Crab Lake Trail
It had been a while since I had last been on the Crab Lake Trail. I was thinking it must have been before the Ham Lake Fire of 2007 because I didn’t remember it looking like it did yesterday. It seemed like it was just last fall but checking back through my photos I found the last time I had hiked it was in November of 2006. Indeed before the fire by 6 months.
Looking at the pictures from 2006 I see a Boundary Water’s Sign. This sign is no longer there along with most other signs on the trail. There is flagging on the trees and most of the trail is easy to navigate.
The first section of the trail is especially wonderful as one of the locals grooms it for cross-country skiing. Snowshoes aren’t even needed on this long section but are definitely needed once the tracks end. There are of course trees to step over, logs to crawl under and rocks to go around. The view is interesting because you can see so much of the terrain without all of the dense groves of trees.
One thing we saw and heard was a helicopter. This was a strange occurence since we rarely see helicopters on the Gunflint Trail. It passed overhead more than 5 times making us wonder what the heck they were doing up there. Maybe they were just wondering what the heck we were doing down below? Or perhaps they were tracking wolves?
We met the local skiier on the trail who informed us wolves have been abundant in the area. She has encountered them on the trail and nearby neighbors recently had a pack in their yard stalking their elderly, deaf dog. Rugby was accompanying us on this snowshoe trek so I was a bit nervous when he’d take off into the woods. He would make a nice appetizer for a wolf but we only saw wolf scat, never a wolf.
The Falls always look so beautiful in the winter and yesterday was no exception. The fire burned close to the falls but not the falls itself thankfully. We listened to the water gurgling beneath the ice, explored the snow covered falls and enjoyed the peacefullness of the area.
It had taken us almost two hours to get to the falls and neither one of us was looking forward to the same trip back. Sheri was experiencing a sense of adventure and wanted to try an alternate route back. I had remembered snowmobiling up from Gunflint Lake via the railroad trestle and out to Loon Lake via Crab Lake. If we could find our way then it would substantially cut the time of the return trip.
We found our way quite easily by following animal tracks. It seems they know exactly where the trail is even when it’s snow covered. We made our way to Crab Lake quickly and by cutting across the frozen lake we cut out an hour of travel time. Our legs were thankful as were our sweat soaked bodies who would have been freezing by the time we would have made it back taking the other way around Crab Lake. As it was the sun was already dipping down beneath the horizon when we made it back to the vehicle.
Snowshoeing is such a great activity. It would be even better if I could figure out how to regulate my body temperature. I dress in layers, wear breathable material and still manage to break out in a sweat. Oh well, I guess if that’s my only problem then I’m doing good.