May sunset, full moon rise, overnight camping trip.

Taking the scenic route.

This past Saturday was a full moon. The folks over on the Steel on Wheels Forum scheduled a Sunset/Moonrise Virtual Meet-up event. Jeff and I participated in the April edition. For the May edition we decided to do it as an overnight bike camping trip. Three weeks ago we reserved a walk-in campsite at Jay Cooke State Park. It’s a 16 mile bike ride from my home. Jeff lives another 11 or 12 miles further.  The long range forecast was looking very bleak at first. May can be cold and rainy. Or it can turn out to be possibly the best weekend weather of the year. It turned out to be 80F degrees, cloudless, and extremely dry air. So dry the humidity was down around 15-20%. That is desert dry. And a challenge to stay hydrated in. The low was in the mid-50’s and Sunday it was sunny, dry, and 71F.

Not only was it warm, but the leaves were out. There has been many Memorial Day weekends here in Duluth where the leaves are just starting to come out. It was amazing to be outside this weekend with perfect weather and early leaves.

All but the first two miles was on the Munger Trail. We were able to take our time, not worry about traffic, and enjoy the scenery. We even took time to stop and watch some baby geese.


Here’s our route on Saturday. We took a three mile round trip detour into Carlton to buy some snacks: //

A rare picture of me.

We checked into the park campground, set up camp, and went down to the river to scout out our options for sunset and moon watching.

Jay Cooke State Park’s iconic Swinging Bridge over the St. Louis River.

Since the river runs through a small valley I didn’t think we’d have a good vantage point for either the sunset or the moonrise. Turns out it was better than I expected. With the help of some apps on our phones we discovered the sunset would be slightly off to the right of the river looking upstream and over the tree tops. The moonrise would also be off to the right looking downstream.

Looking downstream. We learned the moon would rise over the treetops to the right.

We headed back to camp for some relaxing and dinner.

Jeff in maximum relaxation mode.

Our dinner and clean-up ran late. We thought we might have missed the sun dropping below the treetops. By the time we reached the river we noticed sunlight still on the south bank.

Sunlight still shining on the south bank.

We raced up the river bank to a bend in the river and were able to catch the last of the sun just moments before it dropped below the treetops.

Interesting rock formations and driftwood high up in trees.

This month the moon was up 15 minutes before the sun set. However it would be nearly 90 minutes before we would see it rise above the treetops from the our vantage point on the river. We spent the time climbing and sitting on the strange rock formations. Jeff found on his phone that the rocks we were sitting on have been exposed for 1.1 billion years. We sat and pondered that for awhile. It’s amongst some of the oldest exposed rock on the planet.

Jeff climbing on the 1.1 billion year old exposed rock. Waiting for the moon to rise over the tree tops to his right.


We watched Jupiter rise. It was the first bright “star” in the sky. When the moon finally came over the tops of the trees we spent about twenty minutes trying to get a decent shot. Here’s my best attempts:


The bright star to the lower right of the moon is Mars.

We eventually headed back to our campsite. Our site was in the woods enough we couldn’t get an unobstructed view of the moon. We had bought a bundle of firewood and sat at the fire until midnight. I forget to get the obligatory fire shot.

Sunday morning was cool, but calm. We had a leisurely breakfast and then packed up and headed back to town. I was home by 11:00 am.

All in all, it was a successful overnight bike camping trip. And, it was my first bike camping trip of 2016. I’m already looking forward to more.

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