to my inner thighs to avoid chafing. But I didn’t unpack my loaded bag – too much work.

Striking Out for Crosby ManitouWoman standing in front of giant glacial erratic with her hands up in the air.

The terrain in the morning was easy and lovely. I crossed a 440-foot (134.1 m) boardwalk at one point; Brian took drone shots of that. I passed a 20-foot (6.1 m) erratic, which was very cool. That might be the biggest one I’ve ever seen. I met two nice, young men packing up camp and interviewed them for the series, then texted Brian to meet them and take photos/videos.

Then things turned sour. In the afternoon the trail devolved into this rooty, muddy, rocky mess. The roots were so tightly entangled you had to walk on top of them, which chewed up the bottoms of your feet. It was slow going and nasty. I could barely enjoy the scenery because I had to look down and watch every single step. The only nice part was a detour off to Lilly’s Island, a cute, tiny island linked to the mainland by a short boardwalk. There was a trail register on the island, which I signed; BlueBerry had already gotten there!

Late in the day I passed BlueBerry and Green Tortuga, who had set up camp at a spot called Aspen Knob. I didn’t even let myself stop and chat because I just wanted to get to my camp at Crosby Manitou, and it was just ahead. GT termed the terrain we’d just come through “brutal.”

Hiking sign-in box on tree with sign saying Lilly's Island.
The Misery Continues

My misery wasn’t quite over. I thought once I got to Crosby Manitou, the campsites were just off the parking lot. So I ambled into camp, all happy that I was almost there, then took the Middle Trail, which led to my campsite #4. Brian had dropped a jug of water (9 pounds [4.1 kg]), which I decided to carry in to save time filtering.

Well, after hiking about .5 miles (.8 km) down the trail and seeing nothing resembling a campsite, nor hearing any water (the site was riverside), I decided I’d taken the wrong trail. So I backtracked only to discover I WAS on the right trail. Some guys drove up in a truck then, with a campground map in hand, and I learned I had about a mile’s hike (1.6 km) to my site.

So back down the trail I went (for the third time), toting that gallon of water. I finally reached the river, passed campsite #3, and then was not seeing #4. The terrain got bad again – rocky and rooty – and I thought I’d passed #4 while looking down. I finally found it, and Brian was there, and then I just started crying.

Today, the Trail Won

I was exhausted, hungry, dehydrated and mentally shot. I finally calmed down once I drank some water and took off that heavy pack. Brian helped me set up my hammock and boiled water for my dinner while I washed up. He also gave me his down jacket in case it got cold at night. It did, and thank goodness he gave me that jacket, as I used it as a blanket.

The campsite was quite lovely. I wish I had arrived there earlier, and under better circumstances, so I could have fully enjoyed it.


MN NCT miles today: =22 (35.4 km)
MN NCT miles to date: 194.2 (312.5 km)
SHT miles to date: 194.2 (312.5 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 480.8 (773.8 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 4,119.2 (6,629.2 km)


Want to check out my favorite gear? I love my Osprey backpack, Eno Hammock and Body Glide.

©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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