HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
October 2, 2006, Herald Journal

A north shore hike to remember


In early September, my family took our annual trip to the north shore of this wonderful state.

This is our favorite vacation spot. It’s not too far of a drive, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, especially if you camp, and it’s beautiful.

The scenery on the way is never boring. Soon after leaving the north metro, the hardwood forests begin. Upon arrival in Duluth, the scenery changes dramatically and can really calm the spirit.

This year, we camped at Temperance River State Park Campground. The campground is located right on Lake Superior and has unique character.

There’s an upper and lower campground that are connected only by a bridge because the Temperance River separates the two grounds.

The upper campground hosts the nice restrooms and shower facility, and offers electrical hook-ups, while the lower campground has more ‘rustic’ facilities and no electrical hook-ups. Campers at either campground can use any of the facilities.

We are tent campers. We like to be as granola-ish as possible in the few, short days that we camp, so we chose the lower campground. My husband probably would not like to be considered in the granola-ish category, so strike the “we” part.

One evening, we read a brochure about taking a hike from our campground to Carlton Peak. I estimated, with the help of a very small legend and ruler, that the hike would be about two miles one way.

The brochure said that this is a “moderate” hike and continuation on the trail past Carlton Peak would be more difficult in some areas. So we figured, why not just go to Carlton Peak and come back?

The next morning, we (my husband, our boys, and myself) set out at 9 a.m. We took our time as the trail paralleled Temperance River, and often would break from the trail to get up close and personal with the river.

After about one mile, the trail departs from the river, and is now mostly a path through the forest. This is where the boys started to get a little bored.

However, the deeper we go into the forest, the more interesting sights we saw. We pushed on and as we walked we were constantly being passed by marathon runners. Yes, marathon runners, running through the forest in the same direction we are travelling.

By now, we are encountering some steep terrain and the runners are running up these rocky outcrops like nothing. We, on the other hand, are stopping to rest or drink quite often.

There is quite a bit I’d like to divulge about those runners, and will do so in a future column.

Meanwhile, we are way more than two miles into our hike, and still haven’t seen any sign that we’ve reached Carlton Peak, although we seem to be on a peak.

At this point, my husband is questioning my mileage estimate of the hike. All of us are getting winded. We decide to walk for one more minute, and if we don’t see any signage of our destination, we will turn back.

Our one minute had almost passed when a huge rock wall came into view. We looked at each other in disgust and delight. We decided that the top of the rock wall must be Carlton Peak.

There was picnic table at the base of the rock wall, so as a family, we decided to eat the lunch we had packed, and then make the final ascension. We felt we had come this far, why not finish?

After lunch, we began the climb to the summit. We were delighted to see rock climbers in action, descending from the peak. We continued on the trail and saw the signage we had been waiting for, a sign that reads, “to summit,” with an arrow.

We climbed to the top of the summit, and were immediately gratified with the view. The boys thought it was awesome. All of us were so glad that we stuck that last mile out, and reached our goal.

We snapped some great pictures, rested for a bit, and began our hike back to camp. My husband and I were so proud of our two boys, who really stuck it out. You could see the look of accomplishment on their faces.

Upon returning to camp, we asked the park office how far they estimated the trip to be from the lower campground to Carlton Peak, and they estimated a little more than three miles one way. Oops, I guess I won’t be in charge of estimating our future hikes!


When one of my boys was about three years old, we were driving in the metro area, and it was cold. All of a sudden I heard his little voice say, “Look, there’s a cloud factory!”

I immediately knew he was talking about the exhaust coming out of an industrial building. To this day, both boys still say this whenever we pass any building that is emitting smoke or exhaust.