Yesterday was our Annual Spring maintenance hike on the Superior Hiking Trail. This is our 15th year maintaining this section of the trail. We’re responsible for walking the section once in the Spring and once in the Fall. We report any maintenance issues and do any maintenance we feel comfortable doing. Mostly we do trail clearing. Winter snows bring down trees and branches. Heavy snow and ice weighs down smaller trees blocking or encroaching into the foot path. We carry saws, loppers, and a Gerber axe to clear the debris.
This section is along the North Shore of Lake Superior, 90 miles up the shore from our home in Duluth. It’s near Schroeder, Minnesota. We drive up and take one of my bikes along. I drop Susan and our gear off at the trail head where we will start our hike. Then I drive to the trail head we plan to finish at. I leave the car, take my bike and ride back to where I left Susan. It involves some gravel county roads. I hide the bike in the woods while we hike. Afterwards, once we have finished the hike, we then retrieve the bike. Works very slick. We’ve done this roughly thirty different times over the 15 years of maintaining this section.
The Superior Hiking Trail is is a 310-mile footpath that largely follows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior. It is spectacularly beautiful. It crosses many rivers and waterfalls and has panoramic views of Lake Superior all along it’s length. The highlight of our section is the walk along Cross River.
We had a cold May 14th for our trail project. It took all day for the temperature to claw it’s way to 40F/4C degrees. It was blustery with occasional snow flurries and sleet. I pride myself in always being able to dress appropriately for any weather condition. I somehow missed it for this hike. I was barely dressed warm enough while moving. When stopped I got cold quickly with no extra clothing to layer. Very rare for me not to be prepared. I carried twice as much water as I needed. Another miscalculation. Somehow I wasn’t realistic about the conditions that were present. My mind must have been on warmer weather.
There was an unusually large amount of debris on the ground along the Cross River this year. I figure it was caused by a mixture of heavy snow combined with high winds. We found at least a dozen 5 foot sections of evergreen tree tops that had been snapped off. I’ve never seen that before. And of course many fallen trees like the one above. There were two at this spot. I had already removed the smaller one with my axe before taking this picture. This one would have taken a hour or more to cut out with our axe. We decided to write it up and let a chainsaw crew take care of this one. This is on Superior National Forest land. You have to be certified by the National Forest Service to use a chainsaw here.
It took us 7 hours to walk this 6.5 mile section of trail. So we did a fair amount of work. We look forward to volunteer work. It gets harder each year as we grow older. But it’s always a nice day when working in the north woods.
What lovely country! I’m beginning to ponder doing some bike touring up north. Next year, about this time, I plan to participate in the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour. Since I’ll be traveling so far anyway, maybe I should add on a few more days. Maybe I’ll follow up with you about options reasonably reachable from Red Wing.
Great idea. Although, I have to admit the Lake Pepin/Mississippi Bluff country is about as good as it gets for Upper Midwest bike touring. One of my all-time favorite week long bike tours was in that area. The extended bike tour you and Shawn did after last years 3-speed tour was a good plan. Another favorite, which is something right up your alley, would be to ride the Almanzo 100 course. I did this with some friends a few years back as a 2-day overnighter. That is some of the best gravel I’ve ever ridden. Much different than the gravel we have in Northeastern Minnesota.
Thanks! The Root River Trail also looks like a good option. A mix of towns, picnic areas, camping options, and roughly 50-ish mile (one way) out-and-back option would provide time to see most of it, I think. Also seems to have many good reviews. It might be a good logical extension of the Pepin ride since I (or we, whoever “we” is) would still be riding three speeds. Any thoughts on this one?
Oh yeah, I forgot about the Root River Trail. That was part of our week long tour. Lanesboro is a very cool destination town as well. When the Root River Trail went in it revitalized the quaint downtown area. It’s got a great small Midwestern farming town vibe. It’s also Amish Country.