|Tess at the Palisade Head lookout, trying to keep Jet from running off the edge of the cliff|
Harriet: Take Two
When Tess originally planned the trip, the boys--Brent and Cole--were jealous that we had not asked them to go along, so we invited them to join us for the last week. This time was quickly approaching. We were to meet them on the Saturday before Memorial Day in Silver Bay, Minnesota. Our plan was to stay in a motel in that little town, get back onto the trail the next morning, and hike the last 60 or so miles into Duluth together.
Rain started late into the night on day 12 and continued to the morning. We had contacted Harriet a few days earlier, telling her to pick us up around noon at the Manitou State Park Trailhead so that we could meet the boys on time. Since we had slowed our pace a bit, we were averaging about 13 miles a day instead of 15, and this left us just short of our goal for our original Silver Bay meeting spot. Being unsure of the terrain, we got up early, pulled together our things and hiked out along the river as the sun peeked out of the clouds. All along the shore were big white balls of foam that looked like enormous snowballs. Giddy with sun-kissed warmth, we poked the blobs with our hiking poles to break them up. We were unable to identify where they came from, and they were somewhat gross, but because of our sun-induced inebriation, we thought them funny and fascinating.
We had a difficult and rocky hike but made it to our agreed upon shuttle pick up spot by 11:30 am. Because of this new thing called “sunshine,” the bugs had come to life, and as we sat under some trees, we got eaten alive by mosquitos. Afraid to complain about our new-found warmth and recently-hatched insects, Tess and I passed the time by eating peanut butter out of the jar with a dirty spoon and chewing up the last of our dried mangoes. Jet distracted himself by biting his skin every time a flying pest landed upon him. It was miserable, but we kept saying things like, “The bugs are better than constant rain” even though it really wasn’t true. We also watched some people stuffing their backpacks for a Memorial Day weekend hike, and we marveled at all the things they included in them. Some of their packs were probably 60 pounds! For a weekend! Wow. We tried not to let our superior knowledge affect our views of them or their encumbrances.
When Harriet pulled up in her big white van wearing a Christmas-themed cardigan set, we hopped in her very warm vehicle (she had the heat on) to escape the swarm of bugs. We were tired and ready to get to Silver Bay to meet the guys, but Harriet must have been lonely because she insisted upon driving a few miles opposite of our destination to show us a North Shore landmark called Palisade Head. As she drove her massive vehicle up the winding narrow road (passing a “Large Vehicles Not Allowed” sign), we had a near-miss with a very red, sweaty, and rotund man walking down the road on the rocky shoulder; Harriet muttered, “Not picking him up. He definitely needs more walking.” He probably heard her since I had my window wide open. The heat in the vehicle was unbearable and I was getting sick as we wound our way to the top. I knew she would tell all of her clients about the smelly, older woman who puked in her van if I didn’t control my regurgitation impulses, so I hoped the fresh air and my stripping off most of my clothing would help. It did, and we were soon at the top. Palisade Head was not my favorite place since it was high and had no guard rails and since I am deathly afraid of heights. I was also afraid my dog would bound off of the edge and die. Jet was nervous and kept pulling Tess close to said edges of the canyon, and I kept shrieking at her to get away from them. I was also alarmed at all of the parents who were letting their small children run around unsupervised here. They must not have loved them very much. Harriet noticed my obvious anxiety and suggested we head towards our destination. I was more than happy to leave. Soon we were pulling into the little village of Silver Bay. We had Harriet drop us at a laundromat--a very small laundromat--about the size of a doghouse, but taller. Here, we stripped off most of our remaining clothes (since we had already started the process in her van) and threw them into the washing machine as the water turned a murky black. We then called the boys to see if they had arrived. Since they had just flown in, they were going to drop their stuff at the motel, find some lunch, and bring it to us as we waited for our clothes to get clean. When they arrived with burgers and hot fries, we sat on the dirty floor of the tiny place and ate our lunch while sharing stories of our adventure. Once our clothes were dry and our bellies full, we made our way from the laundromat to our reserved lodging and took hot showers. That night, we ate pizza and M&M’s, then split up to our respective rooms--one room with two beds and one room with one full bed--and got a good night of sleep before heading out in the morning.
