Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lake County Demonstration Forest to Drummond Grade; Superior Hiking Trail: August 14, 2012

After my successful outing on Sunday at Lake Maria State Park, I decided that it would be good to get back into the habit of hitting a chunk of the Superior Hiking Trail on Tuesday afternoons/early evenings.  Thunderdog was certainly up for a big walk!  We hopped in the car and, not wanting to tempt fate (or my shaky cold and health in general) we went to the Lake County Demonstration Forest for a quick little hike.

A multitude of signs

We've been here before, twice.  Both times I have noted that the LCDF is part of a Superior Hiking Trail spur, but I've never actually taken the spur out to the main trail.  My goal on Tuesday was to take the spur to the main trail, follow the trail to Drummond Grade, and then take the road back to the LCDF.  It looked to be about a 3 mile hike: 1.2 miles on the spur trail, .6 on the main trail, and then another 1.2 or so back to the car.

Quiet forest

I have noticed something interesting all three times I have been here: it is so quiet in the Lake County Demonstration Forest.  I'm not sure what it is about the forest, but it's almost eerie how silent it is.  The wind just doesn't seem to blow and there don't seem to be any animals scampering around.  I do remember hearing Knife River gurgling away when we visited that, but even then I thought it was a loud and invasive sound.

Go ask Alice, I think she'll know.

While we were ambling along, we came across something new: a blue mushroom.  I am no mycologist to be sure, but I had to stop and look at this strange thing.  It looked like something had taken two perfect bites out of it.  There were no dead animals nearby, so if it truly was as toxic as it looked, at least the critter got some distance before exploding (or they shrunk to a tiny size).  

Ah yes, here's the main trail.

This section of the Superior Hiking Trail felt kind of odd to me.  It wasn't just the quiet, it was...different.  It took me a while to figure out what was so strange about it, but I think I have an idea.

The woods were mostly aspen and birch - white trunks, light leaves.  The trunks were mostly bare up to some distance over my head.  The floor of the forest was covered with ferns and other short plants.  The space inbetween was  I realized that I could see quite a long way in every direction because there was nothing except the thin white trunks and some small trees to block my line of vision from the forest floor to the canopy.  It was very light in the forest, and I kind of felt like I was being watched.  (I promise that I did not try the blue mushroom.)

Of course, it's impossible to take a picture of the woods in the forest, and it's impossible to verbalize what it felt like.  I did get one picture that sort of gives the idea of what I'm talking about (and an itchy Thunderdog scratching her ear at the perfect time), but it might be one of those things you just have to experience to understand.  

Itchy dog itches on the path, in full view for miles around

We didn't see another soul while we were out there.  This part of the trail isn't highly trafficked.  It's not exactly a premiere section like the Split Rock Loop or some of the other dayhikes up to the north.  It's kind of nice to have the trail to ourselves.  There were a few places in which the trees had been recently cut - there looked to have been some sort of logging operation going on.

When there are no trees left to blaze, we will follow the blazes on the stumps.

Three miles down, and a milestone has been reached: I have logged over 100 miles of hiking on this blog in 2012.  Of course I've hiked more than that - I don't blog my daily walks with Thunderdog, for example - but it is still something of which to be proud.

100 miles!  Here's to the next 100.

Total miles hiked today: 3
Total miles hiked (in 2012): 100.8

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

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on the milestone! And its REALLY a "mile"stone which is even cooler. :-)