• 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 (heading north from the southern terminus). 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. Ed (Stubs) and I were set to start hiking around 9 or 9:30 – a bit late, as we were driving up from Eau Claire this morning. The forecast was for highs around 45 and rain starting around noon. Not the greatest. Well, it began POURING shortly before we were to start.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 2: Jay Cooke State Park/Grand Portage to Kingsbury Creek (6/3/2018) - Today's start was Jay Cooke State Park, and 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) - Today's itinerary called for hiking from Kingsbury Creek to Hartley Nature Center. And, yessss! The sun finally came out on Day 3 of this adventure. Not only did we have sun, but the temps were perfect – low 70s F. (21 C.) 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, as we made our way out from Hartley Nature Center toward Normanna Road. The up-and-down part didn't come from the terrain, but how we felt about the trail. From the nature center, the path began along some city streets, 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 we were starting out from the mosquito-y parking spot on Normanna Road. It was going to be our 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 immediately soaked?
  • Minnesota NCT Day 6: Big Bend Camp to Reeves Falls Camp (6/7/2018) - I finally fell asleep in our Big Bend Camp at about 5 a.m., only to be awakened 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) - As Ed and I broke camp in Reeves Falls this morning, Bob and Brian made us French press coffee – 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 (6/9/2018) - Today's hike from Gooseberry Falls to Split Rock was supposed to be a sunny one. Instead, shortly after we woke up it started to rain. Well, shoot! My phone said the rain would last until 9 or 10 a.m. 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) - Today, heading out from Split Rock River, was an awesome sauce day! Ed dropped me off at the spur trail leading back to the SHT and Split Rock River right 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 18 miles (29 km) ahead of us, from Penn Blvd to Lake County Road 6. 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! After the twin lakes, we hiked up to Mount Trudee, another mountain offering impressive views, then slid down the Drainpipe. O.K., we didn't slide. The Drainpipe is a narrow, rocky chute that you have to walk down.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 11: Lake County Road 6 to G. Crosby Manitou State Park (6/12/2018) - 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.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 12: Crosby Manitou to Fredenberg Creek Camp (6/13/2018) - My goal today was to reach Fredenberg Creek Camp. Well, last night got pretty cold. I had my hammock again and put on every item of clothing I had, but it wasn't quite enough. I must check the new 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 F. [4.4 C.], but it wasn't quite that cold out) or if you're also supposed to have a down blanket as well.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 13: Fredenberg Creek Camp to Oberg Mountain (6/14/2018) - Today's goal: Oberg Mountain. So, 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.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 14: Oberg Mountain to Caribou Road (6/15/2018) - Today's destination was Caribou Road. And wow – what a difference due to my new strategy of fewer miles per day. I started the day with such a great mindset, knowing I wouldn't be out on the trail until 7 or 8 p.m. 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 as me – 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) - Today's itinerary called for me to hike from Caribou Road to the Hwy. 45 trailhead, which is just past Cascade River State Park. It appeared to be a pleasant hike. I saw BlueBerry at the AmericInn Tofte 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 later in the day, so he should get out there hiking ASAP.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 16: Cascade River to Grand Marais/Pincushion (6/17/2018) - Today's trek, on my slimmed-down itinerary, is a jaunt from the Cascade River area to Grand Marais. Specifically, the Pincushion trailhead, so named because it sits atop Pincushion Mountain. I felt a little wistful this morning, as today is my mom's 85th birthday and also Father's Day. It's a hard time to be away from home, especially when the cell service is sketchy.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 17: Grand Marais/Pincushion to Kadunce/Hwy. 61 (6/18/2018) - I had a pretty incredible day making my way to the Kadunce River. 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 (1.6 km) away.
  • Minnesota NCT Day 18: Kadunce/Hwy. 61 to Camp 20 Road (6/19/2018) - It was a wistful day trekking from the Kadunce River to Camp 20 Road. 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.
  • 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.


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