Sunday, March 11, 2012

Eagle Mountain

Yay for vacations!  We spent almost a week in the north woods recharging.  Noah is such a great traveler - he is so laid back when we're out of the city (I think we are too).  We stayed at a cabin named Myr in the Lutsen area (check it out at  It was just a short ways from Eagle Mountain, which has been on Brian's to-do list for quite awhile.  So we took the knee deep snow opportunity and went for it!
Noah bundled up ready to go, making crazy faces!
Clean your boots??  Funny sign at the trailhead.
We packed a lunch and lots of snacks right away in the morning and headed out to the Eagle Mountain trailhead about 8 snowy gravel road miles away.  Sandwiches, apples, granola bars, cookies, raisins, jelly beans, more granola bars, one pouch of fruit snacks and a packet of animal crackers.  We also packed a spare outfit for Noah realizing that he could have a need to pee in too short of time to get the layers of snowpants off. We have previously heard that the trail is about 7 miles round trip.  Noah would hike some and sled some.  We had our snowshoes.  It was a known possibility that Noah and I wouldn't go all the way to the top due to speed and attention span.  I carried the backpack of lunch, while Brian pulled the sled.  When Noah hikes, it's sloooow going.  We tried singing marching songs and talking about eating special treats once we made it so far.  Mom and Dad are much happier when he's in the sled, except that he's quite heavy to pull.  We need to set up the sled with a better harness and tubes rather than just a string.  We don't carry a clock or anything like that when we hike, so all we really know about time on the trail is that we left the car around 9:00 am and if we average 1 mph for the 7 miles, we'll do fine.
We're off!  Down the trail we go!
The best snowmen are the ones nature makes.
We decide to stop for lunch in a sunny spot where the Brule Lake Trail splits from the Eagle Mountain trail.  I passed out sandwiches and packed up a sling pack for Brian.  I wasn't able to keep up with Brian by then and the pace of our progress had me convinced that if we were going to make it back to the car in one piece, it was time for 2 of us to head back.  The good news was that it was quite warm and sunny for being a winter day - 26 degrees at the cabin in the morning.  Noah's camouflage snowpants were looking quite wet as well as his mittens.  Why didn't I think to bring multiple sets of outerwear?!?  Shortly after we split up, Noah and I stopped in another sunny spot to eat apples.  His hands were getting cold, so I put one of my pairs of gloves over top of his mittens.  It worked.
We made it to the lake!  That hill is not Eagle Mountain, it's to the left.
Vista from the top.
Brian celebrating that he made it!
We kept going for a little ways again and the snow had warmed to the point where it started clogging up on my snowshoes.  I felt like I was walking on top of volleyballs and my legs were getting pretty sore.  We stopped and I removed the snowshoes.  They were annoying to carry, but my legs felt much better to have them off. The trail was plenty well packed for big boots.  We just had to be sure to stay on the trail!  Noah mostly rode in the sled for me.  It wasn't too long, maybe 3/4 mile, when we heard a wolf howling.  Brian had caught up!  He made it to the summit and all the way back down the trail to us.  He was also carrying his snowshoes.  We traded - he got the sled, I got 2 pair of snowshoes - and off we went again.  We both had our coats wide open and our gloves off by this time.  Noah walked for a little ways, then started complaining about his toes.  We settled him into the sled, stripped off his boots and damp socks, and set him up with a dry pair of "crazy face" socks and Brian's gloves over top.  We teased him about being a monkey with his monkey hands and feet (since he had an adult pair of gloves over each).  He thought that was fun and talked non-stop about monkeys the rest of the way to the car.  I started to recognize a few things along the trail and kept thinking that the parking lot had to be just around the next bend or over the next hill.  Finally, it was!  We reviewed the map at the trailhead.  It looked a lot more like a 5 mile round trip on the map than 7 miles. My legs felt like lead and my shoulders were burning from carrying the backpack, snowshoes, and, on occasion, Noah.  We got into the car, ate the rest of the cookies, saw 37 degrees on the thermometer, and drove back to our cabin to collapse.  We were quite surprised to see that it was only 1:30!  Wonder how early we ate lunch?!  Back at the cabin, Noah power napped from, maybe, 1:45 to 3:45.  Whew!

Another great vista from the top.

Trailhead map and permit station.
Eagle Mountain is the highest point in Minnesota and is part of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Aside from Eagle Mountain, we mostly hiked/snowshoed around near the cabin and hung out.  The cabin unfortunately had a TV rather than a fireplace, so we wasted some time with that.  They had a few 1000 piece puzzles in the cabin, so I put a couple of those together.  We, of course, brought more books and magazines than we could read in the week, and the cabin was well situated with local magazines and a few interesting books.  We did enough skiing and snowshoeing to wake up a few muscles, and enough relaxing and eating treats to feel like a vacation!

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