#HikeThatSHT ~ Part 1

June 2017
Age: 36

Start: Martin Road
Finish: Normanna Road

14 15 Miles

I wanted to embark on this holy journey from my friends Greg & Kelli’s place in Duluth. I used to work with them at TCM, but since they moved to Duluth in the Chester Park neighbourhood. I thought this would be a good launching point.

Though the new official start of the SHT begins down at Jay Cooke, I’m a traditions kind of gal and starting near the official Martin Road seemed as good as any place to start. Launching this adventure from the comforts of Greg & Kelli’s however, with a glorious Hot cup of coffee in the morning = priceless.

I suppose it was sometime during the fall of 2015 or spring of 2016 when I got this ridiculous urge to hike the entire Superior Hiking Trail by the time I was 40. Kind of this 40 in 40 idea of spending 40 days in the wilderness the year I turned 40.

After realizing that would be too much time away from my family I decided to break up my SHT(y) plans and focus on spending 40 NON-CONSECUTIVE days out in the wilderness!

Knowing also that I wouldn’t be able to take an extended leave at this time to do the whole thing I conjured up this notion that I could hike approximately 4-5 sections each year and then on the year that I was actually 40 finish it off in a 10-12 day stretch.

So off I went after work to Duluth Minnesota. I hadn’t taken a solo, longer road trip since high school, so it was kind of weird adjusting to the solo ride. I blasted my radio however and sang along on top of my lungs! It was pretty exciting.

I arrived to Duluth around 6:15 pm our so and swung into Duluth Pack for a few quick items, and then enjoyed dinner on the patio of Canal Park Brewing with Kelli & Greg and their dog Gracie. If you haven’t been there before – drop what you’re doing and go enjoy a mango habanero burger and a glass of Malbec on the shores of Lake Superior!

We headed back to their place to re-pack our packs for our overnight camping adventure and laughed ourselves silly until finally, it was time to retire for the night.

I was awoken by soft light coming in through the bedroom windows with the white curtains. It was so peaceful, but I was eager to hit the trail. Kelli’s sweet fiance/ my friend Greg made us all coffee and before you knew it, I was dropping my car off at Normanna road, and Kelli drove us back to Martin Road.

We snapped a photo and we were officially off on the trail… except I noticed we were heading south when we should be heading north. Realizing that we turned around to head back to the parking lot to regroup. We noticed another trail leading the way towards Lismore Road. Now we’re in business!

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Right off the bat we are trudging through the North Shore State Trail (NSST/Snowmobile trail) that was fully logged with water. Within our first few steps our feet were already wet, and poor Kelli wore trail running shoes. Luckily I had on my waterproof Keen hiking boots, so I was mostly okay.

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This first section was all along a grassy trail that clearly was a snowmobile trail when we saw signs that said, “Speed Limit – 30MPH” – okay – we’ll try to keep our hiking speed under control!

This is definitely not what I remember the SHT trail to be, but in order to do the whole trail one must endure the sucky parts too. This definitely is a sucky section that is nothing to write home about – or maybe it is.

I had recently purchased some new Black Diamond hiking poles that were pretty highly rated, but I found them to come apart every time they got stuck in the mud. I was getting annoyed. I thought I had a great piece of equipment but apparently not.

The tall grass was full of poison oak and poison ivy which was nearly unavoidable. I also imagined that once we got to camp we’d be covered in ticks.

Soon the sun dipped behind some clouds and an eerie feeling of being watched come over us. We tried to talk Kelli’s wedding plans, but soon it was apparent that we were deep in wolf territory with not just this one, but many many piles of scat. Perhaps a wolf superhighway!

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Eventually coming to a pond I remarked that I thought we were getting close to the Bald Eagle campsite. We looked around but saw no sign for a spur trail to the campsite.

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Soon after we came to the Lester River were we had planned to camp for the night. Knowing it was supposed to be amazing for hammock camping I was surprised by the snowmobiles shelter, and vault toilet with walls and a door. Thinking there is no way this could be the campsite we kept walking to find it.

FINALLY – we saw a sign to get us off the God-forsaken NSST and onto the single track SHT trail through the cedar groves. Red roots abounded, and the coolness of the deeper woods was welcoming.

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My pole got stuck in the mud – yet again, but this time I realized one pole was much longer than the other – oh! I guess if you pull the handle all the way up it locks in place! Hooray – no more collapsing poles!

We kept looking for signs for a campsite and were surprised when we came up to Lismore Road! What? How did we pass two campsites! Ugh. We put our packs down in the parking lot, and had lunch.

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Realizing it was only noon, and we hiked 7 miles in 3 hours we decided instead of back tracking a mile or so to find the campsite, we’d press on to the next campsite Lone Tree closer to Normanna.

So hike and hike we did. Leaving the Lismore parking lot we had to hike along Lismore for a half mile before being dumped right back onto the evil NSST. Again it was FULL of water, and the mosquitoes were complete kamikaze’s and unrelentless! Eventually, I had to drop my pack and spray an angry amount of Deet on my arms while teeth gritting – muttering with force, “take that ass-holes”.

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Eventually, we meandered through the woods through a logging area. It was acres upon acres of decimated forest. It was kind of sad and spooky.

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Soon we were hiking down a “logging road” and were growing tired with deliriousness. I finally said, “I have to sit down”, so I sat down, but it wasn’t comfortable, and I exclaimed, “Watch – the campsite is around the next corner”, and it was!!! Eventually, we came upon the “Lone Tree” campsite, and relaxed. Dropped our packs and were like YES!!!!!!

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Unfortunately, though it was not conducive to hanging two hammocks for camping. Utterly demoralized we retreated to the fact we’d hiked our 20-30# packs for no reason at all…

Soon a fellow gal hiker came up to our camp who was actually thru-hiking the trail all at once, and today was her day 1. She was surprised to see other hikers as the only people who even hike this section are those doing a thru – or section hike like myself.

We shared some memories from the trail and how bad it sucked and soon we were off towards my car.

More logging, and more miles and miles of the grassy bull crap. ūüė¶

Finally we made it to my car where we chugged gallons of water! We decided since we were jipped on camping on the trail we’d head over to Gooseberry Falls State Park to camp for the night. So, after a decent relaxation session in the car – ¬†we drove over to HWY 61 up towards Two Harbors, under the tunnels and to Gooseberry (after a stop at Dairy Queen for a hot dog and a Blizzard!) on our way.

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No room at the inn though – there were aprox 7 sitees at Gooseberry open but none were good for hammock camping. The ones that were good or even great for hammock camping were already taken by fellow campers.

So we checked out Split Rock. FULL. Jay Cooke – FULL.

So I dropped Kell off at her car and made it home to the Twin Cities by 10:15pm.

All in all it was a great trip, with amazing company! I hiked in my heavy pack for no reason at all – but it was great training for my BWCA trip later this summer. Portages will be a cake walk after this!

Lets do it again next month!

Journey to the Homestead pt. 1

Two weeks ago our dream property fell into our proverbial lap.

One week ago we drove 25 miles north to breathe in the land that we hoped would become our own.

A too cute farmhouse situated on twenty acres of woods for hunting, rivers for paddling, porch rocking, and plenty of space for gardens, chickens, goats and more.Cover letter made Рwe put an offer in on the house.

