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oke up at 9:30 a.m. (Eastern Time) to discover that it had stopped raining
and much of the blacktop in front of the motel was dry. It was 40-45
overcast and breezy but amazingly it didn't feel too bad. We packed the
car and drove over to the Lake of the Clouds overlook. From the overlook
we got an awesome view of Lake of the Clouds far below. The scenery was
still breathtaking even though the sky was cloudy and gray. We took a
few pictures, got back in the car, and drove down to a parking space along
M-107 at the bottom of the overlook.
At about 11:30 a.m. we made final checks of our gear, shouldered our backpacks
and walked down M-107 about 1500 feet to the trailhead of the Lake Superior
to the large amount of rain that
had fallen over the past week and a half, much of the trail was mucky
and wet. It was so wet, in fact, that I think the trail should have been
temporarily renamed Lake Superior River. At several points along the trail
it actually looked as though we were hiking down the middle of a small
creek or river because there was so much water flowing downhill. When
we stopped walking we could actually hear the water rushing over the rocks
in the middle of the trail. A short time into the hike we came to a clearing
in the pine forest that had a small bench at the edge of a rocky bluff
overlooking Lake Superior. We stopped momentarily to take off our jackets
and cool down in the mild breeze. From this vantage point we were able
to see Lone Rock sitting silently by itself out in Lake Superior quite
a distance off to the west.
The clouds had broken up by now and the sun had begun to shine brightly
overhead. We continued hiking west along the Lake Superior trail over
what was mostly level terrain with only minor dips and ascents. At 3:00
pm we stopped for lunch at one of the campsites near Lone Rock. The sky
had once again clouded over and the wind was blowing fairly strongly through
the campsite off the lake. Most of
the campsite was under several inches of water but there was a wooden
platform in the middle of the water that appeared to be the best location
for lunch. The site was only several yards away from Lake Superior so
we walked out to the rocky shoreline, saw Lone Rock, checked out the beach
area and then returned to the platform for lunch. We ate a couple sandwiches
left over from the drive up, some trail mix and a granola bar. Much of
our hiking to this point had been far enough away from the lake that the
trees blocked all of the wind except for an occasional gentle breeze.
I felt comfortable not wearing a jacket while on the trail, however, our
lunch location left us exposed to the wind. Without the sun to warm me
and the trees to block the gusts, I quickly became cold, to the point
where I had to put on my jacket, zip it all the way up and put the hood
over my head. My fingers even began to stiffen up because they were so
cold. Needless to say, we ate quickly and were back on the trail by 3:40
Not long after lunch we passed two women who were hiking with a small
dog. They had been hiking for about a week and had been caught in the
rain yesterday. They said they hiked in the rain, set up their tent in
the rain, ate in the rain, and lay in wet sleeping bags all night in the
rain. The women said they were cold and wet all night and their gear was
still wet today. About 10 minutes later we passed three males who also
had been caught in the heavy downpour yesterday. These two conversations
just confirmed that we had made a wise choice to stay at a motel the first
Not long after our lunch break we passed what appeared to be the charred
remains of an Adirondack shelter near Lafayette Landing. The DNR lady
crossed off all the trail-side shelters on our map during registration
and said they had been removed. They sure had been removed - they had
been torched to the ground. All that remained was a pile of charcoal,
large rusted nails and the screen door. We wondered if the other two shelters
had met with the same fate.
For roughly the next two to three miles the trail became a constant annoyance
as it turned into the wettest, muddiest part of the hike today. These
last few miles consisted of thick mud, large pools of water, rocks and
submerged logs. We lost the trail several times because the water covered
so much of the trail and the area on both sides that the trail would just
disappear. One thing I noticed was that the trail appeared to be
marked in areas that didn't require it, while other sections, the ones
that were completely under water and hard to follow, were not well marked.
It also appeared that the trail itself had not been well maintained. There
were numerous times where a large tree had fallen across the path and
hikers, unable to climb over them, had created new paths around them.
