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Split Rock to Beaver Bay
LENGTH 11 miles: camped at Tettegouche State Park
DIFFICULTY Moderate, elevation and sun exposure
DATE August 9, 2020
MAIN FEATURES Classic Superior Hiking Trail up and down elevation with spectacular views of Lake Superior. We parked a car in the rear lot of Cove Point Lodge, which connects directly to a 2 mile Superior Hiking Trail spur, and our other car at the Split Rock River Wayside, on Hwy 61. Water is low this time of year, so check trail conditions and be prepared.
After spending a night at Temperance River State park and hiking its beautiful trails, I decided to head to our next campsite and spend some time resting before Wandering SeaGoat came up for the night. We hiked my last section of the Superior Hiking Trail together last year, and after this trip, she’ll just have one section to go before she can also call the 310 mile trail DONE! I’m happy to hike together again and get back on the ol’ SHT.
Tettegouche State Park
I arrived at our walk in site early, set up the tent, and pitched it tight 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.
I fussed around camp for a bit, took at little nap, debated walking down to the baptism river and decided to pull out my huge new Mary Oliver poetry book instead. One of the luxuries of not backpacking…a huge book!
I was rehydrating my dinner, when Wandering SeaGoat walked up the trail! As we caught up, we heard a sudden crashing sound in the woods! My first thought was that someone was chopping down trees, but it was a BEAR! It lumbered around a little in the woods and then walked up the trail to our campsite, looking right at us!
As it walked towards us…we tried talking calmly to it at first (as the large orange signs instructed)…the bear was not impressed. Then we clacked trekking poles together in an attempt to chase it off, since we had no pots and pans (as the large orange signs instructed)…also not impressed.
The medium sized bear kept looking at us, unafraid, turned around, and then came back! It left and came back up to our camp 3 or 4 times and was definitely not its first visit to camp. This was a first bear encounter for me (and hopefully LAST!) We heard each campsite erupt in noise as Mr (or Ms. Bear) visited, and figured it was making its nightly dinner rounds. We called the park office to report the encounter, but no one was on staff. Once the curious bear left, we hiked down the trail and talked to the people camping at the site next to ours and the campground host. Apparently the bears are notorious here at Tettegouche State Park, especially this one.
The campground hosts told us that a backpacker at our campsite (lucky #7) had a bear try to steal his cereal that morning and another family had all of their pancakes eaten by Mr Bear earlier in the week! They also told us that the DNR was scheduled to come out and try live trap the poor creature. I didn’t like that it was snooping around at camp, but I couldn’t help but feel sad for it, since campers and easy access to their food and trash is the reason they come around. I hope they can save it. It is CRITICAL to keep a clean camp, for the safety of humans AND the bears. I remember the rangers in Glacier National Park had a saying while we were there…a fed bear is a dead bear.
We moved all of our food and smellables out of the bear box and into the car- Hoping for some sleep tonight. I went to bed without dinner (unless you count twizzlers and instant guacamole)… luckily there are no pancakes on the menu tomorrow, just dehydrated backpacking food.
Wandering SeaGoat and I armed ourselves with safety whistles, knives and trekking poles as we headed off to bed, and double checked all of our pockets for snacks. Wrong trip to forget the bear spray!
Sometime after bed, an alert on my phone from the National Weather Service woke me up: 60 mph winds, hail, and torrential rains headed our way in about 10 minutes! Great.
I don’t remember what time it was, but it felt like the middle of the night…I stared at the radar on my phone, bleary eyed, watching the big red blob get closer to our location. The heavy rain started, then a HUGE crack of lightening! I sat straight up, looked at the radar again and it looked like there were multiple red blobs coming for us! The rain was so loud that the “Goat” and I probably wouldn’t have been able to hear each other over the noise and texted each other from our tents. We packed up our gear quickly before the next burst and made a plan to hike back to our cars for shelter since we were in for a full night of storms.
We hustled in the dark as fast as we could without running, leaving our tents, gracefully sidestepping the massive pile of bear poop on the trail! Win!
Not much sleep that night, but we stayed safe and dry.
We woke up to clear skies and foggy car windows. Temps were already in the 70s and we skipped cooking breakfast: avoiding the breakfast-swiping bear, opting to just grab our tents and drive to the trailhead.
