Day 14 - Out of the Woods
I walked 39150 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 16 miles today.
I stepped out of the woods at the Normanna Rd. trailhead around 1:30pm, almost exactly 13 days from my start on Otter Lake Rd. This last morning of hiking dragged on and on and I felt pretty slow. But, I continued on and ran into more Trail Magic once I left the trail. One big thing I learned on this hike is that the world is full of helpful, friendly people and I will assume that is what every person I meet is like until they prove me wrong.
This is me at the final trailhead. I originally planned to hike through Duluth, but the Normanna Rd. to Martin Rd. segment is not open and I could not find the start point for it. Plus, the last 10 miles or so of the Duluth segment is still closed from flooding. So, I'll complete that last part once the trail is officially open next year.
Now, I'm standing at the corner of two dirt roads about 15 miles from town and not really wanting to walk country roads all that way. I also did not know if I'd find more traffic if I headed west or south from where I stood. I had quite awhile to figure out a plan, so I sat down, got out my one blank sheet of paper and my pen and wrote a bit U M D on the sheet. I figured holding that up would help my chances of getting a ride into town. (That's University of Minnesota Duluth)
Just as I finished the sign, a small car drove by and I flagged it down. It was the local mailman and his honda civic was crammed full of letters and packages. I explained I had just hiked from Canada on the SHT and asked him which way I should start walking. He said West would be my best bet. I should hit pavement in about 3 miles. And he drove off in a cloud of dust.
As I folded up my maps and slung on my pack, an SUV towing a trailer with an ATV came by. I figured he was stopping at the trailhead since it is also an access point to the multi-use North Shore Trail. He stopped and asked if I needed a ride so I explained my situation again. He was heading north but could take me to the intersection a couple miles West where the pavement starts. Cool!
A few minutes later, I was out on the side of the road again. I attached my quaint UMD sign, hefted my pack and didn't even get to stick my thumb out when a big, silver pick-up stopped (heading south) and asked if I needed a ride. Oh Yes! Threw my pack in the back, hopped in, and gave my story again as we drove away. He could take me a few miles but had to pick up his kids at day care.
As we talked, I guess Neil figured I was an OK guy because when we stopped to get his kids, he said they could sit in the back of the king cab and he'd take me in to town. No way!
So, less than an hour from hitting the trailhead, and without even getting to stick my thumb out, I was in my car driving home. Can you believe that? They talk about "Minnesota Nice" but really? I was home and showered before the time I had expected to be walking into Duluth.
Oh, anyone want some left over poptarts, Snickers, or trail mix? :-)
Posted: 22:19 09-28-2012 916
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