Well, we took four days to backpack the SHT April 16-19. We hiked 45 miles from Crosby SP to Silver bay and brought the pooch along on her first real adventure in the backcountry. The early spring allowed great weather in the 60s, with no snow and few people. This was our longest backpacking trip yet!
We arrived in Silver Bay around 3 pm and hitched a ride with a local, so we could park our car at SB for our return on Monday. This is where we met Tony, our "cab driver," and took off to Crosby State Park. Us being unfamiliar with the area and Tony's lack of knowledge, left us stranded at Findland rec center, 7 miles away from where we originally planed to start. Not realizing this until he had already left, we had a 7 mile hike to the SP along the road. It wasn't ideal but who plans a trip where everything runs smoothly? Not us. As we hiked, we soaked in the great wilderness and it felt as if we were in true solitude. We walked beside moose and wolf tracks that were quite fresh on the shoulder of the road, and punched out the 7 miles in no time. We arrived at the SP before sunset, and set up camp in a nice spot by lake Bensen - in a no camping allowed area of course - oh well.
The road ahead.
We made it!
Camp site Day 1
We woke up early to get on the trail and make up for some lost mileage. We passed though beautiful birch forests and flowing streams. Kelty, our dog was loving every moment as she was free to roam as she pleased. This gave LeAnn some peace of mind knowing she wasn't going to be the one to encounter a wolf first on the trail, as Kelty was chasing anything that moved. Along the way Kelty was flushing many deer and grouse. In the back of our minds we were thinking what if Kelty encountered a moose or a wolf, would she chase that? Probably. Well, then what would happen... would she be a snack? Probably. I guess we were going to take the chance, she was having a ball. She's a scary dog she could probably hold her ground... ha!
Morning Day 2
Start of trail
Our first stop was Sonju Lake about 7 miles in, it was beautiful. The trail dropped down towards the lake and we grabbed a much needed lunch. LeAnn wrote in the register and me and Kelty scoped the lake for fish. I didn't see much going on so i kept the fly rod packed, and we were off on the trail again.
Next stop was Egge lake a few miles further and we soaked in the great views and grabbed some snacks. The sun felt so good after such a cold night in the tent. It must have dropped to the high 20's that night. On we went still trying to gain some miles for the day. We knew we would have to put in almost 20 miles in order to take the next 2 days easy. Around mile 14, Kelty was exhausted. We faced a dilemma to stop now, or to go another 4 miles to the next backcountry site. We decided it would be best to push Kelty another 4 miles so we could make it back to the car in time on Monday. She wasn't to excited about the decision as we looked at her all curled up ready for a nap. LeAnn and I were quite exhausted ourselves. LeAnn was feeling blisters setting in, and I was just aching from my heavy pack. We arrived at the Section 13 campsite around 5pm and we were all ready for some grub. The campsite was beautiful with a great panoramic view in which you could see for miles. Lake Superior was off in the distance to our east; what a beautiful view. Ready to eat just about anything, we cooked up one of our backcountry dinners and it smelt like a million bucks! As we dipped into the pasta we quickly changed our minds. After the first bite I looked down at the dog food that was getting devoured and almost thought that it might be a better choice. I never knew backcountry food could actually taste bad when you are so desperate for food. We opted for the alternative just add water rice and vegetables along with mashed potatoes. Which was much much better. We watched the sun set and set up camp, hung the bear bag, and then we're off to get some much needed sleep.
Kelty playing on "Old Trappers Cabin"
Kelty's condition 11.3 miles in on day 2
Camp site day 2
We woke up numerous times during the night struggling to stay warm, I think Kelty felt the same. She's not the cuddling type but on this night she found a cozy spot between the two of us. I didn't think the warmth of the morning sun could come soon enough. At the first sign of light we were out of the tent and ready to tackle the new day. We cooked up some delicious oatmeal and drank our much needed instant coffee, and we were off again. The trail took us SE overlooking the Superior lake shore, up and down over bluffs. There was one stunning view after another. After such a long Iowa winter it felt so relaxing to be in the outdoors hiking and taking in the beautiful day. We approached an over look of Wolf lake about 6 miles in, and the vistas were amazing. Kelty ran to every edge looking down 200 ft cliffs every chance she got. LeAnn wasn't impressed with her daredevilish acts, saying "Kelty get back here!"
Me and Kelty
We entered Tettegouche State Park 4 miles later and hiked through a pine forest that was absolutely beautiful. We began to feel as if we were back to some sort of civilization, as we surprisingly approached a dog on the trail followed by a couple who was doing a day hike in the park. These were the first people we had seen in 3 days! On we went to high falls, where we stopped for a second lunch.
We continued our adventure through the SP coming to a sign where we decided our destination for the night would be. We decided to try and make it to Bear Lake. That would put us at 16 miles for the day leaving 4 miles on day 4. As we neared the lake Kelty was looking quite worn out. We noticed this when she started to run ahead and lay down in the shade right in the middle of the trail. We took a few short breaks but encouraged her to press on. She was relentless and gave it her all until we reached the lake that evening. The second you think she has had enough she proves you wrong! Even when you think she's exaughisted she'll still find enough energy to chase anything that moves. With a couple miles to go she darted off trail and over a hill. Me and LeAnn looked at each other and just shook our heads. What is it now we asked ourselves. She came running back but then darted back over the hill out of sight. A second later we hear rustling and Kelty lets out a vicious snarl. She came sprinting back faster than ever and looked terrified... only for us to look up and see a porcupine scrambling up the tree. We checked her and were pleased to see that she hadn't been quilled.
We all arrived at the lake uninjured and ate up the rest of our food. We had the best meal of the trip (maybe the best backcountry meal ever) chicken noodle soup! I wet the line a bit before the sun was down and called it a night.
The next morning was a breeze and we arrived at the car (Siver Bay) around 10am! 45 miles later we were all exaughisted and decided to drive to Two Harbors for a real breakfast and a bloody mary!
The trip was a blast and we might have over booked ourselves as far as miles goes but now we know for future reference. This was one of our favorite backpacking thus far! Enjoy.