Saturday May 27th, 2017 Day 13. Hiked a hard eight miles today, mostly uphill, by 11:30 a.m. and got to trailhead (Manitou) where Harriet picked us up at 12:15 pm. We had her take us to a laundromat in Silver Bay. Boys had already arrived and met us there. We ordered out hamburgers and ate them in the tiny laundromat. They tasted like Heaven itself. After the clothes were done, we all walked to the Mariner where we stayed for the night and took glorious hot showers. The Mariner looks exactly like motels looked when I was a kid, very clean but lost in 1970. I liked it .
The Mariner Motel
Unsure of when and where we would have phone service, I took advantage of our earlier stay in Grand Marais to make reservations (since it would be Memorial Day weekend) at the only lodging in Silver Bay that was pet-friendly and within walking distance of the trail. The place I found was called The Mariner; the advertisement claimed it was “only one mile from the SHT!” Apparently, the proprietor of the Mariner has anger management problems or had recently retired from the mob. Also, he never used plurals. I think his name was Italian, so we will call him Gino. Here is the actual transcript of our phone conversation:
Me: Hi, my family and I will be needing a place to stay for one night on Saturday, May 27th. Do you have any rooms available for that night?
Gino: (very loud, threatening and Italian-sounding) One or two night?
Me: Just one night.
Gino: I said one or two night??
Me: We will just be there one night.
Gino: One night. How many room you need?
Me: We will need two rooms.
Gino: Two room with two bed?
Me: We would like one room with a King and another with two queens.
Gino: No! Full bed only! How many bed you need?
Me: We have four people, so at least three beds.
Gino: Three Bed? How many room you need?
Me: We need two rooms with at least three beds.
Gino: (mumbling under his breath and coughing uncontrollably) Two room, 3 bed?
Me: Yes. Oh, and we have a dog. Will that be extra?
Gino: Why does everyone ask about rate? Pup okay. He bark?
Me: Rarely. Do you have rooms for us for Saturday the 27th?
Gino: What time you be here?
Me: Uhhhhh...I don’t know. We are hiking in, so maybe around 1 pm?
Gino: You will be here at 1 pm?
Me: Hopefully, we are hiking i…
Gino: You not here by 3, no room. I leave. What your name?
Me: Haverkamp. Will you need a credit card number to save our rooms?
Gino: No. (hangs up)
By the end of this exchange, my palms were sweaty and I was traumatized by the abuse of the grumpy manager. I assumed I had reserved at least two rooms and I hoped that each of those rooms contained some sort of bed. Luckily, by the time Tess and I arrived in Silver Bay, the guys had already checked into the motel and dealt with the rude and disheveled man themselves. Apparently, he was hard to tolerate but harmless.
|Looking snazzy at the Mariner|
We woke early the next day and put on clean clothes to begin our hike. We stopped at the only restaurant that would let us eat on their patio--in the rain--since we couldn’t take Jet inside, and we filled ourselves with pancakes, steak and eggs, and omelets. The guys ate excitedly, ready to hit the trail for their first day out, while Tess and I tried to gain enthusiasm for another rainy hike. Thinking that we were “only a mile from the SHT!”, we started out of town quickly, but had to walk...and walk...and walk...a long time before coming upon the trailhead. When we finally found the trail, it led us up a mountain made out of jagged rocks. We climbed up farther and farther until we could see the city below us. I didn’t stop to take in the views though because 1) I am deathly afraid of heights, and 2) I was lagging behind...again! This whole “not being able to keep up” thing was really starting to wear on my psyche, and as my family members gave me “pity claps” by saying things like “You’re doing great!” or “We thought we would wait for you,” I started to feel like the fat kid on the track team. It was not a happy feeling. More on the fat kid in Chapter 10.
|Jet, Cole, and Tess waiting on the bridge for the fat kid|
Sunday, May 28, 2017 Day 14. First day of hiking with the boys. Got up and walked to a restaurant with a patio for a great breakfast. Then we walked at least 2 miles to the trail. Put in about 6 or so miles before lunch and ended up with nearly 15 for the day. Cool and light rain most of the day. I had to hike hard just to keep up with all. Not sure why I’m not in better shape yet. I felt left out this morning hiking by myself, but better in afternoon when we all stuck together.