I have started a bit of an Independence Day tradition. Since my husband works every 4th of July (the trade-off is he gets every Christmas off), I have most of the day to myself, and since the weather is usually gloriously sunny, I like to spend my day outside. Last year I did yard work – no fun, though necessary – but the year before that and this year I decided to go up north and hike the North Shore of Lake Superior.
This year I took my pup and headed to Beaver Bay, MN to hike the Cove Point Loop of the Superior Hiking Trail. It’s 5.5 miles and has a gain of 753 feet.
I expected to be done with this hike in about 2 hours but the steep slope and unexpected ruggedness slowed me quite a bit and in total, including a 20 minute rest, it took me 3.5 hours. The first (and last) couple of miles were wet and full of mosquitoes. The trail had become overgrown in many places and it became clear that this must not be a very popular route, beautiful though it was.
Nearer the top of the ridge, the land dried out, the trail cleared a bit, and the mosquitoes lessened. The route became a bit steeper and more rocky, though, and at one point we came upon a very steep, narrow, rocky “path” which we had to take with great care to get down safely. It was an arduous hike, mostly because I hadn’t expected it – this loop is named after a resort, after all – and we had to stop before we reached the halfway mark to rest for about 20 minutes. As soon as my pup had drunk his fill of water and stopped panting, we set out again.
I was beginning to regret my route choice because of how much longer it was taking than I had expected and because of the mosquitoes, but after our rest we soon reached the top of the ridge and suddenly, the work and mosquitoes became worth it.
We spent some extra time staring at the view, thanking God for it, and catching our breath. The light was beginning to fade, though, and clouds were rolling in so we didn’t linger too long. We made our way back down the hill, completed the loop and arrived back at the car just as it started to rain.
To get to the Cove Point Loop trailhead from Duluth, head north on Highway 61 (take the Expressway between Duluth and Two Harbors for a faster drive, Old Highway 61 for a scenic but frustratingly slow drive) for about 50 miles and look for the signs pointing to Cove Point Lodge. Turn right and go down the hill. Keep an eye out for the Superior Hiking Trail sign on the right. You’ll find a parking lot just beyond that sign on the left. You can view a map of the route at MapMyWalk.com.
Oh, and you may have noticed my puppy’s stylish pack. On long hikes I can’t carry enough water for the both of us so I decided to get him a pack so he could carry his own water. I carry a backpack with most of the water (plus a first aid kit, mosquito repellent, extra socks, snacks, flashlight, etc), and this time he carried 4 bottles of water (2 on each side), which he didn’t seem to notice at all. I picked up this pack at A Place For Fido in the Fitger’s complex in Duluth. It wasn’t cheap ($50), but it was worth it for the peace of mind in knowing that we definitely will have enough water for our trip, plus I got to feel good about spending the extra dollars at a local shop instead of getting it from Amazon. Yay, I’m a good person! The pack itself Velcros to the harness so when taking breaks you can just rip off the pack and leave the harness alone. The size Large fit him quite nicely (55lbs, 28 inches around the chest, 9.5 inches between front and back legs). My only critique is that it would be nice if the harness had mesh walls to allow cooling air through, but that would probably mess with the structural integrity of the pack and make it uncomfortable in other ways, so I’m not complaining too loudly.
I also picked up mosquito repellent wipes from Pet Naturals of Vermont for him (also purchased at A Place for Fido). The “big words” on the container are flea and tick but against ticks it was ineffective – then again, so was the Frontline application we gave him 2 weeks ago – and he ended up with 7 ticks. BUT the wipes worked really well against the mosquitoes. Some landed and bit him, but for the most part they just hovered. The wipes, while not 100% effective against mosquitoes, definitely helped and I’ll be using them from now on. The active ingredients are lemongrass oil, cinnamon oil, sesame oil and castor oil. Inert ingredients are listed as purified water, vitamin E acetate and polysorbate 20. The container says to re-apply every 2-3 days but in reality I had to re-apply it once every hour. For his coat I only needed one wipe (and if I was being super frugal I could probably have stored the one wipe in a zip-lock baggie and re-used it each time but good grief… it’s a wipe) and the container has 45 wipes in it so for $15 I get at least 45 hours worth of nearly-mosquito-free hiking for my dog. To me it’s worth it.
I was not paid for any of these endorsements. I just really liked the products!
And as always, people, please leave your dog on-leash. Dear Fluffy does not need freedom from a leash as much as he/she needs you to watch his/her back. Whenever a dog does something regrettable, the owner is always heard to say, “I just don’t understand. Fluffy NEVER does that.”