This was a wistful day. It started out with the famous “lake walk.” Most of this trail leads you past Lake Superior from the ridge line, so from up on high. You only walk along the lakeshore twice — in Duluth a few days into a northbound thru-hike, and then again here, at the end. I felt like the trail was saying good-bye to me. In Duluth, there were huge crowds on the lakeshore, and the feeling was quite festive — like the trail was welcoming me onto her. Here, you walk along a desolate, pristine section of the lake, which felt like the trail was quietly telling me it was time to get ready to go home.
BTW, Harriet told me a lot of hikers skip the lake walk because the beach is all stones. It isn’t easy hiking, but it’s not a big deal, either, because it’s only a mile or two. People who skip this don’t know what they’re missing! It’s lovely. The water is crystal clear here, and of course the view is endless.
After the lake walk, the trail shoves you back into the woods and heading toward Canada. I quickly passed the North Little Brule River campsite, where I had originally planned to camp last night. It was nice, and I’m sorry I missed it.
I’d had to reconfigure my plans when I shortened my days, plus I took out one or two camping nights that fell on days when we had a lot of rain. I’m starting to enjoy camping, despite the mosquitoes that are so bad come evening that I have to jump into my hammock or tent immediately after washing and eating dinner. But if I have to start camping in rain, too, I might never progress into a hardier camper, which is what I need to be if I truly hike all 11 National Scenic Trails, which is my plan.
Anyway, the route took me into Judge Magney State Park, which was just lovely with more waterfalls. There have been so many on this trail! After that was a section called the Devil’s Kettle (1,700 feet), also gorgeous, then another meadow with wildflowers.
I’m ready to go home, because the trail has been hard on my feet with all the rocks, roots and mud. But I’m a little sad, too.
MN NCT miles today: =14
MN NCT miles to date: 295.8
Total SHT miles to date: 295.8
Total NCT miles to date: 582.2
Total NCT miles to go: 4,017.8