Sunday, July 19, 2009
Lorrie and I got up early to go into Northfield so I could watch part of the the Tour de France stage around 8am. The connection didn’t work so I didn’t get to watch it live. Disappointing! We also went into Nerstrand to get some gas, ice, and water. While we were driving in, we saw a cyclist near the campground. Strange… the gravel and all. As we got closer to the main intersection, I saw a familiar yellow sign. The Red Ribbon Ride, which I had ridden last year, was in town. The rest stop is near the little gas station in town and my theory is that the rider we saw missed a turn. We did a quick scan to see if there was anyone we knew. There wasn’t. So off we went again. Made me realize that I need to do another ride this year. Even if it’s not as long as the ones I’ve done in the past.
Spent the rest of the day reading and relaxing… and stoking the fire. Packed up and headed home around 4pm, which is check out time. We were likely the last people leaving as it seemed pretty cleared out.
I’m starting to wish the State Parks Passport program was still in effect. I’d never thought about it before. But it would be a fun goal to camp at each of the parks. We’ve definitely got a good start!
The Kingdom 6... heretofore known as Queendom 6... was awesome! It was great having so much space. Emma Blue even seemed to sleep better in it. Though the temperature was also warmer than when we've camped earlier this year. It was just nice not stepping on stuff everytime we needed to walk around. It feels a little strange having such a huge tent but we're car camping and we do plenty of time in tiny backpacking and 2-person tents. So this feels like a reward for all that scrunching. My lower back gets a little achy trying to dress in a half bend. Though, I found myself doing the half bend this weekend anyway because that's what I'm used to. Then I'd look up and realize I could stand up straight! Sweet!! More foot room at the end of our sleeping pads as well so we have room to put our bags and such. It didn't rain, so I can't say how it handles that. But it handled beautiful weather and sunshine just fine! (=
Saturday, July 18, 2009
We relaxed and hung around camp most of the morning. Did some reading and played with the dogs. After lunch we went for a “little hike.” During which we got a little lost and ended up going on a “long hike.” That was okay too. Just not what we’d expected. I still don’t know exactly where we were. But we made it back soon enough and Emma Blue was good and tired. More relaxing, then dinner was a chicken and rice before we did some more relaxing. Funny thing is that I spend most of that “relaxing” time collecting kindling and such to burn. So I don’t end up sitting much. We had a nice quiet night around the fire without loud medical students disruptions.
Friday, July 17, 2009
As we were trying to decide where to go, Nancy from Minnesota Outdoor Women sent an email to the group saying she was going to be camping at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. We decided to try and get the Non-reservable walk-in site there so that Lorrie wouldn’t have to drive far after work. If that site wasn’t available, our backup plan was to head down to Rice Lake State Park. I drove out to Nerstrand on Friday morning and the walk-in site was available! Yay! Back home to pack. It’s weird camping so close to home! Lol
It was quiet when I was there in the morning. When we got there around 5pm, it was packed. And noisy! The group site across from us was taken by a large group of, from what we heard, Mayo medical students. They were SO loud! But it was evening so no big deal. Not exactly the noises we want to hear when we’re camping but at least they weren’t playing obnoxious music!
Nancy was already there. So she came over to visit briefly while we were putting up our tent. She’s quite short so she had some interesting comments to make about how tall the tent is.
The rest of the evening was spent having burgers around the fire and just relaxing. Nancy came over a little later with Sadie, her little Yorkie. I made Mocha Au Lait for us… my first time so I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. It was scrumptious, if I do say so myself! They Mayo people were still pretty noisy so Lorrie went to the office to ask what happens if they are noisy at 2am when the park office is closed. Apparently there’s a ranger that goes through the park throughout the night to help keep things in order. We shall see...
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Our Quarter Dome T2 tent uses an innovative new design to create a strong, ultralight tent with generous interior volume and an easy setup.
