As we were nearing the Superior Hiking Trail I noticed tears in my eyes, then they began to stream down my cheeks. I felt goosebumps. I realized how much I love running the Superior Hiking Trail. I love it so very much. Running fills an empty spot that I have within, that I have tried to fill for years. Running fills that spot. Running fills the void. Running on the Superior Hiking Trail overfills that spot.
We met my Mom and Dad at McDonalds in Duluth, they followed us to the trail head that would bring us to Carlton Peak. During the 50K last spring the boys and Mom and Dad just missed me at the aid station that would show them Carlton Peak. This trip I wasn't going to let them miss it. The area is a wonderful place to hike. There are huge outcroppings of rock-anorthosite rock, blocks of whitish mineral that was carried up from the base of the earth's crust, 25 to 30 miles below, suspended in molten diabase magma. The climb to the top of Carlton Peak reveals some tremendous views of the area. The trail isn't real difficult, navigable for my 65 year old parents, an inactive husband and a 10 and 14 year old boy.
They loved it! Tyler and Troy scampered down the trail, commenting on every mushroom, caterpillar and spider they could round up. The rock walls were awesome, they hiked up the summit and slid down. My Dad decided he has had enough of walking and hiking and actually RAN from the peak back to the Britton Peak Parking Lot. It was wonderful. He hasn't run in a few years but since taking glucosimine chondroytan every day for the past year his knees are feeling good.
Saturday I, Maria and Doug headed out at 4 AM to hit the trail. Doug left us at the Finland Rec Center. Man it was dark in those woods! Our lights worked well, we only needed the for 45 minutes or so before we tucked them away. We saw zillions of toads crossing the trail; big huge fat ones! I think those toads were the only wildife we saw the whole day.
Dawn approached and showed a beautiful blue sky, not a cloud to be seen. The forecast was for a rainy day, I was grateful the forecasters were incorrect.
We removed our jackets and took in the views. We saw beautiful Sonju lake, the mist lifting off of it, the sun shining and reflecting on it, it was a magnificent sight.
We ran through low bogs, high cliffs, pine forests, maple and oak stands and large areas of birch. It was so wonderful, so peaceful.
We didn't see anyone on the trail except for one section. A piece of trail between Caribou River Wayside and Cook County Road 1 showed us 5 or 6 people. That was it! We didn't see any others. Amazing.
Doug met us at each of the aid points for a refill of Hammer Heed, a peanut and butter sandwich, some oranges, etc. Their son, Jason, helped out at two of the stations. They did a fabulous job! Doug was at each station before we arrived, ready to fill out bottles and asking what we needed. What a guy.
I wanted to be back to the resort with my family by 2, so I called it a training run at 30 miles or so. Maria went for another 10 miles to Carlton Peak.
I am glad that I ran the portion that I will be running through the night hours of the race. The trail isn't TOO treacherous in these portions, there is actually a good percentage of the trail that is runable and there aren't too many cliffs that drop off. I feel much less fearful of this portion of the trail. A river crossing at Manitou River could be treacherous. The bridge is going to come down next week and won't be rebuilt in time for the race. It had rained three times in the past week so the river was pretty high and moving fast. I don't know that I and Maria could have gotten across without the bridge or help of some sort. Larry is going to have a rope and volunteers helping us cross during the race if the river is still moving quickly. That's a good thing, it will be dark and we'll be 60-70 miles into the race at this point.
After Doug brought me back to the resort I showered and we all headed to Grand Marais. We hiked for 3 hours and had dinner. It was a nice afternoon. Back to our resort, I and the boys swam and met up with Maria and her family. I and Maria were pretty exhausted. We were ready to get back to go to bed.
Today before heading home we hiked the portion of trail through Tettegouche State Park. Again, everyone loved it. The bridges over the Baptism River, all of the stairs, we had a great time!
Now I guess I taper, hu? 3 weeks..and it will be all over. Bummer.