Entries to Win Afghan

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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Annie! - Day 299

  You may remember when I helped an NCT hiker named Annie Nelson a little over 3 years ago. She is now the Development and Communications Director for the Superior Hiking Trail Association. We stayed in touch and have become pretty good friends. Marie had also previously met her at one of the NCTA Celebrations. Today we met in Two Harbors for dinner and some catching up.

Where did we meet? Well, if you know me, and you know Two Harbors, you know we went to Betty's Pies! Of course we had pie (strawberry-rhubarb and raspberry-rhubarb), but we also had a good dinner first.
Betty's Pies

And what about the rest of the day? The alternate title of this post could be Another Transition Day. We sorted all the stuff in both cars, and did laundry, and sorted and repacked the trailer, and made lists. Remember that I told you not to worry about the Border Route Trail being left out? Stay tuned.

Most importantly, we did not have to wake up to an alarm clock!

See Beauty in the Rain

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Beauty in the Rain - Day 298

  What I thought was going to be a generally drizzly day became an all-day rain.

When we were at Sonju Lake before, it was blue-sky-water-red-trees. Gorgeous! Today, it was a gray-foggy. But gorgeous in a different way.
Sonju Lake

Sawmill Bog had a nice boardwalk. Despite the name, it didn't seem to have bog plants, although it's large and might have some in other areas.
Sawmill Bog

The best part of the day was something I thought was going to be awful. Once again, one should not make assumptions. Almost at the end of the day was a big climb up to what was only referred to as a "vista." That's probably because none of these hills or lakes seem to have names. There was a pretty big climb up, but it wasn't a terrible rocky scramble. And even in the fog and rain, The view was neat. Those steep, narrow bluffs just plunge down to a 400-foot-deep valley.
view of steep hills

The trail curves around the hill, and you also get a view in the other direction. Apparently, that lake isn't even a permanent body of water, it's only an intermittant wetland. But I love the mystical look of it all.
view of a small lake

OK, the descent was partly a steep and rocky scramble, but by then I was happy with the visual treat, so I wasn't grumbling.

The real problem of the day was very loose clay mud. It was impossible to walk fast without falling. Even walking like a penguin did not guarantee stability. I slid and sat down in the mud four times, and took one hard fall. Just one small bruise on an arm though, so all is wall. I hiked for 8 1/2 hours today- I'm tired.

Marie says my socks are classic. I told her I know how she can get a set.
view of a small lake

Miles today: 14.4. Total miles so far: 3529.4.

See rocky and Rugged

Friday, September 23, 2022

Rocky and Rugged - Day 297

  This morning was first frost in intermittent spots. But the day warmed to the mid 50s, and was quite pleasant. Marie hiked the first 4 miles with me, and we crossed the SHT covered bridge. It's just fun!
covered bridge

Once again, there were a number of beautiful overlooks. It must have been hazier than I realized because most of the pictures aren't nearly as nice as the actual view. But this one from Horseshoe Ridge is decent.
SHT view

I wish these little guys weren't such devils because they are just about the cutest animals in the northwoods. Red squirrel. Instead of immediately running away, this one was curious about me.
red squirrel

Lots of beautiful waterways and waterfalls again today. I'll just share this one, the bridge at the Manitou River. There was a long, steep downhill to get here, and then you had to climb over rocks to get to the bridge. The water raged below.
Manitou River

In contrast, this bridge was not far past the one above, over a small tributary of the Manitou. This picture looks so peaceful, as if it were taken in a park.
trail bridge

And I just liked the looks of this tree with the branches all reaching out to one side.
weird tree

Now for the guts of today's hiking. The middle six miles of what I did today were rocky and rugged. I barely managed 2 mph. Constant ups and downs, and quite often, this is what the trail looked like, and this is not even a steep hill. This is not a complaint... it's just the way the trail is in this section. But I wanted you to know that I'm earning my dinner (of which I ate a truckload!).
rocky trail

After lunch, the topography flattened out, and I thought I was going to be able to make better time. Ha! Can you say "cedar roots?" Even so, I managed to cover the last 4 miles in 1 hour and 40 minutes. Better.
cedar roots

Miles today: 14.0. Total miles so far: 3515.0

See Just for Giggles

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Just for Giggles - Day 296

  Would you like to know how a hiker reads the named features on a map? Here's a sampling from today:

Cross River- hiker reads, "Steep descent and ascent. It's a river, so it's large enough that there is probably a bridge that hasn't washed out. Please, God, let the bridge be there." Actual situation: a large bridge was indeed there. So large and high, in fact, that the impliction is that several smaller bridges probably washed out previously until someone came up with the money for a real bridge.

