I didn't tell anyone, but this is what I've been training for.
Gunflint Lookout (2064 feet, #13S)
It's a six hour drive from Minneapolis to this trailhead, shared with the Kekekabic Trail; that's the same as driving to Chicago. I drove all night and arrived at dawn.
Peak 1990 Hungry Jack (#20)
I hate hate hate hate this peak. I hate it with a white hot intensity bordering on madness. I loathe it.
About a mile from the previous peak, this was an obvious next choice for something to climb. I wouldn't drive 6 hours up and 6 back just for this, so it was now or never. The Hungry Jack fire had burned all of this hill, leaving skeleton pines, making this the one peak where I could see where I was headed.
This peak is just north of the Magnetic Rocks trail and the rocks ARE magnetic. While the GPS kept giving an accurate measure of the distance, the compass would swing back and forth. If not for being able to see the route due to the fire, I don't see how this could be climbed. As I got close to the top, my fear of heights took over. I did the last 200 yards reaching from one tree to the next, making sure of the stability of the tree and the sureness of my footing. I was shaking and almost crying at the top, so there aren't photos.
Round trip took 2.5 hours.
I f___ing hate this peak!
Peak 2210 a, b (#5)
Some 40 miles back along the Gunflint Trail, I turned on FR309 (sign says Greenwood Lake). Four miles later, turned on 313 (Shoe Lake Rd), then two more miles to 144, where I parked the car. This is a very peculiar case; there are three points one has to reach to be sure one has reached the top - though I believe I'm the first ever to do so.
|See? That's close!|
|That's wolf, not dog!|
Peak 2163 (#8)
It was getting into the heat of the day. I drove back to the Gunflint Trail, back into Grand Marais, which was having a festival, then Highway 61was revisited (thank you Bob Dylan). It had rained here while I was north. Though there are shorter routes, I used paved roads as much as possible. I got to Cook Cty 4 just before Lutsen, then headed north again. At The Grade (FR309), turned left, then right on 326 toward Brule Lake. The next peak is off a minimum maintenance road, 326D, which goes two miles, past Peak 2163.
|That's legible. Easy to miss, though.|
Another 3 hours. I believe this was the second-ever reported ascent.
Eagle Mountain (2301 feet, #1)
I'd climbed this before, but never got the obligatory photo at the top. It's only 4 miles past the 326/170 intersection, so it made sense to do this one, get the photo and never have to go in this area again. The first time I did it, it took exactly one hour. This time, it took 1:10 just to get to the top.
There's a nice trail the whole way and there were a lot of other hikers, all of whom looked like this was the hardest thing they'd ever done.
|My shoe (and hairy, muddy knee) at the highest point in the state.|
Arrived home at 11 PM. I'd done 5 of the highest peaks, any of which would be consided enough for one day, even without 12 hours of driving!