Jill and John spend Two Lovely Days at the North Shore of Lake Superior

June 17th to June 19th, 2008

Written by John

We were camping with Jerica at Split Rock Lighthouse Campground two years ago when our mission call came, and Julie read it to us over the phone. We haven't been up to the North Shore since then, so after we got our kitchen mostly fixed up, Jill asked, "When are we going up to the North Shore again?" One more little project need to be completed (the Tacoma's brakes) then we were ready to go. So on Monday the 16th of June we packed up the truck. We got up early the next morning and headed north.

We decided to try Gooseberry Falls Campground. We arrived about 10:00 AM and found that there were several sites available. In looking at the map we thought site 61 would be nice, but those camping there had not left yet.  Out of several others available we decided we would try site 69.  Just as we were leaving the office a couple came to the window and said they were vacating site 61.We immediately returned to the window and switched our campsite, and were especially glad we could do so after the couple lauded the merits of site 61 considerably. We felt very blessed that the timing worked out like it did, especially once we got to the campsite and found it to be very beautiful and isolated.

We immediately set about pitching our tent. We recently got a new truck tent that attaches to the truck, giving an extra room and storage area to the tent. After fixing and eating lunch in the hot noon sun, John decided we needed the gazebo to protect us from the hot sun. In the picture at the right smoke from the fire can be seen wafting above the tent. Jill planned chicken, potatoes and carrots for supper. Usually we cook this in the Dutch oven over charcoal, but John decided to try it over the coals from the firewood. Surprisingly, he got it too hot and some of the carrots burned. Nevertheless, the meal was delicious. John continued using coals from the fire and had trouble on subsequent times getting enough heat. Though they brought a bag and a half of charcoal, they didn't use any of it. It will take some more experimenting with coals to consistently get the right amount of heat. John will continue to work on that.

Looking south from our campsite is a beautiful hill as seen on the left. The trail goes up over the hill and down to Lake Superior. At the right Jill is sitting at the top of this hill looking over our campsite. She perhaps thinks she's the queen of the world (at least this portion of the world), but we later found out that we were guests of others that own this area of the world. Read on.

At the right you can  see one of the three presidents of site 61. On the fire pit ring we found the word "MONKEY" written with a burnt stick. Jill guesses it referred to this little chipmunk and should have been spelled Munkey. Another of the presidency was a little red squirrel, and the third was a little groundhog. They were all pretty friendly, and Munkey was coaxed into eating pieces of Dutch oven biscuits from my hand. Click on the picture to see a video of this. After taking the crumb he ran away to safety to eat it. After a while he became a bit more comfortable and stayed right at my hand to chew his morsel.

As far as owning the campsite, on Tuesday afternoon we went to the lake and hiked around a bit. When we returned we found that one of these furry creatures had gotten into our food crate, chewed a hole in a baggie containing rice for one of our meals, and spilled it all over the place. He probably didn't even like it! Fortunately, Jill had brought plenty of food, and left-overs were used for the meal instead.

We didn't bring any ice with us, and when we went to buy some at the office, they were closed. So the next best thing to a refrigerator is Lake Superior. Here Jill is sitting next to the lake with a couple of our leftovers chilling down before being stowed for the night.

I have had a bad heel on my right foot for a few months now. I determined it is probably Plantar Fasciitis from things I've read. One of the treatments for this is soaking your foot in Lake Superior. John found that this superior treatment gave him quite a bit of relief. Actually the treatment is icing the foot, but Lake Superior's cold temperatures (max of 40F along this stretch) does a pretty good job. I am using this little bay to find a temperature a little warmer than the 40F, which is a bit too cold to hold my foot in for the recommended 20 minutes. Notice the hiking stick I'm holding which Jill picked out for me. I found that it helped by relieving a little pressure to my heel. It also gave my triceps a bit of a workout.

With my foot feeling a lot better we were able to go on some hikes around the area. In the map here the campground is in the bottom right. Our first hike took us to the lake just right of the campground then north to the river, on the trail up to the visitors' center and back to the campground. The next day we hiked up to Fifth Falls (top left on map).

Here is a view of the lower falls from the trail along the river. The bridge above the falls includes the highway for traffic and a pedestrian bridge for hikers and bicyclists.

During our hikes we saw lots of flowers. Jill was impressed with the little white flowers. These have four petals; some others had five. There were also lots of wild roses around. Jill likes these and so do the bees, as you can see.

This is a view of the Fifth Falls and the bridge crossing the river just above the falls. We crossed this bridge a little earlier from right to left, having hiked up on the east side, then we returned on the west side of the river.

We also hiked to a cove that our family had been to several times over the past 20 years as we have visited the North Shore. On the left Jill is wondering what happened to the pebble beach that used to be larger. At the right John is pointing to a submerged rock that used to stick out 18 inches or so, and which we used to wade out to then stand atop to find momentary relief from the biting cold water. We found it hard to be here at this cove without our children this time. We have fond memories of this place and sharing it with our children.

On our last night at Gooseberry Falls Jill wanted to see the moon rise on the lake. John miscalculated the time a little and when they got up the hill from their campsite this is what they saw. It was a beautiful sight on the still lake.

It was again a hard thing to leave Lake Superior, but our stay had ended on the 19th. After a breakfast of blueberry pancakes in the Dutch oven, it was time to pack up. The last things are the tent and the tarp, which needed a little time to dry out. The weather had been perfect while we were there: hardly a cloud on Tuesday and Wednesday, and only a few rolling in on Thursday. The days were warm, but the nights were a little cool. What more could you ask for? It was a perfect camping trip. It was hard to leave and go home. We'll be back!