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Outdoors Posts

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Finland to Silver Bay

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayIn the fall of 2008 I resumed my north-to-south march on the Superior Hiking Trail at Finland Recreation Center. I was dropped off in the early evening, with just a 2.5-mile hike to Leskinen Creek Campsite. When I arrived I discovered I would have to share the space with a group of young men who were already set up there. Sometimes a person goes off into the wilderness with intentions of being alone, then sleeps 50 feet from snickering 20-year-olds.

This was one of only two times I shared a backwoods campsite during my SHT trips, and the only time I shared one with a group of people. My mostly solitary experiences were probably not typical, however, because I tended to hike late in the season — usually the tail end of September but sometimes well into October. On this trip I arrived at camp on Aug. 16, which was by far the earliest I had started an SHT trip. It was still summer. Still T-shirt and shorts season. The last grasp of summer for those attending school in September.

I introduced myself to the neighbors and spent a little time with them at their fire. I don’t recall much about them eight years later. I want to say they were from Hermantown. One was named Andy and another was Dan. I think there were three of them in total. They were nice guys. That’s about all I remember.

Urban Downhilling Duluth

Tearing up the streets of Duluth because who said mountain biking had to be done in the woods?

Rider: Max Fierek
Filmed by Capitol Letter Collective

Ruffed Grouse Tacos

Spicy Grouse Tacos

Grouse are a great alternative to chicken (taste better in my opinion) and we are lucky to live in an region where we have an opportunity to hunt this great game bird each fall. Grouse are challenging to hunt, but if you do get to bag a bird or two, what are your favorite grouse recipes? Grouse tacos are one of mine.

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Duluth Sections

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayBy the end of 2006 I had completed the northernmost 140 miles or so of the Superior Hiking Trail over three separate backpacking trips. My methodical march from one end of the trail to the other was broken up that summer, however, when newly cut segments of the SHT in Duluth demanded my immediate attention.

I can’t fully express how awesome it is to have the SHT through Duluth, how quickly I’ve taken it for granted, and how I never even dreamed of it before it happened.

Somehow I actually thought of Duluth as an outstanding hiking city before the SHT. In retrospect, it really wasn’t that special. There were several excellent options — Park Point Nature Trail, Chester Creek, Hartley, Lester River, Congdon Park, Lincoln Park, Western Waterfront — and then there were a few gravel railroad beds, old roads and paved trails for walkers/bikers. Mostly, however, there were many muddy unofficial paths, swampy ATV routes and overgrown ski and snowbobile trails crawling with ticks. So, not really outstanding back then; more like pretty good.

If you wanted to hike the western hillside and view the overlooks from a footpath instead of Skyline Drive, you had to bushwhack before 2006. I grew up doing that, not realizing a group of organized and ambitious human beings could carve a deluxe trail through the entire city in just two summers. God bless them. Now, we have an outstanding hiking city.

Climbing Palisade Head

GoPro video by Lucas Huibregtse.

Customized Alphabet Letter Wall Art

wordsfromnature-family

words-from-natureWords From Nature is a new business created for an entrepreneurship project at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Our business allows customers to customize their home decor by creating their own alphabet letter art. Our large collection of letters are pictures from the outdoors and illustrate the beauty of nature. All of our pictures were taken by us, and only offered by us.

Minnesota Deer Hunting Opener 2016

deer-hunting-2016

Reporting from Kelsy, just west of Cotton. How has everyone done so far? It was crazy warm today and while nice for sitting in a tree it really slowed things down around here for deer movement. But the mosquitoes, wasps and flies were out and that is never a good sign on Nov. 5 in Minnesota. Needless to say no deer for our group yet.

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Temperance River to West Branch Bar in Finland

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayBy 2006 my life was in order and annual Superior Hiking Trail trips became a fall routine. The major development at the time, however, was that the SHT was being blazed through Duluth. So that summer, for the first time, I began covering sections out of order by simply knocking out a few day-hikes wherever and whenever nearby trail construction was completed.

I’ll have more detail on the Duluth hikes in future essays. This week the focus is on my fall 2006 trip, which began on the evening of Sept. 30 at Temperance River State Park. A short 2.7-mile hike through a birch and aspen forest brought me to a campsite at Cross River, where I’d spend the night before getting in a full day of hiking.

This would be my first SHT trip with a digital camera, so plenty of color photos are available to document the scenery.

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Nonchalance

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayAfter hoofing over 90 miles of the northernmost sections of the Superior Hiking Trail in 2000 and 2001, I failed to hike a single SHT mile over the next five years. What went wrong?