To make things worse, some of the fallen trees were the ones that had
trail markers nailed to them. If the trees landed the wrong way when they
fell then we couldn't see the blue tags because they were either on the
opposite side from us or else they were almost completely buried in the
mud. These conditions really slowed our pace because losing the trail
forced us to stop, look around, backtrack and circle the area to re-find
the trail. In addition to this, there was a section of trail covered by
fist-sized rocks. The shifting rocks made it difficult to walk at a normal
pace and eventually took a toll on my ankles and my left knee, which became
quite sore. Although the trail itself was rough in certain places we had
been blessed with great weather and awesome surroundings. Most of the
forest was comprised of aspen, birch, maple, hemlock and spruce trees.
It was a nice treat to pass through a section of spruce trees because
we would often catch the sweet smell of damp pine floating through the
One interesting sight we came across were giant slabs of reddish-brown
rock jutting up out of the water at an angle. We observed the same thing
in other areas of the park too, but they were especially prominent along
the shore of Lake Superior. These giant slabs of layered rock are modern
evidence of ancient processes that helped build and shape this area and
many other places in the Lake Superior region. The rock slabs were formed
by layers and layers of sediment which became compacted by glaciers and
over time were pushed to the surface and exposed as we see them today.
Eventually we climbed a steep incline, via a switchback, which led us
to a large forested area at the top. The forest was comprised of mostly
larger, more mature trees. It was not very dense but the tree canopy was
wide enough to shelter much of the area in shade. There also was very
little ground cover which allowed us to see quite far in all directions.
The trail up here was level and the soft ground was easy on our feet and
After several minutes of hiking through the forest we heard rushing water
in the distance. Almost immediately, the trail came to the edge of a steep
hill that overlooked a valley and a large river. Down in
valley we could see the Big Carp River, Lake Superior and a couple cabins.
We left our backpacks at the top and walked down to the bridge below.
From the bridge we could see the Big Carp River flowing wildly over several
small waterfalls, through a couple rapids and then out into Lake Superior.
The river was quite loud, but was rather relaxing in an odd sort of way.
On the west side of the river was the Big Carp 6 bunk cabin and on the
east were the Big Carp 4 bunk and Lake Superior 4 bunk cabins. There was
a gentle breeze blowing through the valley which was quite refreshing
after a long, hot day on the trail.
We searched for a good location to set up camp but all the tent sites
in this area were right on Lake Superior, had no tree cover (in case it
rained) and were quite muddy so we chose to look elsewhere. We went back
to the top of the hill, picked up our backpacks and headed south along
the Big Carp River Trail to the first campsite, which was roughly ¾
mile away. We arrived at the campsite and discovered that it was right
off the trail and was only about 40 feet from the river. The area was
fairly open, had quite a few large trees surrounding it and had a bear
pole a short distance out in the woods. By now, every step I took made
my knee feel like it was on fire so we set up the tent and I sat down
for a while to give my knee a rest.
Our campsite had a fire ring available so I figured we may as well take
advantage of it. The prospect of a good fire, however, was somewhat dismal
since the Porkies had been saturated with almost constant weeklong rains
before we arrived. I walked around searching for all the dry twigs and
branches I could find. It wasn't easy but after quite some time I managed
to find a small mound of kindling. I placed it in a pile with some dryer
lint and a small piece of damp birch bark, crossed my fingers and lit
a match. To my surprise we were relaxing in front of a blazing fire in
no time at all.
Dinner was next on the agenda and consisted of chili that Ken made at
home and had put in the food dehydrator. The chili was good after a long
day of hiking but it had somehow lost much of its flavor. We came to the
conclusion that next time we would just bring some extra seasoning and
add it after rehydrating and cooking the meat. The black flies were rather
pesky around camp so we were forced to eat dinner while wearing mosquito
head nets. The fire burned for several hours after dinner and when it
finally died down we hung the food on the bear pole and crawled into the
tent. The air temperature had chilled quite a bit by now, to the point
where I could see my breath, but it was comfortable inside the tent. Today
had been a great day. I wrote in my journal until 11:30 p.m. and then
faded off to sleep while listening to the noisy, rushing water of the
Big Carp River.
Final count for the day: Three deer, a Ruffed Grouse
, numerous chipmunks
and hundreds of pesky black flies.
Miles covered today: 10.5
Total trip miles: 10.5
This page last updated on 02-25-2016 @ 12:24 PM