Lots of Water & Frozen Booties: My Weekend Up North

What an awesome weekend!

In true family fashion though I think we overdid it a bit. We were an active bunch and by the time we return home last night we were all exhausted.  But I think that means we had a great getaway.

Over this Labor Day weekend we headed north of our home to the beautiful and crowded North Shore of Lake Superior.

The days were beautiful, mostly sunny there was one day where we experienced a bit of rain which happened when we were in the shower with certain important items left out which got wet the night before the temps dropped to the coldest they had been all weekend. (38 degrees we heard). Awesome.

The last day of the trip I woke up to the cold slap of crisp winter air right in the face and then buried myself in my bag confessing that I wasn’t getting out of that bag until I saw that the sun was out and the chance for heat was possible. Not but 20 min later the sun rose over the trees on the east side of the lake and illuminated the inside of the tent. This caused my to pen a letter to the sun.

Dear Sun,

I hate you for waking me up and for getting me out of a warm sleeping bag and into the cold morning air. Thank for nothing.

Screw You,

The Bionic Hiker

I have yet to recieve a delivery confirmation let alone a reply. Balls in the sun’s court.

All-in-all the weekend was terrific. We got out on two hikes. Both next to water features which lead me to write this post. I live in Minnesota which is known as the land of 10,000 lakes. We actually have more lakes then that but to publicly admit that every time borders on being outright arrogant and no state wants to be called arrogant (hint hint Texas).

We have so many water features here in lakes, ponds, streams and rivers (Mississippi and the St. Croix just to names a few of the larger ones) yet with all of this water we still find ourselves fascinated by Lake Superior. Granted it is the world’s largest freshwater lake. It’s like a poor man’s ocean for the land locked Midwest, but still with all the lakes we still find it fascinating.

The water is as cold as it gets. A sign I read said 40-50 degrees. Yet we’ll fish it, boat it, swim it, and kayak it (The last one I’m very eager to try) and yet it still never ceases to amaze when we’re up there.

The weekend though was not without incident. There was the hard rain that showed up all-of-a-sudden when we were in the shower for 15min. Soaked our gear.

There was my wife who kept threatening our son with death if he didn’t mind and behave on the trail.

“If you get too close to this edge you could fall over and die”

“This river could sweep you away and you could die”

“You could fall off this rock if you don’t pay attention and you could die”

“If you chase that squirrel one more time he’s going to get his squirrel family to snatch you out of your bag in the middle of the night and take you away to their squirrel hideout and sacrifice you to their squirrel god Squiggles…..and then you’ll be dead.”

She’s a was licensed social worker ladies and gents….. go figure. My wife everyday becoming more and more like me, scary. Given the rate of death’s at Yosemite National Park we’ll be avoiding that place for awhile.

Later she admitted she was trying to be a a good mom and she might have went a bit over board. We did though have to go home and burn the squirrel bed sheets and comforter he had on his bed.

I was surprised that my body handled all the stress since I didn’t bring all of my adaptive gear and I was my family’s pack mule for most of the hikes. Luckily my son can hike about 4 miles a day before his little legs say “forget this mess” and quit on him so that was my saving grace.

We did though hit a few waterfalls that required about 100 steep stairs down to the falls and of course you had to climb those back up. My knees stopped, looked at me and said “This is a real sick joke man!” They haven’t talked to me since.

Luckily though with a bot of scrambling and seeing my son climbing on the rocks (AND NOT DYING! IT’S A MIRACLE!) my wife is now open to the idea of trying rock climbing. This and getting to see some climbers on Palisade Head has sparked her interest. I of course will plow head first into this and get her on The Pinnacle at REI or the Climbing Cave at Midwest Mountaineering as soon as I can. Must strike while the iron is hot.

I must give my wife credit. She saved me from a miserable night’s rest. I’m going to review them, but for the sake of the story try to follow along. I bought us Big Agnes Sand Mountain sleeping pads to replace the giant air mattress we used to have and to double as backpacking gear. Given my SCI (spinal cord injury) sleeping is a big issue for me since I toss and turn often because of the pressure points. The first night I slept on the pad I rolled myself off about four times and managed to flip the bag 180 degrees so the top was underneath me and the hood was covering my face. It didn’t help that the pad was mummy shaped to shave size and weight.

Yea……that sucked.

I woke up several times on the cold ground flipped in my bag with little insulation and no cushioning. This did not bode well for me. Luckily the second night I had a little better luck but still managed to make my way off the pad. The Solution? Via my wife I put the pad inside the bag and slept on it.


Not only did I have cushioning all night but it kept my bag from flipping on me and allowed me the best night’s sleep the whole time. Come to find out that Big Agnes sleeping bags have a sleeve to put their pads in…….I’m getting those SOON!

In the end it was a great time which I’ll be writing about for awhile. Gear reviews to come from the perspective of a disabled person. My viewpoints on the parks I visited and vacation and hiking tips and tricks for taking along the little ones that’ll help keep you from pushing them over the edge on the gorge or toss them into the lake. Which of course if that happens……THEY WILL DIE. I’m sure no one wants that…….your pause in response speaks volumes.

Until next time, keep on hiking.

Categories: Camping, Family Vacation, Hiking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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