Hiking The Presidential Range, White Mtns., NH

I joined my old friend, Madison Jon, in Connecticut Sunday evening July 2, 2017. Early Monday morning we drove up I91 to St. Johnsbury, VT. We then headed east on Hwy 2 to Gorham, NH and south on 16 about ten miles to Joe Dodge Lodge (in Pinkham Notch) –our base station while we hiked The Presidential Range, in the White Mountains of NH. We would start there and end there after four days of hiking.

We had dinner and spent the night at Joe Dodge where we left our vehicle while we hiked. Early next morning, Tuesday July 4th, after a great breakfast, we began our journey -taking a shuttle to AMC’s Highland Center (in Crawford Notch), where we started hiking north to the AMC Mizpah Spring Hut -our first day’s destination.  Mizpah Hut is adjacent to the Nauman Tentsite, and both are located along the junction with the Appalachian Trail (AT). The hike from Highland Center was only about 3 miles with a 2,100′ elevation gain to Mizpah. However the first mile had a gain of 1,700′ coming up a rocky, bolder-strewn creek bed/trail -welcome to the Whites! And, for the record, AMC is the Appalachian Mountain Club, with over 19,000 members -myself and Madison Jon included.

 

Crawford Path headed up from Highland Center to Mizpah Hut

Crawford Path headed up from Highland Center to Mizpah Hut along the AT

 

The Crawford Path is one of the oldest hiking trails in the country, it was originally built in the 1800’s. It was used as a horse trail from the ‘Crawford House’ (now AMC’s Highland Center) up to Mt. Washington. It coincides with the AT for 5.2 miles, and extends an additional 3 miles to Highland Center.

 

AMC Mizpah Spring Hut

AMC Mizpah Spring Hut, AT, White Mtns. NH

 

Reservations at Mizpah (and all AMC Huts) are recommended. It accommodates 60 guests using several rooms with bunk-beds. Restrooms, potable water, kitchen and dining hall, breakfast and dinner, and a full staff are provided. Additional information on the lodges is available on the AMC website.

 

AMC Mizpah Spring Hut

AMC Mizpah Spring Hut

 

Nauman Tentsite is adjacent to the Mizpah spring Hut. Most Tentsites have a caretaker, and usually charge a nominal daily fee for their daily use. Tentsites provide some type of composting toilet facility, and a water source is usually nearby. All water should be filtered/purified (or boiled/treated with a chemical).

 

Nauman Tentsite platform

Nauman Tentsite platform, AT, NH

 

Several platforms at Nauman Tentsite

 

A few campers at Nauman Tentsite

 

Trail from Nauman Tentsite to Mizpah Spring Hut

 

Mizpah Spring Hut

Mizpah Spring Hut

Many huts are open year ’round and are heated. Winter hiking and skiing are popular in many parts of the White Mtns. Again, check the website for details, including special programs.

We arrived at Mizpah Hut in early-afternoon, Tuesday. We explored the immediate area, including Nauman Tentsite, and got our gear put away in our room. We met Jess, the hut caretaker and ‘guy-in-charge’ -he assigned us our room and also served as a great cook and baker, and seemed to always be busy in the kitchen. The hut also had a nice library upstairs. Dinner and morning breakfast were served family-style, and everyone had plenty of delicious food to eat.

We were  planning to stay in huts each night out, with two meals a day provided. That meant we didn’t have to carry our meals, a stove, cookware or fuel -very nice indeed! We did each carry a small backpacking tent, and a water filter -just in case severe weather forced us off a mountain or ridgeline. And we each carried 2-3 liters of water daily. Severe weather is always a possibility in these mountains, so we had to be prepared for that, with raingear, maps, compass, head lamp and batteries, etc. I’m guessing we each carried 20-25 lbs. -very light weight.

Wednesday morning after breakfast, Jon and I hit the trail by 8 a.m. and headed north along our planned route -Crawford Path and the AT to the AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut, just past Mt. Monroe.

 

Appalation Trail (AT)

Appalachian Trail (AT) with white blaze, headed north to Mt. Pierce, Mt. Eisenhower, Mt. Franklin, Mt. Monroe and beyond.

 

AT in the Whites

AT in the Whites

 

 

Madison Jon along the AT, White Mtns., NH

 

Mike along the AT, White Mtns., NH

 

AT, White Mtns., NH (1)

 

We climbed right over Mt. Pierce and I didn’t even realize it – at 4300′ it was only a couple of hundred feet gain at the top. At Mt. Eisenhower we skirted the peak (which was only a 200′-300′ climb) staying on the main, more traveled AT route.

 

AT, White Mtns., NH (2)

 

AT, White Mtns., NH (3)

 

AT, White Mtns., NH (4)

 

AT, White Mtns., NH (5)

 

As we approached Mt. Monroe, the ridgeline began rising and we encountered more boulders along the trail, slowing our pace significantly. We decided to break for a drink and maybe an energy-bar, but swarms of biting gnats and flies soon chased us away. The AT skirted Mt. Monroe to the east and then around to the north again. As we rounded a corner of boulders, the trail began dropping and suddenly the Lakes of the Clouds Hut came into view below us in the distance. A welcome sight!

