Left my camera on top of my car and drove off, so there's no photos of this trip.
I'd hoped to pick off the low-hanging fruit in the Minnesota peaks and catch the end of the Voyageur 50 Mile on the way back. Plans change.
Mt. Maud (1754 feet, #36)
Drove up Highway 61 to "Old Highway 61," which is County Rd 89 on my map and headed north through the indian reservation, took a left at the T junction with CoRd 17 to continue to Mt. Maude Trail Rd (I think it was spelled with an "e" there) and stopped at the Minimum Mainenance Road sign. Hiked the mile to the summit. I got surprised by a house near the end - had forgotten the area is, after all, a reservation. There's a cable to help climbers, but it's not necessary. At the top there's a communications tower and... a real fire tower! Woo-hoo! Finally, after two dozen "lookouts," there was a lookout tower. It's new construction and well maintained... and so freakin' scary I had to hold railings with both hands the entire way. Nice views, even without the tower.
Took 17 to Grand Portage to buy gas. A guy who just crossed the Canadian border (3 miles away), said to his traveling companion, "Five bucks for a pack of smokes, not twelve, eh?" in a dead-on unintended Bob and Doug MacKenzie impersonation.
Hovland Lookout (1777 feet, #35)
This is on the way to the next one, listed incorrectly in some places as Farquhar Knob. Two miles north of Hovland, Tower Road goes 1 mile straight to the summit. A sturdy truck could drive the whole way, but I hiked it and picked raspberries along the way. There's a very eclectic group along this road with cabins ranging from lean-to's (and worse) to fancy homes. There's a stunning one-room stone cabin right near the top; the owner has to be a master mason. There's a communication tower at the summit... and another fire tower! This one's much shorter than the Mt. Maude one, older and is essentially a long ladder. I climbed it, but when I got down, I puked. I really have a fear of heights!
Peak 1906 (#25)
I'd planned to spend the day doing this one. I took Cook Cty Hwy 16 north a dozen miles, looking for a path marked on my USGS, Forest Service and topo maps, but got to McFarland Lake without seeing it. The entire area is filled with "For Sale" signs, so if there were a path, it probably went through someone's yard. This left me with my second choice, which was to go back to S. Fowl Road (FR 238?), which was newly graded and driveable and got me a mile and a half closer; looks like there's going to be a building boom there soon - so either this climb will soon become much easier or it may become impossible. At the dead end, there's a post with a dozen blue property number signs and right there an ATV/snowmobile path heads due north over an adjacent peak. At the top, I could see Fowl Lake ahead and was 0.8 miles from my goal, but the topo map showed it to be a knife's edge down that peak and another up 1906 (and then back), so I went back down two hundred feet in elevation and looked for the remains of what one map showed as a road, but to no avail. I had to bushwhack a mile, with 400 feet of climb. Satellite photos show the remains of a trail going up (or possibly just erosion), but I never found it.
I officially hate bushwhacking. Round trip took a bit over two hours, which left me more time than I expected, so I stopped at Judge Magney State Park and hiked to the Devil's Kettle, just because I've always wanted to. There's a log washed into the kettle at the moment; it may be there for years. A young woman saw the ultramarathon tech shirt I was wearing and asked if I ran marathons. I said I'd done a few. She was impressed.
I tend to forget that most people think a marathon is a big deal.
Cascade Lookout (1881 feet, #26)
From Lutsen, I took Co. Rd 7 to CoRd 45, then west to where it ends at Murmur Creek Rd and there are signs that tell you who maintains the trails and a map. This is an easy two hour (on tired legs) hike on a wide maintained trail. It's quite pleasant, aside from the flies, mosquitoes and midges (I got bitten by something the size, shape and color of a poppy seed; I have no idea what it was). The trail is both obvious and well-marked. At the summit, the old tower footings are hidden in a cluster of pines and there's a metal pyramid-shaped thing that was probably the top of the tower once. In one place, there's a glimpse of water in the distance; the view's probably better in winter. It's a little disconcerting to see the whole area is apparently for sale. This climb may be quite different in the future.
It was getting too late to go to the Voyageur race and, though I was chafing badly, I thought I could get in one more very easy peak before sunset.
Leveaux Mountain (1550 ft, #44"S")
Whenever hiking on the Superior Hiking Trail, I always mistakenly take a few steps on the spur trail to Leveaux. This is the first time I've had a reason to go there. There's a trail there for a reason - there are some very nice views (though not from the exact high point). For the uninitiated: take CR 338 "Onion Creek Rd" to the Oberg Parking lot and follow the signs. It's under three miles, round-trip.
I was feeling pretty beat-up and not looking forward to the long drive home. I'd thought that with these climbs that I'd learn along the way what worked and become more efficient, that it would become easier. Instead, it seems to be like when I ran an ultramarathon every week; the ceaseless grind is wearing me down.
But, on the bright side, I'm now half-way (29 of 55 peaks done)!
Lost in Space
2 days ago