Friday, August 3, 2018

Day 14: The Flyyard

June 13: It was a beautiful morning, and I woke up and started hiking by around 8:00. Blueberry was still in his sleeping bag when I left, complaining that it was too cold last night. "I can see my breath!" he exclaimed. "My water froze!" He was exaggerating--I doubt the temperature dropped below 45 degrees at any point during the night--but said he wasn't able to fall asleep until the sun started coming up in the morning and warmed the air again.

I found this giant beetle on my groundsheet after waking up in the morning!

So he slept in late and was still wrapped up in his sleeping bag when I hit the trail. I figured it would be at least an hour before Blueberry hit the trail, and maybe two.

The trail entered Crosby-Manitou State Park a short distance later, following a long, gravel road to the state park's parking lot where I found a boot cleaning station. Not so much so people could clean their boots, but rather so people could knock off the seeds of invasive species that might have arrived on their shoes. I wasn't sure the sign applied to me--the only invasive species you'd find on my shoes I would have picked up the last few miles along the trail and if I picked them up in the trail, they probably were already in the park. But I still tried running my shoes through the brushes that made up the cleaning station just because I hadn't seen it before and wanted to give it a try.

A short way into the park, I ran into Brian on the trail, the photographer from the Star Tribune and we chatted for a couple of minutes. He also told me that Snowshoe was about a half hour ahead of me so I might catch up to her later in the day. I didn't think that was likely, though--she did big miles and I had a feeling she'd out-distance me. I might catch up with her if she took a good, long break somewhere, though.

At the Manitou River, I stopped for my first break of the day, admiring the rapids along the river and enjoying the scenery. I spent a half hour lounging around resting before picking up my pack and pushing onward.

Entering Crosby-Manitou State Park

The day was a beautiful one! It was a bit on the warm side for me, but not hot. And although it was a bit warm, the bugs weren't particularly obnoxious, the trail wasn't particularly muddy and the second half of the day was practically flat. All-in-all, a very good day for hiking, and my mood improved dramatically from the previous day.

I stopped for another rest at the Horseshoe Ridge campsite and was there for maybe 20 minutes when Blueberry finally caught up with me. I was a little surprised that he had caught up so quickly considering that he was still in his sleeping bag when I left camp, but he must have gotten up very soon after I had left. The break here and at the Manitou River--not even an hour in total--was enough to allow him to catch up.

I headed down the trail again, but Blueberry was ready for a break--he hadn't taken any since he left camp in the morning--so I went on without him but knowing that he wasn't far behind.

About ten minutes down the trail, I crossed paths with a southbound thru-hiker hiking with his dog, and when I introduced myself, he said he already heard about me! What?! "Yeah, you're hiking with a guy named Blueberry?"

"Yeah... Blueberry's probably 5 or 10 minutes behind me having stopped for a rest at the campsite just down the trail. How did you hear about me already? I didn't think I was that famous!"

And it was Snowshoe, who he met less than an hour earlier, who told him that Blueberry and I were hot on her heels. Ahh....

Manitou River

I continued onward, and Blueberry caught up with me again near the Caribou River. He sat down for a short break while I was eyeing a spur trail to a parking lot. My guidebook said that the spur trail had another spur trail which led to the base of Caribou Falls 0.2 miles away, and I was tempted to check it out.

I said goodbye to Blueberry--he'd be taking the lead the rest of the day--and I detoured temporarily off the trail to check out the waterfall.

The trail passed on overlook for Lake Superior, and I walked up to it to admire the view when I heard from behind me, "Hey, you aren't on the trail!"

I turned around, and there was Brian again. He really needs a trailname, I thought, but something more interesting than "The Photographer."

So I told him that I was hiking down to check out Caribou Falls--had he been there yet? Was it worth the off-trail detour to see it? He hadn't been there yet but was heading in that direction, so we walked the rest of the distance together. The spur trail off the spur trail went down a steep series of wooden staircases finally arriving at Caribou Falls which were large, impressive and totally worth the side trip.

