HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
October 9, 2006, Herald Journal

A great hike, part two

By JENNIFER GALLUS

In last week’s column, I alluded to the fact that as my family and I were hiking in the Temperance River State Park area, we often came in contact with several marathon runners.

We were in northern Minnesota on the Superior Hiking Trail in the section from Temperance River State Park to Carlton Peak.

Very often, we were passed by runners who were obviously in a race, as judged by the large numbers pinned on the front and back of their shirts.

At first, we didn’t think much of it, but the further we went on the trail, the more runners we encountered.

They were travelling in the same direction as we were, and with two young, talkative boys on a narrow trail, we didn’t always hear them approaching until they were almost tripping over us.

It wasn’t always a well-orchestrated merge to the side to make way for the runners, either.

Soon, we all were paranoid about getting trampled by runners, and would often look back to see if runners were approaching. We perfected our detecting and merging skills by yelling, “runners,” and quickly moving to the side.

Hiking on the trail was mostly pleasurable, but not when we approached the steeper sections.

The runners, on the other hand, were easily running up the steep, rocky outcrops like it was nothing. They not only made it look easy, but they were jolly folk, to boot!

Almost all of them greeted us, thanked us for moving over, and asked how WE were doing! About 98 percent of the runners had smiles on their faces and many of them said, “Great day for a hike, huh?”

So, finally, I asked a passing runner how far they were going. He replied, “26.” I said, “Oh, wow!” Then, as he was out of earshot, I asked my husband if that meant 26 miles, and he said, “Yep!” We broke out laughing.

Really, as if running a marathon on good ground wasn’t hard enough, these people were running through the forest! Not only on a narrow, rocky path, but also up and down Minnesota-type mountains!

Later, on the path, more talkative runners told us that there were three races occurring simultaneously. One race was a 26-mile run, one was a 50-mile run, and one race was a 100-mile trail run!

This amazed us and we decided it must just be a way of life.

When we were on the summit of Carlton Peak and viewing the vast forest below, the canopy created by the trees completely covered up any sign that there were people running or hiking through the forest, yet they were.

After we returned home from our trip, I did a little research on the marathon. I found all the information I was looking for online at http://mysite.verizon.net/ultrabob/STRaces.

The 26-mile run was called the Moose Mountain Marathon. According to the website, this was a point-to-point run that started at the Cook County Road 1 trailhead on the Superior Hiking Trail, and finished near Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen.

The 50-mile run was called the Superior Trail 50-Mile Trail Run and was an out-and-back run that started and ended near the Caribou Highlands Lodge, stated the website.

The 100-mile run was called the Superior Sawtooth 100-Mile Trail Run. According to the website, this was a point-to-point, 100 percent trail run, which started at the Gooseberry Falls State Park Visitors’ Center, and finished near Caribou Lodge in Lutsen.

I find this fascinating. The Superior Hiking Trail is described as a 205-mile -ong foot path that follows the rocky ridge line above Lake Superior, as stated on the hiking trail’s website http://shta.org.

Just hiking the trail at a comfortable pace can be challenging enough, I can’t imagine running it.

Of course, I’m the most out-of-shape member of my family, and it took two or three days for my legs to quit aching. Then, to add insult to injury, I read on the hiking trail website that, “The hike to Carlton Peak is an easy ascent, and the scramble to the top of the peak is a fun adventure with ample rewards of incredible views.”

Now, I know the ascent wasn’t incredibly hard because my two young boys were able to climb it, but I wouldn’t call it easy. And the scramble to the top felt more like five hours on a stair climber (even though it took us about 20 minutes).

The quote that I think sums up the mentality of these forest-running enthusiasts comes from another talkative runner, who said, “I’m doing great, I see the light at the end of the tunnel! I’m 36 miles into it and only have 14 left!”

Kid-isms

The boys were playing outside when they were about 3 and 4 years old, and it was getting cold. I wanted to go in the house, and I told them that they needed to come in with me because I couldn’t leave them out there without someone watching them. Then Joe Jr. said, “You can go in, Mom, Jesus is watching us!”