Haiku’s about moving

I don’t like to pack
Packing is a lot of work
But I want a farm

Nothing’s set in stone
Emotions are running high
Let this turn out right

Really want this home
Have to trust in Gods will now
Help me have peace

Goats sound really fun
Twenty acres of land too
Right on a river

A house became available that was romantically delightful. A too cute farmhouse situated on 20 acres of woods and river. Cover letter made – we put an offer in on the house.

After several negotiations – the sellers would not sell to us based on a contingency that our house would sell first, so it fell through. We were crushed, but hopeful that something else would come along.

I was devestated.

That next weekend was mothers day weekend. I went to EBC brokenhearted, and wondering why God said no since in my mind I had already moved into the house – when this song was sung by our worhsip team at the Anoka Eagle Brook Church.

“You’re never gonna let – never gonna let me down – you’re never gonna let me down.. You are good – good – ohhhhhh…”

I realized in that moment – that God wasn’t letting me down – people – these people may let me down, but God never will. I had a plan for my life – for my house – just as I had a plan for my dad living past the age of 64 – but – He is good. His plans are not our plans, but He is good. He knows the plans He has for us, and they are good.

He came to die for us – and that is good. I know without a doubt I will see my dad again and we will not be homeless.

So began the search for land, and house to help this farmhouse dream come to fruition.

Finally – a bit of sweet, undeveloped, heavily wooded land, on a dirt road.

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Winter Camping – Take 3

My co-worker Bre and I decided to head up north again for another addition of a winter camping. This time we were fully outfitted with CCS Pulks, a winter tent and hot stove. Along with additional friends Allie & Canoearoo, we made the most of our cushy winter camping experience.

We ended up choosing the Clearwater entry point for the amazing vistas, high recommendations, and general feasibility. Starting back at the end of September we poured out ideas for various locations which included Wood Lake, Sawbill, Missing Link Lake etc. But in the end we decided a base-camp on Clearwater would be the right choice for us.

A new staple in my wilderness packing is Melatonin. I am/was a horrific wilderness sleeper. I absolutely LOVE my days out in the wild, but at nightfall my imagination runs dangerously free. I imagine wolves, bears, and weirdos¬†surrounding us waiting to kill… and I usually get zero sleep at night, which often causes me to feel sick the next several days after the trip to lack of sleep… so again this time I was armed… with good old fashioned pharmaceuticals.

My trip just two weeks ago on Parent Lake proved to me that I could sleep peacefully in the woods.

Thursday March 2, 2017
Thursday afternoon we pulled out of the Twin Cities and embarked on that wonderful four hour car ride up Interstate 35 all the way up to Grand Marais. Once we neared Tettegouche State Park there was no end to the amount of deer we saw crossing, and along side of Hwy 61 all the way to our bunkhouse! This would be the highlight of our wildlife encounters.

Once we arrived in Grand Marais, we swung into Voyageur Brewery for a bite to eat, however with some various dietary preferences, and lack of options we relocated over to the Harbor House Grille. An adorable restaurant built out of an old house. We cozied up next to the fire place, and shared great conversation for the weekend ahead and had burgers 4 ways!

After dinner we shot a bit past Grand Marais to sleep at the The Hungry Hippie Farm & Hostel that is popular with Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) enthusiasts as it is shortly off the trail. In many ways I would have been happy to just set up shop right here for the remaining days.

The drive up CR-14 was long and dark. We passed the SHT and began wondering if there was going to be a sign directing us to the hostel. Eventually, through the trees,  all light up in the dark was the outline of the barn Рobviously our turn.  We parked, knocked on the house door, and were greeted enthusiastically by the owners and their children. She showed us around, the downstairs common area, including the individual rooms that go for $50 (they were pretty nice), and brought us to the upstairs of the barn where the -cheaper-  bunks were. They were absolutely adorable, and in chalk had noted our bunks!

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We all snuggled up in our beds, donned our headlamps and read our books, or Facetimed our husbands for the last time before our real wilderness adventure began! In the evening the barn got pretty hot. Our one trip-mate stealthily jumped down from the top bunk and turned down the heat. From here on out she earned her trail name ~ NingA.

We dozed off to sleep, thankful that we were sleeping in the bunkhouse tonight since the temperatures dropped down to -6 degrees.

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Friday March 3, 2017
With temperatures hovering barely to zero, we woke up semi-lazily, and headed back in towards Grand Marais for coffee & breakfast at Java Moose. The view back in towards Grand Marais was absolutely spectacular with clear skies you could see for miles and miles down the coast. I am absolutely kicking myself now for not pulling over for a photo op.

At Java Moose we enjoyed tasty oatmeal and breakfast sandwiches, and then were soon on our way up the Gunflint Trail where we saw more deer on the side of the road. I immediately threw off my fears of wolves since there were so many deer for their picking.

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The drive down Clearwater Road was so pretty. Eventually we came to the Clearwater entry point at the end of the road to a non-parking lot, and ended up driving out onto the ice by accident.

Backed up the trailer, and parked on the side of the boat launch where others instructed us to park.

We unloaded fairly quickly, thought at times it looked like a yard sale in the middle of the parking lot, since two others were going on a winter adventure ahead of us, and then 3 more pulled up behind us.

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As we crossed the ice – the ice was absolutely BOOMING! It sounded like this for the entire day and into the night. At first it was a bit unnerving when a big boom thundered underfoot, but eventually I got used to it, and rather liked the sound.

Eventually we passed from the public areas into the wilderness towards our camp off the BRT (Border Route Trail). ¬†The banks up to the campsite were very steep and ice laden. I wonder how tricky it is in the warmer months…

We found a nice spot for the tent that was protected from the wind by some trees. Unfortunately the snow was kind of crummy for snow anchors, so we had to anchor out to the surrounding trees.  Canoearoo and NinjA went off to gather wood while Bre and I got the tent and stove set up.

Later that night I took my Nils ice auger out and drilled through 2.5 feet of ice for some water. We all spent time cutting wood, and using the axe. After Bre went to town with the axe we gave her trail name to her – “LumberBre“.

Canoearoo and I got our holes drilled for tip-ups hoping for some legendary Lake Trout. We used huge frozen minnows on treble hooks and waited eagerly for the monsters to bite while NinjA and LumberBre gathered some more wood down the shore line far away from camp.

The day was cold, but with the position of the sun, and lack of wind it felt pretty warm. Everyone was in high spirits.

Later that night we pulled in our tip-ups, and set off to make dinner, but not before we took in the breathtaking views of the sunset on Clearwater Lake.

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Since one of my trip partners is a vegetarian, and the others have a bit of specific needs of their own we all decided to pack our own meals.

After Jason and I’s trip two weeks ago I discovered I HATE doing dishes in the winter, due to frozen hands so I packed in delights that required no dishes to be washed.

Tonight’s meal was a Good – to – Go – meal. I had the Classic Marinara with Penne. They are vegetarian and gluten free, and delicious! They took about 20-minutes to set after we spend a while boiling water. ¬†Bre charged her iPhone off my Biolite stove.

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The Classic Marinara, mixed in with a bit of crushed red pepper, it was pretty darn good. I would definitely have this again. Serving size says 2, and for me, I would say that was right. I had a bunch left over.

