Tag Archives: Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail – Day Four

On my final day of hiking, I sent a leisurely morning in the motel, waiting for the morning fog to burn off. Late in the morning I hiked in rare sunshine back up to trail on the outskirts of Silver Bay. The Superior Hiking Shuttle would not arrive until 3:00 pm so I had time to hike back up the trail that was so foggy and wet the day before.

Looking Southwest from the ridge near Silver Bay.

Looking southwest from the ridge near Silver Bay.

After reaching the ridge, the views were quite spectacular. I could look down into the Beaver River Valley and even spot the Beaver Bay trailhead five miles distant. The railroad and pipeline reminded me that this is mining country with ore trains bring raw taconite to the Silver Bay processing plant.

The clear views also made me pause for some spiritual reflection. The day before I had hiked over this terrain totally oblivious to the views around me. Yesterday I had to walk by faith, trusting in the trail to lead me safely to Silver Bay. Now I was given the opportunity to see some of the beauty and wonder surrounding me. Many times in our walk with God we are walking in the fog , trusting in God’s love to guide us. Then comes the occasional glimpse of how God is marvelously weaving our life path into a beautiful tapestry.

IMG_20130531_123626_171I hiked back down to the trail head with plenty of time to meet the shuttle. I was the only passenger that afternoon as the driver drove me back to my car at Castle Danger. He told me that not only was the late spring a great time to hike the trail, but early fall (mid-September to early October) was a fantastic time as the leaves change color. Now I have a new incentive to return and explore another section of the trail.

Lord Jesus, thank you for all life journeys.

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Superior Hiking Trail – Day Three

The night’s rain was still dripping from the trees as I stirred from my tent. A thick fog covered the beaver pond and surrounding forest. Though it was not raining at the moment, its threat would be my constant companion.

IMG_20130530_065714_527After a hurried breakfast and fast packing, I was on the trail by 6:00 am. I was glad to have a trail since I could only see a few yards in any direction due to the thick fog. The guide book described the trail as having several scenic overlooks but I could see nothing except grey mist. I scramble up and down the ridgeline, wondering what was ahead. The hike had a surreal feel to it as I moved through the wet forest.

I was reminded of a sermon I heard in seminary. The preacher was describing a similar experience, driving along a foggy highway in North Dakota. He had to trust the road since he could not see very far ahead. He described our faith in God like that drive. God rarely gives us long-range vistas of how our life will unfold. We see only a short ways down our path of life. Our call is to daily trust in God’s presence as our guide for each step along the path.

I was also reminded of a sermon (do pastors always think in terms of sermons?) based on Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The lamp of the Psalmist was not a searchlight that could cast a brilliant beam for miles, but rather a weak oil-wick lamp that helped you see a few feet so as not to stumble at night. God does not give you a google-map direction printout that shows every twist and turn in your life, but a promise to be with you even in the fog.

IMG_20130530_091848_204Later that morning I reached the Beaver River. It was roaring full of water. There was a tent at one campsite, but no campers around. I continued on through the fog.

I reached the trailhead by Silver Bay about noon. Though it was misting, it felt like heavier rain could happen at any time. I had a choice. I could either continue on the Superior Hiking trail towards Finland MN over a section of the trail described as the most challenging in the region OR hike down into Silver Bay and check into a motel for the night.

My ankle was sore, my gear was wet from last night’s shower, and the cloud cover threaten heavier rain. I turned towards Silver Bay and the Mariner Motel. An hour after I checked in, a large thunderstorm dropped buckets of water and I was glad I had made this choice.   After all, God had given me a brain to use as well as strong legs and back.

IMG_20130530_160347_421Still I had one more day of hiking before heading home.

Lord Jesus, guide me through the fog and the rain of life.

Superior Hiking Trail – Day One

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.

IMG_20130528_153743_452I 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.

Blueberry Hill CampsiteAs 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.

Easy Burden and Light Pack

Lake Superior from the Superior Hiking Trail

Lake Superior from the Superior Hiking Trail

Tomorrow I am headed north to the north shore of Lake Superior. I am planning to hike four days along the Superior Hiking trail, starting just south of Gooseberry Falls.  My goal is to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation while also testing my equipment and endurance for a longer hike this August. If all goes well, I should cover between 50 and 70 miles of the trail.

Always a good idea to erect the tent at home before one tries it in the wild.

Always a good idea to erect the tent at home before one tries it in the wild.

Recently I  have been reading about ultra-light backpackers who are scrupulous in reducing the weight of their packs to less than 10 pounds (without food or water). That low weight includes the pack, shelter, sleeping gear, cook gear and clothing. I am not there yet. I did get a new a new tent that weighs less than three pounds. After my first round of weight cutting, I have reduced my pack’s weight from 30 to 20 pounds.

Ultra-light hikers stress that backpacking is mostly about hiking, not camping.  The joy is the journey, not the destination, and to enjoy the journey, one needs a lighter pack. As I have worked to lighten the load I am reminded of Jesus words.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30).

I realize that backpacking is not everyone’s way of “resting” in Christ, but it is a way to restore my soul. I’ll let you know how it went when I return.

Lord Jesus, teach us how to rest in you.