On day two of my hike I awoke to clear skies. I climbed out of my tiny new tent and prepared a breakfast of granola, mocha and an energy bar. By 6:30 I was on the trail and climbing onto Blueberry Ridge. I was feeling strong and prepared to push my limits. “Perhaps a twenty-mile hike today,” I thought.
By midmorning I was hiking upstream along the west bank of Split Rock River in sunshine. There are many cascades and falls along this section so I stopped several times to soak in the view.
I reached the bridge that crossed the river before noon, pausing to take a few pictures. The trail continued back downstream beside the river for a mile or two and then turned east. I stopped for several trail mix snack breaks.
As I climbed another ridge I spotted the Split Rock Lighthouse for the first time. By now I was starting to feel fatigued and wondered if my twenty-mile goal was such a great idea. My ankle was sore and my back was tightening up as well. I still had miles go to reach a campsite, so I picked up the pack and pushed on. Along this section of trail, I passed four other backpackers heading west. They would be the final people I would see on the trail during my trip.
The trail guide describes this 11 mile section,
There are many steep ascents and descents that take one through a wide variety of forests – much birch, maple, and aspen as well as impressive stands of cedars and white pines. The section also traverses part of the Merrill Grade, one of the historic logging railroads. Many sections of the SHT traverse long ridges of table rock, or follow long outcroppings which form walls for the SHT.
In other words, it was a lot of up, down, up, down, up, down sort of hiking. I took a long lunch break in a pine forest, lying on a bed of moss. A short nap ensued.
When I started hiking again, I knew I faced a choice. I could try to push it to Beaver River campsites which would give me 19 miles or I could call it a day when I reached Fault Line Creek campsite at 14 miles. There were no other campsites in between.
I reached Fault Line about 4:30 in the afternoon. Even though it sat by a beaver pond, it was not a very scenic campsite. There was still plenty of sunlight and even at a slow 1.5 mile/hour pace I could have reached Beaver River by 8:00 pm, plenty of time to set up camp.
During the day I had sung, On Eagle’s Wings and remembered the verse, but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31). I noted that waiting on the Lord came before the renewal of strength.
So I decided not to push on. I listened to my body for once. With my fatigue, it was much easier to stumble and fall, causing possible injury. I pitched my tent at Fault Line.
That night it rained.