Journey to the Homestead pt. 2

Land agreement officially accepted!!!! (Meet the keeper of our land right now…

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Each time I head out to the land I see deer. I think Jason is thrilled! One even winked at me!) Home inspection on our current house – very minimal work to be done, we’re heading to closing on 7/10.

Mid-month we took a much needed trip out to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. We went in to Crab Lake out of Ely, MN with a 420 rod portage after a tow across Burntside Lake! We were well treated with solitude, and amazing SMB fishing! We had an absolutely amazing time, and while I started writing a separate trip report, decided with packing and getting everything ready to launch on our closing date I’d make a video to capture everything instead. Enjoy!

Last week we met with our building team, and closed on our 20 acre dream land in the country! Let the clearing of land and house building commence! 🌳🌳🏡🌳🌳🚜🐖🐑🐄🐔🐓🌲🌳🌲🌲

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#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. 😦

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 – we 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

Ah – my last and final winter camping trip!

My co-worker Bre and I decided to head up north again for another addition of Winter camping. This time we were fully outfitted with CCS Pulks, a winter tent and hot stove. Along with additional friends NingA & 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 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 wilderness viewing.

Once we arrived in Grand Marais, we swung into Voyageur Brewery for a bite to eat, however with some various dietary concerns, 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 – obviously 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 Skyped 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 opp.

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.

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 Basecamp Dad 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 Basecamp Dad… 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 – our 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 Sheppard.

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 agreed that winter camping wasn’t exactly 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.

While winter camping may not be for us, the BWCA and wilderness adventure definitely is.

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 – here in the flesh – here 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 – when things went amazingly well – I 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 – during 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 – and I can feel okay celebrating that – and 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…