After dinner we got our food hung, and Bre got the hot tent – well – getting hot. Once inside we saw the benefit of a hot tent. We all hunkered inside and had some good conversation while contemplating the days activity quietly to ourselves.

That night felt terribly cold. I had a zero degree sleeping bag, and with the forecast calling for a low of 16 degrees it barely felt adequate. During the middle of the night, my head (which was under two hats and a balaclava) became terribly cold, and I clung to my hot packs for dear life.

The hot tent was not hot, though we didn’t keep it prime stoked throughout the night. It was cold. So very cold that night.

Saturday March 4, 2017
To be honest. Last night – was rough. It was SO COLD!

We did wake up to a warm tent however. Bre had gotten the fire going first thing in the morning, and we all woke up pleasantly so after a cold – cold night. We hung out for quite a while in the tent before getting the courage to go out and get our breakfast going. NinjA had brought her food inside the tent, so she got her breakfast taco going/defrosting on the wood stove, and her coffee as well. (Good call).

Eventually we all meandered out of the tent, and re-drilled the hole so we could get some fresh water boiling for everyone’s water/coffee for the day.

Today’s high was supposed to be 36 with a low of 25, but it was absolutely frigid. I definitely packed for the forecast, and not the worst case scenario. I’m not very talented at this winter camping game!

I enjoyed a huge thermos of Starbucks Via – Italian Roast, and some Bailey’s non-alcoholic creamer which I had to warm by the outdoor fire to defrost since it was frozen solid. The Italian Roast is decidedly not my favorite. It is kind of bitter, so you really need the cream to cut it. I also had a Kind breakfast bar. This was about as low maintenance as you can get for breakfast.

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Bre & NinjA packed up a day-pack and hiked up the Border Route Trail towards Rove Lake so they could see Canada, and Canoearoo and myself tried our hand at some more ice fishing, and relaxing.

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We ended up moving down to the lake out of camp for the day since it was sunny on the ice, and warmed us up a bit.

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Later on for lunch I tried my¬†bagel sandwich with¬†turkey, basil and onion. It was the “Bruegers Bagel” of the north woods, but it too froze completely the night before, and it had to be warmed on the fire. After I got it to an edible state it was pretty good. ¬†I have to remember to make these when we go car camping.

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Still cold, and not thoroughly enjoying this whole winter camping thing… I joked to Canoearoo that I bet I could hike out to my SUV, drive to the Trail Center, have a hot meal and be back before the others came back from their hike, but in the end I sucked it up, and enjoyed myself with good company and conversation.

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Eventually the other ladies came back from their hike. While crossing a lake they felt uneasy about it, and heard some uncomforting cracking sounds, so they quickly got off the ice and made their way back. They said the trail was exceptionally groomed as if someone went through with a snowblower making a nice clear path.

We began gathering our stuff up for the hike out tomorrow, and agreed we’d skip breakfast in camp and head straight for Trail Center in the morning for a big hearty meal that we didn’t have to prepare or thaw.

After our evening chores were complete, we got our various dinners going. This time was another addition of Good-To-Go Thai Curry. It was very delicious with peas, broccoli, and green beans, and none of them tasted dehydrated.  Again, there was far too much for me to eat.

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NinjA had the fire going in the hot tent, so when everything was battened down we retreated to the tent which was real warm, and felt good with the wind picking up speed. As the others started fading one by one, I got lost deeply¬†in my William Kent Krueger Book, “Copper Ridge” the sixth¬†in his installment on the Corcoran O’Conner series. To say I’m hooked is an understatement!

I donned six hot packs throughout my body after last night’s uncomfortable sleep, and changed up my clothes which felt much warmer. NinjA kept the fire going throughout the night.

Laying there it sounded like F14 Jets were taking off on the eastern side of Clearwater and roared their way down the runway of the lake. I was surely glad I wasn’t paddling in it as it whipped our tent. I prayed our knots would hold, and they did.

Tonight was much much warmer, and I slept mostly comfortable.

Sunday March 5, 2017
We all arose about 7:30 or so. We laid there not wanting to get out of our sleeping bags with the cool air on our noses, but one by one we sat up. The wood stove was cool to the touch, and looking around I said, “In the words of [my husband] Jason,… lets pack this *hit up!”.

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So we did, and in no time we were back down on the ice ready to pull our pulks westbound down Clearwater Lake. We arrived to the car without dramatics, and took off towards Trail Center.

I drank about 6 cups of coffee with creamer, and thee most delicious blueberry french toast with sausage a girl could find on the Gunflint Trail. If you haven’t checked out Trail Center… drop everything you have, and drive straight here. You won’t regret it, or their adorable customer service.

Final Thoughts
Alas, my final thoughts… Firstly- I really really wanted to enjoy this. But… for me it was cold. Maybe my gear was not robust enough, but I found winter camping to me more work than the reward…

We found out once we were back in civilization that Friday > Saturday got down to 10 below zero!!!! No wonder I was so cold!

The silence of the north-woods in the winter is breathtaking, and awe inspiring. It drowns out the sounds in my head… and tunes into the sounds of my soul, making the emotion absolutely deafening.

For this reason, I’m drawn to these spaces, but these feelings I get, I do find during the warmer months as well..

While I probably will not venture out into these snowy months washout the promise of a ¬†sound heated structure, I will venture to these parts again… I long for the defrosting of lakes frozen, into liquid poetry… to chase the silence… to¬†chase the stillness of my soul…¬†

Winter Camping ~ Take 2

After my first¬†successful winter camping trip last year, and pouring over plans with my friend Bre for several months on another trip this year my husband also became highly interested in the idea of winter camping and suggested we go winter camping ourselves this winter as well! Two trips in one year? I’m in!

So – on Wednesday February 15 we schlepped the kiddo off to my moms and the dogs off to Jason’s parents, and took off for the north woods – Ely area to be exact on an overcast Wednesday morning.

When we arrived to Ely we stopped by Piragis first to pick up our negative 30 degree sleeping bags and a Nemo Moki tent. We set it up at the store to ensure we knew what we were doing. It was a little clunky, but got it figured out fairly easy.

After we checked everything out  we drove by Whiteside Park where they had these amazing snow sculptures! I walked through, snapped some photos, and marveled at their creators handy work.

Next we checked into the Adventure Inn, a divergence from our usual bunkhouse lodging. It was a basic, but snug hotel with the most delightful (elderly) host Louise.  She was a doll, and was always so excited whenever she saw us. We promptly decided this would be our new go-to place when we stayed in Ely.

FINALLY, we ended the night by having dinner at Insula. I ate here twice with KC back in 2015 and fell head over heels in love with the joint, but hadn’t made it back since. After an a¬†great hamburger (with Ghost pepper cheese) we went back to the hotel, got settled, and snuggled in for a night of RoboCop while I read my (William Kent Krueger) WKK book, Blood Hollow.

Deciding where to go on this trip was quite the challenge. I longed to see any kind of pictographs, so I had been thinking a nice and easy trip to Hegman Lake – with camping over on Little Bass Lake to provide a bit of solitude might be nice. After all – we probably wouldn’t do this trip in the spring/summer/fall months, so this was really interesting.

