The following is Part I of daily notes from Jessica’s September 2016 hike on the Superior Hiking Trail. This is a mix of notes taken on the trail & additions after the fact. Photos were taken with an iPhone 6 & food journal was logged with the app LoseIt!
Made it to the parking lot early. My original plan was to stop in Grand Marais for hot food. But I’m spacey from lack of sleep (I got up at 3:30 am to start driving!). I never feel good in public like this and I have a horrible time making food decisions when I’m tired. So I got a veggie sub at the Schroeder Baking Company in Schroeder, MN on a pee break. Figured I would get some rest in the car once I got here.
The drive was OK. Hard to feel safe on the roads at 4am with deer all around but I managed. Then there was a detour over the bridge in Duluth. Google maps did not help. And once I found Hwy 61 it was closed all the way to Two Harbors for a roller blade race! At least that detour was straight forward. After that the drive was fun as I passed spots I remember from May.
I’m disappointed it is raining. Drizzle really. But come on!
Start: Co Rd 6
End: Leskinen Creek Campsite
I’m ahead of my plan and walked less! It turns out the Co Rd 6 stop on the shuttle schedule is what I wanted; The trail heads get driven a different order than they are hiked.
And I’m so happy I did it. Part of me wanted to hike that majestic piece between Hwy 1 and Co Rd 6 because I was too tired and in pain to enjoy it last time. But it would not have been fun with my heavy pack.
And I really liked the IDEA of camping at Section 13 campsite but from what I saw, Leskinen Creek is a better site.
The trail after Section 13 was nice and gentle – just wanted I needed.
Breakfast – fast food French toast sticks
Lunch – Vegetable Sub sandwich
Dinner – Alpine Aire Pasta Roma, Oatmeal Creme Pie
Snacks – Protein Bar, Clif Shot Bloks, Breakfast Biscuits, Pro Bar
Total Calories: 2,922
Start: Leskinen Creek Campsite
End: Blesner Creek Campsite
Good but slow start to the day. I did not take sleep meds early enough last night – they kicked in too late. The Tent (Big Agnes FlyCreek UL2 Platinum) is so comfy. I think we will definitely buy it (I rented it from Big Agnes for this trip with the option to either return it for a refund or keep it and pay the rest of the cost).
I stopped at South Egge Lake campsite for lunch. It’s a very nice site. My tent footprint dried quickly in the breeze off the lake.
It’s now 6:22pm. I’m all tucked in, just in time. Light rain has started. I was actually trying to spot wash my shirt but dove for the tent when I felt drops. It’s OK – all other camp chores are done.
Pretty easy day. No long ups or downs. I saw two dogs and got to pet one – a Sheltie. Love seeing dogs on the trail. The other dog I was requested to not pet or engage because it was early in the morning and the dog gets too excited and distracted before he has hiked a few miles.
I’m alone at this campsite. That’s nice in a sense. I don’t feel anti-social for being in the tent at 6:30. People stayed up by the fire pit until after 10pm yesterday and thought it was weird I wanted to go to bed early. They didn’t know I rarely stay up past 8:30pm even when I haven’t hiked all day!
There is a creek on one side of this campsite, a river on the other. Very peaceful. It seems the rain was a tease. I hope so. The tent could be better staked out. But I’m all tucked in and don’t feel like moving.
I do like the MSR needle stakes better than the stakes that come with Big Agnes tents (medium sized V-stakes). I knew this when packing, but I wanted to use the entire tent system for a better product review.
Breakfast – Oatmeal (2 packets), 1 cup custom trail mix, 1 stick vegan jerky
Lunch – Goldfish crackers, Cheese “Kruncheez” (made with soy flour), Pro Bar
Dinner – Alpine Aire Cheese Enchilada Ranchero, Oatmeal Creme Pie
Snacks – Protein Bar, Clif Shot Bloks, Breakfast Biscuits
Total Calories: 2,865
Start: Blesener Creek
End: Crystal Creek
Today was more ups and downs than yesterday.
(I did not write more this evening. Crystal Creek was a BEAUTIFUL campsite. But it was VERY windy and I had technical difficulties because of that. I was tired after hiking and chasing the tent around. Below is some written from the next day)
It did end up raining hard last night. And the inside of tent did get wet due to poor staking (my fault). But I had enough room to squish things around and pretty much keep my gear dry. I knew I would love choosing a 2 person tent for this hike!
