My North Shore Vacation Adventure (text only) Part I

I am still sorting and uploading pictures, but in the meantime, I can tell you in prose, about my North Shore vacation adventures!


Fast Facts:
Total Driving: 850 miles
Minnesota Parks visited:
Jay Cooke
Gooseberry
Split Rock
Tettegouche
Caribou Falls
Temperance River
Cascade River
Judge C.R. Magney
Grand Portage (American)
Wisconsin Parks visited:
Amnicon Falls
Pattison
Ontario Parks visited:
Grand Portage (Canadian)
Kakabeka Falls
Major Cities Visited:
Duluth
Thunder Bay
Now to brass tacks:
Thursday, bright and early, I went out on the road north. After a couple hours of driving, I arrived at my first destination, Jay Cooke State Park. Famous for its “Swinging bridge”, Jay Cooke is dominated by the St. Louis River, and has lots of rapids and water forms to hike about. I hiked around the Bridge, and also around Oldenburg Point, a popular picnic spot. I had the entire park to myself, it seemed, because I arrived early. I even got there before the office was open.
When the office was open, I bought a book on Minnesota tourism “The Seven States of Minnesota” and continued on my way. On my way out of the park, I unfortunately struck and killed a squirrel I could not avoid on the road.
After Jay Cooke, I headed north and east, skirting Duluth and entering Superior, Wisconsin. After orienting myself at the visitor center, I continued on to my next stop, Amnicon Falls State Park.
Here I saw some waterfalls and ran into a pair of elderly ladies I later encountered at my next stop, Pattison. They were doing the same thing I was doing–seeing the waterfalls at near peak. (From all reports, the southern waterfalls were a little *past* peak, but they were rip roaring anyway).
Some backroads driving in rural Wisconsin (there is no real better route that isn’t a long way around) got me from Amnicon to Pattison. Pattison park includes the pair of Manitou falls. The Big Manitou falls are the tallest in Wisconsin, at 165 feet tall.
Big Manitou was impressive, but I liked the mise-en-scene of Little Manitou falls a little better. Big Manitou is tall but the paths and views are not optimally placed, whereas Little Manitou is a charming waterfall with great sight lines. We’ll see what happens with the photos. As I mentioned before, I encountered the ladies from Amnicon here, as well as photographers I saw at Amnicon.
Great minds think alike.
From Pattison, it was time to go to Duluth. I headed to the Thompson Information Center that overlooks the city and you’ve seen plenty of pictures of before. (It’s the place with the funky Gate sculpture). I took a couple of obligatory photos, and got directions for my next task–to drive the famous Skyline Parkway.
Turns out that following the SP isn’t as easy as the directions suggest. Its not a single roadway, rather its a bunch of streets that are co-signed with it. Sometimes I fell off track and had to get back on it. The views of the still-gorgeous day were amazing, especially when I got to Enger Tower and climbed it for the tallest view from the drive I could find.
After finishing the Parkway and a stop at B&N for some more reading material (a couple of bargain books), I headed down to Canal Park and my hotel–the Inn at Lake Superior. I checked in, decamped and debated what I wanted to do. First, I bought something I had forgotten to pack–swim trunks.
Next, I decided to handle the rumble in my stomach and had dinner. Two co workers from work suggested Hell’s Kitchen, and so I went there. The best deviled eggs as an appetite, a great chicken sandwich, and a very strange decor made it a meal to remember.
After dinner, I grabbed my camera and took some pictures in and around Canal park before my aching feet brought me back to the hotel for some time on the rooftop heated pool. I felt like I was in a roman style caldarium! I switched from that to the conventional pool before returning to my hotel room. Something prompted me to trot out the tripod, and I tried to take a nighttime picture or two of the aerial lift bridge, before I decided I had enough adventure for one night, and after a little reading and TV, went to bed.
Friday
After breakfast, I checked out, packed up and turned my wheels north. The forecast was for rain and I wanted to get as much in as possible before the weather broke.
Up the shore I went, pausing only at Flood Bay to take some lake shots before I finally arrived at Gooseberry Falls. Here, the falls were at their peak, and raging. I already felt that my vacation was a success to see the three waterfalls absolutely powerful and awe inspiring. I took lots of photos, but, really, photos couldn’t do the experience justice.
Next stop was Split Rock Lighthouse. Unfortunately, in a theme that was to be repeated, it was too early in the year for the office to be open at a decent time, and the Lighthouse itself was closed, as was the path down to the beach (which I hoped to take). I took a couple of desultory pictures of the lighthouse and the view from the top, and continued on my way.
Next up? Tettegouche State Park. Tettegouche is known as a hiker’s paradise. I found it to be a paradise and a hell as well. First up, since I wanted some more lake views, I hiked the Shovel Point trail, which leads out onto the tip of the feature that juts out into Superior. It was a hard trail but the views, especially at the end (the weather was still holding) were awesome.
It was the interior that did me in, though. I drove to the campground entrance.
I found a trailer spot to try and park in, and tried to back in. Not happy with my angle, I tried to pull out again…
…Only to find that my car was stuck! I decided not to panic. I put the car in park and considered my options. Pushing seemed to be an idea. (I have a small car). So I put the car in neutral and got out of the car…
You can see where THIS is going, can’t you? You do remember that my vacations sometimes have an element of Clark Griswold to them, don’t you?
Yes, almost as soon as I got out of the car, the car started rolling backward! (Maybe my weight had something to do with it). I managed to get into the car and hit the brake before I hit a tree.
After all that, I managed to drive out of that spot and parked elsewhere to find the trail to the falls…only to discover steps covered in ice and snow that barred my way to Two Falls.
Disappointed, I drove over to the trailhead, and decided to go for the High Falls of the Baptism River instead.
I should have worn my hiking boots. Less than midway into the hike, the ice and snow on the hike became nearly unbearable, and in many spots, trying to find where the *trail* was, was difficult. I wished I had my boots. I wished I had a hiking stick. I wished I had a clue.
A couple of hikers coming the other way encouraged me to continue, especially their tale about the power of the waterfall.
All of my troubles evaporated when I saw the roaring waterfall. The tallest waterfall entirely within Minnesota, the waterfall was amazingly powerful, even more so than the ones at Gooseberry and south.
The hike back was no picnic, but I decided that I would do all of my subsequent hiking in my hiking boots. Turned out it was a good decision…