Our final days on the Superior Hiking Trail were a little less messy and more fruitful than previous parts of the trail. For Bill and I, thunderstorms became less frequent ensuring less mud on the trail (note I said "less mud"). We did get one major storm overhead one night that provided a continuous light and thunder show powerful enough to make us pray there wouldn't be an accompanying tornado. There's nothing like sleeping in my rain gear INSIDE my tent because the rain is hitting the ground so hard that it splashes up through the mesh under the rainfly. It was a wet night with very little sleep. Lucky for us, that storm didn't hit us before camp... although that was a close call. Bill and I found our first huge blueberry patch worth spending an hour picking for snacks. It was towards the end of our break when we noticed the thunderstorm coming in and we still had 3.5 miles to go before we got to the campground. It was a very fast hike to the end.
Berry picking in the last week became a popular event whenever we came across a large patch of berries. We found blueberries, raspberries, juneberries, thimbleberries, salmonberries, and wild strawberries along the way to the end of the trail. That's a lot of berry picking. We spent many hours bent over with our packs on, picking plump berries... Unplanned fun!
One of my planned stops on this trail was the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. As it turned out, the trail had to be detoured towards the park because of a bridge that was knocked out by a storm. Split Rock Lighthouse is near Split Rock, a rock formation a couple miles up the trail. We took a side trip up to see the rocks and take some selfies. This was definitely one of my favorite spots on the trail.
As we hiked south on the SHT, I thought that getting to Duluth, the biggest of the cities on the trail, would be disappointing. It was actually just the opposite. The trail walks into Duluth and goes right into a lake walk in the Canal Park area. There was so much to see and do, I wish we had more time. It was a beautiful walk!
Leaving Duluth, we only had 2 days of hiking left, and 1 more stop at the end of the trail southeast of Jay Cooke State Park. The end of the trail had recently been moved to the Wisconsin border adding some miles to hike. As the organization that oversees the trail told us, the North Country Trail will eventually connect to the SHT via a spur trail. That North Country Trail is over 4600 miles long stretching from New York to North Dakota.... No thanks!
So apparently I can't do any hike without doing at least one stupid thing... On the SHT that had to do with a McDonald's iced tea. On one of our last nights on the trail, we camped at Spirit Mountain campground, the only camping spot for over 20 miles in either direction. Well as we came out of the woods and arrived at Spirit Mountain, we noticed a McDonald's sign fairly close to the campground. Google said it was 1.2 miles away. I told Bill I was ready to get an iced tea and possibly some fries. So I walked down the road for my well needed rewards. When I walked in the front door of McDonald's, I realized I walked all that way without my wallet... so back to the campground I go... another 1.2 miles. When I got back to the campground I just couldn't let it go... so back to McDonald's I went to add another 2.4 miles to my log book for the day. The total 4.8 miles I hiked for iced tea and french fries seems silly now, but I remember being pretty happy about it at the time.
Bill and I finished the SHT trail on Wednesday, 26 July. We parted ways the next day as I got on a bus to the airport to make my way to Denver and my next adventure... The Colorado Trail!
I spent a few days around Denver to get acclimated, and drive into the Rockies to hike over 11,000 feet, a first for me.
I took a few good pictures while on my test hike, which included wide open views and a few marmots.
Now I'm on the Colorado Trail, able to put in big-mile days and dealing with daily thunderstorms. But so far, this is turning into one of my favorite hikes. I'm posting photos on Facebook... There will be many more as I can't get enough of this trail. More to come...