 

AT, White Mtns., NH (6)

 

First view of Lakes of the Clouds Hut, White Mtns., NH

 

Lakes of the Clouds Hut with helicopter delivering construction supplies below

 

The helicopter crew was taking advantage of good weather and hauling in large waste storage tanks for the Clivus composting toilets, and probably kitchen waste as well, along with lumber. There must have been 10-15 deliveries that day. When the full systems are disconnected, they will be hauled out and the new tanks will be installed. This needs to be done every couple of years.

 

Work crew with supplies being delivered by helicopter

 

New waste disposal tanks and lumber

 

Propane tanks also delivered by helicopter

 

Dining Hall at Lakes of the Clouds Hut

 

Lake of the Clouds Hut was well above treeline, with very scenic views. It accomodates 90 guests and has a small retail store with energy bars, safety-related items, maps and some clothing.

All huts provide morning weather forecasts for today and the next day. The reports come in by radio and are hand transcribed on a std. form. I believe amateur radio frequencies are used, because one fellow mentioned he doesn’t operate the radio because he doesn’t have the FCC license.  But they may use a combination of radio systems, I couldn’t find out for sure.

At each hut I spotted thru-hikers on the AT. They might have been hanging around outside around the hut, or inside -bartering for food and/or sleeping space. I’d been out here before and met them on the trail. I’d shake their hands and congratulate them, enjoying the smile it brought to their faces. This trip I met a couple of groups that had started in Georgia in late Feburary and early March, hiking north. They had already accomplished an amazing feat, and they had nearly completed their trip – another few weeks and they’d be climbing Katahdin in Maine. I climbed it in 2014! It was always fun talking with these folks as they approached the end of their journey. Congrats to them!

 

Hiker takes a seat to watch the sunset at Lakes of the Clouds Hut.

 

Sunset, Lakes of the Clouds Hut, NH 7-5-17 (1)

 

Sunset, Lakes of the Clouds Hut, NH 7-5-17 (2)

 

Cairn above Lakes of the Clouds Hut

Cairn above Lakes of the Clouds Hut marks the trail.

 

In dim light, heavy rain or snow, or foggy conditions, the cairns mark the trail. Even in clear weather, it can be hard finding the trail in large boulder fields. We actually found ourselves on the wrong trail and had to backtrack for twenty minutes to find where we had missed the correct trail -and that was a clear day. In good conditions, we could sight 3-5 cairns in the distance and plot a straight course through the boulders, avoiding the zig-zag between individual cairns. There really was no trail, only the cairns pointing the way across the unending boulder fields.

 

Evening sky over Lakes of the Clouds Hut

 

Mount Washington locked in morning clouds

 

Leaving Lakes of the Clouds Hut

 

It was a good climb up and through numerous boulder fields to get out of Lake of the Clouds and back on the AT/Crawford Path trails. After about 3/4 mile, we took a fork north on the Westside Trail through more boulder fields and avoided the direct climb up to the peak of Mt. Washington -a climb of an additional 600′-700.’  There is a roadway and a railroad that gets people all the way up to the top (from the lowlands below), and a weather station and snack bar to boot! It actually gets crowded up there. We avoided the boulders, the climb and the crowd, and probably saved ourselves a couple of hours in the process. Alas, no pictures from the top.

 

Trail up to and around Mt. Washington, headed to Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams and Madison Spring Hut.

 

The Westside Trail connected us with the Gulfside Trail (also the AT), which would take us past Mt. Clay, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Adams, to the Madison Spring Hut. The first mile was an easy walk along a ridgeline that followed a relatively constant elevation.

After passing Mt. Clay, the trail elevations began going up and down through boulder field after boulder field, hour after hour. Hiking got difficult. And it stayed that way as we circled the ridge around the top of the Great Gulf Wilderness cirque, on our way to Madison Spring Hut. This is where we didn’t want to hit bad weather, because escape routes off the ridge were relatively few and most would be challenging in bad weather -very steep and rocky.

 

Rough trails to AMC Madison Spring Hut

 

From this point on, the trail became very challenging and I took nearly no photos.  The boulder fields were deeper now, and hiking poles tended to get stuck in cracks and holes between the boulders. Breaking and/or bending hiking poles was a distinct possibility, to say nothing of falling and breaking a wrist or arm or ankle. We were also being hit with wind gusts that must have been 50+ mph, which impacted our ability to hike/jump boulder to boulder safely. I was getting tired. The boulders were getting bigger! Where the hell is the Hut!

We climbed down the boulders into a narrow ravine -it was difficult to fit between the walls of what was a dry, narrow waterfall. We dropped hiking poles and grabbed rocks, easing ourselves downward, tossing packs ahead, jumping to lower levels -wondering if this was even the dam trail! I’d sure hate to have to climb back up and out of this if we were wrong -this late in the day!

We reached the bottom and crossed a dry stream bed, then began climbing boulders and following cairns again. After 50 yards, we stopped, dropped our packs and sat down along the trail -it was break time. We each had an energy bar and a half liter of water, rested five minutes, put on our packs and hit the trail again, glad we were still on the trail!

