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Eagle Mountain, Highest Point in Minnesota, August 2008

I rose with the sun, broke down camp and enjoyed a nice breakfast on Lake Superior’s beautiful southern shore.  In no time I was on the road headed west, through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Northern Wisconsin, and into Minnesota.  The roads were bumpy but spacious, with many passing lanes along the way.  Unfortunately, the speed limit was a pathetic 55mph the whole way!  What are these slow poke’s thinking?  It was too painful to drive that slow through these beautiful country side in my sleek German automobile designed for the high speeds of the Autobahn.  So I didn’t…  J  At one point I almost passed an unmarked Michigan State Trooper.  He pulled me over, but didn’t have any evidence against me (no rear facing radar) so he was forced to let me go.  That was a lucky break.

I stopped for lunch just north of Duluth on the Lake Superior shoreline.  What a beautiful view!  I decided I would stop here again tomorrow for a swim.  No time for that now.  The sun was almost overhead and I still had a highpoint to climb.  I enjoyed lunch, but took care not to linger.  Soon I was back on the road headed north scenic Highway 61 toward Canada.  When I neared my turnoff, I noticed a National Forest Ranger Station and pulled in for a camping map. 

I pulled into the trail head parking lot around 4:00 and was on the trail in less than 10 minute.  It was a 3.5 hike to the summit and I didn’t want to get back after dark.  The first two miles were pretty boring.  The forest was so dense with undergrowth, that there wasn’t really thing to see.  Every now and then, I would come across a plank walkway that carried me across the bogs, marshes, and otherwise soggy scenery.  This was a welcome break from the endless trek through the woods.  Fortunately the trail was mostly flat and undergrowth also produced some delicious wild raspberries; a perfect treat along the way.

Eventually the trail opened up to a beautiful lake.  For the first time I could see Eagle Mountain.  I took a few quick pictures and was on my way.  From the far side of the lake the trail climbs rapidly for a while, then more gradually.  Here, the undergrowth was not AS thick and the scenery was more enjoyable.  As you near the summit, there are two terrific vistas to the Southwest and then West. 

Once I reached the summit, I posed for some photos at the top and a wonderful, inspiring discussion with a fellow highpointer.  He was wrapping up his quest, having completed Denali, Rainier, Granite, Gannett, and all the highpoints but a few in New England.  Before heading down, I let the crowds clear out and took some peaceful, spiritual time gazing out into the beautiful lake-filled area known as the Boundary Waters.  Eventually the soothing peacefulness was overcome by the realization I needed to find a campsite before dark.  I sprinted back down the trail double time hoping I wouldn’t be setting up my tent once again in the dark. 

The hike out was nice, but equally boring for the last two miles.  Fortunately, there were a few interesting encounters with wildlife along the way.  I saw several interesting varieties of frogs, birds, mosquitoes J and a sleek racing-striped sporting snake.  I was quite happy when I came across the sign marking the wilderness area.  I was almost to the trail head and almost to my campsite (and a beautiful sunset?).

I wasn’t quite as close as I thought.  After driving for more than an hour down dirt roads, stopping at 4 different camp grounds, the sun had long set and the campgrounds were all FULL!  Finally, feeling a bit frustrated and defeated, I decided to set up camp at a small parking area over looking a stream.  After dining on leftover Italian Sausage Spaghetti, watching about a third of a movie, and observing a grand total of three cars go by; I retired to my tent and quickly fell asleep – a sleep filled with vivid and interesting dreams.

 

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Map of US HighPoints
KEY: States: Green - summited, Yellow - attempted, White - Not visited
Dots: Green - State Lowpoint, Red - State Highpoint

 

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©2008 Kyle E. Hoelscher. All rights reserved.

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