SHT: day 15, Beach Walk to Caribou Pond, 26 miles

It’s always a great sleep in a bed. So comfy at my friend’s house. I pack up clean and dry (!) gear and head out into a perfect day of sunshine, clear skies and cool air. 

The beach walk is one of the special aspects of the Superior Hiking Trail. You’ve spent so much time looking at it from afar, now you get to skip stones on it. 

And what perfect skippers! All the jagged, geometrical volcanic rock I saw on the rivers and under my feet gets tumbled smooth by the waves. They come in a variety of reds and grays. 

My feet sink in and it’s not the easiest walking, but lovely with the sun glowing on completely placid water. It boggles the mind the sheer mass of Lake Superior. Get the wind blowing and you can get monster waves. 

I pass a large chunk of stone, magma frozen and metamorphosed. A lichen-covered rock island with requisite spruce pushing through the cracks has its own sand bar bridge. Drift wood scatter at the entrance. 

I say goodbye to the beach and hello to the carwash. I doubt the damp will last long. An d birch peels revealing a soft pink skin. 

I meet up with the hidden jewel of the Little Brule, softly gurgling under shading branches. The path cuts through a deep layer of moss and lichen exposing stone like pavement.  

The final state park is Judge C.R. Magney. I judge you beautiful! I say aloud, just as a broad winged hawk lets out a screeching chkeeeee! He must agree. I meet the Timberdoodle Self Guided Nature Trail and learn how to ID dogwood, (hint: red branches) but I’m sent through a parking lot, instead, handily past a water spigot. 

As I work my way towards the actual Brule River, I try to figure out what C.R. stands for by playing with name combos –

Carl Rob,

Christopher Roy,

Caleb Raffi,

Cassius Ricardo…

A sign informs me his name was Clarence, though I never do learn what the R stood for. 

Truth is, the guy does not deserve to be made fun of. He was a justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and a “defender of wilderness.” Ole Judge Clarence Magney came up with the idea to save these stunning places for all of us to enjoy by way of state parks. He’s my hero. 

It’s a good climb up to the Devils Kettle, “a waterfall,” another sign reads  “that disappears into a pothole of unknown depth.” It’s a frothy, steamy, boiling cauldron that I find a way to see even if the stairs to the observation rock are goners. 

At the top, right at the edge of that pothole of unknown depth  I offer to take a couple’s picture and they nudge me out too for mine, stepping very carefully from rock to rock. 

I leave the tourists to cut through a ‘trail closed’ sign. All the thru-hikers have passed by, but it’s a bit tricky on eroded trail covered in blowdown. The river was so furiously swollen it pushed rock up in a wall as if a bulldozer to close one route, then ground down the banks and took trees with it. 

I get off trail once crashing through young trees, then climb over a three tree pile up, tossing my sticks ahead to use my hands to negotiate through. 

It’s a climb high above the river, the forest opening up to reveal sweet meadows on exposed rock covered in wildflowers. 

Down I go again into another deep canyon this time for the soulful Flute Reed River. Not sure I know what that is; the whole point of the flute is to not need a reed. Still, a lovely name. 

And a lovely spot of deep pools shaded by overhanging trees, their green leaves mirrored in the river, the light waving back on the leaves. 

The tranquility is short lived as I need to walk on road. Of course it’s faster on road not looking at your feet and taking long strides, but it’s tiring and hot and a deer fly is buzzing me. 

Still, it’s better than walking in that spruce bog I’m passing. I eventually end up back on trail, an overgrown tangle of plants that are thankfully dry now. 

Even in this jungle – formally known as the Hovland Woods Scientific Natural Area – I find it interesting. Butterflies are everywhere and the wind shimmers the tiny heart-shaped leaves of immensely tall aspens. I share my bug net with a hundred flying insects, but overall, I’m loving it. 

I leave the trail to walk steeply down rocky Tom Lake Road. It appears to go right into a wetland where a hiker would be swallowed up completely, but thankfully, there’s a detour. 

I meet a hiker named Mike warning me the mosquitos get worse. No wonder with all these ponds and grassy wet areas. But I still haven’t experienced anything worse than what I’ve bern through. The permethrin really works. 

Eventually I leave the swamps for a fast and furious straight up climb to a ridge. Views open to another ridge, the big lake behind. Somehow, my ridge is such the lake appears to surround it as if a wide angle lens. This is my last view of the lake on the hike. 

I dip down briefly to a classic beaver pond, frogs trilling and water overflowing in a mini falls. A beaver slaps his tail like a cannonball, and when I linger to listen to the sounds, he slaps again. 

I can take a hint. There’s not much ridge left, dead-ending to a rocky outcrop where I sit as the sun drops looking at beaver ponds and streams in between the two ridges, the lake as backdrop. The lake is in surround as are the birds. On the horizon is a dark blue line separating the light blue lake from light blue sky. 

White aspen shoot up above everyone else like bunches of Side Show Bob’s. 

The breeze is icy, and it’s time anyway to carefully head down to the tiny site, not one truly flat space for a tent. I make do hanging over the bench. Brother and sister thru-hikers,  Girard and Margaret, are already set and have no intentions of building a fire. 

It’s the last site for this hike and filled with frog song. The kids are asleep before I finish dinner and I am about to join them. 

Frogs, a Northern Parula, Red Eyed Vireo and White Throated Sparrow at Caribou Pond.
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Published by alison young

Alison Young is the Blissful Hiker, a voice artist and sometime saunterer. 📣🐥👣🎒

Reader Comments

  1. You realize that you’re ever-so-close to making video logs, right? All the ingredients are already in your tool kit.

    Think about that.

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