Another thought was Wood Lake – this was an easy one with the plethora of Northern available in the lake and we hadn’t been there before.

Finally the idea of heading to Snowbank and camping on Parent or Disappointment was also really intriguing. With Snowbank being a popular trout lake and us not having fished for trout before this was really really interesting.

All in all – we decided on Snowbank to Disappointment.

Thursday February 16

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So Рour alarms were set for 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning. Enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at Britons,  and were on the road by 9:00, and crossing Pickerel Bay of Snowbank by 10:00 a.m. The crossing proved mostly uneventful, but more tiresome than we expected. We finally found an ice road which was much easier to walk on since the snow was all packed down. I decided against wearing my life jacket when I saw cars on the lake, but still had my ice awls around my neck as we tromped across with my Frost River Isle Royale Jr pack strapped to me, and Jason pulling our sled.

We decided to take the shorter portage from Snowbank to Parent, and give up on Disappointment all together. In the future we agreed we’d both take a sled to spread out the weight a bit more. It was piled high, and heavy.

Crossing over by the portage to Parent we noticed a plethora of houses. Something new that we haven’t experienced before (houses so close to a portage). We got on the portage and immediately took in all of the devastation from last July’s blowdown.

There were trees down everywhere. Some of the pines were only blown over at the top making them look like they were straight out of Whoville and a Dr. Seuss book.

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The portage was a bit up and down, but manageable.

Once we arrived on Parent we were completely alone. No boot, ski, or animal tracks. We were alone.

Jason wanted to camp on the ice, but I wanted the bathroom nearby since I was a bit shy to just – go on the ground. (Perhaps Quetico wouldn’t look good on me…) so we settled for a campsite taking care to not disturb it too much.

The site was full of blown down trees, including one that fell over right over the… modified fire-pit/kitchen area.

Someone had gone to great lengths to create a full size bench that could easily accommodate 6, and carved in the back to make it look more… luxurious. We were¬†taken aback quite honestly.

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Then we saw on the tree that had fallen across the fire pit folks etching their initials in the wood. This made us sad, and equally less guilty feeling for camping at this summer site.

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Jason went to work drilling some holes nearby to get some tip-ups in and I organized our supplies.

The wind had picked up something fierce, and I started getting very – very cold. I made the very silly mistake of putting on too many tight layers, which is exactly what you DON’T want to do. There was no room between layers to warm me up. Luckily we had a bunch of handwarmers. ¬† Jason and I started looking for firewood, and it appeared that down the shoreline there was a good deal of downed deadwood, so we hauled it back over, and started¬†to get a fire going¬†as we got our tent ready to set up.

This tent, while somewhat “easy” in the store to set up, is a total a$$hat in the field. The internal poles would not set up where they were supposed to. We had no trouble in the store, but they kept popping out of place in the field. Eventually we got them to stay after taking a little break, and trying again.

The fire was a bear to keep going. It was starving for oxygen, and the wood would not catch. We got it started enough (or rather threw enough small stuff at it) to boil some water and heat up our food and that was about it. While tending to – said “fire” we heard a mans voice behind us. We turned suddenly to find an old man and a dog in our camp thanking us for blazing a trail. He was on a day-ski to disappointment with his very large black Shepherd.

He was a local guy, and warned us that with the warm up, the whole area could be a nasty slush field. We shot the breeze a bit, and he was on his way.

Dinner was a super easy Prego Ready Meal, and enjoyed some hot cider with it. After the dishes were washed we went to bed around 6:00 p.m. since keeping a fire going was futile and listed to the wind howling as we tried to get warm in our sleeping bags. I definitely need to get different mittens. My hands, and frankly entire body was dangerously cold, and it was thanks to hand warmers that kept me going. I put some down on my femoral arteries, and the others in my armpits, and I was golden!

We both mused aloud if winter camping was really for us… Perhaps too much effort for the reward… No fish, no fire on day 1.

Friday February 17
After a fairly amazing night sleep in the woods (the best so far) we slept in a bit, and woke up around 8:00 a.m. which is crazy for us since we’re always up early in the field. Perhaps no kid- no dogs really did the trick! I read my WKK book and waited for the sun to come up higher and warm us up.

I noticed some frost on the ceiling of the tent, and it wasn’t until it started dripping on us, that I realized it was inside from condensation.

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Shortly after our little “condensation rain shower”, we got up, loaded the sled, and went to the other side of the lake to do a little day fishing. Thought I heard some wolves howling. It started out as one. A long howl. Then eventually more, and more. Strangely I was not scared. Not even at all. I was curious. They were getting closer. In the end we decided it was most likely a dog sled team. ¬†Out to the middle of the lake we brought our stove, some wood, and our breakfast out with us.

This. Was. Awesome.

I read my WKK book, and we enjoyed some coffee, and a Kind Breakfast bar in the middle of the lake while Jason worked the fishing.  Brilliant blue skies, and a silence that was the biggest comfort of the entire trip.

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As the day lagged on – and fishing proving futile, and our stove which was a pistol to boil water (never had such a hard time in our lives).. we decided to actually head back to Ely around 4pm, get a hotel room at the Adventure Inn again, and call this trip good.

So. That’s exactly what we did. We bused everything down, loaded everything up and headed back. The slush was getting pretty significant by now after a 50, or near 50 degree day on the lake, and we were glad we pulled the plug early. Peace out Parent Lake. May you give the spring and summer anglers better luck than us. And folks ¬†– treat your campsites better.

We got back to the car with no trouble, and luckily Adventure Inn had one more room. A last minute cancellation! We took it, and actually got the same room we had two days before. From there we walked up to the Ely Steakhouse, and enjoyed a nice meal with some adult beverages.

We spoke at large about our summer trip, and our keen interest and excitement to get into the world of Hammock camping! This will be a good way to distribute our tent weight which is currently 12#, and will be very helpful for me in the summer as I hike the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT). Lots to explore here, but we’re about 97% sure we’re going this route starting this spring!

The service at the restaurant was pretty poor/slow, so we will probably not be back. We were there on our first trip with the same issues. O’well.

After we got back to our room we promptly fell asleep and set no alarm.

Saturday February 18
Woke up leisurely around 8:30 a.m. grabbed the hotel coffee and pastries, and headed up the Echo trail to the Hegman entry point. Pulled in and two other cars were parked. A leisurely day trip out to the pictographs.

We walked along a very packed, very noticeable trail from the parking lot, all the way out to the pictos. It was a gorgeous walk, and I immediately regretted wearing my jacket, and hat. My wool sweater was plenty, so I took off my coat and carried it like a baby.

Finally got to the pictographs on the north end, and it was amazing. I was surprised at how high they were up and marveled at the artists drawing. To me – it was God the creator, or the Gitchi Manitou looking over his creation.

pictos

Finally we turned back, and saw scores of people walking in to see the great pictographs too. We estimated about 20 more people were hiking in after us. Definitely busting the rules and regs in the BWCA. The parking lot was completely full so people were parking on the Echo Trail!

Lastly we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Grilled Cheese Emporium with amazing service, dropped off our gear at Piragis, and headed home.

See ya in the summer Ely! See ya in the summer!

