North Country National Scenic Trail

  • Michigan NCT Day 1: East of Grand Marais to Grand Marais (5/26/2017) - And so our section-hike of the North Country Trail begins! Ed and I drove up to Grand Marais today in two cars, so we could shuttle ourselves on/off the trail. There are some trail angels up here, and a shuttle service, but the U.P. is a large area, and nothing was working out.
  • Michigan NCT Day 2: Grand Marais to Coves Campsites (5/27/2017) - Ideally, to an orderly, logical person like me, we'd section-hike the NCT in some sequence. (Although section-hiking means you can hike sections of the trail in any order.) But that's not what's happening here, due to a variety of factors.
  • Michigan NCT Day 3: Muskellonge Lake State Park to Just East of Grand Marais (5/28/2017) - Because we lost our shuttle at the last minute, we realized it would be most efficient to keep hiking westbound. Sort of backwards. We'd drop one car at the western end of our hike, then drive to the eastern end and hike back to the one car. Then drive forward and on to our next lodging.
  • Michigan NCT Day 4: Culhane Lake Campground to Muskellonge Lake State Park (5/29/2017) - Oy, the things that can turn you around! So today was a short, 20-mile jaunt from the Two-Hearted River area back west to Muskellonge Lake State Park. I'd given Ed directions for the spot to drop off our car, then began working on my laptop. Again, long story short, Ed missed a key turn and we lost about an hour.
  • Michigan NCT Day 5: Taquamenon Lower Falls to Culhane Lake (5/30/2017) - Our errors and mishaps are starting to be funny. Today we had roughly 20 miles to hike from Taquamenon State Park's lower falls to Culhane Lake, where we started yesterday.
  • Michigan NCT Day 6: Naomikong Overlook to Taquamenon Lower Falls (5/31/2017) - It wasn't fun to learn that rain was forecast for the morning after yesterday's misadventures. But you can't expect sunny days every day. We began hiking west from Naomikong Overlook on Lake Superior's Taquamenon Bay. It was raining. The path wasn't too bad initially, but there were several spots that were pretty overgrown and wet.
  • Michigan NCT Day 7: Pine River Campground to Naomikong Overlook (6/1/2017) - Today started out great. The morning was cool and sunny. Ed and I headed north along the trail, and we were an hour or two in when we met Bill Courtois, a trail angel who was freshening up blazes. We chatted for a while, then pushed on.
  • Michigan NCT Day 8: Pine River Campground to Burma Road (6/2/2017) - Unfortunately, Cheese Ed was still in bad shape today, so I headed out alone with him crewing me. I heard and saw a pair of sandhill cranes calling to one another across a lake. It was incredible. I saw a large beaver dam. I crossed a lot of boardwalks drowning in vegetation, which made me nervous because it's tick season.
  • Michigan NCT Day 9: Burma Road to St. Ignace (6/3/2017) - Ed's foot was a tiny bit better today, but still nowhere near hike-worthy. I headed southwest on Burma Road, walking the first stretch. I was clad head-to-toe in my bug suit. Last night I kept waking up and feeling like I had a tick on me, so I wasn't taking chances anymore.
  • Wisconsin NCT Day 1: Iron County Forest (Hwy. 122 to 169) (11/11/2017) - I'd planned to hike about 25 miles of the North Country Trail today, from the U.P.-Wisconsin border near Ironwood, Michigan, to the Copper Falls area. My friend, Doug, was going to join me.
