Sunday, October 28, 2007

Glorious weekend

Mrs Yam and I finally found our way out of town. We took last Friday off and left for Two Harbors Thursday night. We stayed in the lighthouse! I didn't even know that was a B&B, and it was a great find. As we left the Cities, the 35W bridge traffic was snarled (big surprise, that), and I felt tense. I hadn't been able to leave for a vacation and it was beginning to show. I feared that something would stop us from this getaway. Happily, nothing did and I could feel the tension streaming away as we headed North.

We made fairly good time (the Mrs is a real leadfoot) and checked into the Lighthouse around 7:30. Dinner in town and a night of reading. I'm on a serious Terry Pratchett kick right now and I wanted to finish The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. A kids book. Yeah, right. A story like the old Grimm Fairy Tales, with the death and violence included. But, like everything I've read of his, utterly entertaining.

Friday morning we headed up to a couple of State Parks we hadn't hiked yet, Split Rock Lighthouse and George H. Crosby/Manitou. Split Rock's Hiking Club trail is fairly long, but it is relatively flat since it lies between the lake and the highway and almost half of it is on the Gitchee Gummee paved trail. Easy six miles.

Crosby, not so much. We missed the turn for highway 1 and had to backtrack since the stupid navigator was staring at his belly button lint or something. Eventually we found it. This is a State Park junkie's treat, this one. You have to take a couple of miles of dirt road to get it and when you get there, it's really rustic. Nothing's paved, there's no giftshop or ice or anything. A board that you shove your campsite reservation slip into and that's about it. The hike was really challenging for us, with plenty of roots and rocks and lots and lots of elevation changes. I'll need to look at what I get out of the GPS to see it exactly, but there was plenty of climbing. Tough, but fair. It was easily the most technical hike we've ever encountered and we are proud of ourselves that we completed it and in pretty good time. We're not experienced, but compared to our outing to Eagle Mountain several years ago, we've improved considerably.

Then to Grand Marais for the room. Ah, me lovely Mrs is a bright lady and got a room with a hot tub, just what this fat ol' boy needed after dragging his corpulent carcass up and down the hills of Lake Superior. Dinner and beers at the Gunflint Tavern and some well-deserved shut-eye. After 10 miles hiking and some Furious (Surly on the North Shore!), sleep came quickly.

Saturday, we headed backwards a bit to Cascade River to hike another challenging trail. This one sends you up Lookout Mountain and back. There seemed to have been quite a windstorm in the recent past -- trees were down all over and we must have hiked around a dozen or so that ended up blocking the trail. That made things even more interesting.

After that, we went to Judge C. R. Magney for our aerobic workout. More climbing with a bunch of stairs near the end. It's a short 1.25 mile there-and-back, but the elevation changes make it fun and the scenery is magnificent. Not that the rest of the parks are shabby...

We finished by going all the way to the Canadian border and walking the Grand Portage trail. This is a paved 1/2 miles that brings you to the Pigeon River falls, the highest in Minnesota. They've had a bunch of rain, and the falls were really glorious. This pushed our hiking total to 101 miles and for that we get patches and a free night of camping. We headed back to Grand Marais, soaked in the hot tub, had dinner and drinks at the Gunflint and went to bed. They had a costume contest and a band that sounded like Brave Combo, great mole and did I mention that the have Surly?

The weather was perfect, the trails were perfect, the company was perfect (Hi, Hon!) and the stresses of the past few weeks couldn't stand up to the blast of happiness, beauty, exhaustion and gluttony that the weekend provided. It was like my spirit was steam-cleaned and I am happy and calm like I haven't been for long, long time. I hope I can save a small kernel of this, block it off from the ghoulies and the ghosties and ugliness and look at once in while when I need a pick me up. I really cherish the time I spend up there and I hope I can remember the feeling of standing barefoot in the lake this morning.

Time for bed. The week begins anew...


rigtenzin said...

I really enjoyed reading your last two posts. I like to hike too. Are you a member of a club? The patch and all that sound fun. Tell us about it.

bother yam said...

The Hiking Club is a Minnesota State Parks thingy. You can get more information here . We've "joined" (purchased) the both clubs and use them together. We found ourselves walking state parks as a way to do something interesting -- you can only circle Lake Harriet so many times -- and decided that since we're there, we may as well make a quest of it.