Whole30 – Back Again

Whole30 back again
Check its records let’s begin
Party on party people let me hear some noise
W30’s in the house jump jump rejoice
There’s a party over here
A party over there
Wave your hands in the air
Shake your derriere
These three words when you’re gettin’ busy
Whoomp there it is
Hit me

Well – this girls dietary habits have been all willy-nilly since our spring BWCA trip when everything went to hell. In the back-country I was eating gluten every day, and hardly turned back since then.

Its been like a bulldozer of culinary Standard American Diet (SAD) over here and my body has definitely taken notice! ¬†For me – eating Paleo is bliss and completely eliminates weird sneaky symptoms that I won’t bore you with right now. Of course its hard to get over the hump of the “I want to kill all the things“, but once you do, and I did – GOLDEN!

w30-timeline

For many people Whole30/eating Paleo can be expensive. The meat alone is enough to turn most people away, but I’m a lucky girl. We butcher our own pasture raised chickens, my husband got a deer this year, and we bought 1/4 of a cow, and 1/2 a hog at the beginning of December. While I won’t have that weekly expense – we still had to pay for it albeit much lower than grocery stores, but at top notch quality, and humane raising and butchering. #WinningAllAround

I start this adventure in eating and culinary bliss on Sunday! I know – a weird day to start anything, but last time I started on a Friday, and that’s kind of weird too. Today I hauled my butt to the grocery store(s) to stock up on a few groceries for the week.

We are hosting an NYE party at our house tonight so I wanted to have all of my ingredients needed for my first W30 breakfast rip-roaring-ready to go.

Here are a few of my favorite commercially prepared items I scored!

w30prep

Goals this time around:

1.) Finish – Okay – duh… but what I mean by that – is there is an awful tendency with round 2 Whole30ers bending the rules. I am determited NOT to be one of those people. My husband fully renovated our kitchen, I got a gorgeous new cutting board from Williams Sonoma, an Instant Pot, and a new kick ass Calphalon pan… So my goal is to stay on track, don’t cheat, don’t make exceptions, and finish again!

2.)¬†Not going to take initial stats/measurement. This time around – weight loss isn’t a goal of mine. I just want to feel¬†the best I can, and know I’m preparing healthy full rounded meals.

3.) I really REALLY want to do a Whole60, or at a minimum a Whole45 this time around – that is my BHAG (big harry audacious goal)… but we will see. I have two winter camping trips, and we all know what happened last time I went camping right after my last Whole30….

4.) Learn and experiment with some sustainable meals – that I CAN eat out in the back-country.

So that’s it. Short and sweet. I’m sure I’ll post next week on how the first week went. Happy New Year!

~ Until next time.

LA

where feet may fail – revisited…

Thank you all for the birthday wishes! This day ~ these past three years have been bitter – but always end up with a sweet lining. I often fret, and worry about this day – leading up to it… You see… today is not only my birthday – but also my Dads…

I swear… I was the luckiest gal to see the Outcry tour with my great friend Vanessa last April 2016. We saw Elevation Worship, Jesus Culture, Kari Jobe, and… Hillsong United LIVE – front – row. Yes – Taya Smith in all of her God given vocal glory – belting out Oceans, literally 50 feet from me.

To say that wasn’t a moving experience…. well – there are just no words…

I’ve now been reviewing these lyrics on a near daily observance since 2013, and…

I thought it would be good to review this song once again – especially since it holds such anchors in my life, and within my own story.

By now, you know the story,and if you need a little history lesson you can always rewind, and take a peak here.

The lyrics of Oceans are still playing out wildly in my life. God never fails. I can say this with assurance. Though He doesn’t always play the chords I expect, the notes he chooses are always right, and always deliberate.

{I Invite you to hit play and listen to this song for the rest of the post}

Sometimes this is hard to swallow.

I often grow and birth such an anxiety about today… worrying relentlessly that my dad is not here to celebrate with me…

I know he is in a better place, but I long to see him. Though intellectually I know he is in a far better place, I want him here. Everything you LOVED about Zeek, you loved about my dad.. If there was ever a TV show about MY family ~ it WAS Parenthood, and my dad WAS Zeek. He was the bedrock of our family… our Zeek to our Parenthood.

He was my anchor Рhere in the flesh Рhere on earth.

But I realized today that I need to trust God in this area of my life too. I never saw it before – but right now – right here, he is asking me to get out of the boat, and I’ve been terrified like the other disciples, and stayed put.

Several days¬†leading up to today leave me wondering, and drunk with fear on how am I going to get through today… but.I.always.do. I need to capture these thoughts of anxiety, because today – I realized these feelings of fear and anxiety are not from God.

Today Рwhen things went amazingly well РI realized I can be Peter. I can get out of the boat, and walk on water too. Because Jesus is here right with me. Right now Рduring these times. God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity (2 Timothy 1:7). 

Today I renew my prayer.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
                  Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Lord – I trust in you – that I can and DO still have a happy birthday. Thank you for those people that you’ve placed around me – that hold me up, and remind me that You’re right there waiting for me… on the water… with Your hand stretched out… ready to catch me if I should fall. Take away these feelings of fear and timidity.

Thank you – that Heaven is a real place – where my dad actually is. Though I have to remind myself that today is my birthday…. July 2 is my dads birthday now. When he entered into heaven – to an eternal celebration that is far better than I could ever imagine.

Help me to celebrate that you granted ME life, for a purpose Рand I can feel okay celebrating that Рand enjoying that. 

Thank you for your truth- and for speaking so clearly to me today.

I will call upon your name…
and keep my eyes above the waves…
My soul will rest in your embrace…
I am Yours… and You are mine…

Teaching your kids about Christmas

These days, Christmas can be kind of confusing for a Christian kiddo today in America. We try to teach our kids about the REAL meaning of Christmas which is Christ Jesus given to us by a great and wonderful God, but many times that gets buried under a pile of Santa Claus, Saint Nicolas, Elf on the Shelf, and Christmas trees.

In our family we celebrate Saint Nicolas Day. Call it the old Catholic in me, this was and still is one of my very favorite traditions. Each year now Kiki puts out her own boot and hopes for lots of goodies on December 6 when she wakes up.

So I got to thinking… perhaps I aught to really teach her about Christmas this year and the blending of our favorite traditions. Afterall it can get really really confusing, even for adults! I recently (and wrongly) just told some friends that Santa Claus has nothing to do with the Christian Holiday (completely forgetting my Catholic Elementary Education) and that he was a made up guy for Pagans! YIKES!

But as my friend pointed out to me that oh yes Santa is very much tied to Christianity, I apologized and admitted I was wrong.

Well lucky for me, and Kiki (so I don’t go botching that up too) the super cool folks over at What’s in the Bible already had this video’d for me, which is awesome because Kiki absolutely LOVES these guys. Since I’m already doing an on-going blog series on the Jesse Tree – I’ve mashed all of these videos together in one.

Pull up a mug of hot cocoa and marshmallows, and enjoy!

12 Questions of Christmas

Question #1

Question #2

Question #3

Question #4

Question #5

Question #6

Question #7

Question #8

Question #9

Question #10

Question #11

Question #12

Phew! Well I hope you enjoyed and are able to use this tool to teach your own kids about the History of Christmas!

