Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Gooseberry Falls State Park AND Superior Hiking Trail: June 5, 2012

I still wasn't tired after my trip to Banning on Sunday and my morning of volunteering on the Superior Hiking Trail on Monday.  Tuesday was beautiful: temps in the upper 60's and sunny.  Venus was due to march across the sun.  It was time for Thunderdog and I to go for a good walk.

I threw her in the car and off we went to Gooseberry Falls State Park.  I feel lucky to have such an awesome park as my nearest park neighbor.  The falls are the star of the park, of course - but the hiking isn't half bad.  And there's a bit of history involved, as well.

Gooseberry Falls: where every picture looks as pretty as a postcard

As with most rivers in Minnesota, the Gooseberry River was still running high.  It made for impressive waterfalls.  Gooseberry is like Switzerland in that every picture taken could be a postcard.  It's one of the gems of the North Shore.

Thunderdog and I set out to cover the Hiking Club Trail.  We've done it before, but I honestly couldn't remember the password.  Anyway, we were there last summer (before I signed up for the Hiking Club) so it wouldn't have counted anyway.  The trail is only 2.8 miles long, and it's a lollipop loop.  I remembered taking Thunderdog up there when we first moved up to the North Shore, last August.  I remembered thinking that it was a tough path, that it nearly killed me and afterwards I felt just awful. the risk of getting too personal: that was 43 pounds ago.  I've lost a bunch of weight since I moved up here.  It's a combination of being much more active than I used to be, carefully watching my food intake, and living a life of leisure compared to the stress I used to deal with.  Life is good.  This time, the Gooseberry Falls State Park Hiking Club trail was a breeze.

View from the top!  Life IS good.

Lucy and I inspected the structures at the apogee of the lollipop loop: there was a CCC-era shelter and a CCC-era outhouse.  Briefly, I considered the condition of the outhouse and its contents, 80 years after they were built.  I decided that even if the situation were desperate, I'd rather pee in the woods than in an 80-year-old outhouse.  What can I say?  I'm a lady.

Thunderdog in the shelter - LOVE the stonework!!

We finished the Hiking Club trail in record time.  It was 4:30 pm, far too early to head back home.  I consulted one of the handy trail maps and discovered that not only could I knock a Hiking Club Trail off the list, I could make some headway on the Superior Hiking Trail.  Excelsior!

A heavenly pair of signs.

We crossed over to the old Visitor's Center, where we were able to pick up the Superior Hiking Trail's main trail.  As we passed by it, I noted that there is a plan to turn the old shelter into a Civilian Conservation Corps museum and memorial.  Yes, please!!  I'm going to have to chat up my Gooseberry Connections to see where that project is at the moment.  It sounds like something a CCC-loving Master Naturalist would love to help with!

I only covered .8 miles of the Superior Hiking Trail, but I'm happy with whatever I can get.

The Superior Hiking Trail from the Old Visitors Center/Future CCC Museum to Fifth Falls follows the Gooseberry River.  I was surprised to see that the trail was perhaps 50% plank walkway.  I suppose the river spray makes for muddy and slippery conditions.  For the most part they were great, but there was one plank that had lost some of its sturdiness on either end.  Thunderdog walked out onto it with no problems, but when I stepped on it, it turned into a teeter-totter.  Thunderdog went flying, Looney Tunes style.  Luckily she was no worse for the slapstick experience...but she didn't seem to keen on those walkways from then on.

Thunderdog looks can tell by her ears pressed back against her head.

We reached Fifth Falls, where we said 'farewell' to the Superior Hiking Trail and 'hello' to a very impressive waterfall.  Thunderdog, unfortunately, also wasn't too keen on the roar of the falls or the fast-moving water.  This must have been a rather stressful hiking trip for her.  Next time we'll go on a nice, boring walk through a flat mowed field, girl.

Fifth Falls and the bridge

What an amazing day.  I'm glad that we got out there and took a Big Walk - and what luck that we were able to hit a Hiking Club Trail AND the Superior Hiking Trail on the same trip.  I'm so glad that this is my closest's one of my favorites.

Total miles hiked today: 2.2 miles Hiking Club Trail + .8 mile Superior Hiking Trail + 1.5 miles back from Fifth Falls, etc. = about 4.5 miles.

Total miles hiked (in 2012): 50.3
Total ticks today:  Joe - n/a; Thunderdog - 0;  Elly - 0
Total ticks (in 2012): 45

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