Larry Rode was not able to make the planned overnight excursion so Steve Quick and I made the mad dash with the veteran driver Shelley to the Superior Hiking Trail at 5:30 PM Friday. We thought our driver was doing a great job making the trip short when Helen Lavin cruised by our speeding vehicle just before Two Harbors. I guess even in the car she is FAST….
Now that the fun and lighthearted portion of the trip was nearing an end, Steve and I started to get serious about our overnight run. I took off one of my shoes to lube up the feet and WOW, was the smell atrocious. I was as shocked as was the rest of the vehicle but it was a good thing as there is no way we would get tired. I would compare it to having smelling salt in the car. I think they were so happy when I put the shoes back on?
We drove to Crosby and Finland where we dropped off supplies. Our expert support crew was going to sleep in the car and meet us at Sugarloaf where we would refuel before continuing to County Road 1. This would accomplish two goals: 35 miles and attack what I consider to be the section from hell, Crosby Manitou to Sugarloaf.
We started our cruise around the hills starting at 42 miles (City Road 6) about 10:00 PM. I had told Steve the story about the guy getting DQ’d due to the error made in that segment and he missed the aid station. I told him I remembered we had a left turn to get to the Finland Recreation Center so he trusted me, and we watched the left side of the trail with great interest to assure we would not miss that turn.
Well with about 1 mile left in the 7.5 miles run first stage, we were running on what I think was the snowmobile trail and all of a sudden, the grass was getting taller, light rain had moistened the ground and our feet were getting wet. We both discussed how we must have missed the turn but I was so sure it was on the left, so we continued on. Walked into the back yard of a home, flashed out lights all over the place. We were just not sure but I convinced the cautious Steve to keep going.
We found the trail was completely washed out and we had to make a four-foot leap in the night to continue onward. After we were now registering 10 miles on the Garmin, I admitted I was really wrong. Steve was great about it. We came to a road and decided to run on the road. Steve noticed the sign we saw 6 miles pervious, which said Finland Aid Station 3.2 miles. What the hell! We had just run in a 6-mile circle. This time we were very cautious and found the right path, only 13.5 miles later… Great start on my part.
We fortunately were able to leave that issue behind and proceeded on out journey. I have no clue when or where Steve went down, but he can share that story… This was now 2:00 AM; well over 90 minutes passed what we thought. Bummer… The rest of the run until daybreak was filled with noises, questioning each other where we should be going. We somehow totally blew by the Sonju Lake Road Aid station and ended up at Crosby at sun-up.
Now Steve had heard from so many that this was the Section that makes all others look simple. The downhill’s were difficult, but Steve was like a maniac on the uphill. I think we had him so scared and prepared, he made it look simple. He just cruised while I was on fours at some locations. I bitched, he attacked, I bitched some more, and he just attacked more. The rest of the run was me trying like hell to remotely keep him in sight on the uphill’s and he looking back on the downhill’s to see if the freight train was going to run him over.
One thing we both experience was horse flies, like hornets circling our heads. As we ran, we reached up and swatted them dead. I think I killed 20 or so. Steve killed many more. Well, just over 12 hours from our start we reached Sugarloaf, but as opposed to continuing to County Road #1, we stopper. It was 35 miles due to the Londell gets lost experience.
All in all, it was a very solid run. I felt it was an asset to prepare me for the race, and if Steve had not accepted my offer, I would not have gone. It was a hoot… Well, with all the owls, wolves and other creatures we encountered as well as navigation challenges made the night a challenge, but I would do it again in an instant. Familiarity on this trail will enhance the opportunities for success.
Until next time, Carry On!