The Front Nine

An open letter to my daughter –

Nine years ago – you broke into the world – quite literally. Nine months before that – when I found out I was going to have a little person – my life changed forever, and this blog was literally born.

Over the last nine years, you have brought joy to everyone you meet. Your capacity for loving others is so big, and my prayer for you is that you never loose that. You live out John 13:34 so beautifully each day. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” You stick up for others on the playground when other people act like bullies, and aren’t afraid to [temporarily] loose friends when you see someone treating someone else bad.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-8-23-49-pm

You are my sunshine every morning I wake up, and when I get home from work. You are the epitome of goofy, and I know… I know I’ve really instilled in you that you can act as goofy and silly as you want to, because you have your side kick mama right by your side to drive up the silliness. I pray that during the next nine years, you don’t loose that. Don’t let people shoot down your drive to have little kid silliness at all stages of life. After all, look at Uncle Rick… he’s in his 40s and still acts like we do. You’re never too old to act like a nine year old.

Thank you for trying kale, and venison… and butternut squash, and kohlrabi. So many delights that were never my staple growing up. Though you don’t like all of it, you’re still willing to try. You go hunting with dad in the fall, and aren’t afraid to split a worm and hook it.

I realize the back nine will be different. You’re already as sassy as can be. True “mothers revenge” I’m sure coming back to kick my a$$ for the way I spoke to my mother. Please be gentle to me. This is my first time.

I pray that you surround yourself over the next nine years with amazing girlfriends that will stick by you. Adults you can come to, and stay close to Christ who will guide you in all of your paths.

I’ve had you by my side for nine years, and have just nine years left with you before you fly. May the world you grow up in reveal its beauty to you. There may be people and circumstances that will try to knock you down, but keep your head up. Stay true to your roots, and remember these next nine years do not define your life.

You will have boyfriends (dad is groaning), and be forced to choose between what is popular, and what is right. Sometimes you will choose what is popular, and I hope you often choose what is right.

Know that me and your dad are here for you always. We love you – and are so proud of you already.

I heard this song this year by Tim McGraw and it is my wish for you as you embark on these tween and teen years – always stay humble and kind.

Happy Birthday little one.

Huntin’, Fishin, & Lovin’ Everyday!

FINALLY!!!!

I got back to the BWCAW!!! I absolutely can’t believe I only took one trip last year! Two trips per year should be the norm from here out.It was time to do a little…. Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ every day! (minus the hunting part).

This past Labor Day weekend we headed up to the Gunflint Trail (which was a first for us). Destination – EP #47 Lizz/Swamp with hopes to basecamp on Horseshoe!

Unlike prior trips we elected to wait to pack everything until just a few days before we took off! Again we took my CCS pack, Frost River Pack, Mr.MN’s pack, and MiniMN’s pack. We re-distributed the weight from our Spring 2016 trip, and things were looking good!

We also took only our JRT (Jack Russell Terrier) and left our GSP (German Shorthair Pointer) back home with the boarder!

Wednesday evening we left home around 6:30pm and headed up north towards Superior Ridge Inn off Hwy 61 just south of Schroeder, MN. We wanted to get a nice head start so that we didn’t have to leave the Twin Cities at 3:00 a.m. to make it up north by 7:00 or 8:00 a.m.

Coming down the big hill to Duluth while it was all light up was quite a site, but it was weird driving on the north shore in the dark! I saw loads of deer in the ditches, so I was a bit cautious of pushing the speed lest they jump out at me.

Superior Ridge Inn was a fine place to stay, though we only stayed about 7 hours (sleeping 6.5 of them). We rolled in around 10:30 p.m. after stopping for Hardies for dinner (husbands request).

We all fell fast asleep since our alarm was set for 5:30 a.m.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

The alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. and I was ready to roll! Mr.MN scooped MiniMN out of her slumber, and carried her to the car and we were finally off! It was still mostly dark , but we got to watch the sun rise over Lake Superior which is always a treat.

We did make a pit stop however at Java Moose and Worlds Best Donuts for breakfast in Grand Marais which was great. My co-worker mentioned that the donuts were small, but I thought they were big enough for us to each have one. We’re not huge breakfast eaters though.¬†¬†We then blazed the trail up the Gunflint to Rockwood outfitters to pick up our permits, and hopefully some leeches since all of the bait shops were closed so early in the morning.

Unlike the Ely side, everything is fast asleep off the Gunflint until 8:00 a.m. In fact Rockwood Outfitters were the only ones we could find that opened at 7:00 a.m. We were used to outfitters (specifically VNO) opening at 5:30 a.m.  and staying open until 10 p.m.in the busy season. Here everything closed down at 6:00 p.m.

We pulled in and the owners greeted us. We unloaded everything right there after they announced we could park with them vs. the public landing down the road for a flat rate of $10. We were in. They also had some leeches, so we grabbed about two dozen of them as well. We unloaded our vehicle as other folks started waking up to put in. We worked quickly after learning they were headed to the very location we were.

They provided us clear, and easy directions to the Lizz portage, and even helped us push off and get MiniMN in her seat. Talk about full service! I’d recommend this helpful bunch if you’re looking for an outfitter on Poplar Lake.

The directions couldn’t have been easier, so we found the portage to Lizz without any problems. MiniMN was happy to see that it was simple land mass that separated the lakes vs. rapids and a water fall requiring a portage. We got everything unloaded and took a look back without any sign of our “same entry permit day” comrades.

The portage to Lizz was easy as could be! Husband and kiddo saw an oversized deer hoof track in the mud (which was pretty solidified) and determined it must be a moose hoof. At the end of the portage we met a group of young canoeists who looked to be about college age. In fact we learned they were entering freshman at St. Scolastica who offers incoming freshmen the opportunity to go on a BWCA trip to meet new friends, and form bonds. I thought that was pretty darn awesome.

Lizz was a super easy paddle, and the other portage to Caribou couldn’t have been easier to find. The muck on this end was a little more legit, but still wasn’t as bad as my recent hike on the SHT after Silver Bay received 6″ of rain… but I digress.

This was a little more of a “hike” but the 65-70 rods (depending on which map you consult)¬†with¬†little log “bridges” on them in the lower areas that looked more prone to being muddy, but everything was hard packed when we walked through. It was very easy, and MiniMN took it like a champ without even a peep. She was very pro-portaging this time, and I didn’t even have to bribe her with candy or Girl Scout Cookies!

Caribou was a beautiful lake. We “parallel parked” the canoe and hopped in. My feet got a bit wet, but I didn’t mind since I had new hiking sandals, so most of the time I just walked into the water up to my knees which was much easier than teeter-tottering on a rock trying not to get wet. This is definitely the way to go!

That first site on Caribou was open, but we decided to head to Hoseshoe instead. That 20 rod portage was the easiest one we’d encounter on our entire trip, and very soon we arrived on Horseshoe. The first two sites were open, but we were really hoping for sites 675, or 674 as it was primo moose viewing areas… but they were both taken, along with 673! We paddled down one of the arms, and that site was open!

We all got out and walked around, but the firepit was secluded from the water, and the path to the toilet was very rocky. It didn’t have that magical feel to it, so we paddled back north to one of the (hopefully still open) sites. On our way back towards site 675 we noticed a flotilla of four canoes (the ones we saw at Rockwood) with loaded gear also looking for a site. The race was on!

