Day 8: willow river to two harbors, mn

80 miles – 524 total miles

We awoke to the buzz of mosquitoes in a grassy and dewey campsite but hearing the sound of frogs and crickets made it a little bit sane. We got a reasonably early start and it was a great relief to be rejoining the path for a mellow cruise into Duluth.

Not only did we rejoin the path, but under a cool hazy sky we enjoyed a tailwind push the whole 50 miles into Duluth. We made a couple short stops to stretch and eat enough to keep rolling but we set our sights on lunch in Duluth.

The path remains gorgeous (and slightly downhill!) all the way in. Some cutouts through rock sections led to a bridge over a raging stream near Jay Cooke state park. We watched swirling bubbles 80 feet below us and enjoyed a break before the final push into town.

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We got in touch with my folks who we planned to meet to spend our rest day with in a cabin on the shore and found they were still pretty far south. So we found a Norwegian cafe–takk de maten (or something like that) and had sandwiched, coffee, and peach-lingonberry pie. So good!

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We hung out there for a while to dry out since a little squall had hit us with hard rain for about 5 minutes on the way in. We connected by phone with my folks and learned we would all arrive at the cabin near Two Harbors at around the same time. For the 20 mile push we took off across downtown Duluth and could feel the much cooler air the whole way. This is being by the big lake Chandra said. Indeed!

We eventually arrived on a road small enough and close enough to our destination that we were sure to see my mom and dad on the road. Every car that passed we wondered if it was them. We eventually heard a festive honk and knew it was them! A quick reunion in a pullout and we all made our way to the cabin.

Mom made a great feast of eggplant Parmesan and we cooled our heels on the deck overlooking Lake Superior before making a campfire on the rocks, a Scotch whiskey toast and finally rest for the night.

It’s not yet our final destination here, but it is an important milestone being on Lake Superior and meeting up with my parents. There’s something really great feeling when leaving our front door under our own power and arriving 500 miles away in another world – the north woods and the great inland sea. The next few days along the shore are the reward for the work so far. I couldn’t feel better!!

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As I write this on the morning of our rest day, I’m sitting on a deck – 10 meters from the lake. The morning light is playing out over the water and the 90 degree heat of two days ago has given way to puffy jacket and a wool cap. I hear the cry of a loon immediately followed by an eagle swooping down just out on the point scaring away a posse of crows. The loon called a few more times and then rode the wind driven current out into the water. Now it’s drifting – a speck out in the sea and I turn my attention to another rest day.

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