NCT Diary Sept 27-Oct 11
Grand Marais, MN to Grand Rapids, MN
Sept 27: another awesome breakfast at Blue Water Cafe, then sit in the sun digesting pancakes. Hard to hitch out of this town, so we walk most of it before catching a ride for the last mile on the highway. Somehow I've got a super quick pace and we crush 10 miles before stopping at a beautiful viewpoint to dry out the tent. Spend nearly an hour in the sun watching the currents move in Lake Superior. Our only legal camping is only 20 miles away, so we're in no rush. Texting with my mom about arrangements for the end of trail - the end of the trail feels real!! Dilletantes at camp of course get there first and take up too much space, big tents set up far apart. North Face nuptse jacket & pump filter, hanging entire pack like a bear bag over the only good flat ground; rude amateur
Sept 28: didn't take notes
Sept 29: expected to hit northern terminus of SHT today but the trail was pretty chunky, slowed us down somewhat. Met 3 good dogs including a very wiggly happy Lab puppy!!! Hit sub-1000 miles on the NCT, camped at Andy Creek camp and finally had a site to ourselves for the last night on the SHT.
Sept 30: Finished off the SHT, a thru-hike within a thru-hike. Not feeling in a rush on the Border Route Trail, last 65 miles of difficult trail before the Kek and then only 39 on the Kek to the roadwalk. Was worried that the little-used BRT would be a bushwhacky, blowdown mess but so far it's pretty good. Obviously not as maintained as the SHT but the tread is in good shape and it's not terribly overgrown, just some overhanging branches here and there and a blowdown or two. We can see Canada from our lunch spot, just across the Pigeon River
Oct 1: overcast, warm and still. Only crows. Got super hot later in the day, bad pack chafe. So sweaty, relieved by small drizzle in the afternoon but still was so sweaty and hot phone screen won't let me type. Old burn area near end of day, great views but got absolutely beaten up by thick stands of young, head-height trees. C can't stop hiccuping and it's driving me nuts along with glitchy humid phone screen
Oct 2: drizzly morning, getting drenched by saplings as well as beaten up by them, trail turns into two-track near Loon Lake. Lunch on overlook of Cross River, fingers still too waterlogged to type. End of BRT in a couple miles. end of BRT, Kek fire damaged and trashy for first twelve miles, camped early because rain is miserable and we'd rather do two extra dry road miles tomorrow than two wet bushwhack miles today
Oct 3: Kek improved to what I thought it'd be after Agamok Bridge, making good time, saw Apple Pie going other direction around when we were planning to have lunch. Another hiker! So good to stop and talk to someone doing the same trail as you. Spent nearly a full hour but that's ok, only have to finish the Kek before nightfall and then its wide open road miles, easy to nighthike. Too bad the NCT is so long, makes us rush though the beautiful stuff and there's not enough beautiful stuff to enjoy to make up for town rush. Will have to come back to the Boundary Waters and do it at a more relaxed pace. Camped in National Forest off the road after having to get really nasty swamp water cause I forgot to grab good clean stream water before we left BWCWA
Oct 4: woke up early, road miles in the dark reminds me of bike trip, having the highway to myself with my big powerful bike light was so cool. Pausing occasionally to listen for C's pat-pat-pat of altras on pavement to make sure he's doing ok, out of sight behind curves in the road. So still and silent I can hear him from far behind. 17 miles, should get there at 11am. Got period overnight (good timing, only a few hours away from a shower) - last period of trail, hopefully!!
Oct 5: highway and paved bike path out of town. So tired yesterday that we resupplied in the morning, then got going around 9:45. Telephone wires and transmission lines make interesting shapes against the sky. Walked through a cloud of ladybugs. Enjoying the easy miles but keep reminding myself that this will be my life for the next month, until I finish the trail. Little garter snake crossing a quiet highway, but very slowly, and I worry about it getting creamed but don't want to get bit trying to help. Hurry, little snake, hurry! Then, I spot two or three teeeeeeeny tiny snakes (skinnier than pencils, just wee babies) hanging out on the side of the warm bike path pavement, thankfully safer. The marshes next to the road must be good habitat for them, and they're about to hibernate. Still lots of ladybugs too.
Oct 6: bald eagles over the stream, intermittent chunks of bike path interspersed with road walk. Cloudy, overcast, crows calling and geese honking. Ate lunch near Biwabik, sandwiches from the gas station back in Ely, but they were unexpectedly tiny and we were still starving. Ran into Biwabik and ate Subway, then were still hungry and got gas station pizza. Finally full, too full, actually kinda burpy and sleepy after that but we're aiming to hike 40 miles and had to go. After long, crappy, busy highway miles with small shoulder, at 4pm fnally got to the continuous portion of the Mesabi bike path, off the highway all the way into Grand Rapids. Settled on doing 36 or 37 tonight, camping on public land outside Iron Mountain, on account of our extra lunch break in Biwabik and still being sleepy from the bad pizza. Weird temperature, can't decide whether to take off my midlayer - too hot and too cold at the same time. Wish I had a Segway so I didn't have to walk pavement
Oct 7: woke up only a few miles from Mountain Iron, looking forward to coffee, but it's so tiny it doesn't even have a gas station. Ok, only 8 miles to Buhl, which looks bigger. But the gas station there is permanently closed and has been for while. none of these towns have food! We're packing light so we have a very sad lunch of leftover tortillas and candy. Also the bathrooms at the park outside Buhl are locked - wish we had got more food at the Lucky Seven gas station last night but we really thought we'd be able to eat all day. Trail skirts around Hibbing but we might have to go into there anyway because we're both totally out of dinners and almost out of snacks. C only had jawbreakers,I have a couple bars and that's it. Car with a flat tire and the rear bumper hanging off hauling ass down the bike path. What the fuck?
Oct 8-11: forgot to post from Grand Rapids and then didn't take notes.