was pleasantly surprised to find that the vestibules on our tent worked flawlessly in keeping our
packs and boots dry from the rain that moved through overnight. It was 8:40 a.m.
and the rain had stopped, however, the sky was gray and dreary. I had washed a
t-shirt last night and left it over a clothes line along with a small towel and
washcloth. I had hoped the strong wind would dry them out overnight but they were
more wet now than when I had wrung them out yesterday. I threw the towel and
washcloth in my backpack but hung my t-shirt through a carabiner in hopes that it
would dry out during the hike. The shirt never did dry out. I decided that I would
be investing in some Duofold or Coolmax t-shirts before I go hiking again. They are
light-weight and supposedly dry out very quickly. We filtered some water, broke
camp and were on the trail by 9:50 a.m.
We traversed the short uphill path from the campsites to the main trail and
headed west. The trail
quickly departed from the birch and aspen forest and
took us to the open, rocky crest of the Minong Ridge. Shortly after reaching
the top we were able to see the Greenstone Ridge towering above us to the
south and Lake Superior to the north. The trail followed the crest of the
ridge for a while and then began the constant ups and downs for which the
Minong is well known. Although it wasn't too exhausting it was still slow
going because we had to constantly watch where we were stepping so as not
to lose our footing on the jagged and sometimes loose rock on the trail. We
had to also keep a sharp eye out for the rock cairns so we didn't wander off
the trail in the places where it crossed over the rock outcroppings.
At 12:30 p.m. we stopped for lunch. By now it had begun to warm up a bit and the air had become
quite humid as a result of all the rain from last night. I took off my shirt and hung it over a tree,
hoping the breeze would dry it out before we continued the hike. The cool breeze was quite
refreshing and our lunch helped replenish some strength. Lunch consisted of beef jerky sticks,
tortilla rolls with cheddar cheese and Gray Poupon mustard (it is actually quite tasty), and a granola
bar and a pop tart for dessert.
Even though most of the Minong Ridge was more challenging than other trails on the island, I felt that
the last 1/2 to 2/3 of the trail was the most difficult. This last portion served up a constant barrage
of steep climbs to the top of the ridge, hikes over level but jagged, rocky trail, followed closely by
steep descents to the valley below. This quickly became a bittersweet adventure. I looked forward to
breeze, the scent of pine in the air and the great views on top of the ridge, but not to the
muscle burn from the steep climb, the baking in the sun and the rough, slow-going
pace. At the same time, I looked forward to the hike through the valley below for
the shade and soft, level trail but not for the stagnant, humid air. About half way
through today's journey we passed two other guys and stopped to talk for a couple
minutes. They told us they had completed the Windigo to North Lake Desor section
yesterday and that it was a hard hike. They said there were not many places along
the way where it was easy to get to water if we ran out and said we should start
with as much as possible. They claimed they had lost the third guy in their group due
to dehydration. Fortunately for him there was a park ranger who was doing a loon
study at Lake Desor and she was able to get him out for some medical attention.
Eventually we arrived at the North Desor camp. The first two sites were already occupied by the
same individual hikers we saw at Little Todd so we settled into site #3. After everything was
unpacked and set up we went down to the lake to
filter our water. Not finding much of a beach or
any rocks to sit on we checked out the area east
of our site and found a small rock outcropping at
the water's edge. The water was cold but it felt
good after a long, hot day. I waded into the
water and used a washcloth to rinse off and then dunked my head in the water to clean off my hair.
Unfortunately I had to wade in with bare feet and slipped on the algae-covered rocks and sliced
open the bottom of my foot on the sharp edge of a rock. This unexpected injury proved to be quite
uncomfortable with every step during the next day's hike.
As we approached the campsite from the Minong Ridge we heard a low rumble far off in the distance
but did not think anything of it because the sky was clear and blue. But now, a couple hours later, we
realized the weather was changing for the worse. The temperature suddenly began to drop and the
sky to the west was becoming overcast. We watched as the clouds quickly came in from the west and
actually saw them rolling down the side of the ridge on the far opposite side of the lake -- it was a
pretty cool site to watch! We walked back to camp and had Raman noodles and fettuccini for dinner
before the rain began.
After dinner 5 more hikers came in as a group. They had just traveled the 14-15 miles from Huginin
Cove and appeared to be very tired. There were no sites left so two of the
men shared part of our site while the other two men and one female shared
with the guys at sites 1 & 2. The two guys at our site were a lot of fun to
talk with. It was also interesting to watch them interact because one
appeared to be an experienced hiker with a good sense of humor, while
the other did not appear to have hiked much, had a hard time setting up his
tent and was more or less the friendly brunt of the other guy's jokes. They would have made an
excellent two-man comedy show similar to Laurel and Hardy.
By now the sun was long gone and the only things visible through the dense tree cover were the
occasional silhouettes of people and tents illuminated only by the faint
glimmer of camp stoves and
flashlights. It was so dark before the moon rose that I was not able to see
my hand a couple inches in front of my face. By now the rain had begun
falling, however, the light rain barely made it to the ground because the
dense tree canopy stopped most of it. We went to sleep around 9:30 p.m.
because we wanted to get an early start on our 12 mile hike tomorrow. I only
woke up once during the night because I heard something walking around
the campsite not far from our tent. From the sounds of rather large branches breaking I could only
conclude that it was a moose, but I was too tired to get up and investigate.
Miles covered today: 5.7
Total trip miles: 19.4
This page last updated on 02-25-2016 @ 11:23 AM