 

On the trail to Madison Spring Hut. Good place for a break!

 

Rocks and boulders continue to slow us on the trail

 

Madison Spring Hut? Must be just over the horizon.

 

AMC Madison Spring Hut in the distance

 

The best sight we’d seen since passing Mt. Clay earlier in the morning, before hitting the boulder fields. But there were still more boulders all the way down… we wondered what was for dinner!

 

Approaching AMC Madison Spring Hut

 

All the huts used solar energy, most had a dozen 750 watt panels on the roof and some also had hot water panels to pre-heat water, then used on-demand propane water heaters. I believe all huts had back-up propane generators for charging batteries and providing emergency power. Human waste and kitchen waste was composted using aerobic processes and recycling. Restrooms used the Clivus Multrum composting system. Most huts used electric water pumps, and required about 2-3 kwh/day. We had headlamps and AAA batteries to meet our needs whenever required.

We had nearly completed our journey. Madison Spring Hut was the last in the Presidential Range hike.  The huts were a nice feature -I’d never done that before. I’d always backpacked with a tent, carrying all my food and cooking gear. I often carried 55-60 lbs. or 40% of my body weight. I liked the hut option!

 

 

AMC Madison Spring Hut

 

It was great to arrive at Madison Spring Hut! I was exhausted. We got our room assignment and dumped our packs, saying hi to others sharing the room -there must have been a dozen of us in our room. I took off my boots and put on my Crocs to relax and walk around the hut and meet a few other hikers. We also got out the maps and explored our options for returning to Joe Dodge Lodge Friday morning.

Dinner was great! We hit the sack early Thursday night, and slept well! Friday morning we could definitely feel the effects of Thursday’s hike. I took a Tylenol and went to get breakfast. We savored the food and enjoyed the hot coffee.

The Friday morning forecast included a good chance of rain. Our original plan was to take the Osgood Trail/Madison Gulf Trail/Old Jackson Road Trails south, back down to Joe Dodge Lodge. It was a 8+ mile hike and included a 3,500′ loss in elevation, including a 1 mi. section that dropped 2,000.’ It looked like it would be difficult, especially in the rain.

Examining the map, we found two other trail options (the Valley Way and Air Line Trails) that departed north and down the backside of the cirque to a shuttle stop on Hwy 2. Both were about 3 miles long and would be tough -but they didn’t include anything like a 2,000′ drop in 1 mile (Osgood option). We talked with the Hut manager and he recommended the Air Line Trail route over Valley Way for good reasons related to slope. The Air Line Trail it would be! We had to make a shuttle pick-up at 11:30 a.m to get us back to Joe Dodge Lodge for the night. We figured it would take us at least 3 hrs. to reach the shuttle stop at Hwy 2.

We departed Madison Spring Hut at 7:45 a.m. Friday, heading down the Air Line Trail. While we were headed down, we first had to head UP! Seemed natural, we hiked up and over a high point on the horizon, then faced another… and then we finally headed DOWN!

 

Air Line Trail heading ‘down’ from Madison Spring Hut

 

Air Line Trail heading down from Madison Spring Hut is very steep and rocky for 2 miles then enters forest with a more moderate decline.

 

It was exhausting. After an hour, I could already feel the effects of yesterday’s workout. My upper thighs, the muscles, were yelling at me. This was new. In the old days, before my heart surgery (triple bypass in 12/16), I’d be out of breath, stopping for a break and nearly panting! I never got winded on this trip -at no time! My new limiting factor was muscular! Amazing! I can build those muscles. I can deal with that.

How fast were we moving? Did we have time for a break -my legs were killing me. At one point, Jon yelled, Mike! I’d inadvertently started hiking a drainage, and had gotten off the trail. Easy to do, but dangerous! Glad I wasn’t hiking alone, I might have missed the shuttle! Finally nearing the roadway (I figured), I had to sit down on a flat rock on the forest floor to give my legs a rest – maybe a minute or two. I got up and what a difference a couple of minutes rest made! We continued and reached the shuttle stop with fifteen minutes to spare. We dropped our packs. I was done! Totally!

 

Dangerous weather warning posted on all trails going up to the mountains and ridgelines.

 

Appalachia shuttle stop, near Randolph on Hwy 2, connects direct to Madison Spring Hut, via the Air Line Trail. Just north west of Gorham, NH.

 

What a trip! We had a long ride back to Joe Dodge Lodge -going west for 90 minutes around the mountain, rather than 30 minutes southeast.  It was all good -I needed a rest anyway. I used a shuttle stop to pick up some ice for some warm beer back at Joe Dodge Lodge – and that was my first task upon our return… putting the beer on ice! Then a hot shower, and a great dinner. Then a cold beer out back with a small Cohiba… this was an amazing trip! Sooo glad we did it! Thanks Jon!

And, my sincere thanks to Dr. Peter Dyrud and the team!! 😉  Thanks all!

