...or how the Polka Dot Jersey still evades these Rail-trail riders.
Here on the North Shore of Lake Superior just a daytripper's hop from Duluth are two of the most visited sites in the North Country. Gooseberry Falls State Park has the most trampled set of waterfalls we have ever seen and, despite some hefty entrance fees, the beautiful Split Rock Lighthouse on a sunny weekend compares with any overcrowed NP visitor center for sheer volume of flip-flopped humanity.
Lacing these two attractions together is one completed section of the stunning PAVED Gitchi-Gami trail. The trail sometimes follows along hwy 61 (climbing over the hills that the roadway cuts through) but often swings to the brink of the bluffs with views of the lake and cool updrafts.
Yes, we ride up here; the Winnebagos ride through the cut...
WAIT! There are HILLS? Was I consulted on this?
After laying about for two days during a Minnesota heat wave, we saddled up this morning and rode through a gap in the rain shield that was passing over. The grades did not LOOK bad, but we were toast even on the gradual ones. Pressing doggedly onward and stopping frequently to pant, we couldn't help dreading the downhills that would become climbs on the return. It didn't get better as we decended the col d' Split Rock which actually has a switchback!) and rested at the Trail Center in Split Rock State Park. We dragged ourselves out on the lava flow with snacks and drank in the views.
|Split Rock Light, the most visited in the US|
We don't need your stinking $9 tour badges. We can see just fine from here.
Cool mist coming.
The climb up the col was testy until we got the Granny Gear adjusted, but then, on the second leg of the switchback, a MIRACLE. That fierce headwind that plagued us all the way out paid back. We flew, our spirits soared and victory was ours.
We braked for features we missed going out...
A couple of long climbs in the sun and we were back across the Gooseberry River cooling in the breezes at the top of the "Castle". We knew it was all downhill to our campsite from here. We celebrated with calls to Grandgirls and the last snacks.
Soo, a lot of drama for a couple septuagenarian flatlanders. We probably won't be getting any Polka Dot Jerseys for our modest hill climbing, but we are less afraid to stray off the flat and level; We feel a bit better prepared for our annual assault on the Acadia Carriage Trails. We think this deserves a little pie.