The Ledge- hiker reads, "Climbing up and down on rocky trail, often steeply." Actual situation: truth.

The Falls- hiker reads, "Rocky ascent. Possible nice views." Actual situatino: truth

Boney's Meadow- hiker reads, "Large grassy area with low wet places, probable beaver activity with flooded places. May be horrible to walk through." Actual situation: the trail stayed high and outside the meadow. The beaver have turned the meadow into a pond, but the hiker did not have to walk through it.

Fredenberg Creek- hiker reads, "Steep descent and ascent. Since it's only a creek it may or may not have a bridge, and if it had one in the past, it may or may not be usable. Hopefully, there are stones to cross on." Actual situation: there was no bridge, but there were stones. There were remains of some other bridge upstream from the crossing that must have washed down from somewhere else.

Tower Overlook- hiker reads- "This is going to be a really big climb. The view may or may not be worth it." Actual situation: it was a great view!


Here's that big Cross River bridge.
Cross River Bridge

And Tower Overlook.
tower overlook

A dear litte garter snake was showing off on the reindeer moss.
garter snake

The best find of the afternoon was Ruffy Lake.
Ruffy Lake

The lake is actually a bog with acid-loving plants. These are the dried flowers of pitcher plants.
pitcher plants

And there were lots of wild cranberries.
wild cranberries


People are always asking me what I think about all day. Sometimes,a lot of the time, the answer is "nothing important."

Today's silly mental project was to write alternate lyrics to the song "Follow the Gleam." It's based on Tennyson's poem of Merlin following the quest for the Holy Grail. You may know the song if you are old. It also helps (I think) if you are female, although I've seen it in a couple of hymn books. The original was written in 1920 at a YMCA camp, and it won a prize that year from Bryn Mawr College. I can't find a decent version with the lyrics on You Tube. (You know your tastes are weird when there's not even a recording of a song you like on You Tube, right?) You can hear the tune on a fake organ, however, if you want.

First of all, everyone, this is a joke. I hope I don't start getting hate comments for being negative. We all need to be able to poke fun at ourselves from time to time. Everyone who has hiked or worked on the North Country Trail knows what a challenge it is to keep it maintained, or sometimes to follow the correct path. OK? Are we all on the same page?

To Rangers in days of old,
Keeping watch on their forest, green.
Came a vision of North Country,
And the Park Service said, "That's keen."

Try to follow, follow the blue,
Signs missing too,
Oh, lucky you,
Try to follow, follow the blue,
Of the challenge that is the trail.

And we who would serve the trail
With chainsaw, pulaski, and paint,
In the sweet evening stillness know
Somewhere, a tree just fell on the trail.



Miles today: 12.3. Total miles so far: 3501.0. 3500!

See From Placid to Furious

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

From Placid to Furious - Day 295

  Today was a trailer moving day, so an early hiking start did not happen although we did reasonably well.

Leveaux Pond was beautifully calm, and it was really nice to have blue sky (which means blue water) for a change.
Leveaux Pond

But the high news of the day was Carlton Peak, a very popular day hike. The peak consists of several large blocks of anorthosite. Before the volcanic North Shore was formed these rocks were lower. But they are also lighter than the magma, so they floated (see, rocks can float) to the top and are now a small mountain (peak is 1526 feet). The trail follows along the base of the highest rocks, athough there is a side trail to the top.
Carlton Peak

The climb wasn't really difficult, although at the highest locations there was a fair amount of scrambling over jumbled rocks. Yes, the trail goes through there.
Carlton Peak

This was a really impressive sheer face, and the view beyond it was colorful with the trees beginning to turn.
Carlton Peak

And finally, today, there were glimpses of big blue Lake Superior instead of solid gray.
Lake Superior

After coming down Carlton, I joined the Temperance River.
Temperance River

It was awfully hard to choose just a few pictures to share. That bright, friendly waterway didn't last long. As with so many of the streams along the North Shore, when they begin to plunge down to the big lake, the water becomes fierce.
Temperance River

It was hard to decide whether to share long shots that put the size of the falls and the gorges in perspective, or to show close-ups of the raging water. If you look to the right side of this watefall, you can see a man taking a picture of a woman- adds some scale.
Temperence River

I can't believe I forgot how magnificent this river is. It's like a volcanic Watkins Glen. My New York friends will be able to picture this.
Temperence River

On the mini side of the scenery today, I just liked the symmetry and elegance of this fungus.
shelf fungus

As I mentioned, we moved the trailer to a new location today, and I start set 3 (of 6) of SHT maps tomorrow. Feels like some progress. The hiking today did not seem very difficult, but adding in the move leaves me just as tired as usual. That's OK, I'll be ready to roll again in the morning.