 

73, de Mike, KEØGZT

~~~~~~~

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Mike and Mikey hiking the North Shore of L. Superior, Pt.2

Mike and Mikey Gone Hiking Sign... Again

 

Mikey and I departed on our second week out together after spending a weekend at home and getting cleaned up a bit. We returned up north to the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) again, but not as far north this time. We used Temperance River State Park as our base camp, about 90 mi. north of Duluth on Hwy 61. Temperance River State Park is a small park, at only 200 acres, but it is surrounded by Superior National Forest and state forest lands.

The SHT approaches the Park from the north on the eastern side of the river and crosses the river  near Hwy 61, then runs north again along the western side of the river for about five miles before continuing its south westerly direction.

The plan was to explore the Temperance River for about a mile upstream from Lake Superior, then head inland to visit Carlton Peak and Britton Peak to the northeast along the SHT -about 9.6 miles round trip. We’d explore the state park for a day, and then we’d drive up to Oberg Mountain and Leveaux Mountain and hike their loop trails; then maybe hike the SHT back south to Britton Peak again, from the north -depending on the time we had available.  Oberg to Britton Peak would be 10.4 mi. round trip, and each of the loop trails are about 2 miles. It would be a push, but we’d see how the trail conditions were and how much time we had available -we would be flexible!  This second trip with Mikey, had us out for four days.

Sidebar: Following this second week out with Mikey, Amateur Radio’s Annual Field Day -2017 took place (weekend of June 24-25). I attended Field Day activities sponsored by two local amateur radio clubs. I’ll post a brief summary of those events as time permits. Immediately following the radio events, I was again on the road, headed east. My activities out east included time spent in VA and MD, and a week of hiking in the White Mountains of NH –the Presidential Range along the Appalachian Trail, between Crawford Notch and Pinkham Notch, in the Whites of NH. I’ll be posting about that trip in the near future as well.

Now -Back to our exploration in and around the Temperance River of northern Minnesota. Mikey and I departed early Monday morning after Field Day wrapped up, and had our base camp established in Temperance River State Park by 1 p.m. Our campsite was located on the perimeter of the campground, just above the river -a pretty secluded area overall, given it’s popular state park status.

 

Temperance River, North Shore of Lake Superior, MN

Temperance River, North Shore of Lake Superior, MN

 

SHT and Temperance River maps

SHT Map, Temperance River State Park map and tools for the trail

 

The weather was heavily overcast most of the first day out. After getting our campsite  established, we grabbed our cameras and headed about a quarter mile upstream, crossing Hwy 61, to explore the river’s gorge. Even with the overcast skies, the gorge is a remarkable geologic formation, and the rushing river waters are always beautiful -rain or shine, summer or winter, open water or frozen.

 

Hidden Falls, Temperance River, MN (1)

Hidden Falls, Temperance River, MN (1)

 

Hidden Falls, Temperance River, MN (2)

Hidden Falls, Temperance River, MN (2)

 

Temperance River gorge (1)

Temperance River gorge (1)

 

Temperance River gorge (2)

Temperance River gorge (2)

 

Temperance River gorge (3)

Temperance River gorge (3)

 

Temperance River gorge (4)

Temperance River gorge (4)

 

The Temperance River gorge trail is a fantastic place to explore with camera in hand. Different seasons and foliage variation, high water/low water, light conditions, cloud cover, etc. all add to the distinct yet diverse, multicolored, mottled scenes from nature.

The gorge and its many waterfalls and potholes are the result of the areas fire and ice history -volcanic activity followed by glaciers over a mile deep. Since the end of the Great Ice Age about 12,000 years ago, the force of flowing glacial melt water over hardened lava bedrock has created the dramatic Temperance gorge, and many others like it along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Global warming has been going on here for thousands of years.

The skies cleared somewhat by early evening, and we returned to the river with our cameras to  capture some ‘new’ scenes.

 

 

 

Mouth of Temperance River entering Lake Superior (1)

Mouth of Temperance River, entering Lake Superior (1)

 

We returned to our campsite, not far from the mouth of the river, to fix some dinner. After dinner we enjoyed a campfire and talked about the days activities. Both of us slept well and woke ready for another day of hiking and fun.

 

Sunny day in the river gorge

A new sunny day brings out the colors in the Temperance gorge.

 

