2010 Highpoint BlitzDay 3: We only had to cover 218 miles today, so we slept in and made no rush to break camp until the mosquitoes came out. Once the Civic was loaded we made our way back over to I-35 and then north to our next stop, Minnesota’s Mall of America. For those of you that are not familiar with this tenth wonder of the world (first wonder if you are a shopaholic), it is a four story shopping Mecca with 520+ shops, an amusement park with 25 rides and attractions including a roller coaster and log ride. According to its web site, 32 Boeing 747s can fit in this place…….. It is huge!!! We spent several hours making the .57 mile lap around the malls various levels and finally escaped 3 hours later to continue our trek north on I-35. Our next stop, Jay Cooke State Park, MN. We were glad to arrive here a little early so we had time to go to the suspension bridge that runs across the St Louis River after we set up camp.
Day 4: We got up early this morning so we had more time to go explore around the swing bridge over the St. Louis River.
This was going to be the only day we really had to do any serious hiking. Minnesota’s highpoint, Eagle Mountain, requires a 7-mile (round trip) hike. From Jay Cooke State Park, we jumped back on I-35 and continued north to Duluth, MN where we picked up MN-61 and followed the north coast of Lake Superior. Just before reaching our turn off in Lutsen, MN we spotted our first (and last) Bald Eagle flying over the highway. Just past Lutsen, MN we hung a left on CR-4 to make our final push north to the Eagle Mountain trailhead along dirt county and forest service roads. We followed the directions that were on summitpost.org and found the Eagle Mountain trailhead without any problems. All the roads were in good shape and fortunately dry. There were already a few vehicles in the parking lot and one more pulled in right after us. We got our gear together while we had a few peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and then hit the trail. The trail starts out great but then turns into a rock and root obstacle course……. On the way up to Eagle Mountain we entered the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and then passed a beaver dam and lodge once we hit the Bog Zone (which was fairly dry).
We finally arrived at Whale Lake for a beautiful view of the wilderness area.
Once we left the lake it was a good up hill, rocky grind for a good half-mile or so and then we reached the first overlook with a great view of the Boundary Waters Area.
Back on trail we passed a couple coming back down and the told us to look for the small rock piles on the right of the main trail that lead up to the top of Eagle Mountain. I am sure we would have blown right past them if we hadn’t been told……. Once on the top of Eagle Mountain we took our summit shots and chatted with a guy that was in the Navy and that had just completed Highpoint number 27 (number six for us….). We shared our bug spray with another couple that had hiked up with their one-year-old daughter and then headed back down the trail.
We made it back to the parking lot by 1400 and piled back in the car feeling really good. We backtracked out the route we came in back down to MN-61 and headed back toward civilization. After a beautiful ride back down the, we made it to our home for the night, Tettegouche State Park. By now we had the whole “Camp set up routine” down so camp was up, bed made in just 20 minutes. No sooner did we get out tent set up that we started being visited by the local chipmunks. We grabbed a bite to eat and shared a little with our new friends until the Ninja squirrel appeared and ruined the party.
Day 5 starts at Mount Arvon, MI.