Superior Hiking Trail – Day 5
Wednesday September 27, 2017
Starting Point: South Pier Inn, Duluth
Ending Point: White Pines Campsite
Trail Miles Hiked: 15.2
After a good night’s sleep in the South Pier Inn I am a little slow getting out of bed. I go down to the lobby and grab some breakfast, go back to the room and finish packing, and head out a little after 8:00. I cross over the aerial bridge again and continue on down the Lakewalk. There are not many people out this morning and the maintenance crew is out early sweeping the walkways. I start off pretty slowly due to the blisters on my foot. The boardwalk extends over a mile before turning into an asphalt walkway. The trail leaves the Lakewalk at Leif Erickson Park and enters the rose garden. I cut off the trail, climb some stairs to a parking lot and cut across to a CVS drug store so I can pick up some more Naproxen. On my way back to the trail I notice a Harvest Bread shop that is open. I stop in and ask if they can make me a lunch sandwich I can take with me and the quickly make me a roast beef on rye.
I get back on the trail as it continues up 14th Street until it enters Chester Creek Park. Chester Creek Park is a great little Park just blocks away from downtown Duluth. It follows Chester Creek for about two miles upstream and there are several cascades and some beautiful scenery all through the area. After leaving Chester Creek Park the trail travels along roadways and continues on through the University of Minnesota – Duluth (UMD). The trail travels right alongside the campus, through a parking lot, and then heads uphill to a nice overlook.
The trail continues downhill on UMD property eventually coming to a road. After a short roadwalk the trail enters into Hartley Park. Hartley Park is nature park in Duluth that has lots of learning activities available. I come down a hill and chance upon two school teachers who had their class of 2nd graders out on a field trip. I stop as they teachers ask me about my trip and the children listen on as I talk about following the trail for 100 miles and carrying everything I need for the next 4 days in my pack. We part ways and I continue on through the park and past the nature center.
After leaving Hartley Park the trail goes on a lengthy roadwalk that extends for about two miles. While on the road I meet the first backpackers I have seen on this trip. It is a young couple who started the trail in Canada and are hiking it southbound. The roadwalk continues between a couple cemeteries and I stop to sit on a large rock and eat the best roast beef sandwich I have every had. I continue on after eating and the trail eventually cuts back into the wood on one of the rockiest sections I have seen so far. This continues on until the trail comes out on the Martin Road trailhead. I have officially finished the Duluth section of the Superior Hiking Trail.
At the Martin Road trailhead the SHT follows the CJ Ramstad snowmobile trail for the next 3.6 miles. Snowmobile trails may be great in the winter when frozen over and covered with snow, but today they are just muddy bogs. As I follow the snowmobile trail there are multiple low spots with mud up above my boots and at one point I even sink above my knee in the mud. This really slows me down as I try to scope out the best routes around the wet areas.
Finally the trail goes back into the woods, but unfortunately so does the mud. In the woods at least you can find your way around some of the muddy spots or walk across using tree roots and rocks for a solid footing. Soon the bald Eagle campsite comes into view and I take the short path to the campsite to take a look. The campsite has a fire ring with benches built around it for sitting and several flat areas for tents. My Goal for tonight is the next campsite so I continue down the trail another 1.1 miles to the White Pine campsite.
When I arrive at the campsite there is another tent and camping gear already here. I don’t see anyone so I put my gear down where I want to put my tent, get out my water filter and bottles and head down toward the creek. About halfway to the creek I hear a dog start barking and meet an Australian Shepard named Tuna and her owner Kim. They are out hiking one of the few remaining sections of the SHT that Kim has not yet hiked, Kim, who is from Madison WI, is an experienced backpacker in the Northwoods, having hiked most of the Superior Hiking Trail, The Border Route Trail, and the Kekekabic Trail. As we ate she shared some of her experiences as I listen intently longing for the opportunity to hike some of the same trails in the future. As it started getting dark I try to make a campfire with the wet wood around camp but am unable to keep a fire burning for more than about 10 minutes at a time, eventually giving up and heading to bed to get rested up for another long day tomorrow.