|Mouth of the Big Carp River|
While both of us have gone on extended backpacking trips before (and we hike and snowshoe frequently), we had never gone on a real backpacking trip together. We both enjoy hiking and car camping, but Sarah is not a big fan of sleeping in a tent far away from the car. If the weather is miserable, tents can start to feel like prisons. Inspired by Nina's Porcupine Mountains hiking trip, we decided to rent rustic cabins within the park. These cabins mostly started life as ranger cabins or hunting camps, and can now be rented for a reasonable nightly rate. They are located throughout the park, usually near some of the most picturesque waterfalls, lakes, and rivers. The cabins have no running water and no electricity -- nothing more than four walls, a roof, and a few bunk beds with rock-hard mattresses. But having a roof over your head and no need to worry about bears poking their noses into your packs makes for a lot of peace of mind.
We chose a 4 day loop which would take us along Lake Superior and the Big Carp river, to Mirror Lake, past Lake of the Clouds, and up the huge Escarpment. We would hike past overlooks and waterfalls, ford a river, see massive old-growth pines, and walk on some of the toughest trails in the park. Little did we know that some of the trails would be even more difficult due to the lateness of the spring.
We started to seriously prepare for the trip in March. Thinking about and planning the trip far in advance really increased the enjoyment for us, giving us something to look forward to. Living within easy reach of three REIs is a luxury which we've thoroughly enjoyed, and we took full advantage to update and round out our somewhat mismatched gear. Because we were staying in cabins, we had the luxury of bringing foods which we would never bring into bear country otherwise. We intended to bring summer sausage, landjager (somewhat like jerky), and various cheeses on the trip. Besides that, we mostly planned freeze-dried meals and, of course, gorp. (The particular kind of gorp was the subject of much discussion: Peanuts, raisins, and chocolate -- or just bring chocolate and leave the rest behind?)
|Sarah crossing the Big Carp River|
We were still a bit worried about our planned route, which still required us to cross the Big Carp River without a bridge (farther upstream), but we figured that we would cross that river when we came to it.
Finally, the school year came to an end, the last few exams were graded and we finished our last practice hike around the neighborhood. The car and backpacks wer packed, and we were ready to head out.
|Full map of our hike: 21 miles in 4 days|
Next time: Day 1: In which our heroes bravely drive a long way and meet Delilah the Creepy-Ass Deer