we are leaving in a few hours to head up the north shore. we'll drive to duluth, spend some time with some old friends, go down to the Lakewalk to visit the spirit of my father, and then hit Highway 61 when there's still plenty of daylight. we are headed to a cabin on Caribou Lake, five miles up the Caribou Trail from Lutsen. you can keep track of our weather on the sidebar.
at silver bay, we'll stop at Zup's, as we always do, for the happiest grocery shopping trip of the year. bread and peanut butter and raisins for the trail, spaghetti for dinner, smoked fish and cheese... we'll get to the cabin by nightfall.
i wrote the following post in april. i'm pretty sure none of you knew me in april, so you might not mind a rerun. it's about last september's trip. with any luck at all, this year's will be a carbon copy.
LIFE THE WAY RILEY WAS MEANT TO LIVE IT
we went up north a little earlier than usual last september. the cabin we normally rent was booked, so we poked around on the web and found a private cabin on caribou lake. i was dubious about not staying right on lake superior, but we booked it for a week.
once there, we realized that this is the way a dog should live all the time. us, too.
every morning, i slid my bare feet into my hiking boots and, still in my pajamas, walked down to the dock with a mug of coffee to watch the sun come up. the dogs went with me. every morning, we watched the eagles fly in from wherever they had slept and position themselves in the tops of the pine trees that rimmed the lake.
every morning riley and boscoe snuffled and sniffed in the tall dew-wet grass, and chased unseen chipmunks, and peed with abandon on anything they wanted to pee on.
we didn't have to worry about neighbors--there were a few cabins along our private road, but almost nobody was around. we didn't have to worry about traffic. the only thing we really had to worry about was riley seeing a deer and taking off. we were lucky; we saw dozens of deer that week, but always when we were in the car.
after the morning pee and a hearty breakfast, the dogs napped and we read. by mid-morning, they were awake and staring at us: hiking time.
this was the best part of the day. we drove to a trailhead and opened the Jeep door. the dogs leaped out, pell-mell, racing, marking, sniffing, checking to see who else had been here, and then we all set off down the trail. some days it was raining. some days were glorious gold-and-blue autumn days. some days were overcast and spitting a cold drizzle. it didn't make any difference to any of us. the steady trod-trod-trod along the soft trail unkinked my mind and loosened up my shoulders. i love the rhythm of the hike.
i could hear bluejays calling, and squirrels chattering, and sometimes i could hear the drip of rain on my hood, or the crunch of dead leaves underfoot, and every now and then i'd hear a tremendous crashing through the underbrush as one of the dogs zoomed by, always at top speed.
one day we hiked to Jackson Lake along miles of rough, up-and-down trail. so few people had hiked here that sometimes the trail was nothing more than a boot-wide path through the underbrush. eventually, we came out on a narrow dirt road. in the distance we could hear the barks and howls of a musher's kennel back in the woods.
we followed the road for a mile or so, and then the trail cut back into the woods, circling a small beaver pond. there were trees down across the trail, and more that were ready to fall--we could see the chew marks from the beavers that were working them.
we picked out a toppled tree to sit on, and opened our packs.
the dogs loved lunch time; they almost always got the end of a peanut butter sandwich and sometimes they got a fistful of raisins. i don't know if dogs can digest raisins; i only know that they like them. and when they're pooping deep in the woods and i don't have to clean it up in a prissy little sack and carry it to a city trash can, i worry much less about them eating things they shouldn't.
after lunch, we headed back, plodding back up that steep dirt road. that mile was endless. all i could think about was getting back on the trail, getting these last four and a half miles behind me and collapsing on the couch back at the cabin.
WHHHOOOOOSH riley crashed out of the underbrush from somewhere. he raced past me, raced up the road past doug, raced into the woods, turned and raced back, and then stopped. he lowered his front legs and his head and raised his butt in a classic play bow.
we had hiked more than five miles on a very cold and clammy day, riley and boscoe had covered the ground at pretty much a dead run, going who knows how many extra miles, we still had another four miles to go, and all riley wanted to do was play.
sugar sugar sugar CRASH!
6 minutes ago