Superior Hiking Trail – Day 2
Sunday September 24th, 2017
Starting Point: High Landing Campsite – Jay Cook State Park
Ending Point: Fund du Lac Campground
Trail Miles Hiked: 11.9
I got up early today in hopes of making it to Jay Cooke State Park visitors center and make a call to InReach customer support to troubleshoot my InReach device. I was on the trail by 7 AM with a short 2 mile walk to the visitor center. About halfway to the visitor center I can hear the St. Louis River roaring down below me. As I came around a bend in the trail I could see the swinging bridge crossing the St. Louis River. The river was running very rapidly due to the rains they had earlier in the week. I cross the bridge, snapping a couple photos on the way, and proceeded to the visitors center. When I get there I discover that they do not open until 9 AM on Sundays. I found a park bench near a water fountain and sat down to eat my breakfast and try to get hold of InReach on my phone. The call was to no avail, as InReach customer service is not there on Sundays. I guess I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to get my InReach working again.
After after eating I head across the parking lot and proceed north on the Superior Hiking Trail. The trail starts off on an old railroad grading for about 3/4 of a mile and then cuts off heading uphill from the park. Shortly after starting the climb I was startled by a chirping sound in the trees. It turns out my path had taken me too close to a chipmunk and he was telling me about it. After listening to his lecture for awhile, I proceed along the trail as it slowly climbs out of the valley and after about 2 miles from the park I come upon Forbay Lake. As I stop to take a picture a bicyclist speeds on by.
The trail continues around the lake and across the dam and then back into the woods on the other side. The trail continues on joining up with the Munger Trail at several points and then going back into the trees. The trail eventually comes to Gill Creek Trail and twist and turns as it slowly descends into Gill Creek and then back out again. The trail then follow the grand portage trail for a few hundred yards until I came to my first detour. The Grand Portage Trail is closed due to construction on the highway and the trail is detoured onto the south leg of the Grand Portage Trail. At first I was disappointed, but as I proceed down the trail I become very impressed with the South Leg of the Grand Portage Trail. It is a narrow path through the trees and I feel I am in one of the most remote areas of the park.
Continuing on the Superior Hiking Trail I now enter the Mission Creek area. This area is interlaced with bicycle trails and our trails cross numerous times over the next several miles. The trail continues up and down through the trees until I finally come to the Mission Creek Bridge where I stopped to replenish water and eat lunch. This bridge is an old rock bridge that used to be part of the Skyline Parkway before it was flooded out years ago.
After lunch I continue on the trail heading towards the Fund du Lac parking lot. When I get to the old a Fund due Lac spur trail there is a sign that says this trail is no longer used and it was steep and dangerous. I had hiked about 12.5 miles for the day and wasn’t going to let a little steep and dangerous get in my way so I headed down the trail. Fortunately the trail was neither steep nor dangerous, but a big portion of the trail had been washed out by the flood in 2012 and a makeshift trail had already taken it’s place.
After reaching the trailhead I had about a 3/4 mile walk on the road to get to the Fond du Lac campground. As I approached I was excited to see that’s a campground was right on the St. Louis River/ Lake Superior shore. I selected the campsite near the shore with its own dock and set up my tent there. The campground was pretty nice, but for vault toilets and no electricity or water, I thought $30 was a little steep. But man the view was excellent.
The blisters on my feet continued to get worse today and I was glad to have a dock that I can hang my feet off and into the cold water. As I was hanging around the campground in the afternoon I spent some time looking at my InReach and discovered that printed on the back was the reset instructions. A quick 10 second fix.
As the evening progressed I thought a fire might be nice and bought a bundle of firewood and, as luck would have it, about the time I get ready to start my fire it begins to rain. I retreat to my tent and spend the rest of the night inside out of the rain, my firewood a generous contribution to the next occupants of that site.