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Monday, February 27, 2017

Mesabi Hike - Kewatin to Chisholm

In local news: the great blue herons have returned. I saw one flying over this morning on the way to the river. I used to know where their rookery was, but they abandoned that one and I don't know where it is now. They are right on time, usually showing up in February or March.

I dried clothes outside for the second time this month. That is certainly a February record. Actually, even the one time was a record.

Now back to 2009- Friday, August 7:

We continued north on the paved Mesabi Trail. Iron mining still defines the area. Towns are proud of their heritage. Both of these displays were in Kewatin. This tough little engine is an electric 60-ton steeple cab, designed especially to pull cars from the depths of the mines.

Hannah Mining engine 304

Here are two of the small cars historically used inside the mines.

mine cars

As we continued north, we got a glimpse of what modern mining looks like. This is the largest open-pit iron mine in the world, the Hull-Rust Mahoning Mine. It's 3.5 miles by 1.5 miles, and is 535 feet deep. Say what you will... raw materials for the things we insist on consuming have to come from somewhere.

Hull-Rust Mahoning Mine

The ore is carried through pipes above ground (perhaps with an internal auger) to locations where it can be collected for transport.

ore pipeline

We enjoy these cultural aspects of the trail as well as the natural ones.

However, the next event of the afternoon was not as much fun. I'd planned long days anyway, just to finish all these paved/road miles. But we hit a real unexpected snag.

There was no information posted about how long the detour was (my maps seemed to indicate it had to be at least two extra miles). There was no information as to whether hikers could get through with care, just not bicycles. There was no clue as to how far ahead it was. Should we continue and see if the way was passable, with the possibility we might have to backtrack to this point?

We chose to follow the detour signs.

trail detour

And follow the detour signs.

trail detour

A planned 16 mile day turned into nearly 20 miles. Marie says it's the longest day she's walked.

This sign was not us.


We limped into Chisholm. Pavement walking is hard. Literally. Our planned day off was theoretically a day away. But rain was predicted. We know how to flex. We drove back to Grand Rapids, broke camp and had a Super 8 night.

motel sign

We found out later the trail was completely passable. Repairs had been completed, but the signs had not been removed. Sigh. And the long day probably contributed to problems that began to develop.

Hiking day 5, 19.5 miles for a total so far this trip of 83.1 miles.

See Marble to Kewatin
See World's Largest Gravel Pit
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vanilla said...

Your last night is my kind of camping. I have a joke about cars in the mines, but I will spare you.

Secondary Roads said...

Confusing or just plain wrong signage is an aggravation.

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