Thanks for the suggestions; I appreciate the comments. Here's my thoughts:
“Possibles” include large trash bag that is used as pack liner plus small one for garbage. I can delete poison ivy soap, take a bit less duct tape, eliminate the bag it's in, and use “golf” pencil. Should shave about 2 oz.
Scrap the water filter unless I'm hiking when water is scarce. When scarce, I won't be able to be too selective about water source. Of course, when scarce (in summer), I might have to increase water load to 2L, which will really add weight, but that's a different story (but don't need 12oz fleece then either). Reduces weight by 12 oz. (after adding 2 oz for some sort of paper filter).
Reduce cook kit. Smaller pot (will try to find the .7L Imusa aluminum pot), elimate fork, lighter coffee cup, maybe fewer paper towels. Should shave about 3 oz.
The towel is actually 2 microfiber towels each the size of a washcloth. Can eliminate 1. Can trim first aid kit. Trim trowel. Should save about 4 oz.
I had planned on taking about 1/2 a paperback (with cover ripped off). I can reduce it further. Plus, since I have the paperback pages and the candle, eliminate the firestarters. Should shave 3 oz.
The trail is generally marked so I suppose I could drop the compass, or at least replace it with a smaller keychain style compass. Saves about 1 oz.
I reduced the dog food I plan to carry to 1 meal. Dog carries the rest. Saves 5 oz.
I'll need to keep the knee brace for now. After experience with next trip, might be able to eliminate it or go to a lighter one.
There is cell phone coverage along most of the trail as it parallels a major road along Lake Superior. So not exactly wilderness (as would be the case in the BWCA). I consider it a safety tool for a 60-something guy hiking solo. Cash probably isn't necessary unless I chose to take a shuttle back to my starting point.
I'm aware of the issue of a windscreen and a canister stove. I position mine a bit away and only on 2 sides. I haven't noticed the canister getting hot at all with the pot I use.
After all this, my pack weight is 23.25 lbs including 6.8 consumable. If I were to go in early spring where nights are colder, I might have to add 20 oz for a heavier sleeping bag. But still under 25 lbs.
Longer term, I can save about 20 oz on tent plus maybe 16oz on pack, bringing my baseweight to about 14 lbs. But I'll hold off on that for now.