Sunday, October 23, 2011
Monday, October 03, 2011
After escaping the Cities after work on Friday, we made our way up to Eckbeck State Forest Campground. We set up camp and ate some late dinner. Not too much chatting; we were both pretty tired from a work of cubicle drama, so off to bed. It was the first wintery night I’ve felt from a tent this season- it got down to the mid to upper 20’s depending on what weather site we checked in the morning. Tucked into my winter bag, I didn’t mind. It was excellent to be outside.
The morning was somewhat lazy, with a fire and tea, and surprise visit from my buddy Joel, who had been up there for over a week working on an ongoing photography project. After breakfast, we stopped for a couple supplies Jonathan was in need of at Sawbill Outfitters in Tofte, where the owner turned us on to a good bunch of forest road loops and sold us a detailed county map to go with my GPS. We took off up the Sawbill Trail (a gravel road that heads inland from Tofte), and found our way to a parking lot at the intersection of FR166, where I had ridden a couple weeks ago. We started riding from there, and took off in the opposite direction of my previous ride, with the intention of hooking up with less traveled, more remote forest roads that were included in the advice we’d received earlier. We made a loop out of FR’s 344, 1220/350, and 350, taking us back to the Sawbill.
Some of the route was nice and remote for roaded areas. The only people we saw were hunters and ATV’ers, one of which commented to us that in 13 years of regularly hunting the area, had never seen a biker. I couldn’t believe it, as I’m sure good number of riders have to have figured out how fun it is to be out there. There are even crazy northern off road centuries based on these remote paths.
FR344 and 350 were definitely the highlight. Lots of pine mixed with hardwood colors, rocky and rooted double-track, and the occasional mud hole kept me happy on my Karate Monkey. I was impressed with Jonathan, who was rocking in all on a cross bike. Rough on the hubs, but certainly do-able. I have friends who have toured on this type of stuff on their Long Haul Truckers (you know who you are. J).
I’m not exactly sure if this riding would be recommended for someone 2 and half months out of chest surgery, but everything held together and didn’t feel too bad. I’m tired of sitting on the couch, and can tell when something feels like too much. I wasn’t worried.
The next day we took a very lazy loop hike around Mt Oberg, along with everyone else in the world wanting to see some leaves. I’m happy to report that after 5 years of living in MN, I finally saw the North Shore at it’s peak. I wished I had another week, a stronger chest, and a full pack to live on the Superior Hiking Trail during this beautiful time of year. Next year perhaps.