Sunday, October 04, 2009

Day 3. September 21, 2009 - The Hike Back

There's nothing quite like waking up to the sound of water splashing on the shore, knowing that this moment is mine to savor. Amazingly, I didn't feel sore or stiff. I sat on the rocks and washed my face with the cold water from the lake. I made myself eat a few more bites of my Clif bar, even though I had no appetite. I had not brought my pan with me, so I sipped a little bit of water, knowing that I needed to ration it for the hike out. It didn't take long to take down the tent and pack up my bag. Leaving the site just as I had found it, I started following the Lake Superior Trail east. According to the map, the trail would follow the Lake and connect back with 107, which then led to the parking area where I had started the day before. I knew that I didn't want to follow the same trail, since it would be all uphill. Fortunately I didn't know what the Lake Superior Trail would be like or I might have started to cry.
I crossed back over Big Carp River, past the cabins and up the bluff. This area seemed to be more prone to being swampy and muddy in the spring. The trail worked it's way around a few rises and then followed the shore for about 2.5 miles. The trail was literally on the rocky shore in several places, so I took advantage and splashed my face to cool off. The trail was pretty rough with many rocks and tree roots. At two different places the trail becomes a boardwalk, two boards across, so only one person can cross at a time. The trees tended to be smaller than the ones I saw yesterday, many birch and tall grasses. I heard a loon call out and then heard the flapping of wings as a pair flew from a nest way up in a tree.
About half way there is a large camping site, good for several tents. I believe this is called Lone Rock and it's the last place to access the lake on this trail. For the next mile, the trail moves away from the lake and starts to climb from the 600-700 ft level up to 1,220 over the next 2.5 miles. The trail was covered with loose rocks and at one point you have to maneuver up sheer rock, maybe 12 feet high or so. The sun was getting high up in the sky and my water was almost all gone. By the time I made it to the crest of the mountain, there was a wooden bench and an amazing view of the Lake and The Apostle Islands, but I dared not stop and kept moving along. The last half mile was back in old growth forest of pine, which was quite refreshing. Finally I made it to the pavement. I dropped my pack and left it on a bench, while I walked on to the parking area - about 1 mile ahead. The last half mile was pretty steep, as the road rises to 1,400 ft. This trail took me about 5.5 hours.
Once I picked up my pack, I felt rejuvenated and headed back to HWY 28, then followed HWY2 west to Ashland, MN then north to Bayfield. From Bayfield I took the ferry across to Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands. The area reminded me of many small towns that dot the Connecticut shore along Long Island Sound - fishing towns with a rich heritage and lots of charm.

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