Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Day 10: An Unexpectedly Long Day...

June 9: The rain we expected during the night didn't start until about 8:00 in the morning when I was ready to start my day! Instead we hunkered in waiting for it to stop--which the forecast did call for--and the rain finally stopped by around 10:00. Chris and Tidy left camp before the rain even stopped--they must be much hardier than the rest of us! Hiking Viking was about ready to hit the trail at the same time Blueberry and I did. We wished her good luck and hoped to catch up again somewhere else on the trail, but we planned to go quite a few more miles than she did today so we wouldn't see her again. Not for awhile, at least. We'd be losing Tidy as well who talked about getting off the trail temporarily to reconfigure some of his gear deciding that he had too much stuff that was much too heavy.

This is a day-use only shelter in Gooseberry Falls SP.

The weather for the rest of the day stayed pleasantly cool and overcast, but it looked like it could rain at any minute.

We caught up with two other hikers near the old Gooseberry Falls visitor center, who I found out were a husband and wife team although the wife was the "real" hiker according to her husband, Ed. Her trailname was Snowshoe, and she was a reporter for the Star Tribune thru-hiking the trail to write a series of stories about the Superior Hiking Trail.

It didn't immediately dawn on me that she might be connected to the two people we crossed paths with the last couple of days photographing the trail and interviewing hikers--out of sight, out of mind, and those two were already out of my mind! But at some point I remembered then and it clicked--"Wait a minute," I asked, "are you with those two other people we met earlier?"

And yes, she was. They were her photographer and editor. The editor and her husband were only out on the trail for a short while, and Snowshoe was the only one of the four planning to thru-hike the entire trail.

Ed was getting off the trail at Gooseberry Falls--I guess he had a car waiting for him there--so she deviated off trail to go with him to the parking lot. Blueberry and I continued onward, having a little trouble following the waypoints since they weren't well marked here. The trail was following a detour which I was later told was a result of the old path going through private property and the permissions for hiker access had been revoked. Exactly the reason I like to see trails routed off of private lands and onto public lands.

Gooseberry River

In any case, the trail followed a detour to the Gitchi Gami State Trail that paralleled Highway 61. It's a paved bike path, and we missed a turn which took us down to Gooseberry Falls--an amazing and wonderful waterfall and well worth the mistake! By the time we realized we had taken a wrong turn, however, we decided to follow the trail to a point where it approached close to the Gitchi Gami Trail then bushwhacked the short ways back to the bike path.

Which we did without any trouble and soon thereafter crossed paths with Snowshoe again who seemed surprised about how we weren't much further ahead than we were. We got lost. It happens to the best of us. =)

We walked a couple of miles along the bike path--which was nice, open and airy, albeit noisy--then followed the gravel Blueberry Hill Road back to the main trail and into the woods again. Blueberry had to make a quick stop to check out his namesake campsite at Blueberry Hill Camp. It was a shame we wouldn't be stopping there for the evening, but we had a schedule to keep and onward we marched.

Blueberry got ahead of me at this point, and Snowshoe caught up again and I hiked with her a bit trading some of our war stories. I wanted to learn more about the Ice Age Trail through Wisconsin which she had hiked twice already, and we shared stories of our time on the Florida Trail which she had also completed.

Snowshoe got ahead of me when I stopped to take some photos.

Then I reached where the trail crossed the Split Rock River and--surprise!--the bridge had been washed out. The water didn't look too deep, and I knew Blueberry and Snowshoe must have crossed it already since they weren't around. I asked some day hikers if they had any thoughts about the best place to cross the river and they mentioned Blueberry and Snowshoe crossing at a point a short ways downstream (although he didn't call them by name since he didn't know who they were). I went down and checked it out and liked what I saw and quickly forded across without taking off my shoes or socks.

I caught up and passed by Snowshoe again, who was talking on her cell phone coordinating a pickup from her husband further along the trail, but I was tired--it was a long day--and I continued the march on ready to finish for the day.

The next person I saw on the trail was Ed, Snowshoe's husband, hiking in the other direction looking for Snowshoe. I reported seeing her not more than about 10 minutes earlier so she shouldn't be far behind me, and he offered me some small Snicker bars. Trail magic! Except that I didn't really like Snickers.... Then I remember that Blueberry would probably eat just about anything except pickles so I said I'd take them. I stowed them away and continued my march.

It was a huge relief when I finally reached a prominent viewpoint and a sign marking the entrance to Chapins Campsite. I called out "Kaww! Kaww!" Kind of a bird call that Blueberry and I do to alert each other of each other's presence. Basically my way of letting him know, "I made it!" before I even walked into the campsite.