I ended up getting trail magic from a couple and their dog this morning. We met at the parking lot for Crosby-Manitou State Park. I asked if they were getting off the trail and they said yes. But they did not have a car there – they were about to try and find a shuttle. They had been attempting a thru-hike but realized they would run out of time. They mentioned the rain had been horrible on their hike and I bet last night’s rain didn’t help.
I mentioned I was going to ask them to take my trash if they had car and they took it anyway! (That was my trail magic – a random act of kindness on the trail.) The guy said he’d asked someone the day before to take theirs and the person said no so he wanted to say yes to me. Since they were right at a parking lot and were definitely getting off the trail today, I didn’t feel too bad giving it to them. My trash wasn’t super heavy or anything, but when hiking for several days I’ve learned to ditch trash as frequently as I can.
It was a challenging day, but I took good breaks and paced myself. It was pretty trail too. It swung back closer to Lake Superior.
I thought I might lose part of the tent during setup tonight – the wind was horrible! Pieces kept blowing around. So I hurried and threw everything in the tent and I was DONE for the day. Instead of cooking, I ate “breakfast biscuits” (dry cookies) and an oatmeal creme pie for dinner. So glad I brought enough non-cook food and snacks – there is no way I could get my stove to stay lit tonight.
Then I just read my book. I didn’t even want to write. It was a good day but the wind was beating me up. The tent would not stay staked in the back and after fixing it once I just left it. Nice thing about the tent design is that I didn’t really notice the lack of foot room.
Breakfast – Alpine Aire Raspberry Granola with Milk, 1 cup custom Trail Mix
Lunch – Goldfish crackers, BBQ Snack Mix (made with soy flour)
Dinner – Oatmeal Creme Pie
Snacks – Protein Bar, Clif Shot Bloks, Breakfast Biscuits, 1 stick vegan jerky
Total Calories: 1,805
Start: Crystal Creek Campsite
End: Temperance River State Park
I had a brief time this AM when I felt sick – almost flu-ish – and I wondered if I would even make it to my scheduled campsite. But here I am – 3 miles ahead! And showered!
Today I woke up feeling good and first thing had a cute encounter with a chipmunk. I had left the tent door open when I went to use the privy (beautiful view of Lake Superior while doing my business! 5 stars. Would do business there again) and came back to a chipmunk running around inside.
He of course was looking for food, but I hang my food bag with paracord from a tree branch for the evenings. This is a best practice to deter bears from checking out tents for goodies (or use a BearVault).
I got the chipmunk out of my tent, zipped the door, and started making breakfast. That’s when he upped the ante from cute to annoying – I could not leave ANY food item further than 1 foot away from me lest he make a grab for it. I am sure he has yogied food from other hikers that thought this was cute. But only one person was going to eat any food in my bag – ME.
Pretty easy trail to start today. I got a little annoyed at a guy who just swished by me without stopping. It wasn’t exactly rude (we were on flat land – otherwise hikers usually yield to the “uphill” hiker) so much as it was odd. Then fifteen minutes later two other hikes come by and ask if I’d seen “Jeremy”. Evidently he’s trying to break the speed record of thru-hiking the SHT. Now it made sense why he breezed by without any usual hiker chit chat. I believe the record at the time, yet the same summer, was 8 days.
My plan was to stop at South Cross River Campsite tonight. But as the day progressed and I felt better and better, I thought of making it to Temperance River State Park. The next campsite after South Cross River was 9.1 miles and there was no way I could add that to my day, but I started looking at the guidebook for the directions and distances from the trail to the actual park. I was worried the campsites would be far away from the trail and I’d add even more miles than I intended.
It turned out the campsites were pretty much right across the road! It was funny hiking down to the park though. I met SO MANY hikers, both day hikers and backpackers, coming up from the park, out of breath and wheezing, that asked me if they were at the top yet. I got worried the down would be steep and hard on my knees but it really was just fine.
While at the “top” I had called the MN state park reservation system and reserved the last campsite in the park!
Breakfast – Alpine Aire Raspberry Granola with Milk, 1 cup custom Trail Mix
Lunch – Goldfish crackers, Cheese “Kruncheez”
Dinner – Alpine Aire Leonardo Da Fettuccine, Oatmeal Creme Pie
Snacks – Protein Bar, Clif Shot Bloks, ProBar
Total Calories: 2,626