I told the ranger at Judge C. R. Magney State Park that I was going to run the Superior Hiking Trail from up above to the shore because it was downhill. She took my money and told me that sounded good except that I’d have to climb those 130 steps. 130 steps? Yup. So much for that plan.
After the previous day’s half marathon, I was pooped. I decided to skip the 8.5 mile section that I was going to run on Day 2 of our Grand Marais expedition. I flexed to the 6.4 mile downhill section from County Road 70. It was mostly downhill, but there was a short, sharp shock at the end up the staircase. It was worth it.
The Chef and the kids dropped me off at the parking lot where the section I skipped meets County Road 70. I almost passed out from blood loss due to insects while suiting up. The Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) runs down the road for a while. Not often you see signs warning of sled dogs. I like it here. Signs like that make me smile.
Leo led down the gravel and nearly caught that rabbit that decided to play a game of chicken with him. Leo’s fast. Rabbits are faster. The daughter informs me that rabbits can get so scared that they die. I hope the rabbit wasn’t that scared of our dog.
The trail dove into the woods from the road and we crested one big ridge that had a neat opening at the top. Not great views, but a really pleasant meadow. Then we tumbled down the slope alongside the Brule River. My buddy Norge calls it the Bois Brule to distinguish it from the Brule River in Wisconsin where Calvin Coolidge used to catch trout. I found a toad the size of a baseball as we plodded along. Leo couldn’t be any less interested. Apparently he’s only interested in running down mammals.
Then we got right next to the river. Biggest water we’ve encountered on this project so far. I never saw Devil’s Kettle Falls before. Very impressive and an easy walk, if you’re so inclined. It’s worth it. Huge cliffs on both sides of the river. At the Upper Falls (which is below; go figure) Leo posed. Moron in the mist. Blue flag iris soaking up the water. Then the dreaded steps. And over the pedestrian bridge back to my rescue squad.
We had a great time in Grand Marais. Bluebird days, nice meals at The Angry Trout, Sven and Ole’s Pizza, and The Pie Place. Fun walk along Artists Point and out to the light. I ordered the kids to make inukshuks on the beach while I was out swatting mosquitoes. They complied. The Chef had fun, even though she had to act as shuttle pilot.
I finally got to meet one of my publishers at Northern Wilds. Amber Pratt was there when we stopped in. Shawn Perich was out. It’s because these people published my scribbling that I had enough material for my book. Hard to believe I’ve been writing for them for over six years already.
We got back to Duluth tired and happy. The way you’re supposed to.
Today’s data: North Shore Shmo: Leg 15
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T-Shirt of the Day:
In 2013, Gene Curnow passed away. He was a running icon of the Northland. I saw him every Wednesday for over ten years at the Northern Minnesota Track Club (NMTC) trail running series. He directed the Voyageur and Half Voyageur trail races for years. I ran the Half Voyageur in 2004. 25 miles on trails from the Zoo out to Carlton. It was tough. He said, “People don’t really get lost. They just go one way and the flags go the other.”
One time, Gene got Lyme disease. Sam ran his first trail 5k with me as we went up to the Smush Dem Ticks 5k at Snowflake to help raise money for his hospital bills.
Another time, I was in the mob at the start of Grandma’s with a Superior Spring Trail Race 25k race shirt on. “Nice Shirt!” he said with a smile. He was pretty much always smiling. Upbeat.
I don’t really have much to add to the Eugene Curnow legend. I barely knew him and, even so, he made me happy to be a runner. Especially happy to be a trail runner who pays his one dollar to get muddy on our local, awesome trail systems.
The year he passed, they changed the name of the Half Voyageur race to the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon. I had a great winter of skiing and nearly PR’ed Grandma’s Marathon. I was prepared. So, in July, I made sure I would get this shirt. The first of its kind. The 2012 flood had altered the course and it was, in a word, brutal. I nearly wept from Chambers Grove up the hill on 23. The race was tough and squared away. Just like he was.