Pros: Comfortable, Lightweight, Easy To Set Up
Cons: Collects Condensation
Best Uses: Backpacking, Beach, Hiking
Describe Yourself: Avid Adventurer
What Is Your Gear Style: Comfort Driven
I purchased this tent to use for backpacking. I decided on the T2 vs T1 so that I could have more room for my dog and pack inside. I was glad to have made that choice when my backpacking partner kept calling out to me that her dog was taking over their tent. On my latest week-long backpacking trip on the Superior Hiking Trail, set up was easy and it was lightweight enough. Overall pretty good. The only problem was that the material under the ventilation openings kept touching the screen material of the tent. Of course I didn't notice that until a morning of great condensation, which then dripped into the tent. After returning from the trip, I went to the nearby REI store to ask for suggestions on what I might do differently or to find out if my particular tent was irregular. The clerk said to keep the ventilation openings closed. To which I said, "Aren't those a major component of the tent? And aren't they intended to keep condensation low?" He also referred to all these positive reviews, which was part of the reason I purchased the tent in the first place. Anyway, I am still trying to decide about returning it. If anyone has found a fix for the drip, I am willing to try it as I really enjoyed the tent otherwise. I just want to be comfortable with the possibility of rain!
Saturday, July 11, 2009
On July 9th, we drove up to Grand Portage to see what we could see. Which was not much. There is a casino and a State Park that has a lot of construction happening. Though we did walk up the trail to see High Falls. Which is, apparently, the highest falls in the U.S. Though, as stated on the sign, it has never been measured. I thought that was funny. But it was beautiful! We also stopped in at the Grand Portage museum and checked out what the voyageurs had gone through. My little pack seems so tiny compared to their 190 pound average weight packs! And they are about a foot shorter than me! I bought Lorrie a wine bottle that I thought was very beautiful! Funny, I didn't take a photo of it! We went back down into Grand Marais so that Pam could buy a spoon she'd been looking at. This was her birthday present to herself. (= Back to camp and more relaxing around a campfire before heading off to bed. What's nice about being here at this time is the few people around during the week!
July 10th, we decided we had enough energy to do the "Lake Walk" portion of the Superior Hiking Trail. So we parked near the trail head and walked in. The shore along Lake Superior is full of smooth rocks that have been battered around for who knows how long before being deposited onto the shore. There was one section of large rocks that was pretty difficult to navigate. I imagine it would be VERY difficult with a full pack on. Though I'm keen to try it! We stopped in a shady area under some trees and had a snack and built some cairns. After a little while, we headed back the way we came instead of finishing the whole walk. It's funny the difference between Emma and Milo. Milo's legs are long so he can be pretty selective which rocks he steps on. Emma just barreled through tripping and running through the big rocks. She also wanted to play in the water SO badly! But it's not a great place for her to swim. She waded a little bit and we did find one still pool for her to sit in. We went back into Grand Marais afterwards and just wandered around checking out the shops. Mostly touristy but we did get a few things at Ben Franklin! lol I discovered there is a bike shop in Grand Marais! All the times I've been there and I never saw it. They are on a side street and their sign is totally covered by another shop's sign! That's terrible... they should raise it up a little higher so people like me can see it. Ironically, as soon as I saw it... they closed. Bummer! Back up to camp where Pam wanted to light tea lights instead of having a fire. So we nearly burned down our picnic table with 4 tea lights! lol It was funny until we couldn't get the fire out and had to do some careful maneuvering to get them out. Well... it was still funny but also a little scary. Ironically, there were a couple groups of kids that had shown up that night... and they were behaving very well. So it would have been funny if these 2 grown women had started trouble! Off to bed for our last sleep in Judge Magney.
A note about Judge CR Magney State Park.... the staff is extremely attentive! I loved that! Not nosey or in the way... just attentive. There were no radios or loud noises. The kids that showed up were quiet in their site and went into the woods to be noisy one night. That was fine with me! The staff was very courteous too! I've been at quite a few state parks now and I would say this is the best run of those I've seen. I appreciate that!!
