This wasn't the last day of this hike, but it felt as if it should be. That's because our goal for the day was Ely, Minnesota. Ely is a major destination/stopping/starting point for many outdoor recreational activities in northern Minnesota and Canada. It's a jumping-off place for the Superior National Forest, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs Provincial Park.
For sure, we felt as if we were finally "getting there" even though we knew Ely wasn't really the end of the hike. When we passed this sign we practically cheered. Oh wait, I think I did cheer. Out loud.
We also encountered the northern end of the Taconite Trail, the alternate route I had considered hiking (a snowmobile trail). This particular place looks like it would have been a fine dry hike, but my decision to not take that route was based on reports from people who know more than what one intersection looks like. Perhaps in the future a non-paved and off-road route for the North Country Trail can follow that corridor.
The scenery began to look REALLY northern with rocky wetlands and spruce trees. I was smiling more and more.
And then we arrived in Ely. It's sort of shocking to find such an up-scale small city out in the middle of nowhere, but it has many amenities for campers and canoeists who want outfitters, lodging and places to celebrate when they return from their adventures. (Foreshadowing.... we were not immune to its charms.)
And, we moved our campsite again. This time to Fall Lake, a Superior National Forest campground. But the weekend was beginning... more foreshadowing.
August 14, 2009, Babbitt to Ely 15.5 miles, for a total so far this hike of 160.2 miles.
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