We hiked past the gorge on the SHT, taking more pictures along the way. As usual, we had to watch our step given the rocks and roots along the trail.

 

Headed upstream beyond the river gorge

Headed upstream beyond the Temperance gorge.

 

Top of the Temperance gorge

Top of the Temperance gorge

 

Temperance entering the gorge

Temperance entering the gorge

 

Temperance River

Temperance River

 

 

Mikey at beginning of Temperance River gorge

Mikey at beginning of Temperance River gorge

 

 

Mikey taking pictures upstream

 

 

SHT overlooking Temperance River

SHT overlooking Temperance River

 

SHT leaves the Temperance headed NE

SHT leaves the Temperance and heads NE

 

SHT -a great trail!

SHT -a great trail!

 

Mikey likes to hike

Mikey likes to hike

 

Britton Peak in the distance

Britton Peak in the distance

 

Britton Peak

Britton Peak

 

Base of Britton Peak

Base of Britton Peak

 

Mikey on Britton Peak

Mikey on Britton Peak

 

Mike and Mikey on Britton Peak

Mike and Mikey on Britton Peak

 

After exploring Britton Peak we got back on the trail, and headed for our campsite -we were both getting hungry. All we’d had since breakfast were a couple of energy bars.

 

The trail back

The trail back

 

Hiking along the Temperance

Hiking along the Temperance

 

Life on the rocks (1)

Life on the rocks (1)

 

Cloudy skies return over the Temperance

Cloudy skies return over the Temperance

 

Beauty along the river

Beauty along the river

 

 

Mikey on the SHT

Mikey on the SHT, overlooking the Temperance River

 

Life on the rocks (2)

Life on the rocks (2)

 

Temperance River, another view

 

Water on water

 

We wondered if the rain (above) would be moving our way; but not that day -we had no rain all night! We had been lucking out weather-wise, last week and this week as well. One big downpour last week in the middle of the night, and nothing yet this week.

 

The beach, Lake Superior near Temperance River

 

Life on the rocks (3)

Life on the rocks (3)

 

Lake Superior shoreline, MN

Lake Superior shoreline, MN

 

We returned to camp to fix dinner and relax after a long day on the trail. We split wood and built a nice fire. It’s always fun to talk around a campfire, and I had plenty of stories to share with Mikey about my past backpacking experiences.

Next day we drove up Hwy 61 to Co. 336, to hike the Oberg Mtn. and Leveoux Mtn. loops, and then head back to Briton Peak from the north side along the SHT (beginning at the common trailhead for Oberg and Leveoux). We weren’t sure if we’d have time, but figured the sooner we got started, the better our chances of getting in the miles and completing the mission. Mikey was anxious to get started!

We arrived at the trailhead and hiked the Oberg loop first (about 2 mi.).   There are some good vistas from points around the upper perimeter of Oberg, and the day was good for pictures.

 

 

Leveaux Mountain, viewed from Oberg Mtn.

Leveaux Mountain, viewed from Oberg Mtn.

 

My wife, Judy and I snow-shoed up and around Leveaux and down to Temperance River State Park a few years ago. We followed wolf tracks that were tracking a deer for the last few miles. We stayed very alert, watching for the wolf and any sign of an encounter, but witnessed nothing. We never saw the wolf or the deer, and eventually lost their tracks among hiker prints as we approached the Park.

Oberg and Leveaux are only a few miles apart and share the trailhead parking lot. Both offer interesting views and good short climbs. They are good hikes if you only have a few hours available. The sawtooth formation as seen on top of Leveaux, is consistent with other formations in the Sawtooth Mountains found along the North Shore of Superior.

 

Flowers on Oberg Mtn.

Flowers on Oberg Mtn.

 

 

View from Oberg (1)

View from Oberg (1)

 

View from Oberg (2)

View from Oberg (2)

 

View from Oberg (3)

View from Oberg (3)

 

View from Oberg (4)

View from Oberg (4)

 

Oberg -heading back to trailhead

Oberg -heading back to the trailhead.

 

 

A shady trail

A shady trail; cooler but maybe more mosquitoes. Trade offs… but not if you want to get from point A to point B in a timely manner.

 

Onion River, SHT

 

Judy and I snow-shoed up the Onion River from Hwy 61 for a couple of miles about ten-twelve years ago, climbing up the edge of a waterfall along the way. It was a great experience -my first snowshoeing event! I’d broken my ankle a few months earlier, and didn’t feel comfortable x-country skiing, so we tried snowshoeing -I absolutely loved it, and have been snowshoeing ever since! Mikey has also been snowshoeing, and loves it as well.

The Onion River is also a reliable source of water along the Superior Hiking Trail -just be sure to filter it first. You’re just asking for trouble drinking unfiltered water. Avoid putting yourself in that position.

 

Leveaux Mtn. spur trail

Leveaux Mtn. spur trail

 

Trail life, the ups and downs...

Trail life, the ups and downs…

 

 

