My hike along the Superior Hiking Trail, or SHT, began in the water. That is, in the rain. I knew a few days ahead of time that the forecast wasn’t promising. So this became one of those times you really hope the weather forecasters are wrong. Oh, and not only did the forecast call for rain, but for temperatures to top out in the upper 40s. That’s a recipe for hypothermia.

Now, most people would simply delay the start of their hike by a day. Because why hike in miserable conditions? That’s what Green Tortuga did, a hiker I met several days into my SHT thru-hike. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of postponing my hike because I was on assignment for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. One of their photographers, Brian Peterson, was meeting me on Day 1 and would be with me for the rest of the hike. There were so many other logistics in play, we had to forge ahead.

Forecast Still Calls for Water

So on Friday, the day before the start of my hike, my husband, Ed, and I drove from our home near Madison, Wis., to Eau Claire. Eau Claire is roughly halfway between Madison and Duluth, so driving to Eau Claire meant we wouldn’t have to get up in the middle of the night the day before in order to start hiking at a reasonable hour. I also had some story research to do in Eau Claire for a different travel piece, so it made sense to drive there the day before. Anyway, that day was sunny and beautiful, plus warm. Would the weather really change that dramatically?

We stayed overnight at The Oxbow Hotel, a retro-chic place with a great restaurant and bar. When we woke up on Saturday, our start day, to cloudy skies. Now, the forecast was still calling for rain, but not until the afternoon. That wasn’t too bad. Sure, I had about 16 miles on the itinerary. But if we could knock off at least half of those miles before it began raining, it wouldn’t be too bad.

Ed and I made it up to Duluth sans water. Then, five minutes before we were to meet Brian, while we were purchasing our pass for Jay Cooke State Park, the heavens opened. Water began pouring from the skies.

To Hike or Not to Hike

We drove to our rendezvous point and saw Brian in his car. The three of us sat in our cars for maybe 20 minutes, hoping the rain would stop. No such luck. Sighing, we finally put on our rain gear and got out of our cars. I won’t tell you how our hike went on this first day. You’ll need to read the article, or my trail journal, to find out. Suffice it to say we were cold and wet all day long. But we made it!

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©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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