Monday, August 20, 2012

Cascade River State Park AND Superior Hiking Trail: August 18, 2012

On our quest to punch out all of the North Shore State Parks this summer, Joe and I headed up to Grand Marais and then just a bit south to visit Cascade River State Park.  It was a cool-ish August day - about 63 degrees outside - but quite humid.  Cascade River's Hiking Club Trail was 3.5 miles long.  Piece of cake, right?

Easy to find sign, a wonderful thing to behold

WRONG!  Gentle readers, I was so sweaty and exhausted during and after this hike.  I am not sure what the deal was - if it was the humidity or me still being on the path to wellness after my cold - but this was easily the most difficult Hiking Club trail I have been on this year.  Several times we had to stop so that I could catch my breath.  Luckily, Joe and Thunderdog were understanding and there was plenty of nice scenery for them to look at while I glistened and wheezed.

The Cascades of the Cascade River

As we were walking across the bridge over the Cascades, Joe mused, "I wonder why it looks like root beer."  A genie popped out of a bottle and granted him his wish: two seconds later we saw a sign by a little seating area that read, "Why does the river look like Root Beer?"  We went over to read:

Why does the river look like Root Beer?  Is the river polluted?  NO!!!!   
The brown color comes from the water that drains out of the swamps and bogs into the river.  The decaying organic matter in the swamps creates humic acid.  This is what colors the water brown.  The foam comes from the water tumbling over the rocks and waterfalls.  The aerated water with the humic acid and natural organic matter causes the foam.  Some of the dark color comes from iron deposits located along the river's course.  How do we know it's not pollution?  Because there isn't any development along the 17 miles of the Cascade River.  The Root Beer look of the Cascade River comes from all natural ingredients.  
Very cool.  It was neat to look at the raging river and think that it had only traveled seventeen undisturbed miles to get here, and the only witnesses were forest animals and people enjoying the wilderness.

Joe captures a picture of the wild river, while Thunderdog looks on

The hiking path itself was pretty good.  It did not have Tettegouche's amazing views of the lake, nor did it have Temperance's incredible slot canyon.  It did not have Split Rock's raspberries or Gooseberry's angry woodland creatures.  What it had in abundance was cedar tree roots: nature's toestubbers.  My big toes ached after this hike.  It seemed like every few minutes Joe would hear something like this:

step step step-THUNK 
shuffle shuffle stepstepstep 
"I"m okay!"

Oh my aching toes
As with many other North Shore parks we've hiked this year, this Hiking Club Trail piggybacked on the Superior Hiking Trail.  From what I can tell, we covered about one mile of the Superior Hiking Trail's main trail.  If you look closely at this great picture of Joe and Thunderdog below, you'll see the SHT blaze sign on one of the trees.  

Joe and Thunderdog on the Superior Hiking Trail

The high point (ha) of this trail is definitely the blandly named but very beautiful Lookout Mountain.  There are a few benches at the top, but in order to really get the view you have to climb out onto a rock that sticks out over the valley below.  Being a chicken, I went halfway out and decided that I had seen enough.  Joe was braver than I (overcoming his Hermann the German fear of heights?) and climbed out a little farther while I held on to Thunderdog.

No power in the 'verse can stop me.

I would not call this my favorite of the North Shore parks, but I might just be getting spoiled.  There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than hiking through mixed wood forests, looking out over vast valleys, and watching a pure undeveloped river crash along on its way to the greatest of the Great Lakes.

Total miles hiked today: 3.5
Total miles hiked (in 2012): 104.3

Total ticks today: Joe - 0; Thunderdog - 0; Elly - 0
Total ticks (in 2012): 48

No comments:

Post a Comment