Then I heard a faint reply. "Kaww! Kaww!" Except.... it did not come from the direction of the campsite. It sounded like it came from further up the trail. My head whipped back and forth between the trail ahead and the campsite. What the hell was happening? Please, tell me Blueberry didn't miss the campsite and was still hiking!

But I didn't panic. Not yet. There could be a reasonable explanation. Maybe the water source for the camp was up ahead and he was getting water. Yeah, that was it....

I walked into the campsite, a pleasant spot with a couple of people hanging in some hammocks and Chris, who I met at the campsite the night before, tending a campfire.

I didn't know the people in the hammocks, so I turned to Chris and asked urgently, "Did Blueberry come into camp?"


$#!%%!! He missed the campsite! I was so tired. My feet were sore. I didn't want to go any further.

I rushed back out to the viewpoint and called out again: "Kaww! Kaww!"

But there was no reply this time. Blueberry wasn't in range anymore. $#!%%! Argh!

I rushed down the trail, hoping to catch Blueberry quickly. Especially if he had to stop to pee or get water or whatever. If I caught up with him within a couple of minutes, we could go back to the campsite instead of hoofing it another 1.7 miles to the next campsite.

But I didn't catch him. I continued hiking, thinking of all the horrible things I'd like to do to Blueberry. Like not give him the Snicker bars I had. I'd open them slowly in front of his face and eat them, one at a time. Yeah, that would teach him a lesson.

I finally caught up with Blueberry 1.7 miles later--at the Beaver Pond Campsite--a swampy site with no people and no campfire already burning.

I walked into camp, "Well, well!" I said to Blueberry. "If it isn't Mr. Overachiever!"

He understood what I was saying immediately. "Did I miss the right campsite?" he asked.

"YES! You missed the campsite! You made us do an extra 1.7 miles!"

Blueberry didn't seem happy about finding this out--he was tired and had wanted to quit a long way back. "It did seem like this campsite was a lot further away than I was expecting," he admitted.

"You remember when I kaww kaww'ed you?" I asked him. "I was at the campsite!"

I pulled out the Snicker bars from my pocket and told him that Snowshoe's husband gave them to me which I was originally going to give to him, but now I shouldn't. But I threw them over to Blueberry anyhow--I wasn't really mad at him per se. Just annoyed at the unexpectedly long day, and it's not like he did it deliberately.

We quickly set up camp and it was so late in the evening and Blueberry was so tired, he didn't even bother to make a fire. It's normal for me to not make a campfire, but it's unheard of for Blueberry not to make one.

"That last campsite was a gorgeous one," I told Blueberry. "And there was already a campfire burning!" This one was much buggier and overgrown and generally not as nice. I was disappointed, but there was nothing to do about it now. Sometimes, bad things just happen to good people. *sigh*

Fifth Falls in Gooseberry River SP

The old visitor center at Gooseberry Falls SP was built by the CCC and there are plans to turn this into a CCC museum.
Gooseberry Falls is gorgeous!
View overlooking Highway 61.
Gitchi Gami State Trail--and see Lake Superior through the trees in the background? We're pretty close to the shoreline here!
Blueberry is very worried about "entering at your own risk."
But very glad that people are watching for walkers. *nodding*
Of course, Blueberry couldn't walk past Blueberry Hill Campsite without checking it out first!
Blueberry is picking up water from the creek. *nodding*
It was cloudy and overcast all day! But we still had several great views of Lake Superior!
Blueberry tends to his blisters at this viewpoint.
This was the first register we found on the trail! Blueberry is signing it while Snowshoe looks on and takes a photo with her phone.
The trail follows up and down the Split Rock River which has another large set of waterfalls to admire! =) This is just a branch of the Split Rock River, though--not the main river!
Snowshoe has quite a few trails under her belt!

This is the Split River!

I don't really know how Split Rock SP got it's name, but I like to think it's because of this. =)

The bridge across the Split River had been washed out... so I had to ford the river instead.

This view catches site of the Split Rock Lighthouse, but it's kind of far away and not especially photogenic....
...unless you have a 300mm zoom lens! ;o)
This was the campsite that Blueberry missed....
This was the campsite I'd have to go to instead. *sigh*

Beaver pond
Evidence of recent beaver activity! Not only is the tree not down yet, but you can see fresh wood chips around the base of the tree. This beaver will be back.... but still! I had yet to see a beaver in the wild!
The Beaver Pond Campsite would be our home for the night, but it was a definite downgrade from the Chapins Ridge Campsite. *nodding*

No comments: