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Outdoors Posts

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: The Double Finish

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayWriting about hiking the full 300+ miles of the Superior Hiking Trail hasn’t quite taken as long as hiking it, but it’s gone on long enough. At sixteen years and thirteen chapters, the story now concludes.

I had just a dozen miles left to go in 2015, which were divided into four slightly quirky hikes.

The first was a 1.8-mile section from Triangle Trail to Oak Trail near Jay Cooke State Park. Some of it I had probably already covered a few years earlier, I just wasn’t quite certain. So I embarked on a “van-bike-hike” adventure to make sure any possible gap there was covered. This involved driving to the Jay Cooke Visitor Center, unloading a bike, cycling the Munger Trail to bypass parts of the SHT I’d already done, ditching my bike at the Greely/Triangle trail intersection, completing the short hike, and cycling back.

You’ll have to trust me when I say that was fun. The description makes it sound like I was running a complicated errand. The thing is, being obsessive and task-oriented can be a method for forcing one’s self into situations that can be a bit more out of the ordinary. So, compared to hiking the trail behind my house for the 17,000th time, the van-bike-hike was a memorable event.

Two months later I took on what was the newest and southernmost segment of the SHT at the time, the 5.9-mile stretch from Wild River Road to Jay Cooke State Park. This also involved covering some ground I had hiked in the past, because parts of the trail are old segments of long-existing paths in the park, such as Bear Chase Trail. (No bears were chased.)

Underwater Ice-scapes

Footage from the icy shallows of January.

Superior Hiking Trail Association seeking new executive director

The Superior Hiking Trail Association, headquartered in Two Harbors, is seeking a dynamic leader to serve in the role of executive director.

The SHTA is dedicated to constructing, maintaining and promoting a world-class 310-mile natural surface trail paralleling Lake Superior from Wisconsin to Ontario. The 5,000-plus member organization has a small knowledgeable staff, a passionate group of volunteers and a committed, active board of directors dedicated to the success of a new strategic plan.

Duluth is a Giant Ice Rink: Bombing Chester Creek Trail Edition

I would NOT do this further up the trail where there are sheer drops.

Dead Car/Dead Duck Update

Duluth is a Giant Ice Rink: Joyride Edition

Abandoned car on the train tracks by the Lakewalk — just beneath Lake Place Ice Skating Rink Park.

 

Subzero with Lake Superior’s Sea Smoke

In this video, Dawn LaPointe of Radiant Spirit Gallery explores a section of Lake Superior’s North Shore on a day when temperatures hovered around -10°F.

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Loss and Lost

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayHiking through the Castle Danger area in 2013 I came to a sign informing me the Encampment River Bridge was out. No big deal, I thought. I’ll hike elsewhere and pick up this section next year.

To this day there is no Encampment River Bridge. It was washed out in the Historic Summer Solstice Flood Disaster of 2012, along with about $50 million worth of other stuff in northeastern Minnesota. What I found out by talking to other people who had hiked through the area is the Encampment River is not typically deep and gushing, so unless there’s been a heavy rain it’s easy to cross without a bridge.

With that knowledge I made plans for my final hike of 2014, from Silver Lake Township Road 617 at Castle Danger to Lake County Road 301. Saturday, Oct. 11, looked good on my calendar as one of the last days one might confidently expect nice weather before colder days set in.

Of course, there are forces other than weather and natural disasters aligning to alter whatever plans we might have for our lives. Six days before my hike, a great friend and mentor died in his sleep.

16 Things to Do in Duluth, Minnesota

Ice Skating the Edge of Leif Erikson Beach

Where in Duluth?

Where in Duluth

Kicked into action by Kerc’s post below, I offer up another Where in Duluth?, taken today. I don’t know who the kid is. I think he lives there.

Duluth is a Giant Ice Skating Rink, Park Point/Canal Park Edition

With underwater pancake ice.

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Leaves, Needles, Mud

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayBy the fall of 2014 I had fewer than 50 miles of walking left to complete the Superior Hiking Trail. That might seem easy enough to knock out in a couple days, but it wasn’t a single stretch I had to cover, it was short segments stretched out over hundreds of miles. So I was picking them off three miles here and eight miles there.

An example of how it sometimes broke down: Rather than do the 6.4-mile Rossini Road to Fox Farm Road segment with cars at each end, or hike through and then go all the way back, I chose to break it into two trips on two separate days – Rossini Road to the West Branch of Knife River, then Fox Farm Road to the same spot, going both directions on each hike rather than one 12.8 miler.

Of course, by driving one car to the same area twice, instead of two cars once, I didn’t save any gas or spare the environment any emissions — and I doubled my time spent in the car — so it was a dumb thing to do … even though it seemed intelligent at the time.

The highlight of that first hike in early September was either a mushroom or some kind of yellow porcelain trailside birdbath.

Is it cruel to post summer swim footage in the depths of winter?

On those summer days when the water is clear and warm, Lake Superior becomes the greatest swimming pool in the world. Remember, summer is coming back in just a few months!

Duluth is a Giant Ice Skating Rink