Who is Sue and what is Suelandia?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Moar Nort Shore

Hey people.  We spent more time at the north shore on this trip than any other, and still felt like we needed another week to see everything and do everything we wanted.  On our last morning we optimistically flagged 5 river trails to check out, and thought we'd get a little trail riding in too-- ha!  We got to 2 hiking trails.

First up-- the Caribou.  We've hiked this before, but the trail veers away from the rather tame looking river almost right away.  On past trips we've messed around in the river a bit and decided it was boring and moved on--- but now we had a guidebook that assured us a super cool waterfall was further up the river.  In the end we couldn't resist the lure of the river and diverted off the trail as we have in the past, wondering why on earth the builders didn't just make the trail go where everyone would obviously want to hike--- near the river!  (Here's how I found Dan when I turned around after telling him to pose however he wanted -- ~freak~  lol)  

A bit further up we spotted a huge boulder right in the middle of the river that had to be checked out.  I had to actually jump over the little waterfall deal on the right to make it over there, which felt pretty darey to me.  

We soon found out why the trail had been put where it was.  We came to a bend where the deer trail we were navigating disappeared into the river itself.  The bank became a nearly vertical, spring riddled, muddy embankment probably 50 feet tall.  Without even talking about it we began climbing straight up.  You had to just look for the next hand or foot hold, and the next, progressing steadily before wherever you were grabbing or had dug your toe in gave way because it was all soft, a wall of mud basically.  You couldn't count on roots you grabbed supporting your full weight, so you had to distribute it between several limbs at once, and most importantly-- keep moving.

By the time we reached the top I was pretty maxed-out, and my calves were on fire.  Far below we could see the giant boulder.  We just made a huge climb!  It was one of those "We kind of screwed-up, but getting out of it was pretty fun too" moments.   

We found the actual trail again right on top of the bluff, and stuck to it until we got to a huge set of stairs disappearing down the cliff again.  At the bottom the steps went right to the water, where your only option was to pick your way on rocks if you wanted to explore.  Caribou falls was def worth the journey.

In summer this would be an awesome spot to wade around.  The pool was only about knee deep.  Dan was braver about hopping rock to rock.   I didn't feel so sure footed, and didn't want to spend the rest of the day with cold wet feet (or more).

He added a stone to a tower someone had started, then we moved on to our next trail.

Next up was the Split Rock River, which our book said was the most waterfall-packed section of river anywhere on the north shore.  It was a bit of a let-down because most of the river views were blocked by forest, and a lot of the trail ran along cliffs high above the water.  The trail was extremely rough-- slippery washed-out areas, rock slides, and off-camber wood plank walkways with no railings that were slicker than just walking in the mud-- all on the precipice of a high, stony bluff.  There was a bridge replacement operation going on in the beginning where they were choppering in materials.  That was pretty interesting to see in action.

Eventually we made it in far enough to a spot where the trail descended to river level, but it was a surprisingly tough hike.  The river was gorgeous though once we got down there, and there was tons of cool rocks and moss. 

I have kind of a thing for moss, and the rocks here were so cool-- how they fractured and were encrusted with varieties of lichen.  I had Dan take this not very good picture of me to commemorate my lichen love.  Two seconds later, mere feet away... We spotted----  


Those who know me can well imagine the spaz-fest this spawned.  After I danced around ooging-out for a few minutes swearing rampantly, I HAD to get a better look-- to make sure it was real, and if so, determine if it was alive or dead.  I just have to know these things.  So I poked it with a stick and it wiggled a few inches away as I leapt about squealing spouting more profanity.  Finally Dan coaxed me away.  Now progress was somewhat slower as every foot of trail had to be scanned for more snakes.  At random intervals for the remainder of our trip I'd utter things like, "God, that snake was SO disgusting!", and, "The whole north shore is RUINED now!"

Seriously you guys--- it was right near me!!!

Anyway, we did manage to keep hiking and enjoy ourselves, even at this very trail.  There were about 3 spots to get to the river itself, and although this trail really made you work hard for it, they were pretty cool. 

Here's where we ate lunch, after, of course, searching thoroughly for snakes.

Here is the ~split rock~ for which the river is named.  It looks really cool in person, and not at all pervy right?  Nuff said there.

This bridge looked rather sketchy but was our only option aside from retracing our steps over miles of very rough, and possibly snake infested trail.  I supposed it was possible snakes couldn't make it across the river and only lived on the one side, and dashed across.  (Snakes don't cross wooden bridges.)  (I'm pretty sure, anyway.)

 After hiking, no joke- for about 4 hours (!), I was feeling pretty *done*.  I was now hungry, thirsty, and my legs were actually sore (and as you know a main hobby of mine is running around in a pretty hilly woods, so....)  Anyway, we began climbing again (the whole thing was a climb either up or down really) and eventually emerged above the treeline.  If you look above the second pine on Dan's left, you can just see the chopper delivering more building materials to the work site.  (You probably have to click on the pic to actually see this.)  (It's basically a dot, so, not a huge thrill anyway.)  Surely we must be getting near the end of this trail by NOW...

I scanned the panorama laid out below us.  If you look at the end of my finger, you can probably make out a small whitish smudge, which is the parking lot where our car was parked.  I laughed, I cried, I kept frigging hiking.

This was actually pretty fun if I reminded myself I do enjoy walking in the woods, and if someone asked, "Hey, want to just hike around all day long and climb up and down muddy embankments and rock slides?"  I'd probably shrug and go, "Okay, what the heck."  But this trail was a little disappointing because we were hoping to see waterfalls, not just hear them, and it was a fucking haul!  There was beauty, lots of it, but we both agreed the DNR does a horrible job of signing their trails.  The ones with cool stuff just down the trail don't really let you in on that, don't promote the amazing feature the trail leads to, and don't tell you much about how long or hard the hike will be.  It's like they need someone from a marketing or customer service background to help with their communications.

All in all though--- my god this state has a lot of super cool stuff you can go look at and enjoy for absolutely free.  Holy balls are we lucky someone had the foresight to set aside so many natural areas.  I don't think I'll ever tire of being in nature, or hanging out with Dan.  :) 

1 comment:

Maery Rose said...

I think you have a calling -- write a true guide to hiking the north shore. The problem I think is the information is not written by actual hiking nuts. I'm looking forward to getting some details from you on where to explore next time I venture that way. It looks like you hit a few trails I haven't been to. But the snake, I'd be so excited! What a discovery! It's nature man!