July 11... Lorrie is coming to get me! Yay! Even though we had no wood, I started a little fire. It was cold this morning! Pam read next to the fire and I fiddled with it before taking my shower. We basically just hung around camp all morning and packed things up. Which didn't take me long as I still only had my backpacking gear. But I had erected my tent under a sap tree. So I needed to clean that up. Most of it came off but I needed to do a little more cleaning at home too. Lorrie showed up around 1pm and we took off for Two Harbors. We stopped at the Superior Hiking Trail store and got t-shirts, patches, and stickers. Then we took Pam out for a *real* birthday lunch at Blackwoods Inn. After which, we parted ways. Pam had friends to meet in Duluth and we needed to get home so I can sleep in a real bed! We didn't stop too much on the way home. Mainly just for gas... and later a coffee to help keep us awake.
Home at last!
To view photos from these days, feel free to visit my Flickr page.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
As we were getting ready to leave, we both decided it was warm enough for short sleeves. So off came the long-sleeved shirts. I'd Deeted myself up good. On my shirt. So, since I removed my shirt, I had some issues for the first part of the walk. This is all part of the "what should I do and when should I do it?" learning process. As well as not wanting to make everyone stop AGAIN because I forgot to do something. By the time we got to our first rest break, my left shoulder was entirely covered with bites and itching like hell. So I put the Deet on and went on my way.
We walked through a lot of private land today. And meadow. It was really beautiful! Emma was very cute ahead of me in grass that is taller than her. lol There were a lot of rocks and roots, some moose scat as well as moose prints. That was cool! I liked the idea of seeing one though it also scared the hell out of me as well! There were also quite a few climbs today. Some with stairs that seemed to make it more difficult. Though I imagine lots of people sliding down the decline without the stairs. Around noon, we hit a road walk, Tom's Road (something like that). It was really too hot and sunny to be doing that walk at that time. I walked with Emma from shady spot to shady spot. I don't know if all dogs do this, but she has, since she was a puppy, run in the sun and walked in the shade. I think we all just put our heads down and walked this portion. A couple cars passed and the passengers waved. It was a relief to be back on the trail. Though the trail got a lot more difficult after that road.
At some point we climbed up to a meadowy area and got our first glimpse of Lake Superior. That was very cool! Made me feel like we were pretty close to our goal for the day. Which we weren't! lol We walked a little too long today. Pam fell twice. I saw the end of one and her pack hit a tree. I was thankful it wasn't her head!! I'm sure she was too! A second time I came around a corner and she was sitting in a weird spot on the trail. She looked up and said, "This would be where I fell." So that's where we rested.
Eventually we made our way into the Judge CR Magney State Park boundary. But we kept walking and walking... and walking. By this time my feet were getting pretty sore. We started seeing signs that there had been more people in the area. The trail got wider and there were viewing points along the river. Then we ran into a family walking in flip flops. That was a good sign. We turned a corner and all that would come out of my mouth was profanity. There, in front of us, was a staircase steeper and longer than any I'd seen! It turned somewhere up there so I couldn't even see the top of it. lol Emma and I went first. I held my poles in the hand that held the railing. Then I used my other hand to grab the handle on Emma's pack so I could help lift her up a little to make it easier on her. I ran into a photographer with a couple sets of stairs to go and he wanted to stop and chat. I guess I would have thought a photographer would be more in tune to agony on a person's face. But I guess not. So, because I'm "Minnesota nice," we chatted. Until I saw Pam and Milo coming up and then I needed to get out of their way. He was a nice man. From Two Harbors. Had been up to the Canadian border to get some shots. I'd been walking that whole time. (= At the top, I sat with my butt toward the front edge, on a bench. When Pam and Milo got there, we walked again. And walked. And walked. We ran into a few more people. Milo wasn't quite listening to Pam so she was getting frustrated with him. He was attached to her at the point, so when he pulled too hard, she had to step too hard. She got a little cranky with me about the campground location. Which I know is because she was dehydrated and in pain. That's what happens! Eventually we made it to the camp office and did a self check-in. Then we had to climb a final hill to get into the campground. The first campsite didn't have anywhere to put 2 tents so we moved over one. And that is where we stayed! We had been walking for about 8 hours. Does anyone remember me saying that I am not hardcore?? lol But I survived!