We mentioned to them the site we just left was open, and paddled north while they pondered their next move. From this angle site 672 looked awesome. One walk around and it was going to be home sweet home for us for the next few days. We threw everything up on shore, and cracked open some wine (and Koolaid) to celebrate!

Later that evening we tried our hand at fishing (success but small), and had bratz for dinner which were amazing! This is the way to go for meal #1 of the night. Jason missed his steak, but I still loved the simplicity of the bratz, and lower risk of blood all over everything else!

After we got camp cleaned up (in the dark) we came back out towards the fire pit, and noticed a gorgeous display of northern lights, stars and the visible milky way! I was so glad to have my good camera with, though I am still a novice at nighttime photography.

We all popped a melatonin and fell fast asleep.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Friday we slept in a tad – well by our wilderness standards of 6:30 a.m. – we all slept in until 8:00 a.m. or later. We had a good rest, but our tent was pitched on a slight slope so we all kind of rolled at night.Sadie our JRT demands to sleep in my sleeping bag each night, so we rolled together depending on how she wanted to sleep.

Once emerging from the tent, we lazily walked back to get our food bag, and had an amazing breakfast of oatmeal and coffee! (ha!) (The kiddo got hot cocoa though). In the future we might try to bring our farm fresh eggs with us since they don’t require refrigeration. We’re also planning to invest in a bear vault or hope to get one for Christmas (wink wink).

After breakfast was cleaned up thanks to Kiwi (MiniMN’s nickname), and promises of extra snickers bars at night, we were off for Vista lake, which MiniMN wanted to visit after seeing this video.

The paddle past site 675 on horseshoe was amazing, and very moosey feeling. Loads of lily pads and vegetation. The paddle was very enjoyable, and the portage to Vista was very easy to find.

The portage itself was a rocky mess though. The take out of horseshoe wasn’t too bad, but lots and lots of rocks to contend with towards Vista. It reminded me of the first portage from Mudro into Fourtown but on a lighter scale.

Soon we arrived to Vista and the entry in was much trickier with all of the rocks.

We paddled down to the 5 star campsite towards Misqua lake to have lunch. That was the cats meow of all sites! The views were awesome, the tent pads close to the pit and level, and the path to the potty closer than at our site. It was very enjoyable to relax and borrow another site for an hour or so. We didn’t see anyone else on Vista until we were nearly finished with lunch when we saw our Rockwood friends fishing nearby.

All, but one of our leeches got out of our leech locker (we’ll need a more sophisticated one in the future), so we fished with fake bait, and lures. We decided to fish the eastern bays and I got an eater smallie on the north-eastern bay on a Fliker Shad¬†lure!

Finally – we were going to eat a bona-fide fish from the BWCA!

We let the wind, which had picked up by now,  blow us back to the portage to horseshoe.

Anchors down, we fished the lower part o Horseshoe, and then made a right hand turn to the far eastern arm of Horseshoe where Jason accidentally hooked his other pole and threw it out into the lake!!!!

Luckily for us/him the water was pretty shallow and it was resting about 3 feet on some vegetation. Phew! We paddled down towards that other campsite, but it was taken, so we turned around before we got there.

On our way back to the main section of the lake we noticed two otters grunting at us, and played peak-a-boo as we paddled by.

Once we came back towards camp we realized we had some new neighbors directly across from us. They had three canoes and from what we could surmise, a truck load of kids with them.

We pan fried the fish in some ghee and lemon juice and made mac and cheese to go with it. It was absolutely wonderful!

After we got dinner all cleaned up we were back in the canoe for an evening paddle and fishing until dark. We could hear our new neighbors hooting and hollering, and making all kinds of noise. We thought maybe they were a Boy Scout troop and hoped that they had a curfew.

We made a decent campfire that evening, drank wine, and played Yahtzee. ¬†Our kiddo fell asleep mid-Yahtzee while Jason and I stayed up to plan future trips. He challenged me to reserve our days off from work,but NOT reserve a permit until the day before we leave, and leave it up to chance where we go…. At first I thought he was nuts, but then the idea started to really grow on me…So – that is my 2018 goal since I already have two spots in mind for the 2017 season! (Somebody stop me!)

We carried little miss to our tent, and we all fell fast asleep.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

This morning we slept in even further! Even Sadie wanted to sleep in, which is another reason why she gets to come with us on our trips. Today we hoped to go up to Caribou Lake to fish some spots I learned about on bwca.com.

The portage back over to Caribou was like going to the State Fair. So many people on this portage that we gave each other the: “this is crazy” look. Perhaps in the future we’ll skip the Labor Day weekend trip and plan a mid-October trip instead when MiniMN is out of school again. We crave our solitude that we’ve gotten on our previous pre-Memorial Weekend trips, and loved them!

It probably took us 30 minutes to get through that portage,but finally we made it. We worked our way along the¬†lake, cast, nothing, cast, nothing, cast nothing…..

This continued for the whole day which was overcast, and very very windy. MiniMN fell asleep in the canoe after complaining that her ear hurt. I was worried she was going to have a full blown ear infection and was planning on how we were going to get through the night, or pull out if it turned into such. I encouraged her to nap, so she did for about 2 hours while me and Jason fished. That was awesome, because Sadie was sleeping too, so we got some REAL quiet as we saw nobody on Caribou for the day.

After we had enough of cast, and….. reeling back in empty handed we paddled back towards the Horseshoe portage with whitecaps and wind in our face. That was a workout, but thankfully everyone else was still asleep so nobody rocked the boat.

Upon return to Horseshoe the wind was still whipped up pretty bad, so we decided to gather some firewood, and just relax on the rocks and read, finish our Yahtzee game from the night before and relax.

We noticed our neighbors, which now no longer appeared to be scouts, but rather two dads and about 6 kids between them were in groups of kids in the canoes and fishing. They’d yell across the lake, “Got one….” “What?”, “So and So got a fish”, “What kind?”, “A northern, its huge… probably… 6 inches!”…. It was kind of cute… but mostly annoying.

After listening to these kids reel in fish after fish in front of our campsite we decided to head back out on the lake once our fire had subsided and extinguished. We paddled the northwestern arm of Horseshoe all the way down past the narrows which were really rocky paddling until we were completely secluded. Peace…..

With that came loads of lily pads however,and fishing was no longer feasible, so we turned back for dinner. The thing about Horseshoe is that each little arm of it, and section of it is wildly different from the next. The northwest arm reminded me of Ely Lakes, while the southeastern arm was almost swampy looking.

Dinner was Teriyaki rice and chicken, and some Snickers. We organized everything for our departure the next day and relaxed by the fire to play some cards. The sky was cloudy so we did not see much in the way of stars. It would be an early bedtime for us, as we heard our neighbors STILL shouting across the lake at dark.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

We didn’t set any alarms to set out, but I woke up around 7:00 a.m. to the light of day, and picked up my book to read a bit while I waited for Kiwi¬†and Jason to wake up.

Around 8:30 a.m. or so everyone else woke up and we began the process of tearing down camp.