View from Leveaux Mtn.

View from Leveaux Mtn., with beaver pond in distance

 

Britton Peak from Leveaux Mtn.

Britton Peak and Carlton Peak from Leveaux Mtn.

 

Beaver pond

Beaver pond

 

Beaver lodge

 

Bear on the trail (1)

Bear on the trail (1)

 

We ran across bear prints in the mud along the trail. They must have been from an adult female black bear, because we soon found tracks from at least one small cub. I usually carry bear spray when backpacking, just in case of a run-in with a mama bear with cubs. Black bears will usually run when they see you, but the presence of a cub adds a not-insignificant degree of potential danger. If they feel threatened, they could cause a problem and have been known to attack people under such conditions.

You should always carry bear spray in grizzly country, as they are always considered dangerous, and may challenge or attack for no particular reason. And, don’t try to outrun them, you can’t! I often carry a large caliber firearm when in grizzly country, just as an added precaution. They can be very dangerous.

Both black bears and grizzlies may try and steal your food if given the chance. Hang your food and any fragrant toiletries in a bag from a tree or use a bear canister or box to store your food at night. Don’t keep such materials in your tent or pack at night. If a vehicle is available, store items inside the locked vehicle.

There are no grizzlies in Minnesota. 😉

 

Bear on the trail (2)

Bear on the trail (2)

 

Bear cub tracks can be seen along with the adult tracks in the above picture. These prints look pretty fresh, so I made some noise as we moved down the trail just to let them know we were coming – talking and clapping my hands now and then. You don’t want to surprise a mama with cubs!

 

Adult bear and cub on the trail

Adult bear and cub on the trail

 

Bear on the trail (3)

Bear on the trail (3)

 

We also found some moose tracks along the trail, not far from the beaver pond. Moose could likely be spotted along the edges of the beaver pond in early morning or evening hours. Their tracks are typically at least double the size of deer tracks.

 

Moose on the trail

 

Moose on the trail

 

Moose on the trail

Moose on the trail.

 

Trail to Britton Peak from Leveaux Mtn.

Trail to Britton Peak from Leveaux Mtn.

 

We had taken more time hiking and taking pictures than we’d planned and were falling behind on our miles covered. Mikey and I agreed before we started this last portion of the hike, that if we didn’t reach our destination by 2:30 pm, we’d turn around -just to be sure we’d get back to our base camp before dark, cook dinner and enjoy a campfire. At 2:30 we turned around and hiked back to the trailhead, then drove back to base camp at Temperance River. No big deal. We’d had a great day hiking, got lots of pictures, and now had time to enjoy a great meal and campfire. Safety is always a prime consideration when hiking and camping! Everything worked out as planned.

That simple strategy we used, provides a good way to avoid potentially bad situations, where you might run out of daylight, etc. I used it before when hiking solo in the Pecos Wilderness of the Sangre de Cristo Mountians about 20 mi. NE of Santa Fe, up along the Pecos River. I had a map with no distance scale on it, so when I headed out, I estimated the time I had available until dusk – and used half that time to determine when I’d need to turn back if I hadn’t reached my destination. In this case I reached my destination with almost an hour to spare. I then had the option of making camp at the destination, or taking some photos and simply returning to my base camp. It should be noted that I had all the gear with me that I’d  need to spend the night out -small tent, sleeping bag, flashlight/batteries, water/filter, rain gear and some energy bars. In the end, I decided to return to my base camp, but everything was planned out ahead of time. Always better to be safe than sorry!

Back at base camp, the Dinty Moore Beef Stew with added potatoes and veggies provided us a great, hardy meal after a long day on the trail. And Mikey had plenty of daylight to wash dishes after we finished eating. We were ‘happy campers.’

 

Mike cooked, Mikey washed – a shared effort all the way!

 

Next morning we packed up and drove to Duluth. We did some shopping, and checked the schedule for big cargo ships coming into the Duluth Harbor that morning -kind of a hobby with Mikey whenever in Duluth. We had lunch at Angie’s Cantina, then walked across the Lift Bridge and out along the shipping channel to watch for the CSL ASSINIBOINE, a Canadian cargo ship 736′ long.

 

CSL ASSINIBOINE approaching Duluth Harbor

 

CSL ASSINIBOINE (2)

 

CSL ASSINIBOINE (3)

 

CSL ASSINIBOINE (4)

 

CSL ASSINIBOINE (5)

 

CSL ASSINIBOINE (6)

 

Bayfield Tugboat, US Army Corps. of Engineers

 

Bayfield Tugboat, US Army Corps. of Engineers

 

U.S. Army Corps. of Enginners