We decided to take a rest day tomorrow and just stay in the park for 2 nights before moving on. Then we decided that maybe we should be done with the trail and just camp the rest of the week. And so that became the plan.
Basically the same routine as the previous 2 nights. Though getting water was significantly easier. There was hardly anyone in the campground. But there was a family across from us and the man agreed to take Pam back to her car to pick it up. I had no idea it was as close as it was... driving distance anyway. So that was that. Our backpacking trip is over. And our camping trip begins.
I am not sure right now if I'm more relieved or more disappointed. I had wanted to go further. But with Pam falling twice and both of us being so tired from today's long haul, it seems like the safe thing to do. We can always change our minds on Thursday (7.9.9).
To see all the photos, visit flickr.com/photos/twotiredoc
Monday, July 06, 2009
Mileage = approximately 6.4 miles (per my pedometer, Pam thought it closer to 5.5)
Camp: Hazel Campsite
I didn't sleep much at all last night. I wasn't feeling nervous at all but that doesn't mean I wasn't. We did go to bed pretty early so that may have affected me. I am more of a night person. It didn't get dark ever really but it got most dark around 10:30 or 11pm. The last time I saw was about 3:30am and then woke again around 6am. That didn't seem to affect me too much on the trail though. It was just frustrating.
I also woke up with a mosquito bite on my left eyelid. So I look like I've been in a fight or something. I find this one funny. But it's a reminder to put the bug repellent on first thing!
We got on the trail around 10am. I know this is late for hardcore people. And I'll try to do better in the future. But I, as those close to me know, am a futzer. Unintentionally. Though with this situation, I don't believe I am actually futzing. I believe that I am still learning what needs to be done and how to do it. And therefore should get some slack regarding the amount of time it takes me to get ready. lol Pam was very patient and seemed to be trying to pace herself with me. But she knows what she needs to do and when so I'm sure that was hard for her!
The hiking is hard! Surprise! lol Emma Blue is doing SO great!! Milo, Pam's dog, a retired sled dog, leads us, then Pam, then Emma right on Pam's heels. And then I come along about 20 yards back. I stop to take photos and am being extremely mindful of my steps. There are a lot of roots and rocks hidden under high grass. Pam stops about every hour for a break, which works great for me. The first stop was at another part of Carlson Pond where Emma and Milo could sortof play in water... though mainly it was mud. We refilled water bottles even though the water wasn't the greatest source. But out here you never know when you'll get another source. Pam has tablets to treat the water and I have a filtering system. So we are okay even if we have to drink this water. The dogs drink freely. We didn't stop too long. Though I did take time to put a mole skin on a scar I have on my foot that seems to be rubbing or something. Nothing major but I don't want it to turn into anything major either. Off we go again... same order.
Lunch was at yet another side of Carlson Pond, which had a campsite. It was nice to have someplace to sit and eat lunch. There was also nicer access to the lake so we got rid of the other water and filled up with this water instead. If nothing else, at least we have more for the dogs before it gets treated. For lunch I had a curry tuna wrap. Once I had everything out and was adding the curry, I realized I'd had curry last night. I'll have to make a note to spread that out so I can enjoy the spice a little more. I like not having to think about my food though. It's already prepared. I just have to reach in the appropriate meal bag and pull out one of the freezer bags.
After lunch, I'm not happy to be putting that pack back on. I haven't gotten used to it yet. However, my hip flexor's seem surprisingly happy about this new movement and maybe even the weight. I find that interesting and enjoy the feeling for quite a while. Maybe they have missed cycling more than I have! I make a mental note to get back on that bicycle as soon as I get home and recover.
