My healing collarbone made it difficult to carry a backpack for most of the summer and partake in my usual summer activities. By autumn I was feeling good and itching to get back on the SHT. After a successful, short overnighter to Bear/Bean Lake with Sonia, I decided I was ready for a slightly longer backpacking trip. Two weeks later, Neil and I headed north for a 2-night hike from Cross River to Leveau Ponds (and back).
In typical Friday fashion, we scooted out of work a bit early and were on 35w before 5, Tacobell in Hinkley for the ritual pre-trail burritos, trailhead at 9pm. Opting to drive up in one car with no shuttle, we parked at Skou Road in Schroeder. It was a 1.5-mile hike in the dark to Cross River. The south campsite is right across the river in a stand of small pines with an open understory. Great steel bridge and a pretty ripp'n section of rapids. Hauled in a pair of tall boys for a first-night treat. The stars were out for a while, but it soon clouded up and would stay like that for the next 24 hours.
In the morning we hiked through Temperance River State Park along the river. If you haven't been, breathtaking falls, deep narrow gorges, and fast water. It started raining as we approached Carlton Peak. It was a steep, wet climb to the top of the bald rock. We sheltered under some pines for lunch, catching glimpses of the lake through the waves of rain and fog. The rain let up and the mist settled in for good. Britton Peak was similarly misty and beautifully mysterious. We entered a maple forest where almost all the leave had fallen. The bare branches, thick mist, and falling light made for a spooky last couple miles before making camp at West Leveaux Pond. Failing to fill up before leaving the Temperance River, Neil and I were both out of water and thirsty at this point. Feeling the beaver pond water was too sketch, we set up camp and then hiked what felt like a long extra mile to Onion River for some flowing water.
We made good time on the 13mile hike back to the car, skipping the spurs and overlooks we had done the day before. The weather was nice with blue skies. Making it back to the car with daylight (4 pm), we were able to make a couple stops on the way down the shore. The light was good and Neil had never been to Palisade Head. A quick stop at Black Beach and then Culvers in Two Harbors for a recovery meal and custard.