~~~~~

Next up: Hiking the Presidential Range along the Appalachian Trail, between Crawford Notch and Pinkham Notch, in the Whites of NH.

73 de Mike, KEØGZT

~~~~~~~

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mike and Mikey hiking the North Shore of L. Superior, Pt.1

My 12 year old grandson Mikey joined me to hike and camp along the North Shore of Lake Superior recently. The temps got down into the 40’s a couple of nights, and we had a very heavy thunderstorm one night, with lots of loud thunder and lightening. Mikey pretty much slept right through the storm. There was some sporadic rain mixed with partly sunny/cloudy days over the five day trip. The tent worked well, and we didn’t get wet in the heavy thunderstorm, and rain-gear was adequate. One of Mikey’s first lessons was that rain-gear usually won’t keep you dry (if you’re hiking/working), but it will keep you warm. Like most good lessons, that one has to be experienced in order to learn it! 😉 Needless to say, we had great hikes every day, and overall it was an excellent trip!

Mikey’s two take-aways from the trip were that the weather can change very fast several times a day near the big lake -Superior, aka Gitchi Gami. And then, no sooner than getting to the top of a big climb, you go down again, then after reaching a stream or valley, you go back up again… maybe six or ten times a day… up and down continually… 200′-600′ at a time… and it adds up; that’s the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT). The nice thing is that there’s no real altitude to deal with -just the constant ups and downs.

Lake Superior is at about 600′ elevation, and most hikes along the SHT will alternate between 700′ and 1600′ -which can be nice if you’re a low-lander from the midwest. But you don’t get the more scenic views associated with climbing/hiking at a more challenging 8,000′ – 12,000′ and higher elevations out west, or in the Canadian Rockies, and elsewhere.

On this trip we drove up Hwy 61 out of Duluth about 140 miles to C.R. Magney State Park. We used this as our base camp. In the Park, we hiked up the Brule River a few miles, viewing the Upper Falls and the Devil’s Kettle, then some other short hikes in the park -about 7 mi. total. We also hiked several sections of the SHT, on the way north, including Section 13 -north off Co. Rd. 6, and Sawmill Dome -south off Co. Rd. 6. (At Hwy. 61 Mileage Post 65.3, Co. Rd. 6 is a left turn if you are driving N on 61.) Parking is available at the Trailhead on Co. Rd. 6, and round-trip mileage to both sites is about 6.2 mi.

We visited Grand Portage up near the Canadian border, and a cultural history museum (with a nice book store covering cultural history of the Ojibwe/Chippewa people), jointly operated by the U.S. Department of Interior and the Grand Portage Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa. Lake Superior has been home to the Ojibwe people for over 500 years. French fur traders were in the area in the early 1700’s, and the British moved in around 1760. By 1783 the British Northwest Company had established Fort Charlotte.  American Indian Tribes, like states, are sovereign governments under the Constitution of the United States. Additional information at: http://grandportage.com/heritage.php .

 

Grand Portage Cultural Heritage Museum

Grand Portage Cultural Heritage Museum

 

Lastly we visited the Pigeon River north of Grand Portage, and hiked up to the High Falls. The French voyagers portaged the High Falls in order to access the River above, along with other inland waterways. The portage trails were established earlier by the Ojibwa people. The High Falls of the Pigeon River is the tallest falls in Minnesota, at 120.’ The Pigeon River also serves as the border between the United States and Canada in this area.

Radio time. I had planned to bring along my Yaesu 817ND on this trip, with a new 10m-40m longwire antenna I recently built. I built it and a related dipole, with help from Don Clay, kc0tj and Howard Silverwater, 4x1zz -based on what I refer to as a ‘not-so-random’ longwire plan by Chris at: http://offgridham.com/2016/12/portable-antenna-hf/.

Howard and I tried it out last month -with Howard as licensed operator, and it worked well, making contacts in Long Island, NY and Alabama. However my Technical license limits my ability to operate/work many hf frequencies. I decided to bring the radio along and just try it on 6m at Section 13 and Sawmill Dome, but had no luck over a limited time, using the antenna supplied with the 817. Mikey and I decided to keep moving, so I packed up the radio and we headed out on the trail again.

A couple of days ago I received the MFJ-4103 switching power supply I’d ordered for the 817, from Universal Radio. I plan to operate on 6m and 10m SSB from the shack with conventional power until I get my General license in a few months. It will also give me time to learn to operate the 817 radio -it’s a step up from my ht, that’s for sure. I also got the Alpha-Delta DX-EE 40-10m dipole antenna to install in my attic this fall, so that should keep me busy operating over the winter months and beyond.

Tomorrow morning we set up for Field Day-17, the biggest Ham Radio day of the year- starting at noon Sat. the 24th and running 24 hrs through noon on Sun. the 25th. Lots of opportunity to get on the air, and see different modes in operation. I’m especially interested in seeing some digital modes like PSK-31.  I’ll be visiting two local clubs to see what’s going on -should be interesting. I’ll likely write up a post with some photos here.

Back to the trail. I’ve got a few pictures of this last trip to share, and I’m confident Mikey will enjoy them as well as the narrative -I hope you do as well. We started the trip with a visit to Section 13, along the SHT. Then we visited Sawmill Dome.

 

SHT signage

 

Trail heading up to Section 13 Overlook

Trail heading up to Section 13 Overlook, north off of Co. Rd. 6 on SHT

Mikey on Section 13 Overlook

Mikey on Section 13 Overlook

 

SHT signage

 

Trail to Sawmill Dome, SHT south of Co. Rd. 6

 

 

Hiking up to Sawmill Dome

Hiking up to Sawmill Dome, south off of Co. Rd. 6 on SHT

 

flowers

Keep your eyes on the trail

 

