Section Hiking the Superior Hiking Trail
We took up the opportunity of the extended holiday weekend to do our first backpacking trip. We polled the audience, and ended up at the Superior Hiking Trial (SHT) for a few days. It's about a 7 1/2 hr drive from Des Moines to the motel we started at in Beaver Bay.
Being newbs and being married to a calculated risk taker, we spent a lot of conversations and time in the weeks prior planning, reading, researching, measuring, and purchasing. Biggest concerns: how much weight in our packs (ended up at 33 lb per person on the first day), how many calories to account for (around 2700 per person per day), how much water we would drink (around 2.5 liters a day per person), and what were the weather conditions location-ally to pack and plan for.
The 100% free and easy way to start out (now that we know) would be to leave your car in an overnight parking lot at the trail head and hike 1 mile into the trail and camp the first night at a site. We opted for a little motel room near a trail head, but would change it up next time.
I recommend buying the book of the trail you are hiking. We were able to plan and imagine the trail before we stepped foot on it. And while the book and review blogs can tell you a lot, so much of your experience is based on the weather and your body.
Day 1 - 11 Miles
Temperance River to Oberg Mountain
Warm and Sweaty
Our first day felt amazing. Despite the 30 lb packs, we cruised up the trail. Our first break was up some rocks (past two inspiring trailing running buff dads) to Carlton Peak.
We got to Britton Peak and kept going through maple forests and swampy sections to Oberg Mountain area.
We set up our first camp at a nice campsite near a pack of middle schoolers with 20 year old chaperones. They weren't so bad.
We bathed in Onion Creek. It was an AMAZING NEW EXPERIENCE FOR ME. By amazing, I mean shockingly cold. But also so refreshing to my stinky body. Then we pulled and treated water out of the same creek.
We did our "chores" - cooked dinner (REI freeze dried dinners), set up sleeping things (hammocks, bug nets, and shelters) and hung our bear bags!
Day 2 - 7 Miles
Oberg Mountain to Lutsen
Rainy and Rainy
The second day was a day neither of us will probably ever forget. I don't think I will ever be able to remember how it felt during each moment, but we will not forget the experience. The forecast showed rain from 10am-6pm. We had done our due dilligence in getting thick trash compactor bags to line our packs and we already had Osprey rain covers. We also had rain jackets and warm wool socks, so we decided to just do it.
We only had 7 miles to go, so we took our time under our kammock shelter drinking coffee and doing yoga stretches which was an amazing slow start.
We started out the trail happy and content with our clothing layering and gear choices for less than ideal conditions.
We then hiked straight up a Minnesota sized mountain, like knee to nose stepping up steep wet rocks. Then we were sweaty but sticky and wet and tired. And then I slipped on a wet tree root and then was a bit more cautious going down the other side of the mountain. After 5 ish miles, we made ourselves stop and take a break.
In the city, there's always somewhere to dart under to at least be out of the rain. Your feet and shoes might be soaked and your hair ruined, but you can get out of the beating rain. In the forest, it's raining on you everywhere you go. So it felt useless to take our packs off and stand in the rain for more time. But, we threw up our shelter (thank you Kammock!) to some trees and just huddled under it for a bit to figure out where we were. We ate some food and really did get ourselves amped up to continue to our campsite.
Before we knew it, we had arrived to our site! One of the most rewarding moments was again, stringing up the shelter and putting on our warm dry clothes and scrambling into our hammock and sleeping bags to get ourselves warm.
We waited out the next 4 hours of storm by caving and watching a movie on our phone. We were near a super touristy ski resort, so with full bars and nothing to do but get ourselves warm, we relaxxxeddddd and it was so so good.
Day 3 - 6.4 Miles
Lutsen to Caribou Falls
Breezy and Easy
Day three was our reward for day two.
We slept in, took our time rolling up wet gear and sun drying our drenched clothes. We filtered water in this beauuuuutifulllllll river. Then made our coffee and sat and drank it for a while.
We leisurely hiked through maple groves turning into pines. And then popped out to some incredible INCREDIBLE overlooks! The little river that we had gotten water from wove through the pines. Gosh, it was dreamy.
We arrived to Lake Agnes in awe of the beauty. It was glass and bright and the trees surrounding the lake were perfect.
Becuase this was a short day, we got to the campsite and spent many hours just laying on the big rocks watching the lake. Another body of water, another bath :)
We met a super nice guy that invited us to his campfire and shared his whiskey! We spent the last day just slow and taking in all of the animals, sounds, and breezes and then ending next to a fire. It was perfect.
We woke up and bid adew to the most perfect lake in the state and hiked our way through the forest to get picked up by our shuttle driver. We used this well advertised hippy lady named Harriet. She was timely, responsive, and full of wild stories and photos.
All this to be said, we loved it. We got to totally place ourselves in a remote location for three days. Everyday feels entirely different than in the city. I am enamored with the ground and the plants and how they live and the little animals and the big ones that we didn’t see (yay for no bears). God designed it all to work together and I am grateful to be able to walk in it.
Also. Zach is my hero. He just engineers things up on the spot and it works! He did twice as much work as me so that I could frolick with the loons and the beavers.
If you’re going and have questions, ask us!!