Little tiny things, that’s what. In 2002 I was a freelance writer barely making rent. It was hard to turn down work to free up time to go on a hike. One weekend I planned a short trip, but the weather forecast indicated rain and I sissied out.

By 2003 I had made the mistake of accepting a fulltime position in the field of advertising, with no vacation time until after the first year — although I did manage to sneak off for a three-day weekend on Isle Royale.

Frustrated with my inability to get out of town for a good hike, and inspired by a discussion about how Duluth is a geographically wide city, I decided to organize a roughly 26-mile single-day walk from the Wabegon Supper Club in the Superior Township to the Lakeview Castle in Duluth Township. This complete traverse of Duluth was called the Nonchalant Jaunt.

Perfect Duluth Day was launched just three months prior to the 2003 jaunt, so there are a few posts about it in the archives. A group of seven hearty individuals completed the trek, which for the most part followed Highway 23, Superior Street and Highway 61.

Celtic Thunder on the St. Louis River

celtic-thunderThe Irish singing group Celtic Thunder was in Duluth on Sept. 27 for a performance at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center‘s Symphony Hall. While in town, members of the ensemble spent a little time on the St. Louis River with help from Swiftwaters Adventures, which offers guided rafting and kayaking trips.

Video: Red Fox at Sunrise on Park Point

park-point-recreation-area-sunrise-red-foxRichard Hoeg captured video of this red fox at sunrise this morning on Park Point. “Twas neat to watch the fox do its morning grooming and occasionally play with some sticks,” he wrote on his 365 Days of Birds blog.

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Cascade River to Temperance River

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayThe second leg of my Superior Hiking Trail journey began Sept. 14, 2001, at Cascade River State Park. Two friends dropped me off that Friday night at a campsite in the dark, then immediately turned around and drove back to Duluth. My first job was to get out a flashlight and put up my tent.

The big clumsy contraption I slept in the previous year had now been replaced with a fancy Marmot model I could scrunch into a tight bundle, which would make hiking a bit easier. This tent has gone on to serve me well for 15 years and counting, but I wasn’t impressed the first time I set it up. Yes, I broke a tent pole before I ever slept in the thing. Perhaps setting it up for the first time in the dark led me to force things too much. Whatever the case, a single broken pole is not a big deal and did little to hamper my experience.

The next morning I was up early and on my way. Maybe an hour into the hike, a bit of morning mucus had built up and I did what anyone alone in the woods in such a situation would do: I pushed one finger against the side of my nose, turned my head and blew snot out the other nostril. It was at that moment I noticed a female hiker was right behind me, and this would be how we would get to know each other.

“Oh, good morning,” is probably what I said. She replied with a hello, or something like that, and kept on hiking at a rapid pace. I think I saw her again when she stopped for a snack and I passed her. Then she passed me again later. I don’t remember how many times this happened.

Manitou River Falls Minnesota North Shore

Here are some shots from the seldom seen Manitou River falls on Lake Superior near Highway 61. There are two main sets of falls between Highway 61 and the lake, the last set drops 40 to 50 feet directly into Lake Superior, making it one of only a few waterfalls that drop directly into Lake Superior.

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Swamp River to Cascade River

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayDigital cameras existed in the year 2000, but it wasn’t until about 2003 that using one became mainstream. I started my quest to complete the Superior Hiking Trail with a cheap 35mm pocket camera and a roll of black and white film … perfect for capturing lush fall colors. A grand total of four photos were taken during this five-day hiking trip.

By contrast, I have 35 photos and three videos from a five-minute window when I finished my hike in 2015. So the world has changed a bit. I worked for a newspaper then, I work for a website now. The World Trade Center buildings stood then, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum stands now. Time marches on at a faster pace than my hiking boots, apparently. My first trip covered nearly 60 miles of trail, however, and that’s not too shabby. Unfortunately, things slowed down after that.

On the sunny afternoon of Sept. 23, 2000, my friend Jeff and I drove the winding way of Highway 61 to Grand Portage. It’s not a place that is necessary or practical to go when seeking the start of the Superior Hiking Trail, but it’s a fun location to stop and look out over Lake Superior while there’s time to kill on the day before the adventure begins.

Floating Dead Rabbit

As seen in “Diving the Condos” video, I found a dead rabbit in a Lake Superior tidepool. Three days later, 200 yards away, I  stumbled upon what must have been the same rabbit, worse for wear…