“Those who have never seen Superior get an inadequate idea by hearing it spoken of as a lake
Superior is a sea
It breeds storms and rain and fog like a sea.
It is cold, masterful, and dreaded.”
-Rev. George Grant, 1872
If you have been following along on the 2017 Wandering Pine journey, you know that I have been participating in the 52 Hike Challenge. Reflecting on it’s completion, it has been an unexpected growth experience and I’ve already decided to do it again next year. As I approached the final weeks of the challenge, I wanted to make Hike 52 something really special, dare I say….epic? I had heard of Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota, during my 26 mile SHT hike last summer and knew that’s where I wanted to finish the journey.
Our whirlwind trip started on Friday morning at 7am. We drove straight up to Duluth, had a nice visit with my ridiculously talented artist friend Jordan @ Tin Cup Design and bought her Superior Hiking Trail print (and a couple of others!). I can’t wait to look at it every day in anticipation of my SHT thru hike next summer!
From there my hiking buddy and I zipped up to Tofte, chatting the whole way stopping for lunch, no schedule or agenda in mind. So relaxing! On the way, I saw the sign for Palisade Head. I have been to most of the MN State Parks on the North shore but managed to miss this beauty nestled on the edge of Tettegouche State Park. We pulled into the lower parking lot and hiked up the hill to the cliffs. The upper parking lot was closed for winter, but it would be great access for those with limited mobility or little ones when the weather is nice. If you bring your little ones, rascally teenagers, or anyone else you love…hold onto them. Cliffs people!
The North Shore of Lake Superior is where my heart swoons, but seeing these shear cliffs dropping off into my lady sea…Lake Superior, was an unexpected gift. The cliff edge was just scary enough to keep us on our toes while still begging to be explored. We skipped around on the inland rocks like happy little goats, heading further North until we saw the classic North Shore profile of Palisade Head.
Once we walked around for a little bit, we got brave and walked out onto the narrow outcropping of rocks. I laid down on my stomach to look over the edge into the deep aqua colored water below. I will always remain fascinated with the power, beauty and terror of this frigid sea.
When we first arrived, the rocks looked like they were covered in a dusting of powdered sugar, and when the large snow flakes began to fall, it was pure magic. We met a young photographer capturing the Lady Superior’s beauty and enjoyed meeting someone just as stoked to be there as we were.
We originally wanted to backpack into the BWCA Whale Lake Campsites for our overnight adventure, but the temps dipped to a forecasted -11 and I just wasn’t sure how my new lighter weight gear was going to hold up below 10 degrees. I spent a bunch of time packing for this trip and still just didn’t feel right about it.
Lesson learned: know your limits and your gear, especially if you will be in the backcountry in the winter… I’ll test out my gear at Winter Scout Camp this weekend and be ready next time!
As I look through all of the photos of Eagle Mountain, I can’t wait to post part 2. Most of the photos you see on this post were taken by my hiking buddy Pam Wright. Without her, this would be a pretty dim post and the trip probably wouldn’t have happened at all. She was kind enough share photos so I could just enjoy the experience. Thanks chica!
Check back to read about our epic summit of Eagle Mountain, close encounters with an owl as big as a dog, a Beaver that ate too many cookies, trekking through Narnia and my slow and steady transformation into Jack Frost.