Back on the SHT
We bumbled around, rearranging things for a while due to lack of sleep and finally got on the trail at around 10. Today’s plan is to hike 11 miles from Split Rock to Beaver Bay, getting ‘the goat’ one more section closer to finishing the SHT! I hiked this section of the Purple Map last Spring with the Blister Sisters and enjoyed seeing the Northbound views vs Southbound and the contrast of a thick, green summer trail.
If you are hiking the SHT, especially in the summer, be sure to check the SHT trail Conditions page and Facebook page for detours and water conditions. I brought 2 liters, expecting to filter and wish I’d brought 3. Water was really low on this section despite the heavy rain the night before. Larger water sources are typically beaver dams, and although…are usually ok with proper filtering, taste kind of nasty and have an added risk of water pathogens….we avoided them on this trip.
Parts of our hike felt like a real slog in the hot, mid day sun. We were thankful for our sun umbrellas on the ridgelines and that we were able to squeeze out a couple of liters of water at the creek, 2 miles from the end of our hike. My umbrella is one of my favorite pieces of gear, its great for sun and rain protection and I’ve even used it as a door on cold nights in my tarp shelter!
We enjoyed being back together on the SHT, but summer hiking is not our favorite, and the dreaded hikers rash was starting to bloom on our ankles! We were so hot and exhausted at the end of our hike, we were kind of relieved it was over.
Sometimes you don’t want a camping trip to end and sometimes it feels really good to come back home, totally exhausted and thankful for your bed! This was one of those trips. Have you ever met a bear on the trail or had a trip that you were kind of glad when it was over? Tell me about it!
Here’s a list of some of my gear faves on this trip (in no particular order).
Homemade Mask + Hand Sanitizer- Recreating responsibly during Covid.
Hiking Umbrella – this Six Moons Silver Shadow umbrella is pretty close to the one I have and is 2 oz lighter and $10 cheaper than the one I found on Amazon- had I known about it, I would have bought this one just to support a cottage gear company. It was really great to have in the sunny areas. Its lightweight, durable, has notches in the handle so you can attach it to your pack strap and has a black and silver finish to maximize heat reflectivity and provide cooling shade.
Tarptent Saddle 2– It felt luxurious to be in a 2 person tent alone and have a lot more room than my Enlightened Equipment Recon solo bivy on this trip, even though I ended up sleeping in the car one night.
Leki Micro Vario Trekking Poles – breaking in a new set. I love that they are lightweight, collapse small and can be used to hold up my tent. Don’t love the sticky finish on the cork handles…hopefully that will wear off.
Astral Rosa flip flops– these are my new favorite sandals… I love them in the garden, paddleboarding and on the trail. They were great recovery shoes and were perfect for wearing while swimming and wading in the Lake Superior rocks. I love the style, upper arch support, removable heel strap and the grippy bottoms.
Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt– Yes, I bring a 10 degree quilt, even in the summer. You never know when that Lake Superior Fog is going to getcha. Be prepared!
Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor liner– this keeps my pad and quilt clean and is what I like to use on warm nights. Super easy to wash when you get home and adds 25 degrees warmth to your bag or quilt.
Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad– This is my 3rd trip with this pad and it’s pretty luxurious. Big Agnes provided this pad as part of my Groundskeepers gear this year, and I splurged by requesting a wide/long, so I don’t roll off if it. It comes with its own pump and is pretty darn comfy!
Snow Peak Gigapower Stove– this little champ has a self igniter and always starts on the first try! I have used other stoves and this is my favorite.
Snow Peak Titanium 600 mug with hot lips – shout out to the hotlips! Keeps you from burning your kisser while drinking from the pot you cook in…now if they only made ‘hot fingers’ for the cup handles.
Sea to Summit long handled spoon – this may seem silly…but switching to a long spoon for eating out of a rehydrated bag is awesome…beats getting food all of over your knuckles and allows you to scoop out every last morsel.
Altra Timps – still rockin’ the Timps. No blisters in hundreds of miles, but the fabric inside the heels are starting to wear out (I have really bony heels). They don’t last forever, but the comfort is worth it.
Altra Trail Gaiters– keeps the rocks, sand and SHT out of said Timps.
Wrightsocks– switched to these cool mesh double layer socks on the SHT last year. They dry quick, prevent blisters, and the short socks make it easy to get at your feet quick if you need to attend to them. I also like darn tough wool socks, but these are my go to hiking socks, especially in warm weather.
Next up: Stay tuned to hear about my 3 day tour of Southern Minnesota State Parks!