Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Day 16: The Tofte Zero

June 15: Although Blueberry and I were in town, we both woke up at 5:00 in the morning. Not out of habit, but because of a boom of thunder piercing through our hotel room. I woke up, and there was a flash of light soon followed by another BOOM! I got up and peeked out the window and witnessed a ferocious storm. Strong winds were blowing the heavy rain sideways rather than down, and lightning flashed through the clouds.

I looked at Blueberry, who was still in bed but awake, and shook my head. "It's bad out there. I am so glad we're inside."

Sheets of water ran through the parking lot, draining towards the street below as another boom rolled through the room. I felt really sorry for the poor suckers who were camping in this weather.

I tried to go back to sleep, but without much success, and a little after 6:00 I headed into the lobby of the hotel for breakfast. The free breakfast started at 6:00 and I like beating the hoards of people I knew would arrive later in the morning.

And the breakfast was absolutely wonderful! Not only did they have a waffle grill so we could make our own waffles, but they also provided scrambled eggs, sausages, home fries and as far as a free hotel breakfast goes, this one was top notch.

Only a couple of other guests were in the lobby eating breakfast--it was a quiet affair. After finishing a second plate of food, I decided to go upstairs where there was a table and a few chairs for lounging around in. The lobby below was already filling up with people and I figured it would just get worse. I could have gone back to the room, but Blueberry was still trying to sleep and I didn't want to disturb him by typing on my laptop. And it was nice getting out of the room for a bit.

Maybe an hour later, I heard someone down by the breakfast talking about the Superior Hiking Trail and I looked over the ledge to see who it might be--a day hiker, or another thru-hiker? It was a thru-hiker, and one I already knew: Snowshoe!

I went down to say hi and chatted for a couple of minutes, but she was planning to keep hiking today and had to get going. The thunder and lightning had since stopped, but it was still raining. I told her that Blueberry and I planned to take a day off--we were wimps. We didn't like hiking in the rain if we didn't have to. =) But she said the weather forecast predicted that the rain would taper off and stop for the day--or at least most of the day, so she was going to push on.

But she and Brian (her photographer) would come back to the hotel at the end of the day, and we talked about getting together for dinner in the evening and to talk about our trail adventures. As it turned out, Snowshoe's room was directly next to ours so we'd be easy to find.

So Snowshoe left, preparing to brave the day's weather, and I eventually went back to the room where Blueberry was already up and watching TV.

He eventually left to get some breakfast (absolutely fabulous, I told him), and I kept doing work on my laptop.

The rain did eventually stop, but the weather stayed overcast and the clouds looked angry. Blueberry came back after breakfast and kept watching television, and early in the afternoon we decided to walk out to the Coho Cafe for lunch.

Blueberry smiles after a very satisfying lunch at the Coho Cafe.

I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and Blueberry ordered a pizza. The woman taking our order was being trained--you could tell because there was a guy hovering behind her pointing out which buttons to press on the register--and she spoke with a foreign accent I couldn't identify.

"So where are you from?" I asked. "You don't sound like you have a Minnesota accent."

She was from Turkey, which wasn't on my top-ten list of guesses based on her accent. I was thinking Eastern European somewhere. But that was a country I've been to before, although admittedly never outside of the touristy areas in Istabul and Kusadasi.

"Türkiye!" I replied, showing off my impressive Turkish vocabulary. It was, literally, the only Turkish work I knew. It was how you say "Turkey" in Turkish. Even my list of 30 ways to say "Good morning" in various languages didn't include Turkish.

Anyhow, Blueberry and I took our seats and waited for our food, which was delicious. But after seeing Blueberry's pizza, I kind of regretted getting the grilled-cheese sandwich. It was good, but I was suddenly in the mood for pizza.

Over lunch, we hammered out a schedule to get us to our next resupply point in Grand Marais so we would know how much food we had to buy. We had been blazing down the trail and only had about 100 miles left to the end of the trail--and two weeks to do it. We really didn't have to keep going so fast and we decided to slow down to a pokey 10 miles or so per day. Then take another zero day in Grand Marais.

After lunch, Blueberry headed across the street to resupply at the general store, but I lingered at the restaurant for an extra hour reading my book, writing postcards and enjoying the new scenery.

When I did leave, rather than immediately resupplying, I took a walk north on the edge of Highway 61 where I found a section of the Gitchi-Gami Trail. We had detoured onto the trail for a short way earlier on the trail, and when it's completed it's supposed to stretch from Two Harbors to Grand Marais (or something like that). It's not completed, though, and is currently broken into segments. I'd found another segment and decided to take a short walk along it.

It's another segment of the Gitchi-Gami Trail!

I walked a couple of miles north out of town, enjoying the views of Lake Superior and the wildflowers. There was absolutely nobody else on the trail. I'm not sure if that's because of the nasty-looking weather or because this segment of trail was so short that it didn't connect to anything worthwhile, but I never did see another person the entire hour or two two I was out there.

Eventually I turned around and headed back to town, stopping at the general store to resupply, then at the post office to mail my postcards and finally back to the hotel room.

Blooming lupine

Later in the evening, we met up with Snowshoe and Brian and walked to the Bluefin Grille for dinner, swapping our hiking stories for the next hour or two. My favorite was the story Snowshoe told of a groundhog on the trail that would not let her pass for the better part of a half hour until she pulled out an old can of mace that she carried and hit the groundhog with it. Which, of course, we had to tell Snowshoe about Blueberry's experience with killing a groundhog and eating it for dinner when we were on the AT.

We shared a lot of laughs, then retired back to our hotel rooms for the night. All-in-all, it was a very pleasant zero day.

At the Bluefin Grille, Blueberry tells a story that leaves Snowshoe in disbelief! =)
Speaking of Snowshoe and Brian.... if you want to check out their articles and photos from the Superior Hiking Trail, start with the first article, Baptism on the Trail.

Snowshoe also wrote a book about her adventures on the Ice Age Trail (which is a trail I've thought about hiking myself someday) which some of you might find interesting: Thousand-Miler.

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