Huge thanks to our last hosts, Kathy and Jess, with help from Diesel (who weighs more than I do!), Roxy, and Haze. Also, not pictured, Diego and Emerson the cats, and Groot the bearded dragon.

I've been fighting a case of athlete's foot- I seem to get it now and then. But we think we've got it just about cleared up. First I've had it on this trip which is pretty amazing given how much of the time my feet are wet.

Miles today: 11.3. Total miles so far: 3488.7.

See Volunteers

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Volunteers! - Day 294

  I encountered this group of four people working on the trail today. Three are volunteers and one was being paid. The SHT does use some paid trail workers, but volunteers are the biggest work force on the North Country Trail.
volunteer trail crew

That crew did not build these rock steps, but some other crew did. Look at the nice workmaship.
rock steps

The day began with a walk past Lake Agnes. It was perfectly still and I took a lot of pictures. I decided I like this one best.
Lake Agnes

There were a lot of climbs today, but only one of them was very difficult. This is a view of Caribou Creek.
Caribou Creek

The trail goes beside the Poplar River for a ways. Here, it was a wide flat waterway. Not exactly placid, but low energy.
Poplar River

However, by the time the trail crosses it on a vehicular bridge, it begins to gain more energy.
Poplar River

But look at it downstream of the bridge where it begins to fall more steeply toward Lake Superior!
Poplar River

I had several people encounters today. I met three ladies who were hiking a loop from the Lutsen Ski Chalet. But no one had told them the the SHT portion of their route was steeply downhill and root covered. (This was my one long and difficult uphill.) Two of the ladies were doing OK, but one was considerably older and she was having a pretty hard time. They had a map provided by the ski lodge that was inadequate. I gave them some info about what they had ahead to complete the loop, and they appreciated it, but the bottom line is that they had 3 more miles to hike and were moving very slowly. I sure hope they made it OK.

In other news- I was recognized by another group of hikers again today.

Miles today: 12.6. Total miles so far: 3477.6.

See Cascade & Beyond

Monday, September 19, 2022

Cascade and Beyond - Day 293

  The first 3 miles today were pretty awful. That whole section has been closed (and hikers directed to an alternate route) all season because the road bridge that I ended at yesterday was being rebuilt. I guess we should have thought what that might mean. It took 2 hours and 20 minutes to do those 3 miles. Then I hiked on, but Marie had to turn around and go back to the car.

The worst was a washed out bridge. We managed to cross on the remains of the bridge about 30 feet downstream, but we had to slide down to it on a mud bank, and then scramble up the mud on the other side. But there were lots of washed-out steps and areas of heavy roots.

But the Cascade River, which we were following, was beautiful.
Cascade River

When Marie left me and I went on, I climbed immediately 400 feet, but the grade wasn't bad. Then I turned west and began to follow a long ridge that ran beside a valley. In the depths of the valley are a series of lakes, but you can't see them at all from the ridge.
view of valley

Hints of fall are beginning to show.
autumn woods

The vista above is almost all green, but in other places you can see the hills turning red and orange. The day was still a little hazy, and I didn't try to improve the pictures. See that steep bluff near the middle of the picture? I started hiking this morning pretty much at the base of that. There were several descents and climbs back to the ridge, but none was terrible. The views weren't continuous, but very often there was a break in the trees with a good scene.
autumn vista

Finally, I got to Jonvik Creek. This was one of the campsites where Marie and I stayed in 2001 when I first hiked this section. At that time there were narrow board walkways. Those have very recently been replaced with wide stable boardwalks. Very nice! I stopped for a quick rest and a drink there, just for old times sake. We heard a moose in the night, back then, walking through the shallow water and snorting.
Jonvik Creek

After I was done hiking, we went to town (Grand Marais) to the Superior Trading Post. We'd stopped in yesterday, and Eric, the owner (the store has belonged to his family since he was four years old), actually remembered me from the last time I was there in 2009! I was totally shocked. He sold me my first pair of Manzella glove liners. I still love the brand- not something I can say about very many things. Anyway, one thing led to another, and he bought some of my books for the store. In addition to outfitting gear and equipment, the store sells books, beautiful pottery and kitchen stuff, cabin acoutrements... all that northwoods kind of stuff. Very nice place.

Miles today: 11.6. Total miles so far: 3465.0.

See Short Range Views
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