Day 10 : Two Harbors to Tettegouche State Park

40 miles : 564 miles

Today was half bike, half rest day. We got up and breakfeasted (no, that is not a typo) on cnJudy’s eggs and potatoes with copious cups of coffee. Packed up and headed out around our usual take off time of 9:15 am towards Two Harbors, which we reached in no time at all. One quick stop at the laundromat to take advantage if their free wifi one last time and upload yesterday’s blog post. Within ten minutes, we were back on the road and headed north.

All in all, the ride was short, chilly and beautiful. We were able to take a paved trail for much of the way. This had several advantages.

First, we avoided a tunnel and instead headed out and up Silver Cliff on the old highway, now converted to a pedestrian/bike path.

Second, a few miles later we avoided major road construction bypassing the dusty, dangerous mess almost completely. We did investigate the new Split Rock Lighthouse viewing rest stop under construction before backtracking back to the path.

Third, we rolled up and down the scenic path far away from the line of cars headed south, their fun all done. Instead, we enjoyed moving into week 2 of the trip. Week 2 is important because it is when biking feels like the norm, and the rest of the world is the diversion. It is when you wake up based on your internal clock (which depends on the amount of activity done, the numbers of hours asleep, and the time the sun rises), rather than the beep beep of an alarm. Week 2 is when you stop thinking about your ass and take pleasure in your knee and arm warmers. It is when you forget about what clothes are hanging in your closet and focus on what jersey and short smell the best. Week 2 is cool because it makes the beginning days of the trip seem a long time ago.

But before I could get very far into these musings, we pulled into Tettegouche State Park and it was just past 12:30. We set up camp–Mike went a little Bam-Bam on me.

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Soon, David and Judy came walking up the path to our sweet walk in campground with LUNCH! Just because I only rode 40 miles, doesn’t mean I can’t throw down! They had a spread! Smoked fish. Hummus. Crackers. Dip. Fruit. Cheese. Yum!

From there, we packed into their car and drove south-past what we had just ridden. We checked out Shovel Point (see Mike’s reminiscences about climbing there).

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Then Gooseberry Falls, which are a series of beautiful short waterfalls just off the highway.

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There was a nature guide there with a display about earthworms being invasive to the area and generally a bad thing for the forest. This was the first time I had heard an anti-worm story, will have to research more fully since I am generally a pro-worm, composting kind of gal.

It was at Gooseberry Falls where the trip drew it’s first blood. I stubbed my big toe but HARD on a rock in the middle of the trail. Lovely gusher of a cut just at the base of the nail. No tears though. And we got it clotted and bandaged up so hopefully it won’t be an issue tomorrow. For the squeamish, no pic.

We then hit Split Rock Lighthouse which was beautiful and iconic. Looks like a lighthouse should look like. It was the first lighthouse designed by Tinkman who went on to become the chief lighthouse engineer. Built in 1909-1910, after the massive 1905 storm, it has a huge stage three frensel lens that blinks white every ten seconds. The lighthouse precedes the road by 15 years so they had to hoist everything for the construction and other supplies up the 100 feet of vertical cliff from the water’s edge. Crazy. After the road was built, it became the most visited lighthouse in the country. (Guess midwesterners had nothing better to see.). It is really something to see and the three keeper houses are lovely as well. We have some great pics but they are on the real camera so will have to wait until we get home to upload. Til then, the iPhone pics will have to suffice.

History lesson learned, we parted from David and Judy and am now happily fed, warmed by the fire, and ready to cream Mike in cribbage.

Til tomorrow.

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Quick postscript from m!ke:
My first trip to the north shore was with my folks when I was 12 or so. They booked a cabin at a place that is now owned by DNR – the heir of the prime land didn’t want to maintain cabins so he donated the land to the state on the condition it not be developed. It’s prime land between split rock and gooseberry falls. Dad and I hiked out there quickly today and while I couldn’t recall specific landmarks it felt like what I remembered. Those memories were of land at the edge of water, transition, the action of the waves, the history of rocks, the power of the natural world. As an adult, I now understand that renting a cabin like that was probably a financial stretch for my folks at the time, but it planted a seed of love for this area that sprouts over and over again – this week included.

It was cool to revisit that spot again and, while the cabins are gone, others are here for people to have the same experience and twin points is available for all to see.

After that trip, several geology field trips and climbing trips with Brady sometimes and Bo others brought me back here. I’ve sneak camped in a new housing development near here in a downpour, slept in the car at Palisade head in the sleet, and climbed at shovel point in freezing rain and howling cold wind. Every time I’m here it’s different but I always want to return and for the 20 years I’ve known chandra I’ve wanted to bring her here to share the wonder of this place.

So – the great cool and mellow ride today and sightseeing with chandra and my folks makes something feel complete for me. Tomorrow brings 75 miles with a forecast of sunny skies and a tailwind and 70 degrees F. Its bittersweet as chandra described the entrance into week two which is bliss, but knowing tomorrow is the last long riding day. I guess that means we need to savor it. That can be done!

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