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Perfect weather for an overnight bicycle camping trip.

Posted Jul 07 2009 9:55pm
I had Monday off. My employer gave us a special treat....a four day holiday weekend. Susan had to work Monday. I took the opportunity to head out for a short bicycle camping trip. My to-do-list is longer than ever lately. I almost didn't go because of it, but whenever I looked at the weather forecast I kept thinking, "How could I not go?" Highs in the low to mid 70's, lows in the low 50's, sunshine, dry with no chance of rain. Doesn't get any better. I loaded up the Long Haul Trucker and headed out around 10:45 am Sunday. The plan was to head north into the area of Minnesota State Forests and The Superior National Forest. I did a few trips into this area last year. This time I tried to find lesser traveled roads like the one above. Only five miles from my house, near the mall, but lesser I said.
I took advantage of these toilets at an athletic field for my first coffee induced pit stop of the day.

Once I get up over the hill from Lake Superior and the hills of Duluth things straighten out quite a bit. Northern Minnesota is one of three things, either forests, bogs and wetlands, or lakes.

My first lake I passed was Fish Lake.

My first stretch of gravel only lasted 1 mile.

One nice thing about overnight camping is the amount of luxuries you can carry when you're using a full set of touring panniers. With my gluten intolerance, eating along the way is out of the questions. I carry all my own food. Energy bars get old really fast. So for the first day I carried real food. I knew there was a nice park on Island Lake about 25 miles into my ride. I packed a nice sit down lunch just for that spot. The Nalgene I filled with water the night before and froze. Buried in the bottom of my pannier, it keeps my food ice cold all day.
Above is the chunk of ice still left in the bottle 9 hours after leaving my house. I added water and had a cool refreshing drink with my dinner.

After the lunch stop I entered the Cloquet Valley State Forest. This is all there is for the next 15 miles, and there would be no services of any kind for the next 30 miles. Trees, lakes, bogs and mile after mile of roadside wildflowers.
Fifteen out of the last 16 miles would be this remote gravel road. It was some nice riding. I'm glad it turned out to be a well maintained road. According to my Minnesota Gazetteer road map book this is a paved road. That map book is never correct. I never believe it until I see it with my own eyes.
A lake along the gravel road.

I had spotted a sign for this campground as I passed by last year. I decided to make this my destination for this trip. I had never stayed at a Minnesota State Forest Campground before. I was pleasantly surprised. It had two small loops with campsites along a the lake. One loop, to my surprise had 5 walk-in sites. I, personally, wouldn't call them hike in sites, but tent sites. I only had to walk about 15 yards from the park road to reach the campsite I stayed in.
It had these old hand pumps that brought up some of the coldest, clearest well water. It was so good. I hadn't drank enough and was well dehydrated by the time I reached the campground. It took four water bottles full of cold well water to get me rehydrated. The dry air combined with a stiff wind apparently sucked all the moisture right out of me. I'm a heavy sweater and I didn't seem to be sweating that much. Most likely I was sweating heavily, it just happened to evaporate very quickly.
A view of Indian Lake from the shoreline by my campsite. It was a small, but picturesque lake.

My campsite.

At sunset the wind died down and it got very calm and quiet. I could hear every paddle stroke of this person in a kayak as he glided by my campsite not long after sunset.

I slept great, as always in a tent. I had a temperature reading of 51 degrees in the morning. The sky was blue and very crisp. A beautiful morning to emerge to from a tent.

I took Route 44 back into Duluth. I rode this road a few times last year. Each time it was nearly deserted. For most of the first 2 hours cars that passed were spaced at least 10 minutes apart.

It went on and on and on. Beautifully wooded, all around.

And like yesterday, the entire roadside was an endless field of wildflowers blooming.

Another lake along the way. I'm not sure the name of this one.

One of hundreds of bogs I passed.

And eventually the long descent back into Duluth begins.

It was a wonderful trip, I'm so glad I decided to go. Mileage was 57 miles for the first day and 50 miles for day two.
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