Winter solo thru-hike attempt on Superior Hiking Trail
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
January 1, 2021. I found myself alone on the northern terminus of the Superior Hiking Trail in northern Minnesota. Looking down from the high rock outcrop over the Pigoen River and the Canadian Border I saw winter shades of color. It reminded me of Bob Ross paintings and happy frost covered trees. The hike up was warm but now in my less exerting state I felt the cool moist air draw the heat from my body. So I put on my shell jacket and started making my way SOBO.
The 1st mile was an out and back to get to the terminus and there was already a blazed trail so I didn’t have to fight through the fluffy snow. There is a rough road that leads to the trailhead and my friends dropped me off in their 4×4 truck. My pace was quick with snowshoes on. Maybe two steps per second. But once I got past the road and onto the virgin snow it was much more difficult. The snow was about 1.5 feet deep and fluffy. I sank almost a foot each step.
The top of the snow looked like instant potatoes and it made me hungry because that’s what I had planned for supper. Idahoan loaded baked potatoes with sour cream, cheese, onion, and chives. I often think about food while hiking and I got an afternoon start with no lunch so I was looking forward to an early supper.
First camp of the year.
Ahoy Creek Campsite is the 1st site on the SHT. It’s basically a small clearing with a fire pit and a couple of board benches. Nearby was a little creek with animal tracks going to a small hole in the ice. I went and got some water from the hole for my supper, filtered it and heated up on my jetboil. While waiting for the water to heat up I stomped down the snow for my shelter: a homemade triangular tent made out of Tyvek. Once the tent was up I mixed in my potatoes to the water and let them hydrate. Then I started a fire and got my tent ready for my bedding. I was busy but comfortable as the sky darkened and the flames of my campfire danced over the snow.
By the time I finished up my food and put everything away the fire was down to coals. I climbed into my shelter, slithered on my sleeping bag and wiggled around in the dark changing into dry socks. In my bag I kept my water bottle, filter, and phone from freezing. Under my bag my wet socks so they wouldn’t be frozen solid in the morning. It was hard getting comfortable as my sleeping pad slid around on the Tyvek but once I stopped moving around I relaxed to the quiet stillness of the north woods. Being alone in the wilderness use to scare me when I was younger but I now I felt peaceful.
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