Submitted By: George Peterson
Trip Completed By: George Peterson
Trip Date: 5/20/2018
Disciplines: Bike, Hike/Backpacking
Total Time: 45:39:00
Trip Report: This was a memorable trip as I just finished my last day at my job that Friday at Noon. I had my car all packed with my mountain bike and backpack during my final hours of work and then cruised up the shore. I was starting a new better job on Monday and thought it was a really cool way to celebrate the change. The focus of the trip was to finish the Border Route Trail, a rough wilderness hiking trail located mostly in the BWCA. Since the focus was hiking, I didn’t put much thought into the biking part of it and estimated the bike shuttle part to be about 25 miles. Easy. Well, it was actually pretty hard as it ended up being 42 miles which was pretty taxing with my backpack on my back. Though my pack only weighed 12 pounds, it definitely wore me out. The bike I used was my Specialized Rockhopper 29er. Stopping at the Grand Marais Holiday station for some last minute additional calories proved to be a wise choice. Riding through the forest roads on the edge of the boundary waters was pretty fun. Not too much happening out there other than a lot of people driving to go fishing. I rolled into Clearwater Road and the Daniels Lake Spur Access at dusk. I stashed my bike in the woods and headed in. Camped at the first campsite under some huge white pines.
Next morning I got up and headed towards the Border Route Trail. Found some sweet moose bones on the spur trail which was a cool surprise. It was a foggy and chilly day, and I didn’t have much for clothing other than my rain gear and a thin base layer. Metabolic heat production it is! I pretty much hiked all day without more than a few minute break to stay warm. The trail above Clearwater Lake was really cool with some huge old growth White Pines but the experience was a bit diminished by the fog. As I was hiking I started to realize that the bike in yesterday combined with the cold created a need for more calories. It took a lot of self control not to eat all my food for the following day. I saw a couple dudes fishing on Gogebic Lake and a volunteer work crew that was based out of that campsite. Awesome to see some volunteers out there. I talked with the people fishing for a little bit and started to realize how cold it actually was out as they were basically in winter gear. Kept moving, made it to an intersection of a snowmobile/ATV trail and pitched my tarp for the night.
The next day, I finished the trail, making it back to the Eastern terminus of the BRT/Northern terminus of the SHT. There were a few dicey spots where the trail crossed these grass fields/bog areas and it was a little tricky to stay on course but not that hard. One beaver dam area was really flooded and I waded through ankle deep water for about 100 yards. I checked out 270 degree overlook, that was pretty cool. I was running a noticeable calorie deficit at the end of the trip. Cruised over to Clearwater Rd to pick up my bike and then into Grand Marais for fish and chips at the Angry Trout Cafe.
I’d definitely do this loop again. Shuttles up in the BWCA are prohibitively expensive and it was fun to ride on the forest roads. Riding on the Gunflint Trail was a little sketchy since there is no shoulder but I was pretty cautious. The BRT is an awesome trail. I use the term trail loosely as it is really just a corridor where there are less trees; there is not really any trail tread. A person could easily loop the whole trail–riding on the Gunflint would be the biggest obstacle.
Photos of trip on Instagram @mostlyhiking
Leg 1: Bike 42.29 miles – 4:47:12
Leg 2: Hike 1.56 miles – 40:38
Leg 3: Hike 28.67 miles, 12:45:27
Leg 4: Hike 12.67 miles – 5:55:16