Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fantasia Overlook, Superior Hiking Trail: May 9, 2012

Wednesday, May 9th shall go down in history as one of those impeccably beautiful May days...the sort that romantic poets wrote about, the sort that make winter-weary Minnesotans sigh with thousand-yard stares come January.  It was too beautiful of a day to stay late at work, or do any responsible thing.  So I came home, threw Thunderdog in the car, and we headed out.

I decided that we would do a quick out-and-back hike on the Superior Hiking Trail.  I'd heard about the lovely Fantasia Overlook, which involves a one-mile hike to the spur, another .5 miles to the overlook, and then you head back the way you came.  3 miles on a beautiful day?  Piece of cake.  We drove on out to the Highway 1 trailhead.

I'm pretty sure that every SHT sign I've encountered this year is tilting at the same angle. 
If it's not intentional, perhaps there's a stewardship project in there for me.
Let's see, what have we learned about overlooks and peaks so far this year?  I know!  Overlooks and peaks both require a steep hike or a long hike...sometimes both.  This time it was just steep.  Thunderdog and I were both huffing and puffing as we trudged up the trail.  I was surprised to see how muddy the trail was in sections - there were boardwalks in some areas, indicating that the trail was so often muddy that the SHTA decided to do something about it.  I felt as if we were pretty high up there in the hills, not down by the lake.

Burned, burned!
The Superior Hiking Trail crosses state parks, state forests, national forests, and private land.  I'm not sure what the case was for this section (we were very close to Tettegouche State Park), but clearly there was some land management going on.  According to this sign, the area had been part of a controlled burn in 1990.  As a result, there were more aspens and birches than coniferous trees; and they looked fairly young.  It was also clear that the area had been the scene of another forest calamity:

Thunderdog is driven to vertigo by the uneven boardwalk and the bendy trees

An ice storm in 2008 did a good deal of damage to trees in this part of the trail.  Look at those trees, practically bent over sideways.  They seemed to still be alive and healthy, despite looking as if they'd been shoved over.  There were more dramatically bent stands of trees, you know how hard it is to take pictures of trees in a forest? 

We reached the spur trail after heading up for what felt like an eternity.  Not only was it difficult, the mountain (yes I am calling it a mountain) loomed overhead.  The entire time we were in the shadow of the peak we were trying to reach.  It was daunting.  We rested for a minute, and then headed on up.

When we got to the highest point, we looked out to the east.  Lake Superior, brilliant and blue; Palisade Head, home of acrophobic nightmares; Tettegouche State Park's Headquarters with the American Flag flying overhead; million-dollar homes perched on hillsides, their billionaire owners sitting inside swilling brandy and lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills.  Not bad.

Respectable view!
Thunderdog noticed that the trail continued away from the peak.  Knowing that the trail was a straight out-and-back spur, I knew that there was more hiding back there.  We went down the back of the mountain (yes, mountain) and up the side of another, smaller one.  We were moving further away from Lake Superior and into the woods.  Then there it was: Fantasia Overlook.  I caught my breath.

I wish so much that I had a better camera. 
But even if I did, I could not capture the beauty of this view.
Instead of the overwhelming enormity of Lake Superior and its endless surrounding coastline and forests, we found a jewel tucked into the hills.  My dinky photo does not do it justice.  It was breathtakingly beautiful.

We sat around for a little while.  Or, I did; and Thunderdog complained.  She enjoys the journey but hates standing still once we reach the destination.  This time I insisted that we sit back and enjoy it for a spell.  This sort of beauty on this sort of day simply cannot be rushed.

Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves
and the dreams of trees unfold;
When woodland halls are green and cool
and the wind is in the west:
Come back to me!
Come back to me!
and say my land is best.

Total miles hiked today:  3

Total miles hiked (in 2012): 35
Total ticks today:  Joe - n/a; Thunderdog - 3;  Elly -2
Total ticks (in 2012): 18

1 comment:

  1. The last photograph is really amazing, bringing tranquillity and peace :)

    Holiday Rentals Saas Fee