Monday, July 2, 2012

Temperance State Park AND Superior Hiking Trail: July 1, 2012

We had big plans for Sunday, July 1st.  Drive to Temperance River State Park, hike the Hiking Club trail, drive back towards home and do the Tettegouche Hiking Club trail that we missed last time, go home.  Well, we got half of that done.

Temperance is about an hour up the shore from where I live.  We rolled into the park at about 10am, and easily found the Hiking Club trail.  It's located right off of the Highway 61 wayside, which was very crowded with cars and people.  Temperance River State Park is only about 1,000 acres, most of which seems to be taken up by the campsites.  Luckily, the Superior National Forest virtually surrounds the park, and the trails continue into it.  Most of the Temperance River State Park Hiking Club trail is actually in the Superior National Forest.

But first - remember how I joked around about seeing every waterfall in Minnesota?  Well, we hadn't seen anything like this yet.

I know, it's yet another waterfall.  But it was the BEST waterfall that I've seen yet.

The Temperance River cuts a narrow slot canyon through the rocks on its way to Lake Superior.  It's hard to describe, and even harder to capture in a photograph.  The water raced down the chute of the canyon, creating potholes and niches over the centuries.  Foam flew up into the air and we could see rainbows in the mist.  In some places, we were able to look down into the crevasse about fifty feet to see the water roaring by far below.  It was AWESOME.

Temperance River...

...where no kayakers dare to paddle

The path lead us along the north bank of the river.  Every once in a while there was a small wall for people to lean over and peer at the river below.  None of the walls were tall enough to keep people from flipping over.  As far as I know, nobody has ever flipped over one of these lilliputian walls...but I still approached some of them on my knees and feeling a bit dizzy.

It's hard to describe how amazing this part of the trail was.  And it wasn't just the falls - the trees, the sun, the rocks: it felt like the North Shore.  There's a feeling and a smell and a crispness to the air on the North Shore that's hard to put into words.  Temperance River State Park had it in abundance.  I was in heaven.

Then I saw something that made me REALLY happy: a rock stack!

There probably aren't many people in the world that find rock stacks as exciting as I do.  I love watching people carefully balance the rocks, knowing that they will probably only stay stacked for a short while...and, with the next rain or destructive child, they'll come tumbling down.  It's all very wabi-sabi.

I got excited about the rock stack in the left-hand picture (so much so that I took a picture of it).  Then I saw the one on the right, and immediately my excitement turned to white-hot fury and indignation.  The rock stacks had REBAR in them!  No human hands carefully balanced them, no wabi-sabi, nothing.  It was fake!  Oh, I was mad on behalf of rock stackers everywhere.  For shame, Temperance State Park!  For SHAME!!

Once I'd gotten over the Rock Stacking Scandal, we continued on our way.

Thunderdog and Joe in a very picturesque forest glen

Once we got beyond the waterfalls, the Temperance River widened and mellowed out a bit upstream.  There were lots of rocks in this shallow area of the river, creating mini-rapids and a nice background roar.

Have I ever mentioned that, given the wonderful choice, I would choose to live by a river rather than by a lake?  Rivers are always changing, lakes are stagnant.  I'd rather sit and watch a river than a lake: changing with the weather, the seasons.  I would love to live by a river like Temperance upriver from the falls.

The Temperance River before the crazy waterfall action

Almost immediately after we saw the Hiking Club password, we accidentally turned off the proper trail and wound up on another one.  Not to worry - we had a map and found our way to the the North Shore State Trail (snowmobiling) and then onto the Gitchi-Gami trail (biking).  I didn't mention it earlier, but the Superior Hiking Trail follows the Hiking Club trail through the park and Superior National Forest.  That's a lot of trails converging on this one little park.

We were having such a good time that we decided to just stay and explore Temperance River State Park instead of zipping through it and then doing Tettegouche State Park.  The mouth of the river wasn't on the Hiking Club trail, but we didn't want to miss it.  The reason why the river was named the Temperance River was because, unlike most other rivers on the North Shore, it has no bar at its mouth.  Instead, when we came to where the river met the lake, we saw this:

“To the sea, to the sea! The white gulls are crying,
The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying.” 

We made our way down to the shore where we threw rocks into the water, laughed and ran around a bit, and enjoyed quite possibly my favorite of all parks that we have visited thus far.  Thunderdog, who has been quite a trouper what with all of these annoying waterfalls, enjoyed a dip in the lake.  Perfect end to a perfect morning: splashing around in crystal blue water.


Total miles hiked today: 4 - the Hiking Club is only 1.9 miles, the SHT is about 1 mile of that. So 1.9 miles of Hiking Club plus the rest of our wandering, including the hike to the Lake - 4 miles is a good guess.
Total miles hiked (in 2012): 67.9
Total ticks today: Joe - 0; Thunderdog - 0; Elly - 0
Total ticks (in 2012): 45


  1. Temperance is my favorite MN State Park. Hands down. The Tettegouche Hiking club trail is my favorite hiking club trail, though. Glad you got to explore Temperance and enjoyed it!

    1. I am VERY INTERESTED in seeing what Tettegouche has to show us. I can't imagine anything being more mind-blowing than Temperance. Joe's coming up here this weekend - it'll depend on how motivated we are feeling! We've tossed around the idea of Split Rock (which is a long one) or Crosby-Manitou (which is challenging) if the weather is nice. We'll see!

      And I will definitely be returning to Temperance in the future. I'd like to go back there this fall.

    2. Mark and I were not impressed with Crosby-Manitou. We ended up bush-whacking the entire trail. It's a very rarely visited park.

      I like the Split Rock trail as well, although part of that is because Split Rock is where Mark and I first went camping together, and where he proposed. So there's some other memories attached to that park!

      You'll have to let me know what you think of the Tettegouche trail. It really strongly features Lake Superior, which is why I like it so much.

      Hooray for state parks!

    3. Interesting! You know, that's good feedback about Crosby-Manitou. Maybe we'll wait until later in the season for that one. Easier to bushwhack once the leaves start falling, and we won't have to worry about bugs.