Entries to Win Afghan

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Friday, September 30, 2022

South, Rat, Rose - Day 304

  This was our first full day of backpacking. We worked our way east along the lakes that define the Canadian border. That's why it's called the Border Route. As far as I've been able to research, this chain of lakes was a pre-glacial river. The glacier moved west to east deepening and widening the valleys. This is the narrow west end of Rose Lake.
Rose Lake

Now we are farther along and looking back to the west with Rose Lake in the foreground, Rat Lake (small) in the middle, and South Lake beyond that. These lakes were also known as the Voyageurs Highway, because they provided access to the far north country for trappers, traders, and explorers.
border route trail view

These are the Rose Lake Cliffs.
Rose Lake Cliffs

I can't get enough of these views. This is the wider portion of Rose Lake.
overlooking Rose Lake

We passed that wide part of Rose Lake and then dropped down to a portage between Duncan Lake, which is not on the border, and Rose. Duncan is about 100 feet higher, and the outlet is swift, ending in a waterfall. We didn't go down to look at it. When you have miles to cover in a full pack, side trips are less appealing. The water was clear and fast, and we filtered water here. I think moving water tastes better than lake water.
Duncan Lake Outlet

That afternoon, we met Bob, a volunteer doing maintenance on the trail. It's been great to meet so many people who are working hard to keep the trail open.
trail volunteer

We spent the night at West Rose Lake campsite.

It was a little chillier, and we built a fire to keep us company in the evening. Each campsite has a fire grate and a latrine. Fires are only supposed to be built in the grates.

Miles today: 8.2 (plus 0.3 on a spur). Total miles so far: 3556.4.

See Sock Lake

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Sock Lake - Day 303, part 2

  This is the ending of the day for September 29. Bill, David, and I spotted the cars- a long haul, and then hiked in just a couple of miles to Sock Lake campsite. All the official campsites have a fire grate and a wilderness latrine (a seat mounted over a hole).
Sock Lake

I'd never seen this campsite before (most are down a short spur, so if I haven't camped there, I probably haven't seen it). I like this one. It doesn't have room for more than 3 or 4 tents, but there is a big flat rock beside the water, and after we ate our dinners, we lay out on the rock looking at the stars and satellites as night descended. The moon was a bright sliver setting in the trees, but my efforts to get a good picture aren't worth sharing.
tents in a campsite

The big success of the evening was a really high cache to hang all our food bags. I don't know if you can get a sense of the relative height, but the bags were more than 12 feet off the ground. Don't ask me how many times I had to throw the rope to get it over the limb. The number is embarrassing. David said, "Gentlemen don't ask, and ladies don't tell." I had never applied that advice to this situation, but I like it.

food cache

It was a short, but satisfactory shake-down day to get ourselves organized as a team.

Miles today: 0.7 that counts (plus 1.3 on spurs). Total miles so far: 3548.2.

See Here We Go

Here We Go - Day 303

  David, Bill and I have a few logistics to do today, but then we will be backpacking.

You may remember that David hiked with me a few winter days early with me on this trip, and Bill is over 400 miles with me on this trip. They are both back to do the Border Route.

This should be good! The weather forecast looks great, and we just have to do a final packing of the packs and stage cars.

See Into the Wilderness

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Into the Wilderness - Day 302

  Today we entered the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Most of the Border Route Trail is inside the boundary, but not all of it.

Lots of nifty overlooks. Marie's last day with me.

Most of where we walked was along the south side of Gunflint Lake. This shot shows most of the lake.
Gunflint Lake

I really love the blue waters- and it's all Canada on the other side. That's why it's the Border Route. But there were little details to enjoy as well. These are Indian Pipes that are ready to go to seed. The curved pipes lift their heads straight up.
Indian Pipes

Best tiny find of the day- some pretty slime mold.
slime mold

We did not find a BWCAW sign where we entered the wilderness. But when we took the spur trail back to the car we found a sign.
BWCAW sign
BWCAW sign

More big changes tomorrow. Backpacking begins, so we'll be off line for a few days. Don't get worried.

Miles today: 10.1 that count (plus 1.2 on spurs). Total miles so far: 3547.5.

See Magnetic Rock

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Magnetic Rock - Day 301

  And we have begun the Border Route Trail section of the NCT! The first two days can be done as day hikes, and that is what we are doing.

One of the outstanding natural features of this piece of trail- of the entire NCT- is Magnetic Rock. It's a 60-foot tall monolith that begs the imagination. How did it get there? Well, supposedly as a result of the glaciers. But seriously, why is this one rock standing on end? Maybe aliens dropped it from a spaceship. Maybe Thor hurled it there.

The rock is primarily iron ore, and it makes compasses go nuts. Bill held one near it in several different places. On one side, using the sun to determine the correct location of north, we could see that the rock pulled the compass off by 90 degrees.
Magnetic Rock

Marie is doing the two day hikes with us, and she chose today to celebrate her 100 Mile Challenge. We haven't kept close track of her miles, but she has to be well over 100.
Hike 100

We needed to cross the Cross River on a road bridge, and were a little concerned as we approached, but the bridge is there and we didn't even have to beg to walk through the construction zone. Whew!
Cross River Bridge

After that, we climbed to an overlook above the river. (We also had to hunt a bit for the trail, but Marie found it!)
Cross River

Marie and Bill above the Cross River.

In the afternoon we were south of Gunflint Lake with some beautiful views. The water in the foreground is Gunflint, and beyond that narrow place (which incidentally is near the Cross River Bridge) is Magnetic Lake.
Gunflint Lake

More day hiking tomorrow with the 3 of us.

Miles today that count: 8.0 (and 0.2 that don't count). Total miles so far: 3537.4.

See Look What's Happening

Monday, September 26, 2022

Look What's Happening - Day 300

  Is this a familiar face? Bill is back. I haven't scared him off yet. The background is the inside of a Voyageur Cabin at Gunflint Lodge where we will be staying for a couple of days. Pretty cushy compared to the bunkhouse. Refrigerator! Microwave! Heat!

Lots of logistics to pull this off. Stay tuned to see how it plays out.

To get here, of course, we had to drive up the Gunflint Trail again. I did find the traditional signposts at the old entrance to the Gunflint Trail. The new road has a very functional but boring intersection.
Gunflint Trail sign
Gunflint Trail sign

Tomorrow we will hike.

See Annie

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