Friday, June 20, 2014

The North Shore - Rain, Gravel, Mud, and Tadpoles

Well, I made it! Last Thursday was our final day of school and early Friday morning we were heading to the North Shore of Lake Superior. After hanging out in Duluth for a couple hours and enjoying lunch and a cold beverage at our favorite place...Fitger's Brewhouse we were on our way up the shore. It was intended as a relaxing get away for our anniversary, but I did bring the bike and was planning on at least spending part of one day riding the back roads between Tofte and Grand Marais.
However, the weather had other plans...

After a beautiful Friday afternoon and evening the weather turned south in a hurry. On came the wind, cold temps, and an icy cold, wind driven rain. Two full days of it to be exact. Rather than riding or hiking we spent a good deal of time reading, bumming around in Grand Marais, and I spent time dodging rain drops, wind, and lightening bolts with my camera gear.

Sunday evening the forecast was looking really good for Monday and my wife and I decided on staying an extra day which meant I was going to get a ride in no matter what.

I headed north into the back country with a simple route in mind. However, this route did involve some uphill travel that would test my out of shape legs.

I absolutely love coming up here to ride and get away. Whether it's on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Superior National Forest or north of my hometown on the Iron Range. I cannot recall a time being out and actually running into another cyclist. It's as if you have the entire forest all to yourself. However, you always have to be on the lookout for logging trucks and backwoods cruisers.

The main forest roads were in fine condition considering all of the rain we had this spring. The secondary or minimum maintenance roads were a completely different story. Some of them were literally underwater.

This particular road went on like this for about ten miles before coming back out onto the main road. Wet, soft, rutted, and full of obstacles. Oh! Did I mention the bugs?? Well, if you haven't been outside lately, you should know that Minnesota has had and epic mosquito hatch this year. Along with an epic hatch of black flies. One local told me to take a flame thrower with me into the woods because that is the only thing that would keep the bloodsuckers at bay.


And then of course there were the tadpoles. To give you an indication of just how wet some of these roads are and how long this standing water has been there, some puddles were full of hundreds upon hundreds of tadpoles. I encountered dozens of puddles like this along this particular route.

"My Sentimental Favorite"

"A Very Fine Day"
No better way to finish up a fine ride. Looking forward to my next little adventure by bike.

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