  • Superior Hiking Trail: Another Adventure Begins (6/2/2018) - Today I'm starting a thru-hike of the 315-mile Superior Hiking Trail, which runs from just south of Duluth, Minn., up along the North Shore of Lake Superior nearly to Canada. I've long heard this is a beautiful, rugged trail and was thrilled when the Minneapolis Star Tribune asked me to hike it and then write a series of articles about my experience.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 1: Southern Terminus to Jay Cooke State Park/Grand Portage (6/2/2018) - Wow, what a crazy first day on the trail! The Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) starts in the south in the middle of the woods on the border with Wisconsin. Since the parking area is 2 miles away, you have to hike in to the terminus, then hike back out and continue on.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 2: Jay Cooke State Park/Grand Portage to Kingsbury Creek (6/3/2018) - Well, piffle. I thought we were going to have a warm day, if gray, and no rain. Instead, it rained until shortly before we started. This meant the trails stayed super water-logged and muddy. Not only that, but on this, Day 2, the big climbs and descents started. So we slipped and slid all day long.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 3: Kingsbury Creek to Hartley Nature Center (6/4/2018) - Yessss! An awesome day. The sun finally came out on Day 3 of this adventure. Not only did we have sun, but the temps were perfect -- low 70s for the high -- and there was a breeze. The breeze cooled us off, plus plugged away at drying all of the mud.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 4: Hartley Nature Center to Normanna Road (6/5/2018) - Today was an up-and-down day. Not the terrain, but how we felt about the trail. We started off from the Hartley Nature Center on some city streets, and then dipped into the woods. This was pleasant, and there was one very nice overlook.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 5: Normanna Road to Big Bend Camp (6/6/2018) - Today was the first of four nights camping. But it was raining in the morning -- not in the forecast -- so we decided to wait it out before starting. Why start out and get soaked?
  • Minnesota NCT Day 6: Big Bend Camp to Reeves Falls Camp (6/7/2018) - I finally fell asleep at about 5 a.m., only to be awoken around 7:15 by Ed packing up camp, specifically his squeaky sleeping pad. It was annoying, but of course we did need to get moving. It took us until 9:30 a.m. to break up camp, eat breakfast and get going. Clearly, we are novices at camping!
  • Minnesota NCT Day 7: Reeves Falls Camp to East Gooseberry Falls Camp (6/8/2018) - Bob and Brian made us French press coffee this morning -- yum! Then it was time to hit the trail. The first few hours of hiking took us through a lot of wet grass, water and mud. Ugh. But then we began climbing, and got our first few views of Lake Superior! I know it's the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume. I know how massive all of the Great Lakes are. But it is still so impressive to see her from the trail -- she is so enormous!
  • Minnesota NCT Day 8: East Gooseberry Falls to Split Rock River State Park (6/9/2018) - Well, shoot! Today was supposed to be sunny. Instead, shortly after we woke up it started to rain. My phone said the rain would last until 9 or 10. Our clothes and gear were already full of mud, and this was making things much worse. We didn't want to start the day off getting soaked, so we bided our time.
  • Minnesota NCT DAY 9: SPLIT ROCK RIVER STATE PARK TO PENN BLVD. (6/10/2018) - An awesome sauce day! Ed dropped me off at the spur trail leading back to the SHT where I had gotten off last night. He then parked the car and planned to meet me up the trail a bit. It only took him an hour or two, which was pretty amazing.
  • Minnesota NCT DAY 10: PENN BLVD. TO LAKE COUNTY ROAD 6 (6/11/2018) - Today we had a hike of about 19 miles ahead of us. That's a lot! The day began wonderfully. We hiked up to Bear and Bean Lakes, a very popular destination with locals and those that know the North Shore. The views were spectacular!
  • Minnesota NCT Day 11: Lake County Road 6 to G. Crosby Manitou State Park (6/12/2018) - Ed left for home today after dropping me off at the trailhead. The forecast was a 30% chance of rain in the morning. It did drizzle on and off, but nothing that got me too wet, so that was nice.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 12: Crosby Manitou to Fredenberg Creek Camp (6/13/2018) - Last night got pretty cold. I had my hammock again and put on everything I had, but it wasn't quite enough. I must check the underquilt I got when I get back home. I'm not sure if I didn't get a warm enough one (it's rated to 40 degrees, but it wasn't quite that cold out) or if you're also supposed to have a down blanket as well. Luckily Brian had a down jacket he didn't need; I used it to cover my legs, and then I was fine.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 13: Fredenberg Creek Camp to Oberg Mountain (6/14/2018) - I thought last night would be a warm one in my hammock. When I first tucked in around 8 p.m., it was stuffy. But after a few hours it cooled down, then got cold. I put on my puffy coat and slid on my rain pants over my long underwear. I had my rain poncho as a blanket, but it didn't cover my entire body. My legs got so cold I couldn't sleep.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 14: Oberg Mountain to Caribou Road (6/15/2018) - Wow. What a difference. I started today with such a great mindset, knowing I'd be hiking fewer miles and not be out on the trail until 7 or 8. It was also fun to know that Blueberry and Green Tortuga were taking a zero day today, and that they were staying at the same place -- the AmericInn in Tofte. In fact, last night I discovered we were right next door to one another!
