The regular crew is 3 adults (me, Lee, DvA) and 3 kids (Boo - 7yo, R- 8yo, and J - almost 12). It's my first trip with R, since the 2 or 3 overnights she's been on were all after I wrecked my back and wasn't hiking.
We started after lunch, from 53, just off the Gunflint Trail, which leaves 61 at the north end of Grand Marais. The parking lot has a nice overlook of Grand Marais, where we were carcamping for the week. There were enough of us we took both cars, and left one overnight. Many tails we hiked that week had boot brushes at the beginnings to reduce the spread if invasive plants. The kids were really good about brushing their boots. The trail starts along a cross-country ski trail. So it's really wide. There were a lot of raspberries along the edges!
Between the kids getting bigger and my back, I was by far the slowest in the group.It was lovely and solitary, but a little lonely. And I didn't get very many pictures of peoples' faces!
It wasn't very far along, just in time for the kids to get hungry, that we came to Pincushion Mountain. We left our packs at the bottom, and scrambled up the bare rock face. The kids were almost on all fours. At the top was lots of bare rock and some nice views of Superior and the inland. The Devil Track valley was pretty obvious. The breeze was nice after being in fairly dense woods. There was a big pile of deer scat up there, but I have no idea why a deer would have gone up.
Going back down the bare rock, I scooted down on my bottom. I threw my hiking sticks down ahead of me, which Lee accused me of throwing pointy sticks at her. Pfft, whatever.
We saw several berry-ful bear scats on the trail. I was glad to see that the bears are well-fed this time of year, since Boo still uses her shirt as a napkin more often than not.
Eventually the Superior Hiking Trail turned off the ski trail and narrowed to a more standard hiking trial width. As normal for the SHT, it was in lovely, well groomed condition. Well blazed. And full of steps. Oh god the steps. Down down down to the Devil Track River. Up and Down along the river. So much up. So much down. (I was fine with the up, but the down was kind of awful, even with my sticks.)
Along with the horrible steps, we started to catch occasional glimpses of the river, and more views of the cliffs making the opposite bank. Just like the SHT book said, not much for the camera, but very good for the eyes. There were nice little overlooks and pull-offs to look at the river.
We reached the West Devil Track campsite by mid afternoon
and found it already occupied. Since we have plenty of time in the day
and oomph in the legs, we decided to check out the East Devil Track
campsite across the river and up a bit. DvA signed us in the trail
register. The bridge across Devil Track is awesome. I did not get any
great pics of it, but I love that bridge.
East Devil Track campsite was unoccupied, so we moved in. The book says it has 2 tent pads, but maybe 4 could squeeze in if some were small or everyone was friendly. We pitched our Big Agnes Copper Spur 3 for it's first backpacking use. We placed it at the corner of the tent pad, as it looked like if it rained, the rain would run down the trail and through the tent pad area. The tent pad was hard and rocky, but there was a convenient large rock to use as a hammer, so we got our stakes in.
The "completely exhausted, couldn't take another step" kids clambered down to the river and spent some time throwing rocks, building dams, and in general proving that kids are sprinters. I gave my feet a nice cold soak and an airing.
Part 2: In Camp, Dinner, Night, Next Day