But I got there, self-registered and got on the trail by 2:30pm. The sun set at 4:15pm so I had limited time. I left from the park headquarters (one of the few places you can get by car) and was hoping to at least get to the flats below Government Peak before I set up camp. However, due to the 2.5 hour loss I realized that was no longer feasible. I went up through the cross-country ski trails at first, until they forked off from the hiking trails and then it was up to me to find my way. It was snowing and getting dark but they've done a great job marking everything so it really was not that bad.
|One of the cross-country ski trails I followed|
|My tent the next morning. A clever use of twigs and one long piece of string I had brought along is what held this thing up. As you can see, it snowed an inch or two on me that night.|
Up and over Government peak I actually met two parties. One guy who had gone to the peak the previous night and was hiking out that day, and a couple who went to mirror lake and were going to spend sometime wandering around in the area. I was surprised: I figured I was the only one dumb enough to backpack in these conditions!
|View from Government Peak|
|The ford I had to cross (I actually crossed downstream, just out of picture). Trust me: it was worse than it looks.|
So I kept walking as long as I thought prudent (I had a headlamp, but the idea of losing the trail after it got dark...) Around 5:15 I finally stopped. I was pretty thirsty, as I hadn't been drinking enough water all trip, but I had less than a quarter of a liter left, and about 10 miles to go the next day. So I skipped eating anything and set-up camp. I camped right by the shore (next to "Buckshot Cabin") and so I took some time before heading into my tent to admire the stars and the shore. It is gorgeous, and the ice build-up there just added to the majesty.
|The shore of Lake Superior|
|The sun setting as I tried to get as far as possible before I couldn't see the trail.|
|The stars over Lake Superior. This was actually pretty hard to get without a tripod, but what an experience to be there!|
I finally turned off onto a little side trail and followed it back to the park headquarters: success! Of course the water I left in the car was completely frozen so it was still a while until I had anything to drink (and even then it burned my throat) but I had made it, and had a great time out in the wilderness. Plus: I stayed on the road the whole way back: amazing, right?