August 10, 2008


After getting my butt whipped at Afton last weekend, I decided that I really needed to test myself on more rugged terrain, similar to what I'll be facing during the Moose Mountain Marathon in (gulp) less than 4 weeks. Didn't have time to go all the way up the Shore, so I decided to try the Duluth section of the Superior Hiking Trail. I'd gotten some great feedback from Andy Holak about the rockiest, rootiest sections of the Duluth trails and headed up for a day trip yesterday. This would give me a chance to test my foot (about 99% healed) on rougher stuff as well as try out my new Nathan hydration vest (reviewed here).

The plan was to park at the Magney Snively trail head, do an out and back to Munger for 8.6 miles, resupply at my aid station (car), then do another out and back to Spirit Mountain to get 15 miles total. Unfortunately, I was late getting out of the Twin Cities and ended up just doing the first half.

The trail here started out to be pretty smooth - several patches of rocks here and there, everything covered in pine needles, gently rolling rather than the steep, rocky, rooty climbs that I associate with SHT. This is actually a really fun little piece of running, and I found myself grinning like a village idiot going through this section. Definately a different flavor compared to the SHT further up the North Shore. There are several overlooks of the canals and city of Duluth. Gradually came out to an exposed section of rock that reminded me of the level loop on top of Oberg Mountain near Lutsen. From here you can see Ely's Peak, which is the photo at the top of the page.

Lots of wild flowers in bloom right now - very pretty run.

Once I got to Ely's Peak, things got much bumpier.

Since this is an exposed section without many trees, the familiar blue blazes are painted on the rocks. Steep rocky climbs (use of hands is highly recommended in places) - this was more what I was looking for!

Unfortunately, this bit was rather short, and about a half mile later the trail popped out on the paved Munger trail for the last 0.4 miles to the Munger parking area. Headed back the way I came and enjoyed the open views once again.

Back into the open woods for my fun running section. I have named this section of the trail "Joyride" because it's just so flippin' fun!

Preceived effort for this run was: easy. All in all, I was hoping for more steep climbs as I think that's my weakest link right now. Ely's Peak definately fills the bill, but it's very short. And the shorter drive to Duluth vs Lutsen/Tofte is still 5 hours round trip (and $30 gas money). I'll probably spend the rest of my training time doing hill repeats out at Afton, Hyland ski hill, or RTA in prep for Moose Mountain.

Even though I didn't accomplish my training goals, I'm not sorry I went up to run this section. It was nice to try a new trail, and to catch yourself smiling while running through the North Woods is a good thing.


keith said...

that all looks very pretty! and it gave me jitters...time to get out on some hills!

Wayne said...

Joyride, grinning like a village idiot... sounds like a great day to me! We are supposed to enjoy this stuff, right? Especially on Sep 6th.