29 May 2014

Father and Son Time in the Mountains

There are a ton of pics in this thread and it's going to take time to load, hope you find the images worth the time to load.

We're not known for our mountains in Minnesota, we're the Land of 10,000 Lakes! Or for those 'up in da nort woods', and the North Shore folk, but we've got some rugged terrain. It isn't the Rockies for sure, but it's our mountains and when I can I love to spend time in them. Specifically the Manitou area.

So this past weekend my son and I set off for some hiking and an overnighter.

Before setting out I'd spent some time the day before reviewing some goals and which trails we wanted to explore. Some of the campsites here can be reserved and most of them were. However, some of the campsites are not and the plan was to hit those to see if they were open, if not, we would continue on the Superior Hiking Trail out of the Crosby Manitou area and into the Superior National forest where dispersed camping is permitted.

Here's the general area as seen from my mapping software.

There are 24 miles of main trails in the Manitou area, which essentially is wilderness, there are no roads, you can't drive to a campsite, it's backpack only with a lot of options for folks who want to get off the beaten path.

Allium triciccum, ramps, were fairly abundant in parts of the forest.

Many places along the trail offer views, that's Lake Superior way in the distance.

Lots of elevation changes throughout, one minute your on high just after a steep lung buster and the next you're dropping down into the Manitou River Valley below.

This was one of many deer kill sites that we found. Some of them were ripped apart, others were completely intact skeletal remains. I believe these died from starvation during our long and brutal winter.

Much of the Manitou river looks like this. A rolling thunderous mass that you can hear from the ridge tops half a mile and 1500' above. Along the river the path winds up and down, sometimes getting 'goat path' narrow with some dicey footing here and there.


We covered about seven miles in and arrived at one of the campsites that cannot be reserved, found it empty and elected to stay there for the night. The camp is close to the ridge but down slope about 300 meters, it levels out into a finger off the mountain with a drop off on three sides.

I headed down slope to fetch some water for the camp while my son started in on his tarp shelter.

I'm still rocking a MSR gravity filter, going on close to four years now. I love this thing! Lightweight and just works without any fuss or muss. Bulletproof set up. There's not a snowballs chance in hell I'd ever go back to a pump. It works for us on the move or in a base camp, simple, reliable, lightweight, not much more I could ask for. This one will handle five liters or as little as one.

Once back in camp we got a fire going.

Dinner was bacon & backstraps with mushrooms cooked up in my 10" GSI backpacking wok, I don't think they still make these. Deer meat in camp is extra good in my opinion, add bacon and mushrooms holy cow man what is not to like!

I set my shelter out on the finger about 15 feet from the drop offs. This is a relatively new shelter that I'm trying and the third or fourth night in it so far. It's a Mountainsmith Mountain Shelter LT. It sets up with two trekking poles or cut sticks or tied off to tree limbs. In this case I used one trekking pole and cut the rear to fit. On the side of the shelter down low there is a graphic that shows you how long to cut to or set your trekking poles for.

Eventually this will get used over a Titanium Goat Kestrel bivy, with my Static V pad and HPG Mountain Serape but in this instance I'm rippin my old reliable Kelty down over the Static V.

I only woke once in the night, at 0145 and promptly fell back to sleep. The pad/bag set up was plenty comfortable.

The hike out the next day was hotter but just as beautiful.

Thanks for taking a look!


  1. Looks real good!
    That's the way to spend time with your son...

  2. I see you're using DeLorme software. I'm in the market for topo software. Would you recommend it? Thanks for sharing!

    1. It has a pretty steep learning curve, at least for me. It wasn't very intuitive. I still use it because it is what I am used to and getting different types of maps is easier/cheaper than Garmin.

      That being said the GPS unit for use with DeLorme maps is the PN series though some Garmin units will work in a limited way. I'm currently researching and trying out using the Topo software with a Garmin GPSmap 62c.

      The alternative is Garmin's BaseCamp software which is a little easier to use but you spend more on the maps. The Birdseye subscription seems worth it and so far I'm getting topos that way. The problem is they don't seem to have as much in the way of aerials as DeLorme does.

      Ideally I'd like to be able to use DeLorme maps with a Garmin GPS with 100% compatibility. The DeLormen PN series GPSrs leave a lot to be desired.

      Once you get used to the DeLorme Topo product it is very nice and robust and frankly more feature filled than Garmin's BaseCamp.

      if anyone knows a way to use DeLorme maps on a Garmin GPS I am all ears.

  3. I love your pictures, just beautiful!