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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.’
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.
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