Sunday, October 25, 2015

Superior Hiking Trail 2015

We're almost through a week of exploring the Superior Hiking Trail.

We visit this trail just about every year. One year we hiked from lodging to lodging, but usually we just do day hikes.

The twist this year was to bring two cars. That way we could explore sections of the trail as a series of one-way day hikes. For the first time we got to see the remotest parts of the trail, ending just a mile short of the Canadian border.

The trail starts near Duluth, Minnesota, then twists and turns relative to the North Shore of Lake Superior for 310 miles. It's easy to construct just the right length of hike because it consists of 5 to 10-mile sections that can be reached by car. 

I love to hike the trail in the Fall after the leaves have dropped, and nature is readying itself for winter. The scene is simpler, elemental. Long shadows, even at midday, remind us to be mindful of an early sunset.
I find myself valuing the most basic elements of hiking. Beyond the need to move forward, upright, on trail, my brain is freed to go where it needs to go. The repeating, leafless birch don't overload my vision. 

The other day, a magical howling rose above the sound of brittle leaves underfoot: the glorious rising and falling sound of sled dogs, in unison, at a nearby musher's camp.

We don't hike the Superior Trail for the bling, but there are some standout locations. Several times we encountered ponds formed by beaver dams.
Then there's the ridge trails with their glimpses of Lake Superior or the back country.
Sometimes it's a wide, expansive view atop a huge rock the 3M company once hoped to turn into sandpaper.
Or a shoreline walk, the only section of the trail that is on the shore.
Or, what gets most people to step out of their cars and wield cameras: waterfalls and rapids.
In the end we come here for gorgeous, contemplative trails.
And the joy of waking up in the morning knowing we have a good hike ahead.

Beginning of another day of hiking

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