Sawmill Dome

Sawmill Dome

 

Sawmill Dome Overlook

Sawmill Dome Overlook

 

Unsuccessful  making radio contacts at Section 13 and Sawmill Dome, we returned to the Trailhead and headed north to Judge C.R. Magney State Park – about 15 mi north of Grand Marais, MN.

 

 

The Brule River flows toward Lake Superior

 

The Brule River downstream

 

We found our campsite, unloaded the car and got camp set up in short order. Time for some dinner and a look around before darkness fell. Tomorrow will be a big day to explore the Brule River upstream. Rain is forecast, but we’re prepared.

 

Mikey got the tent set up

Mikey got the tent set up and a fire started -it’s nice to have a helper along!

 

We’d been hiking and it was a bit chilly, so we had a good appetite.Time to eat! No dehydrated meals on this trip. We were car camping and brought everything but the kitchen sink! But we did try to keep it simple, we’re guys after all! Mikey had milk, I had beer… and a cigar for desert!

 

A simple dinner after hiking.

A simple dinner after hiking.

 

A good thunderstorm came through during the night, and decided to just sit over us for a few hours -lots of thunder and lightening and a real downpour. Everything held together and we stayed dry. Next morning we headed upstream to check the river.

I’d come through here a few years ago on a backpacking trip, and after a few long days on the trail, I remember climbing down these stairs and then back up again with 50# on my back -funny how you remember those things. It was much easier this time carrying only a 15 # daypack. Btw, there are three sections of stairs, like in the picture below, to get up or down the hillside.

 

Stairs down to the High Falls

Mikey on the stairs down to the High Falls, Brule River, MN

 

High Falls of Brule River, MN

High Falls of the Brule River, C.R. Magney, S.P., MN

 

High Falls of the Brule River, MN

High Falls of the Brule River, MN

 

Brule River further upstream

Brule River further upstream.

 

 

Devil's Kettle Falls, Brule River, MN

Devil’s Kettle Falls, Brule River, MN

 

Devil's Kettle Falls,

Devil’s Kettle Falls, Brule River, MN

 

Devil's Kettle

Devil’s Kettle, Brule River, photo credit MN Dept. of Natural Resources

 

The Brule River splits at the Devil’s Kettle waterfall. Half the water goes over the falls and continues on it’s way downstream, while the other half goes into a deep hole and disappears. It’s been a mystery for years – where does the water go? Now a researcher at the Department of Natural Resources thinks he’s solved the mystery. In fact the water reappears pretty quickly downstream. Read about the researchers explanation of the missing water at: http://www.startribune.com/scientists-think-they-ve-solved-the-mystery-of-devil-s-kettle-falls/414996694/.

After hiking the river and exploring the falls and Devil’s Kettle we decided to go out for lunch at a nearby establishment -the Naniboujou Lodge and Restaurant which is located about a quarter mile from the Park on Hwy 61.

 

Naniboujou Lodge and Restaurant

Naniboujou Lodge and Restaurant

 

Naniboujou Lodge

Naniboujou Lodge and Restaurant, about ten miles N of Grand Marais

 

Naniboujou is the Cree Indian name for the god of the outdoors. The walls and ceiling are painted in Cree designsThe restaurant and lodge was established in the 1920’s and has a story associated with it. The food is excellent. More information is available at: http://www.naniboujou.com.

The mouth of the Brule River is just down the beach from the Naniboujou, so naturally we had to walk down the beach… collecting small rocks along the way.

 

Mouth of the Brule River

Mouth of the Brule River, as it enters Lake Superior

 

We then visited Grand Marais, and explored the marina and a nearby art studio. It was very windy and chilly outside, so we quickly found the warm studio.

 

The breakwater at Grand Marais Harbor

Waves against the breakwater at Grand Marais Harbor

 

We headed back to camp and the wind sheltered forest, built a fire and talked about all our hikes over the past few days. And I had lots of backpacking stories to tell Mikey around the fire before it got dark. Our sleeping bags were warm and we slept well.

Next morning we drove north to Grand Portage to visit the cultural history museum and I showed Mikey where to catch the ship that takes you out to Isle Royale -I’d spent a week backpacking there a few years back. Maybe Mikey and his brothers will hike out there some day? We continued north another dozen miles and hiked up the Pigeon River to see the High Falls (120′).

 

High Falls of the Pigeon River, MN

High Falls of the Pigeon River, MN

Pigeon River below the High Falls

Pigeon River below the High Falls, before it enters Lake Superior

 

We had one more day and night on this trip. The plan for the last day was to hike from the parking lot/Trailhead at Kimble Creek, northeasterly along the SHT to Kadunce River, then take a spur trail about a quarter mile south toward Lake Superior, then return the way we came – about 4.5 mi. roundtrip. The Kadunce River flows in a deep, narrow gorge. We also visited a couple of campsites along the SHT -both were vacant.

 

Mikey on the trail!

Mikey on the trail!

 

flowere

 

Campsite marker

Campsite marker -West Fork of the Kadunce River

 

Campsite latrine

Campsite latrine up the trail!

 

Campsite latrine -au natural

Campsite latrine -au natural

 

A backpacking campsite along the SHT. This one looks like the pit may be full… time to dig a new hole! This is a job often done by SHT volunteers. A dedicated crew! There are nearly 100 campsites along the SHT.

 

Kadunce River (1)

Kadunce River (1)

 

Kadunce River (2)

Kadunce River (2)

 

Kadunce River

 

Kadunce spur

Kadunce spur trail

 

Kadunce River (3)

Kadunce River (3)

 

Well, that’s about it for our first trip out this year. We’ve already done a second four day trip that was fantastic. I’ll get it posted sometime soon. It’s the busy season… time to hike! We start out easy and keep it fun. Later it gets hard, it’s work, but it’s still fun! 😉

 

73 de Mike, KEØGZT

~~~~~~~

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments