Staring down a midlife crisis at Tettegouche

The poodle and I went for a lovely and challenging hike this week at Tettegouche State Park, up the North Shore. Somewhere along the 11-mile hike, I stared down a midlife crisis.

At the start of the hike, I felt young and fresh. I knew I could either hike on the ski trail or on the Superior Hiking Trail. And I knew the Superior Hiking Trail would be 1) much more difficult and 2) much more scenic. With great challenges come great rewards, right?

So instead of hiking on the flat, smooth ski trail, I took it right to the steep and rocky SHT, and right up a famous feature known as “The Drainpipe.” Dude.

Which got me to a great viewpoint looking back out at Lake Superior.

Yeah, baby. I was hiking now.

Five long slogging miles later, tired, skies greyer now, I faced another, similar decision. Hike around Nicado Lake on the trail the park ranger warned me about? Or take the easy way down another wide ski trail?

Hmmm…challenge and reward. Snow was starting to fall. There was a good chance I might lose the trail. Or twist an ankle on a dead fall. The poodle was not going to carry me out of the woods, and there’s no cellphone coverage down in the gulch. Daylight Savings Time was done, and it would be dark in three hours.

So, gonzo guy, what you gonna do? Guts? Glory? Or just mediocrity?

I turned right around at that Minimum Maintenance sign and headed down the wide ski trail. The next few miles were, according to my notes, “Monotonous.” But I was safe. I could return to my family and my warm bed that night.

I guess my idea of a midlife crisis is pretty lame. Maybe instead of the red BMW, I might buy some new green arch supports for my hiking shoes.

Next post in the Tettegouche series: When my life passed before my eyes


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3 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hiking is serious business.
    Things can go wrong. I’ve been on the trail when the DST has brought dark a bit sooner then I thought.
    It’s a bit nerve racking when the trail is hard to see due to lack of traffic and many leaves.

  2. timbu says:

    The drainpipe. I encountered that on my first real multi-day hike. I still laugh when I think about it.

  3. Andrew Slade says:

    My park ranger friend told me that he would always choose to take the SHT through the Drainpipe rather than hike on the ski trail…unless he had a pack on.

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