Friday, July 22, 2016

Cooling off at the Beach at Park Point

My weekend has not gone at all like I had planned. I had grand plans of hiking a few sections of the Superior Hiking Trail that had not yet been completed when Noelle and I left Duluth about 5 years ago. On Wednesday night I attended the evening program of a colleague and camped at the Woodenfrog State Forest Campground for the night. In the middle of the night a nasty storm rolled through. There was lots of wind and some rain and lightning, but altogether not too bad. I had survived.

I packed up camp in the morning and started to make the drive south to Duluth. By the time I reached Hermantown I started to notice a lot of trees downed along the side of the highway. Traffic lights were out all along Highway 53 in Hermantown. It was starting to look like a change of plans was in the cards. Rather than drive to the trailhead in the far northeast part of Duluth, (which seemed to be one of the areas that the storm had hit hardest) I opted to head to Brighton Beach.

At the east entrance to Brighton Beach a pair of trees blocked the way and so I headed over to the west entrance. I parked in some shade and got the bike off the back of my car.
Brighton Beach
I decided to ride the Lakewalk, which had been extended to Brighton Beach since we left Duluth, down to Canal Park. The ride was warm, and mostly uneventful.
lakewalk sign
There were a few sections of trail blocked by fallen trees,
blocked trail
but overall the trail was remarkably passable. I did notice some new construction going on that was very visible from the trail.
mile marker and construction
When I arrived in Canal Park I opted to try the Canal Park Brewing Company for lunch. The food was okay, not great but not terrible; and the beer was unremarkable.

After lunch I walked around for a bit and then got back on the bike for the ride back to the car at Brighton Beach. On the way I got to race the North Shore Scenic Railway!
North Shore Scenic Railway
I then headed to Jay Cooke State Park where I would spend the night.

This morning I decided to give the Superior Hiking Trail a try. I somehow navigated through Duluth like I had never left and found downed trees at the trailhead parking area and a large aspen tree blocking the first 10 feet of trail. Things were not looking good for a hike on the SHT and so I headed out to Park Point to cool off at the beach. Once I had arrived I opted to hike the trail that leads through the pines and the Minnesota Point State Natural Area.
natural area sign
There were some nice views across Allouez Bay to the docks at Superior.
big ship
There were a few wildflowers blooming, notably milkweed
and harebells.

I made my way through the dunes
dune trail
to the ruins of the old Minnesota Point Lighthouse.
lighthouse ruins
I then continued on to more ruins, this time ruins of an old boathouse
and another small building,
perhaps an outhouse. Both were covered in graffiti.
open door
I had made this hike about 5 years before with Noelle, her mom and her Aunt Lisa. There's a bit more graffiti on the walls of the boathouse now.  Soon I found myself at the end of Minnesota Point and my turnaround for the hike. I opted to hike the beach back to the car.
However, that meant that I had to wade through some muddy water and bash through some brush. All that work had made me hot and so I cooled off in the refreshing waters of Lake Superior.
relaxing at the beach
I also saw some bird on the way back to the car: 3 bald eagles (2 immature,
eagle flying
one adult), a great blue heron and a belted kingfisher.

When I had finally arrived back at the car I was hungry for lunch. I decided to go to the Brewhouse at Fitger's for a wild rice burger and a beer. Then it was a long drive back to International Falls.

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