Last week I hiked a portion of the Superior Hiking trail. Castle Danger, north of Two Harbors, was my launch point. The sky was a milky grey as I lifted my pack from the back of the car. For the first time I had packed an umbrella and I wondered if I would need to use it within the first mile.
The climb to the first ridge was steep but soon I was at ridgeline and I had my first glimpse of Lake Superior. With the grey sky it was hard to discern the horizon and the water. Large ore ships convinced me it truly was the Great Lake. As I moved along the ridge, I passed two backpackers and their dog, headed down to the parking lot. What I remember was that they had new gear; even the dog had a new pack. They were the only other backpackers I saw that day.
With the late start I soon stopped for my lunch of cheese, tortillas and trail mix. The view was superb, especially as the sun poked through some of the overcast. I felt confident and energetic after lunch, pushing the pace to see if I might make 15 miles before calling it a day.
I dropped off the ridge and started following the west bank of the Gooseberry River. There were plenty of down trees that lay across the path and several wet, muddy stretches, but overall the trail was clear and easy to follow.
As I neared Highway 61 and the popular Gooseberry Falls State Park, I saw several day hikers. Once I left the park, the trail was quiet and isolated again. I climbed a new ridge and followed the trail through pine and birch forests towards Split Rock river. As late afternoon approached I knew that 15 miles was beyond my reach; my left ankle was sore along with overall fatigue. I decided Blueberry Hill would be my campsite.
As I set up camp, I took time to sit and be thankful. I was so excited to be on the trail again, that I hadn’t taken time to thank God for marvels of the day: the beauty and wonder along the trail, the physical ability to walk 11 miles, the food that sustain my body, the small bits of equipment that constituted my home and the many volunteers who created and maintain the trail. A psalm came to mind,
Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5
I went to bed thankful and wondering what day two would bring.