The plan was to backpack north from Castle Danger on the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT), covering 40 miles over four days. We would stop the first night at East Gooseberry Campsite. The second day was to be a 12 mile hike to Southeast Split Rock River Campsite and the third day 14 miles to Beaver River. The last day we would take a loop towards Bean Lake and then double back to the Silver Bay parking area to catch the afternoon shuttle back to our car. Little went as planned.
This was our first trip on the SHT. We have been on a few outings in Wisconsin and Michigan and we had certain expectations of the SHT. Some of our expectations were met, others exceeded and others were left unfulfilled.
What We Liked
• The Trail: Well marked and maintained trails. We were rarely confused as to what direction to go. Thank you to the trail crews for all of your efforts. Your efforts were noticeable.
• The Flexibility: The trail and shuttle system allowed us the option to shorten or lengthen our trip. My son was worried about being able to handle the distance. We discussed several options to shorten our trip.
• The Views: Flowers, vistas, valleys, waterfalls. Two hard working beavers. The flash of a deer running away from the river that we crossed. The flowers. I lost count at 20 unique types
What We Did Not Like
• The Noise: Throughout our journey there were semi-regular to regular sounds of semi-trucks, police sirens, airplanes, and other people “enjoying” nature. This was very disappointing as we were leaving the city to try to escape all of the noise. Alas, there were only a few spots on this section of the SHT that we did not hear man-made noises.
• The Views: We saw a lot more garbage on the trail than expected. Mostly wipes, toilet paper, and tissue. I tied a newspaper bag to the back of my backpack for easy access to collect garbage, but it was not big enough. On my next trip, I will bring an extra bag next time to handle all of the garbage.
• Hike North to South: We hiked South to North this trip, caught the 3pm shuttle to our car, and arrived home late at night. Hiking North to South would allow us to pick up the morning north-bound shuttle to our car and then drive home to arrive at a reasonable hour.
• Be Flexible: We planned to use a tarp, but at the last minute I got nervous that the mosquito population would carry us away, so I left tarp and packed the REI Quarter Dome T2 Tent. We enjoyed having a bug-free environment to escape to and my total pack weight didn’t suffer too much. The tent bumped the weight up four pounds to 17 pounds.
How did it end? We reviewed the plan on the first night at Gooseberry Falls. My son was concerned that he would not be able to walk the 14 miles planned for Day Three (he previously walked 20 miles in a day, but the climbs and descents of the SHT make hiking a bit more challenging). We discussed several options to shorten the trip or to catch the shuttle early. Once the artificial constraints were removed he relaxed and enjoyed the trip. He led us past Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock River to camp our second night at Chapins Ridge Campsite. He was concerned he wouldn’t be able to hike 14 miles, but instead surprised himself and hiked 18 miles. On our third and last day, we hiked 12 miles past Beaver River to the Silver Bay parking lot. After 36 miles in three days we both had plenty of energy. He even did a little jig while waiting for the shuttle.
We agreed that this was our best trip to date and cannot wait until our next SHT adventure next year.