I wound up having to work on Wednesday morning, and rain showers were predicted for the late afternoon. Given the small window of time, I decided that a short hike was in order. It was about time for me to do a little trailhead maintaining anyway, so off to Reeves Road we went.
The last time I went to check out the trailhead, my car got stuck in the mud. This time it didn't look too bad. I picked up some trash that had probably blown in from the highway and picked up the half of the Superior Hiking Trail sign that had broken in half and fallen to the ground. I'll stop by the HQ later to request a new one. Then it was hiking time. Little did I know that, in the next hour of hiking, I would wish for my snowshoes, yak trax, hip waders, and sunscreen. I was glad to have brought my rain jacket, wished for a warmer sweater, and regretted not just wearing a t-shirt.
|Check out how perfectly upright this sign is. Gotta get the little sign on the upper left fixed, though.|
The trail was a mess. An absolute mess. If it were not for the blazes (and Thunderdog's keen sense of direction) we would have been lost within minutes. There was no trail: snow, water, mud, and ice covered the forest floor indiscriminately. I didn't see a single other human footprint the entire time we were out there. Apparently this is not the best time of year to go for a hike?
We also came across a lot of downed branches and trees. Those late spring snowfalls with their heart-attack heavy snow did a number on the forest. I cleared away those that I could, and counted six trees that I couldn't move on my own. I'll tell the staff at the Superior Hiking Trail HQ that there's need for maintenance, but odds are it's the same story from Duluth to the Canadian Border. This is a low-use section of the trail. I probably will Shanghai Joe into helping me do some clearing the next time he's up here.
|"I'll help!" Thunderdog helps me clear some branches from the trail.|
It was such a weird hike. According to my magic phone, it was 72 degrees outside when we left the car. But when we were in the woods, it was downright chilly. I was glad to have my rain jacket on because droplets of water (probably melting snow dripping off of trees) plopped on me from above. But when we got to sections of the trail that were open to the sky, it was almost hot out. Back into the woods, back into the cold. I wished that I had an accurate temperature gauge to see what the difference was in and out of the forest.
|I spy with my little eye...a trail? I think?|
If I weren't so happy to be out in the woods, I would have been cursing the path. There were sections in which the snow was over a foot deep, there were sections in which it was bone-dry. Some pools of water were actually ice (slip slip) and some icy patches were actually pools of standing, just melted water (slosh slosh). My favorite was when I stepped into a foot of snow only to discover that, under the foot of snow, was six inches of freshly melted water. Both of my boots were soaked through to the foot. Yay.
|Who cares about fish? Let's roll in the snow!|
Thunderdog didn't care, though. She loves the snow. I was glad that she got one more chance to play in the snow this year. But the way that spring is going, she could be snorting around in snowdrifts on the fourth of July, and ice fishing through the summer.
Speaking of fishing, this upcoming weekend is the Fishing Opener - and I'm not sure what people are going to do. The vast majority of northern lakes are still covered with ice. The only lake that's open right now is the Big Lake itself, but most people don't go fishing on Lake Superior on the Fishing Opener. It's very unusual to have such late Ice Out dates up here. Yet another way in which this has been a Very Special Winter.
Total miles hiked today: I'm going to guess that we did 2 miles total (one mile out, one mile back). It was pretty pathetic...but we were moving so slowly. We didn't even get to the first campsite.
Total miles hiked in 2013: 8.2
Total Superior Hiking Trail miles hiked in 2013: 1.8
Total ticks today: 0
Total ticks in 2013: 0