Monday, March 17, 2008

The North Shore: Tofte & Grand Marais

I'm in heaven, at least it appears that way to me. No work, no stress, etc. Just miles of roads and trails where the destination and journey along the way always feed the soul with peace and beautiful scenery.

We arrived here in Tofte late yesterday afternoon. Along the way we stopped at Grandma's in Duluth for a little lunch. It was more out of habit or tradition that we stopped there to eat. Of course there are many other places along the way with far better food and variety, but for some reason it's always been my stopping place. Fitger's Brewery is another good stop for a quick and somewhat healthier lunch. Also, very good micro brew.

The ride up was rather uneventful. Once north of Duluth we saw many deer on the road. They love the south facing slope this time of year and no doubt the salty mix of snow and grass on the side of the road. We probably saw just as many dead ones as we did living. I did make a rather keen observation on our way to "The Northland". I appeared to be the only vehicle carrying a bike on the roof. It seems that most other people were traveling with roof boxes (I happened to have one of those also), downhill skis, xc skis, snowboards, or towing a trailer with those snowmobiles that I hate so much. Imagine that...middle of March, still 15-19 inches of snow on ground, temps in the 30's with a winter storm warning in the forecast and no bikes in site. Hmmmm! Who would have ever figured. Now, I know that the Northland is not devoid of cyclists, because people like Doug in Duluth are on their bikes on a daily basis no matter what the conditions.

Today was a great day to be outside. Temps hovered around 30 all day long. I went out this morning on the the single-speed flier and road the Sawbill Trail. Very intersting ride considering that the first 1.5-2 miles were all uphill and on a single-speed proved to be a challenge. It was lung, quad, and ball busting nearly all the way up. Thanks to some good motivational music I made it the whole way. I road for approximately 2 hrs. stopping to take some photos along the way. I also tried riding on the snowmobile trails which were in great condition for biking. Very hard packed and firm. I guess those snowmobiles are good for something.

While I was out riding, Patti went for a run and took Bella for a walk. After I returned we freshened up quickly and packed to go hike Carlton Peak. We had a blast and it was absolutely beautiful. After arriving at the summit a light snow began to fall. Our hike was approximately 2 hrs. in length. After arriving back at the car we headed about 25 miles further up "The Shore" to Grand Marais and a late lunch at the Gunflint Tavern. Best vegetarian chili in universe and a great selection of tap beer. Many of which are brewed in Minnesota. The lake was particularly beautiful in it's own mysterious and alluring way. I personally cannot get enough of this place.
We are now getting ready for a late dinner at Bluefin Bay.


Kenny said...

So why is Bella facing away from the camera? Is this a subliminal message to us blog readers? I like your head scarf.

Doug said...

Hey, sounds like a great time. During your hike up to Carlton Peak, did you notice the blue blaze trail markers along the trail? Where they any help or was the trail well used? My wife and I spent the last two summers painting all the blue blazes on the Superior Hiking Trail between Two Harbors and Otter Lake Road near the border

grasshopper said...

be home by friday Bob Trav and I are ss bound we need a 4th!
why are you and patti so color co-ordinated in each picture?

the old bag said...

Looks like a great getaway!

Vito said...

Matt, The whole color coordination thing was totally a fluke. Thank God the clothes were not identical. Now that would not be cool. I was far more cautious today.