My friend Joe really got into the backpacking and hiking this year. He hit the Superior Hiking Trail almost every open weekend this summer and fall, coming back with stories of nature and chance encounters with fellow hikers. I really wanted to get up there, but with a busy wedding season it was hard for me to find the time until the start October. Luckily, fall is perhaps the best time for the Trail anyways.
Joe, Neil, Sam, & I decided on the first weekend in October for our trip and Joe charted a two+ day route from Beaver River to Tettegouche State Park. I had actually hiked through this same section a few years previous on a longer backpacking trip with some of my old college roommates. I remember the trail being stunning, with some amazing lookouts and was excited to revisit it.
We all skipped the last couple hours of work Friday to put the finishing touches on our bags and drive up to the north shore. With the 3+ hour drive we knew it would already be dark when we arrived. Some construction and traffic put a little behind schedule, but hey, it didn't really matter because dark is dark. After the car shuttle we arrived at access point off of Lax Lake RD in Beaver Bay and started hiking roughly around 10pm. Head lamps on, it was a short ~1 mile hike into the campsites at Beaver River.
Arriving late to camp and judging the number of cars in the parking lot, we were worried that all of the tent pads would be taken. Luckily there was a little space left and we were able to squeeze in 2 tents. After getting situated we went down to the river. The campsite is located right next to a fairly sizeable rapids/waterfall area and you could hear the relentless rushing water in the pitch black. On my previous trip we had also spent a night at this same spot and I had an image of the river in my minds eye, but would have to wait until morning to see the full scope of the rapids. The stars were out in full force and Neil and I popped off some photos of the night sky.
Coffee, oatmeal, and an apple for breakfast. The day's hike was to head to Bear Lake, about 9 nine miles north. Needless to say we were blessed with warm, clear weather and peak fall color. The leaves were absolutely amazing. Following the tell tale blue marks, we made our way through pine and deciduous forests, and over rocky, scrubby hilltops. Generally, the trail climbs from 850' at Beaver River to ~1450' at Bear Lake overlook. Scroll down and enjoy the colors!
We had left camp early and broke for snacks/ibuprofen, deciding to holding off on lunch until we reached Bear Lake. We were hoping to score one of the two prized campsites right on the lakeshore. Despite arriving by 2pm the prime sites were already taken, but we were the first tents in the overflow area at the top of the ridge. After setting up the tents we took a late lunch down by the water. Being a sunny 70 degrees a few hardy hikers took quick swims, but I decided it was to cold and wasn't worth the hassle of getting wet. At sunset we hiked up to the overlook for a small fire and dinner. From the top of the cliff you can see Bean Lake directly behind Bear, two drops in the glacial landscape.
Sunday we had another 9 mile hike to the car at Tetteguche. This section has many up downs that are challenging even without a 30lb pack. The views from the top make all of it totally worth it, looking out into practically untouched National Forest. The trail dips way down as it crosses Palisade Creek before climbing 700' to the top of Mt. Trudee, dropping back down into Tettegoche State Park via the infamous steep "Drain Pipe".
Upon reaching the State Park we took full advantage of the modern amenities (bathrooms). Then headed down to the water to spend a little time on the beach to relax and look for agates before the 3 hour drive back to the cities.