For the last couple of years, I've gone on a solo bikepacking trip over Fathers Day weekend. This year, I decided to ride the North Shore State Trail from Grand Marais to Finland and camp along the way. I knew the trail conditions and bugs would be pretty bad this time of the year, so I prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. I got a little of both...
Cousin J was heading up north to do some backpacking Thursday night, so I was able to catch a ride to Grand Marais with him. After splitting a pizza, we headed our separate ways. I didn't get started until about 6:30, but this close to the summer solstice, it didn't matter. After some riding and mostly pushing up the hill from downtown Grand Marais, I decided to stop at the Caribou Shelter for the night. It was a great spot with an awesome little lake close to the shelter. The sky was clear and the stargazing was exceptional.
|Caribou Shelter and Mukluk|
After a quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, I was packed and on the trail by 6:30 am. The trail started to head into some swampy sections that included a mosquito escort. As long as I kept moving they weren't too bad, but any time a stop was required it got pretty ugly and a headnet and a fresh dose of 98% DEET was mandatory. I was really hoping I wouldn’t have a mechanical or that anything else would go wrong that would requiring stopping. The trail followed a steady pattern up and down and my attitude coincided with this. Low lying, swampy areas had me feeling frustrated and wondering what the hell I was doing there, but after a couple of miles I would climb a ridgeline, hit some rolling hills, see an incredible view of The Big Lake or the forest and feel great about everything. I didn't have a GPS or bike computer, but I think I averaged about 5 mph for most of the trip.
|Plenty of water on this route. Filtering and filling up at Barker Lake.|
|Moose and wolf tracks appeared often in muddy, rutted sections like this.|
|Temperance River Bridge - My tooth fell out here last December!|
|A great place to take a break from the trail. Temperance River is in the background.|