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Day 14 - Out of the Woods
I walked 39150 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 16 miles today.
I stepped out of the woods at the Normanna Rd. trailhead around 1:30pm, almost exactly 13 days from my start on Otter Lake Rd. This last morning of hiking dragged on and on and I felt pretty slow. But, I continued on and ran into more Trail Magic once I left the trail. One big thing I learned on this hike is that the world is full of helpful, friendly people and I will assume that is what every person I meet is like until they prove me wrong.
This is me at the final trailhead. I originally planned to hike through Duluth, but the Normanna Rd. to Martin Rd. segment is not open and I could not find the start point for it. Plus, the last 10 miles or so of the Duluth segment is still closed from flooding. So, I'll complete that last part once the trail is officially open next year.
Now, I'm standing at the corner of two dirt roads about 15 miles from town and not really wanting to walk country roads all that way. I also did not know if I'd find more traffic if I headed west or south from where I stood. I had quite awhile to figure out a plan, so I sat down, got out my one blank sheet of paper and my pen and wrote a bit U M D on the sheet. I figured holding that up would help my chances of getting a ride into town. (That's University of Minnesota Duluth)
Just as I finished the sign, a small car drove by and I flagged it down. It was the local mailman and his honda civic was crammed full of letters and packages. I explained I had just hiked from Canada on the SHT and asked him which way I should start walking. He said West would be my best bet. I should hit pavement in about 3 miles. And he drove off in a cloud of dust.
As I folded up my maps and slung on my pack, an SUV towing a trailer with an ATV came by. I figured he was stopping at the trailhead since it is also an access point to the multi-use North Shore Trail. He stopped and asked if I needed a ride so I explained my situation again. He was heading north but could take me to the intersection a couple miles West where the pavement starts. Cool!
A few minutes later, I was out on the side of the road again. I attached my quaint UMD sign, hefted my pack and didn't even get to stick my thumb out when a big, silver pick-up stopped (heading south) and asked if I needed a ride. Oh Yes! Threw my pack in the back, hopped in, and gave my story again as we drove away. He could take me a few miles but had to pick up his kids at day care.
As we talked, I guess Neil figured I was an OK guy because when we stopped to get his kids, he said they could sit in the back of the king cab and he'd take me in to town. No way!
So, less than an hour from hitting the trailhead, and without even getting to stick my thumb out, I was in my car driving home. Can you believe that? They talk about 'Minnesota Nice' but really? I was home and showered before the time I had expected to be walking into Duluth.
Oh, anyone want some left over poptarts, Snickers, or trail mix? :-)
The Big Surprise
At about 4pm, I was less than 3 miles from my campsite destination and there was another site 6 miles farther. I thought, Hey I can make that and do a 40 mile day! Just then, as I was flying through the forest a young man appeared heading toward me on the trail. Right away, I thought it strange that he had no water or any gear. Then his father appeared behind him. How did I know it was his father? He's a scout from home!
They were following my progress and drove up to surprise me. They got my last location using wifi at a McD's and figured where to intercept me.
We walked a few minutes to the trailhead where they were parked and I got a cold Mt. Dew! Not only that, he had a Sony battery - exactly the one I needed for my camera.
After chatting a bit, I knew I wouldn't make 40 miles so, when they asked about getting a Big Mac in Two Harbors, I said YES.
A half hour of driving to town and back plus 45 minutes eating (and taking advantage of the facilities) and I was back at the trailhead. Two quick miles got me to my very nice campsite with no need to hydrate yet another bag-o-noodles.
So, Benjamin and Duncan, THANKS for an unforgettable helping of trail magic!
Day 13 - Surprise, Surprise
I walked 64380 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 34 miles today.
A most amazing day on the trail!
I camped at mile 198 last night and am now at mile 232, alone both nights no other campers around - lots of different things contributed to such a big mile day. I got an early start just as it got light before 7am, the general terrain was flat, the trail in good shape, cool dry weather, very few people on the trail to chat with, and my legs felt great. There was no real reason to go far but I just kept going.
I met two guys out backpacking with no real destination - just hiking here and there. Then, I met Dan's crew doing trail work - that's the pic. Dan's in Scouts in Two Harbors and volunteers for the trail. His son built a campsite for his Eagle project and I get to see it tomorrow.
Dan recognized me as the guy hiking for the ScoutStrong program so I'm sending his troop a Scout Shop gift card.
I thanked his gang for making the trail, but I hope they realize how much their work really is appeciated.
I saw a few grouse, some garter snakes, and four deer along Silver Creek. I learned that river means water and creek means dirt at this time of year. There are long stretches that are dry now. I saw a very impressive beaver ponf and lodge but still no beaver.
But all that is not nearly the most interesting thing to happen today, not by a long shot....
Day 12 - Marathon Day
I walked 57322 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 28 miles today.
This is the Split Rock River trail bridge.
My first marathon day this trek - over 26 miles. The trail really leveled out south of Beaver Bay so I covered ground. I think Mary Anne's great porridge and cantalope helped!
I crossed the Split Rock and Gooseberry rivers which were both low. Most creeks are completely dry now. The beavers are busy rebuilding dams on the Gooseberry after this spring's flood, but I saw none. I did have another dozen grouse explode along the trail today and nearly squished two more garter snakes.
Simply an awesome day with blue sky and every other color on the ground and in the trees.
Keep your eye open for opportunity to help someone. Jeff and Mary Anne inviting a stranger in off the trail was just super! Things like that show we're all in this together.
Day 11 - Trail Magic
I walked 42384 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 19 miles today.
Lots of steps/mile today. This was probably the most uppity downity part of the trail around Tettegouche S.P. But, there were some terrific views - Bear and Bean Lakes, Mt. Trudee, Baptism River. This is me crosssing the suspension bridge above High Falls over the Baptism early this morning.
Amazing surprise today - Trail Magic! A note to me was pinned to a root in the trail - an offer to stay at a local cabin tonite. I called and arranged for Jeff to pick me up at a trailhead. It was sooo wonderful to share the evening with Jeff and Mary Anne, and their friend. It was a good way for me to recall that I've experienced a lot over the past few days and meet wonderful neighbors!
Remember to do something nice for someone each day.
Good Morning on the Trail
Gooooood morning, America!
I'm sitting here eating my poptart in the chilly 35 degrees watching the sun rise over Lake Superior. It's days like these that let you know life is good.
I expect to cover 25 or more miles today. Next stop is to wash up at Tettegouche S.P. Followed by lots of hiking.
If you're bored at work, see where I'm at - Check out my current location on the map.
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