I am starting to notice my enjoyment of this quiet time. I can see why people who spend so much time in the outdoors and alone write so much. Not saying that I'm coming up with brilliant world changing theories or anything like that. But I think about my life and the direction it's taking. I think about my personality and how it affects my interactions with others, which of course affects my life in general. Most of it is good but there are places I think I could make some changes. I realize, yet again, how much I love being outdoors. Then I start analyzing why I don't spend more time out here. And I have this epiphany that, for me, it is just as important who I am with as it is where I am or what I'm doing. I've done a lot of things on my own. And I've enjoyed them. But the things I have enjoyed the most have been with others. This confuses me... as I've never considered myself a people person. Not anti-social in the slightest. Just more introverted. And I do enjoy quiet time alone and with Lorrie. I conclude that I could never be one of those adventurers who goes away from family and friends for extended periods of time on a regular basis to pursue the next adventure. Unless my family was with me... then I'm off to Everest as soon as we can get the gear together! (=
So, this is backpacking. Walking. With a heavy pack on my back. Thinking. Stopping periodically to look around and take photographs. I like all of it except that heavy pack. Though I know I can decrease the weight of this pack with some experience.... or I could just buy a smaller pack! lol
We walk up a Sled Dog Training Trail. Pam says that Milo flinched and started moving a little quicker to get away. lol He is a retired sled dog. He didn't like it. He won a lot and apprently was quite talented. But he was miserable. So the owner gave him to Pam so that Milo would be happier. And I'm sure to make room for another dog that actually wanted to sled. (= We rest along the road, have some water and a snack. It's a little hotter and I think I'm about ready to be done for the day. We turn off the double track to more singletrack and in another hour or so are in camp. By 4pm. I didn't think that was too bad.
Basically the same routine as yesterday. Got my tent out and set that up right away. Then started emptying some things in there. But I was hungry so everything else was put on hold while I got my water boiling. I got Emma Blue fed though she was much more interested in Milo's food than her own. Pam gives him venison with his protein-heavy kibble. Emma thought that was fabulous. So she got some venison in her food too. Funny thing about dog nature, Milo was more interested in Emma's kibble. So we did some mixing and matching and both ended up happy. They are perfect travel companions. Neither of them likes dogs who are in their faces and sniffing them all the time. They leave each other alone for the most part though seem to check on each other periodically. It's relaxing for me not to have to worry if Emma is going to snap at him or not. She just doesn't seem inclined to.
At each camp there is a "Bear Cord" sign. Yesterday we did our own (I should say, Pam did our own) bear lines and hung the food. Today she saw that "Bear Cord" meant they had hung strong cord or wire or something across the trail to make it easier for us to hang our food. Awesome! It took less than half the time to get everything hung tonight.
I have been a little worried about water. Probably with no reason. But my trips like this have mainly been in the Boundary Waters. Water was never an issue. So I'm not sure how low we can get before we need to be careful. Pam checks out the map and sees a "Reference Point" a little beyond our campsite. She thinks it may be water so we take a walk toward it. It ends up being a nice cool creek. So she fills some bottles and break out my Katadyn Basecamp and we fill that up. With the water from that we are able to fill up my hydration pack, and 4 or 5 other bottles. I am relieved! I also learned an excellent lesson about reading maps after we've stopped for the day and going beyond the campsite to check for water.
We again don't stay up late after we eat. I need to determine if this is what I like or not. It's Pam's preference and I'm certainly not going to try and keep her awake to entertain me. But I might have liked to build a small fire. As it turned out, I have been laying here reading and writing. Then Emma perked up. She didn't look startled. Curious maybe. So we sat there a moment and listened. Nothing. So I let her out of the tent to explore. She went over to Pam's tent and said hi to her and Milo. Once I was decent and had shoes on, I peeked out. I don't know if it's what she was sensing, but one of the half-burned logs left on the fire from previous inhabitants was smoking. There was no flame and no risk of anything that I could tell. But my pup would not know that. So I put it out and she came back into the tent. Interesting.