Caribou Falls

I was ready for another break at this point and sat down on a bench in the shade near the base of the falls for a half hour eating snacks and soaking in the scenery. Brian took some photos then left to go back to his car, ready to meet Snowshoe further along up the trail.

The rest of the day I hiked on my own. The trail was almost entirely flat once I left the Caribou River, a pleasant surprise. I didn't stop again until I reached the Dyer's Creek Campsite, the end of our day's hike.

Blueberry had already arrived and was sitting by the fire ring with his shirt off, almost in a meditative pose, then he slapped his arm and killed a fly which he carefully placed on a nearby stump in a pile with several dozen other flies he had already killed. Or at least mostly killed. I could see several of the flies on the stump still twitching and crawling around in something that looked like it was out of a horror movie. The site of the flyyard was disturbing and hypnotic, all at the same time.

It's the Flyyard! All hand-caught by Blueberry's fast reflexes.

*shaking head* Blueberry, Blueberry.... it was such a Blueberry thing to do. It reminded me of the time he had caught something like a hundred gnats on the Appalachian Trail then put them in a ziplock bag which he taped into a register.

He continued killing flies for awhile longer, complaining that it didn't seem to be doing any good. The campsite was still overrun with flies and you couldn't even tell that he had removed dozens of them from the gene pool. He left his shirt off, almost as if using all that bare skin as bait to draw in more flies.

I was just glad they weren't biting. The flies were an annoyance, but not half as annoying as those mosquitoes had been the day before.

I found two ticks on me today when I did a tick check, and I'd find a third one on me later that night when I felt it crawling along my upper arm. I actually felt the tick crawling up me--I don't think I've ever felt a tick crawling up me before. It was subtle, almost like a small tickle, and when I went to scratch it I felt the lump and knew immediately I had found another tick. Bastard! Where did he come from? I expect them on my hiking clothes, but my camp clothes were off limits!

Blueberry told me about the rest of his day after we parted ways at the Caribou River. He had caught up with Snowshoe and hiked with her for a couple of hours at the end of the day. "Too bad she wasn't around to admire your flyyard," I replied. "I wonder what she'd have said to that!"

Blueberry built a campfire again, but he had trouble finding good wood nearby that wasn't rotting. I dragged in a large, downed log when I went to fill up with water--it was rotting too, but it seemed better than nothing--but Blueberry never even used it. I almost never collect firewood because I'm too lazy, so I joked with Blueberry that that was the real reason I didn't like making fires--I collect wood, but then he doesn't burn it!

It looked like we'd be at the campsite by ourselves again, but early in the evening a couple of other hikers arrived. Yes! Fresh stories! They left to the back part of the camp to set up their tent, then never came back out again so it kind of felt like it was just Blueberry and I in camp.

Well, technically, the two did come out to fill up with water and use the latrine--although I thought it was odd that they would both go to the latrine at the same time. Maybe the lack of walls worried them so they used each other as lookouts? While one was on the latrine doing their business, the other was stationed as a guard.

They stopped to chat for a few minutes when they passed by on their way to water and the latrine, and we encouraged them to join us by the fire, but they never came back. Maybe they were scared off by the pile of dead flies on the stump next to the fire.

Yep, my shoes are clean now!

Blueberry takes a break by the Caribou River.

There's a covered bridge over Crystal Creek! How cute!
Pink lady slipper

Alfred Pond

This is how I found Blueberry at our campsite for the night, with his shirt off as if he were trying to use himself as bait to draw in flies. And that's the flyyard on the stump next to him.
Blueberry works on his Ginger T impression. (That's a thru-hiker we knew from the Appalachian Trail.)

1 comment:

Only Dreaming said...

I used to work in a pharmacy, and there was this photographer that would come by every few months to take pictures of families, kids for special occasions. Every time he'd called to set up a day to come.. he'd always say "This is Picture Man." He passed away last year and to this day, I don't know his real name.. only ever knew him as Picture Man..(and he'd been coming the entire 9 years I worked there.) I wonder if he was ever a thru-hiker...