  • Minnesota NCT Day 15: Caribou Road to Hwy. 45 (6/16/2018) - I saw Blueberry at the AmericInn breakfast buffet, and that was a little sad because I knew it was probably the last time I'd see him. I told him rain was coming, and to get out there and set up camp in time. I'm such the mom! But he is young enough to be my son.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 16: Cascade River to Grand Marais/Pincushion (6/17/2018) - Today is my mom's 85th birthday and Father's Day. It's a hard time to be away from home, especially when the cell service is sketchy. But the trail continues to unspool before me.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 17: Grand Marais/Pincushion to Kadunce/Hwy. 61 (6/18/2018) - This was a pretty incredible day. Harriet couldn't shuttle me until the evening, so I parked at the Pincushion/Grand Marais trailhead and headed out. The trail is part of a system of ski trails, so it was pretty easy hiking up to Pincushion, a little over one mile away.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 18: Kadunce/Hwy. 61 to Camp 20 Road (6/19/2018) - 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.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 19: Camp 20 Road to Jackson Creek Campsite (6/20/2018) - Two days from the end. The plan today was for Harriet to lead me to the Otter Lake trailhead -- I knew I could find it myself, but she insisted on meeting me and leading me there -- to drop my car. This is the trailhead where you can take the spur trail to the terminus at the 270 Degree Overlook. After dropping my car, she was going to take me to Camp 20 Road and drop me off for my last two days, which would involve a final night camping.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 20: Jackson Creek Campsite to Northern Terminus (270-Degree Overlook) (6/21/2018) - I had a lovely breakfast at my campsite this morning, then packed up for the final day. I had less than 10 miles to cover, and the guidebook promised a nice ending. It said I'd initially climb to the top of Rosebush Ridge, the high point on the trail, then descend down to a nice, flat meadow that would take me to the Otter Road Trailhead.
  • Wisconsin NCT Day 2: Hwy. 169 to Mellen (8/23/2018) - What a glorious day on the trail! Trail angel Bethany met Stubs and me in downtown Mellen, then shuttled us to Vogues Road, where I'd left off last November. It was sunny and cool and we enjoyed walking about three miles along Hwy. 169, which was devoid of traffic and lined with trees.
  • Wisconsin NCT Day 3: Mellen to Marengo Shelter (8/24/2018) - There's nothing like hiking in the rain! When I'd planned this little trip, the forecast called for nice weather. As our departure day drew close, it changed to rain for today. I laid out my rain gear, but forgot my coat.
  • Wisconsin NCT Day 4: Marengo Shelter to Lake Owen Area (8/25/2018) - Today was beautiful! We got up and partially packed, then backtracked a little to check out the Swedish settlement. We saw the ruins of a barn, an intact springhouse and the spot where the root cellar had been. Interpretive plaques told about the family that lived there. It was interesting. What a hard life it must have been to settle this rocky land.
  • Wisconsin NCT Day 5: Lake Owen Area to Drummond (8/26/2018) - We heard lots of coyotes howling last night, and once a wolf. It was pretty cool. We set our alarm to wake us at 6 a.m. because we need to be back home in time to host a book club meeting tonight.
  • Wisconsin NCT Day 6: Drummond to Lake Ruth (8/7/2019) - In 2018, we left off our NCT section-hike in Wisconsin near Drummond. So that's where we started this year. We chose to hike in August because I had a book talk last night in Boulder Junction, which is relatively nearby. 
  • Wisconsin NCT Day 7: Lake Ruth to Highland Area (8/8/2019) - Camping at the Lake Ruth trailhead last night was O.K. No one bothered us, but we did hear traffic until maybe midnight, and then again starting around 5:30 a.m. I'm always surprised how much traffic is everywhere, even in remote locales such as this.
  • Wisconsin NCT Day 8: Highland Area to Solon Springs (8/9/2019) - So last night we stayed at a lovely site nestled in a pine forest, about two miles shy of the Highland campsite and trailhead we'd been aiming for. Despite the pretty setting, I didn't sleep well again.

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