Still not dark. But we are going to try to get out of camp earlier tomorrow morning. 9am is the goal. And yes, again, I know that is not kosher for the hardcore. By now you should have figured out that I am not hardcore. (=
Later in the night, or maybe it was still evening, there was a surreal howling/barking... pretty close by. And then definite howling... a little further. And then more definite howling... even further. Emma sat up and listened. Then laid right back down. I figured if there was any danger Pam or Emma would let me know. Turns out the first "noise" was sled dogs barking. Apparently Milo freaked out a little by that sound! lol Poor guy! Pam knew it was sled dogs because they all sounded different and were not in sync. The other 2 were wolf packs... definitely in sync. It was amazing to hear... though a little disconcerting. We are definitely in the wild now!
To see all the photos, visit flickr.com/photos/twotiredoc
Sunday, July 05, 2009
So we met Pam at Java Moose in Grand Marais around 2pm. Not too late. I got an iced coffee... figured it would be my last for a little while. Then we caravaned to our ending spot near Kadunce River before cramming all 3 of us plus 3 dogs into my SUV. Funny thing... Emma Blue can be a little aggressive if she feels trapped... so she got the front passenger seat while Pam, Milo, Tori, and I crammed into the backseat. What a little princess! lol So Lorrie dropped us off at 14, Arrowhead Trail. Well, I use "dropped off" lightly. She had to stand there and help Pam and me decrease my stuff so that she could take with her what I don't need. I know she was antsy to get going so I am grateful for her patient nature! And decrease it we did! I won't even list all the things Pam suggested I get rid of. They are too many and I might get embarrassed writing so much! lol But I am inexperienced so I can't be expected to know exactly what I need. Eventually we got it all in my pack. It's heavy... but I have no idea how much weight I'm carrying. We got Emma Blue's awesome Ruff Wear Palisades pack all ready for her. We posed for our outgoing shot by the sign and then took off into the wild. (Hey, good title for a book... and movie! But I digress...)
Lorrie took off... slowly. I could tell. I know she watched us disappear. Because that's what she does. And I know this is an outdoor journal but my life is part of that. And it is significant that in two years, Lorrie and I have not spent this much time away from each other. And to do so without any possibility of communication for much of the time is also significant.
Our first hike was very short. We knew we would be starting late in the day and so decided that just getting into the trail and setting up camp right away would be a good plan. That would also give me practice setting up and taking down when I am not exhausted. So, we went in about 1 mile to Carlson Pond. There was SO much tall grass. Some of it was pressed where tents had been but it was on it's way back up. There was a wooden plank bench all around the fire pit, a picnic table, and a latrine. I got everything set up without issue. The vestibules of my tent were filled with high grass, which actually looked cool from inside. And I liked the swaying sound.
Pam dumped everything from her pack out onto the picnic table. She said she would have to repack everything tomorrow anyway so she just empties it out. I did the same except that I put a lot of mine directly into my tent. I have a 2-person tent while hers is a 1-person. So I have a little more room to maneuver with stuff tossed in.
Time for dinner. I had used "Freezer Bag Cooking" to prepare all my meals. Tonight, it's curry chicken rice for me except that I used tuna instead of chicken. The bugs came out pretty quickly so we were in our tents pretty quickly. You may recall my extreme sensitivity to bug bites from my Boundary Waters trip reports. I brought 100% deet this time... but figured I would just get inside for tonight. It's only about 8pm. I have 1/2 the tent. My backpack takes up a little less than 1/4 of the tent and Emma Blue has the rest. She uses my sweatshirt and other random things as padding and rests her head on my plastic ziploc full of clean underwear. What will she rest her head on in about 5 days?? lol
Tomorrow, we *really* start!
To see the rest of the photos, visit flickr.com/photos/twotiredoc