Our neighbors to the east seemed pretty quiet, which is probable since I swear they were making noise past 11:00 p.m.!

The paddle out was pleasant, and we only saw two groups on the portages, which was very nice compared to our day trip to Caribou the day before.  We compared notes with one couple who had paddled through Horseshoe, Gaskin, Winchell, Jump and Allen, and every site they had passed was taken!

Caribou lake was of course windy again, but this time, no white caps to contend with. On our way out of Caribou I looked back to that first site (which was taken now) and was really glad we didn’t stop there. The whole site looks really exposed, and who wants people looking in on you all day? That’s what William O’Brien State Park is for right?

Little miss nearly got whiny on the 65-70 rod portage from Caribou to Lizz, and tried to drop her pack and “quit” mid-portage, but daddy got her re-situated with a canoe on his shoulders, and she was back in business.

We met a group of three older ladies coming out of Lizz who were on their annual girls only trip. They had loads of gear, but looked like professionals! (I guess this was their 20th year or so).

The paddle on Lizz was uneventful. I wonder what the fishing would be like on this lake. I wonder if it ever gets any action with people just passing it through. We did see a couple perched up on an island on the northern end with a cooler, and sunbathing. ¬†Perhaps “cabin-ers” or locals from Poplar.

The kiddo was pro-portage since it was the last one, and fairly easy. Right once we got to Poplar she dropped her pack and announced, “Last portage of the year!”.

For the size of Poplar lake, it was rather calm paddling, which was nice. We looked for the green cabin with the flat roof, took a right, and were headed back for Rockwood Outfitters where our car awaited. Once we got close the owners came out and greeted us, and helped us unload! Talk about full service!

We mentioned to them how busy it was, and they told us about a group that had put in the day prior, couldn’t find anywhere to stay, so they had to camp overnight on a portage, and then paddled back out the next morning since there was “no room at the inn”. I’m starting to think mid-October is sounding better and better!

We got loaded up in a jiffy, and were headed for Trail Center!

I pulled in, and noticed a firm sign on the door that insinuated that pets were not welcome… We’ve had bad experiences leaving Sadie put, and the deck to eat out back wasn’t accessible from outside like the Chocolate Moose was in Ely. So I walked in to have a look around, and came back out with a hungry belly. We’ll be back in Mid-October – dogless… so we’ll have to check it out more thoroughly then!

Instead we opted for Dairy Queen in downtown Grand Marais, and ate out on the rocks near the breakwater. The kiddo earned a blizzard which she was really pumped about and I earned an iced mocha from Java Moose for the drive home!

We had a blast on this trip, but I don’t think we’ll visit this particular area again at this time of year. Just too busy! I used to think I didn’t mind seeing people, but that’s when we only saw one or two people per day, verses one or ten per hour.

All in all, we liked the Gunflint side, and I’m sure we’ll be back again, but we did miss the nostalgic canoeing town of Ely with all of its shops right there, and their overly pro-BOUNDARY WATERS feel versus outfitters scattered along the Gunflint Trail. They are definitely different, and for now, we are team Ely!

‚̧ Linds

captain

two years ago today marks the date.

of those non-stop phone calls I kept ignoring.

listening to Oceans by Hillsong United. praying those lyrics and etching them into my soul.

two years ago – reminds me where i’ve been

and where I’m going…

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where i’ve been –
Way back in May of 2013 My co-worker and friend Vanessa had sent me this song over Spotify message that simply said,¬†“Today’s song“. Little did I know that the moment I listened to those lyrics I would make¬†them my life prayer over the next several years.

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To be a woman of God who would get out of the boat and follow Jesus onto the water. To have faith that ran as deep as the Mariana Trench and beyond.

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Through waters uncharted my soul will embark
I’ll follow Your voice straight into the dark

After several repeated phone calls from my mother on July 1, 2014 – I answered the phone. Nothing but Jesus could have prepared me for that proverbial gut punch. “Your dad has choked on his breakfast… lost consciousness…heart stopped…. on a ventilator….in a coma…. come quickly.” The words bled together.

Tearing¬†my laptop out of the wall at work – just ahead of the Red, White & Boom! TC Half Marathon that I am Course Chair for – I ripped off to St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN.

… and waited

… prayed

…begged

…bargained

…and while my heavenly Captain knew where we were going, I could not understand the course that He charted for us.

Lost in the shallows amidst fear and fog
Your truth is the compass that points me back north

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I believe to this day, that singing those lyrics to Oceans – over and over and over the year prior kept my entire focus on Jesus during the months after. Not projecting, or burying the hurt, but fully trusting that God had it all figured out, and not carrying the burden of trying relentlessly to understand why this happened. Just simply getting out of the boat, and grabbing on to His hand.

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In 2015 I heard this song – Anchor also by Hillsong. Classic. Now that I took the step out of the boat – I had an amazing Anchor of faith to help hold me steady. I knew, whatever the storm was, my vessel would not be blown around, but conversely would stand the test of time.

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That year I saw anchors everywhere. On billboards, Facebook posts, a wedding invitation, and a random gift from my friend Vanessa of an anchor bracelet (which I’ve¬†now turned into a necklace) that I wear to this¬†day.

It’s a glorious reminder that I am anchored in Christ’s amazing strength through any storm, that I won’t blow away, and an abundance of grace and relentless love – each and every day.

where I’m going –
Held up in genius fashion, yet another song from Hillsong for 2016. And isn’t it kind of weird that they’re all so eerily related, and similar, and perfectly progressive? ¬†All relating so perfectly to water. Perhaps this is a spiritual baptism I’m encountering, slowly being transfigured into a new creation. ¬†As if that God of ours knew, and knows exactly what course He is¬†charting.

Like the wind
You’ll guide
Clear the skies before me
And I’ll glide this open sea

My eyes are still focused straight on him.

I am not saying in the least that its easy, or that I never shed a tear. I shed a lot of tears when I allow myself to think about the tragedy that occurred, and I do allow it.

After all – Jesus wept too.

I find myself completely stunned however – ¬†every time I play back the memories. That really… this was My¬†dad. and he really IS gone, and now this is really MY story.

Knowing though – that I have a Captain that knows the path set before me, and how to navigate through the tough waters makes all the difference in the world. I can glide this craft through all waters with Him.

Just shy of three years ago thirteen of us embarked on an epic houseboat adventure in Voyagers National Park! My dad – the captain…

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There was this spot coming out of Crane Lake into Sand Point Lake called the King Williams Narrows. Now – this doesn’t look like much from the photo, but with our huge boat we had mere feet on either side to clear the passage.

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It took knowledge of the distance between the land masses, the specs on the boat, a steady hand, practice from driving river boats in the Navy – trust – lots of calm and patience, and a whole lot of praying to make it through. We all trusted Captain Rich as we knew none of us were skilled enough to clear that tiny passage.

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In the same way, I trust that God, my Captain knows the specs on my life, and the passages I will go through. “I’ve got this”, he says.

The destination that I’ve ended up thus far has¬†been more mind blowingly beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I know that sounds odd given the circumstances, but my faith has exploded, and the peace I have is unexplainable.¬†While darkness separates me and my dad for now – I know we will meet on the shores again. I’m so thankful to Jesus for giving us the opportunity.

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‚̧ Linds