About twelve miles into the run, I ran into some ladies and their dog. It was a really muddy stretch. I explained I was running eighteen. One lady asked, “How come you haven’t fallen down and gotten covered in mud?” I said, “I’ll be doing that here in a couple of miles.”
Like clockwork, after about 13 miles, I start dragging my left foot on rocks and tree roots. I didn’t wreck yesterday, but I came close. It’s almost like I have a mild stroke and my left foot starts dragging. Go figure.
Shelley took me to Lutsen and dropped me and the dog off. We started west toward Temperance River State Park. Immediately hit the impressive drops of the Poplar River and started through several miles of a maple stand. Gorgeous. If you’re going to go leaf peeping, you better get started. It’s happening up the shore already. We made our way across Moose Mountain and traversed to Oberg Mountain.
If there’s such a thing as a tradition for my family unit, it’s Oberg Mountain. We’ve been there half a dozen times as a family in the fall. I wrote one of my earliest magazine articles about Oberg. The dog and I cruised along under the cliffs on the north side. We found the spur to the summit and started up. When we encountered about thirty people in five minutes, we blew it off and went back to our task. After all, we’d seen it before, and we had a long way to go.
We cruised through the full Oberg Lot and continued to Leveaux Mountain. The same awesome views without the crowds. We had it to ourselves. So, if you want my advice, go to the Oberg lot, but go out the west side of the parking lot to Leveaux. We surveyed the summits of Britton and Carlton that we got to later. They looked a long way off.
Then there was a long wet, muddy stretch on the way to Britton Peak. The spur to Britton was only about 50 yards long and a total of about 100 yards from the Britton parking lot. Probably the best view-to-walk ratio in the whole system. Super view of Carlton Peak where we were headed next.
Sam and I skied to Carlton in the winter once. Different feel in the autumn. Now that I think about it, yesterday, when we all biked down to the old silent fog horn in Canal Park, was the last day of summer. Now, it was the first day of autumn. Leaves changing. Crisp air in the morning. Time flies.
I signed the book at Carlton Peak and Leo and I continued past the cliffs and down to the Temperance River. By now, I was feeling a little loopy. I bought a new Camelback reservoir a while back when my other one started leaking. It has about half the capacity of water and I ran out about an hour before. And we were running in the sun and not crossing any brooks. Leo was panting like a steam engine and I was hallucinating.
Which is what I thought was happening when we ran into Anne Flueckiger. She was guiding a group of three hikers up from Temperance River. She’s an old friend from the running and skiing trails of Duluth. I was glad to see her and we took a few pictures. I wasn’t making complete sentences, but they were kind enough to ignore my exhaustion.
We made it to the pleasant upper reaches of the Temperance River and I was running like Frankenstein. We stopped and took a break along the bank. Leo sprawled in the coolness and I sat with my hot muddy feet in the water with the shoes still on. So much mud, it just didn’t matter anymore. I’ve run in so much mud lately, no matter how much I scrub, my feet are turning the color of soil.
Then the river tips downhill into the black basalt canyons just above the highway. Yet again, a river amazes with its own special character. Really ancient rock with the water cutting a narrow flume through the stone. I wasn’t really capable of fully appreciating it after moving for five hours, but I tried to take some pictures.
I gave Leo his double-sized supper and I drove to a nearby store for a Mountain Dew. There was kind of a homeless looking dude in the store, but everybody was looking at me like I was the weird one. What? You’ve never seen mud before?
Today’s Data: North Shore Shmo: Leg 23
Please consider a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project via my trail running: North Shore Shmo!
T-shirt (Hat) of the Day:
Each year, I take one of my many baseball hats and sacrifice it to running. I run with it every day for the season and, by the end, the hat looks like a dog’s chew toy. I took this year’s hat and replaced it with my blaze orange one, since I’m running during bird season. Just in case someone thinks I’m a two-hundred pound grouse. It says Exercise Evaluation Team or EET on it. When you inspect your co-workers during a military exercise, you need to identify yourself as a non-player vs. a “player.” Howard Hayes decided blaze orange hats were the way to go. It made me smile then and still did today.
I also wore my Planet Jackson shirt. One of my few non-race shirts. My buddy Deets and I spent a week backpacking in the Wind River Mountain Range in Wyoming. We climbed Fremont Peak after spending three days getting back into Titcomb Basin. Above tree line so high for so long that I actually sunburned my scalp. (Avoid that.) Bought this shirt in Jackson Hole on the way out. That was July 1996. Mightiest outdoor trip I think I’ve ever done. That’s worth a shirt, right? Shelley and I got married on the back porch later that month. Besides, I was carrying Shelley’s homemade granola bars in my pack during the run today. A hippie shirt seemed correct.
So wearing a tie-dye hippie shirt and a blaze orange hat at the same time keeps people I meet off-balance. Just like I like them. And it reminds me of this: