Hogback, Hump Back, Ba-Rack

A good day in the woods, a great day for the country.

My weeks on injured reserve are done, and my apparently mild case of plantar fasciitis has healed. Plus I just couldn’t stand to hang out in town all day waiting for election results. So in this very narrow window before deer season and the first snows, I got out on two trails I’d been meaning to hike all fall.

Both trails were up the Cramer Road out of Finland. It had been so foggy next to Lake Superior I wanted to get away from the big cold water and into the clear.

First up was the trail at Hogback Lake.

This is a Superior National Forest trail system about 25 miles inland from Finland. Total drive time from Highway 61 is about 45 minutes.

It’s a sweet hike, though it was shorter than I expected. It’s called the Hogback Lake trail, though it only starts at that lake; most of the trail is a loop around Scarp Lake. There’s an extra loop to Lupus Lake I did not take. Grand total distance for the loop around Scarp Lake was 2.8 miles.

The dog and I took a break in the sun at Scarp Lake. Scarp has a big escarpment on its south side, probably the source of the name.

Next it was back down the Cramer Road (aka Lake County Road 7) back toward Finland but turning off to Crosby-Manitou State Park.

Crosby-Manitou has a well-deserved reputation as a remote hikers’ park. They take their hiking seriously.

Whoever took the time to peck out that bottom sign must have issues with hikers taking the wrong trail.

The Hiking Club Trail makes a loop out of three park trails, the Hump Back Trail, part of the River Trail, and the Middle Trail. The River Trail is etched into my childhood memories as the location for repeated family machismo hiking the length of the Manitou on unofficial trails from the Cramer Road through to Highway 61. It was a rough trail back when I was 9 and 10 and 12, and it’s even rougher now.

I stopped at the Cascades and remembered my last time there, in the winter with my father on his 60th birthday in January, on skis and breaking trail all the way down the river.

Yard-for-yard, this was the hardest Hiking Club trail on the North Shore. Only 2.3 miles, it was a lot of up and down and rough trails.

The drive back to Duluth was a long one, but it was so cleansing. I had shed my heel problems, kept the car stereo OFF of news radio, and made it back home in one piece. I was tired, the dog was exhausted, but I stayed up to watch the election returns. A nice day hiking for me, and I emerged from the woods into a great day for Barack Obama and our country.


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