Meandering Along the Superior Hiking Trail
By James Egan
To paraphrase Hemingway, abstract words such as beauty, peace, freedom or spiritual are meaningless to me beside the concrete names of places, such as Farquhar Peak, the names of roads, such as Otter Lake Road, North Road, or County Road 69, the names of rivers like Swamp River, or dates (September 25th).
Or the names of two campsites on the Superior Hiking Trail: North Carlson Creek campsite and Woodland Caribou Pond campsite, both situated on the SHT between the Arrowhead Trail and Jackson Lake Road, Hovland, Cook County, Minnesota.
Stone Harbor volunteers twice annually to do maintenance checks and reports for these two campsites, each May and September. Maintenance checks involve documenting and photographing conditions of the fire area, benches, tent landings, and signage; noting the status of the latrine structure and level of human waste; considering any woody debris that might need to be removed. Our reports are then entered on the SHT Website and uploaded to those good people.
We hiked into the campsites, my Brittany spaniel (Foxy) and I. And following a number of rainy, wet and cool days, the mushrooms were out.
One may, to paraphrase Euell Gibbons, stalk the wild mushroom as a forager, or, like me, just to name them. For me, so far, it seems an insurmountable task.
But consider the easier flora of our North Shore of Lake Superior, knowledge of which we all can acquire in just days or months or two seasons. On the SHT we see the yellowing wild sarsaparilla and honeysuckle, the mountain ash with its orange berries, oranging moose and sugar maples, speckled alder and beaked hazelnut, big-leafed aster of blue and white flowers, quaking aspen and poplars, paper birch, balsam fir, white and black spruce, blueberry, and raspberry.
There were as many different mushrooms. But I cannot name nearly as many. There are varieties of agaric and amanita, turkey tails, russulas, maybe winecaps, maybe oyster mushrooms. There were not any lobsters, nor any new chanterelles.
Of the fauna, there was one red squirrel, and four (!) singles of ruffed grouse flushed, but we won’t get into that here.