Over the past couple of weeks I completed a mostly-solo superior hiking trail (SHT) thru-hike, but did so In two separate chunks. The first six days and change I hiked the 140 miles from Otter Lake Road near the Canadian border south to Finland Rec Center trailhead. I won’t do a full trip report, but it was wonderful and I’d like to share a few photos for those not-so-familiar with northern Minnesota:
Starting out, my girlfriend joined for the first night.
Lake walk in the evening...in thick fog.
The next morning things were different.
Bridge over Devil Track River
At that point I had to hop off trail for a few days to attend a wedding with my girlfriend and spend a day doing some orientation in a hospital I’ll be training in for the next year. That’s when I got to thinking…the first leg of the hike was great, and I was a little surprised at how comfortable walking with a 10-11 pounds base weight actually is. In fact, things were going so well I decided to up the ante a bit and finish out the hike with a much more minimal set of gear, much of which I’d made myself over the past year or so in an attempt to have really light gear that didn’t cost much.
I don’t have a full list to share, but the high points follow:
modified medium golite ion (~10 ounces), purchased new for $30 w/ mods costing a few bucks.
sil-nylon tarp, modeled mostly after the Five Yards to SUL article from BPL with a foot and a half added to the ridgeline. $20 of “seconds” sil-nylon and some grosgrain. 11.5 ounces with lines.
Bivy sack with 36-inch side-zip made from sil-nylon and momentum, roughly $60 in materials with lots of scrap leftover. 6.5 ounces.
Hooded synthetic insulated vest made from Thru-hiker.com’s Minima Vest Kit, momentum, $53. 5.5 ounces.
Simple catfood can alcohol alcohol stove: 50 cents, half an ounce.
My complete list came in at about 6 pounds and 10 ouces, and included full rain gear, montbell pillow, WM summerlite sleeping bag, 40-inch ccf pad, extra socks, silk-weight baselayer top and bottoms, and nine ounces of camera stuff (my new FujiFilm f200EXR compact and a Gorillapod tripod), along with all of my other "necessities". Anyway, I went back to the north shore to finish up the final 66 miles of my hike and had a blast. I wasn’t really sure how everything would function, but I came away thinking I could have done the entire trail with the gear that I had made, and that I was ready for serious rain and would have been just fine in freezing temps. Also, there is something gratifying about using what you’ve made, not to mention carrying that little weight. I encourage anyone else out there interested in making UL gear to give it a shot: you might be surprised at how quickly you’ll be producing functional and simple gear. OK, enough about gear – here are some more photos of the last three days of the hike:
Barge as seen from ridge.
A bunch of shots on Split Rock River as evening progressed:
Sunrise the next morning:
Bear and Bean Lake from overlook:
Sun coming through the clouds over Lake Superior:
Sawmill Creek Bog: