Male backpacker standing next to wooden sign reading, "The Bear Trap" near Gordon Dam, Wis.
I’m glad we stayed at Swanson’s last night, en route to Gordon Dam, because of the showers. But OH MY GOSH, the noise! First, trains went past all night, blaring their horns. Charlie, the owner, said about 20 trains go through every 24 hours, carrying everything and anything from Asia, mainly China. The goods come across the ocean to Vancouver, then by rail across the country and to Chicago via Solon Springs. Interesting! But noisy.

Then, some doofus started playing country music from the radio really loudly. He kept it up until 12:15 a.m. After that, he or someone else had their radio on low – but audible – until 5 a.m.! I can’t believe the neighbors didn’t complain, as this campground is mainly filled with seasonal who leave their RVs there all winter and stay all summer.

Heading for Gordon Dam

Ed and I got off around 9 a.m., which is a bit of a late start. But due to all of the noise overnight, we’d slept in until about 7:30 a.m. 

The trail today was interesting. It started off with the typical dips through forestland, but eventually took us through oak and pine savannah, which has a unique beauty. It’s sort of prairie-like, sort of scrubby, with these pools of water. Cool.

The bugs weren’t too bad, which is always a plus. But it got quite warm and humid in spots, so we were sweating a lot. At one point, we passed a wooden sign that read, “The Bear Trap.” Uh … What does that mean?!

Spur to Gordon Dam County Park

Around 2 p.m. we hit a .6-mile spur trail to the Gordon Dam campground. We had a bunch of options at this point, since we were ahead of the itinerary I’d sketched out at home. The original plan had been to continue on to a campsite 2.6 miles down the trail and also just .1 mile from the trailhead. We’d set up camp there, then I’d do an out-and-back on the connecting road route to knock off some of those miles. On Sunday, we’d hike four miles on the road back to our car, parked at Gordon Dam.

We decided Ed would take the spur trail to the campground and get us a site there, where we’d have access to our car (which had clean Backpacker hiking North Country Trail near Gordon Dam, Wis.clothes, beer [!] and towels). I’d continue along the trail and he’d meet me at the trailhead. At that point, I’d dump most of my gear and knock off six road miles.

So that’s what we did. The rest of the trail to the trailhead at West Mail Road was interesting. First, there were all of these slabs of rust-colored stones in the earth. They almost looked like broken tiles. Wonder what kind of stone it is? 

At one point, the trail wound past the Gibson Cabin, a historic cabin on the St. Croix River, which is a National Scenic River. The cabin is currently boarded up, but it looks to be in reasonably decent condition. A sign on the door says the DNR, I think, or maybe a historical entity, is trying to figure out a good use for it. Wish I could have seen inside. The site would have made a nice campsite.

Day Is Done

The final campsite on this stretch, Scott Rapids, was where I thought we’d stay. It was on a pretty stretch of the river, with perfect water access. The site itself was just so-so, with a dilapidated picnic table and fire ring full of garbage. It’s not an NCT campsite, but one for canoers/kayakers.

I finished the trail sooner than I thought, so I started the road walk without Ed. He met me at the one-mile mark, then kept skipping ahead with the car and hiking back toward me.

St. Croix River as seen from Gordon Dam, Wis.After I did six miles, we drove back to the trailhead and washed up. (The trailhead was sheltered, and the campsite just had pit toilets). From there, we drove back to Gordon Dam, set up our campsite, checked out the dam, then drove into Gordon and had dinner at Buckhorn, a local bar. Ed had a really good burger, while I had deep-fried shrimp. Yum!

All in all, a solid day on the trail.

Oh, one more thing. So far I have just one tiny blister on one toe, which is a first. I’m crediting my podiatrist, who told me to purchase lambs’ wool and wind it around my toes so they don’t rub against one another. It’s inexpensive and it works! The only thing is that you have to either shred it off or cut it off each night, as your sweat binds it together tightly. Still, I’m a convert!

Snowshoe and Stubs

WI NCT miles today: 20.5
WI NCT miles to date: 157.8
Total NCT miles to date: 873.7
Total NCT miles to go: 3,726.3

©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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