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This has been a year of adjusting and re-adjusting, and there are days that I’d rather just turn this into a page about gardening. In many ways, this shift has been good for me… causing me to find ways to enjoy a deeper and more intentional life close to home. My garden is more beautiful than ever. It brings me joy every day and I am growing enough veggies to learn about food preservation and share with others. I am grateful that I am able to work from home, but the added screen time during the day has left me wanting to run straight outside before and after work, and not left much ambition for blogging.
Cancelling all of my grande summer plans, has allowed space for some less planned micro-adventures to pop up and last weekend was one of them! I’m thankful for sweet friends that let me crash their adventures and ALWAYS appreciate any chance to head up North!
LENGTH 6-7 miles
DIFFICULTY Easy to moderate
DATE August 6-7, 2020
MAIN FEATURES Explore steep and majestic gorges and potholes carved out by ancient waterfalls alongside the East side of the park, and enjoy rolling grassy hills and woods on the West side. Access to this park is right off highway 61, making it a great place to stop for a picnic or rest stop on your way up the North Shore. The Hiking Club Trail has some steep and rocky climbs that may require a little extra care if you are with little ones or have limited mobility. Trails lead out to panoramic views of Lake Superior atop Carton Peak and long open stretches on the south side of the park. There are plenty of loops and the trail connects to the 310 mile Superior Hiking Trail, so you can make this hike as long or as short as you want!
Feeling a little bummed about my St Croix River kayaking trip that had just gotten cancelled due to weather, I jumped at the opportunity when Trail Mom and Wandering SeaGoat invited me to join their trips to Lake Superior’s pristine North Shore and the Superior Hiking Trail! The State Park campgrounds are full and it’s been hard to make solid plans with so much in flux.
I started the weekend with dirty hands and knees after volunteering with my co-workers, weeding the Walker Art Center Native Garden Meadow before I drove the 4 hours to Temperance to meet Trail Mom. Seeing my work friends brightened my spirits and it felt good to start out the trip with a little dirt already under my fingernails!
The long drive up was good for my mind. I detoured up part of old Highway 61 to get a better view of Lake Superior and still made it to camp just in time for dinner! Trail Mom is the best! She has been on a multi-day tour of State Parks and I was happy to join her on her last night! Read about her legendary beer and cookies on the SHT Blue Map…and how she got her name.
After dinner, Trail Mom and I talked and watched the sunset, until the sky and Gitchi Gami, the great Ojibwe Sea, became one. I never get tired of this beautiful lake and it always feels like home.
The campground was full; but people are physically distancing taking precautions, wearing masks in buildings and where distance is not possible, and things feel generally safe and relaxed. The weekend will be busy, and Im thankful I was able to swing a Thursday-Saturday stay, missing the Sunday afternoon traffic home.
Seeing the moonlight pour out like a golden ribbon over the lake before bed filled my heart with awe, and it was a gift to be able to witness it. I woke up to light beaming over my tent in the middle of the night, thinking it was sunrise but it was the full moon!
Trail Mom and I enjoyed a slow, relaxing morning with coffee and oatmeal. Im so thankful for her sweet friendship and being able to spend some time together. And thanks again to the awesome folks at Food for the Sole for sponsoring the 2020 Groundskeepers this year! This breakfast was the perfect fuel for a day on the trail and the coconut and mango combo was delicious!
Time to say goodbye, as Trail Mom headed back home…not hugging is so hard!
Now alone, the first thing I did was run down to Lake Superior to put my feet in the ice cold water! Feet, where shall we go today?
Hiking Temperance River State Park
Temperance River State Park holds a special place in my heart since it was where my sister and I triumphantly ended our SHT thru hike after 100 miles. This is also where I would start back up to finish my last big section, almost a year later, completing my 310 mile journey. I’m not sure why I thought starting the 6 mile out and back hike to Carlton peak at 11 AM was going to be a good idea. I usually try to avoid starting a hike at mid day, and expected the heat to be my biggest obstacle. So I added my big hat, extra water and an umbrella to my day pack and set out. I parked in the SHT hiker lot (not realizing that only overnight hikers are supposed to park there – oops). The ranger stopped to ask me where I was hiking and about my fancy pink compression sleeves, and we ended up chatting ALL about the SHT. Before I left to go park on HWY 61, she warned me that the trail to Carlton Peak was already packed.
I showed her my mask and figured they couldn’t be that crowded…. I ended up needing to mask up nearly the entire time I was there and only made it about 10 minutes before I bailed.
Found a quiet little spot to sit before heading back to the car. No one is sitting at this park, they are all enjoying the trail. Maybe God is telling me to sit and rest on his trip?
I didn’t feel like leaving just yet, so I wandered a little further, exploring the quieter western entrance to the park and found another nice place to stop before deciding to go find a spot somewhere for lunch and a book.
Just as I was about to head to the car I noticed the sign for the western trails which can make about a 6 or 7 mile loop counting the Superior Hiking Trail and State Park Trails. I decided to try it, and there was not a soul to be found!
The trail from the Temperance River to the Cross River has both narrow and wide spots and is fairly open with a few shady sections. It doesn’t seem as traveled as the East end of the park much of the trail is overgrown and quiet. If you are hiking on a warm day, be prepared for full sun, no water sources and a lack of breeze.
This section of the trail shouldn’t require trekking poles but, about half way into the hike, I was glad I had mine in my pack as soon as I passed a big pile of bear poop right in the middle of the trail. I saw a couple more berry-filled piles as I hiked and remembered the orange signs at the campground indicating that there had been increased bear activity in the park. Wrong day to leave the bear spray at home. But making a little noise by clicking my trekking poles and occasional singing managed to keep everything away!
The trail connects back to the Gitchi Gami multi use trail down by the lake, where I was finally able to catch a nice breeze!
Along with the welcome breeze, the trail brought me about .5 mile away from the Schroeder Baking Company so I decided to stop for lunch before hiking back the 1.5 miles back to the car.
The walk back on the Gitchi Gami trail gave me a cool lake breeze just as I’d hoped, and the air was filled with the fragrance of warm tansy baking in the sun. I think I walked about 8 miles today.
Tettegouche State Park!
I decided to head to our next campsite and spend some time resting and digging into my new book before Wandering SeaGoat came up for the night. I arrived at our walk in site early, set up the tent, and pitched it a bit taught since rain is in the forecast tonight. I also put my food in the bear box right away even though I brought an Ursack since there are big orange signs everywhere warning about black bears in this park too! So far, all Ive seen are persistent chipmunks and some poop.