|Old Farms and older names|
I awoke to the pitter patter of condensation on my forehead. As light and as packable as our sweet tent was, it was a "little" tight on the room side with two guys and drying gear. Because of that I was a little closer to the tent wall that I would have liked.
The weather was certainly changing as well. It was about 18F or so when we went to sleep at 10pm, now at 6am it was 22F. A warm up was happening and that does not bode well for Fat Biking off trail.
We scrambled out of bed, loaded up the bikes, kicked out the coals and rolled on towards Floodwood. Along our ride we passed some really old farms, many obviously dating back to the original "ditch bankers" I spoke of earlier.
To drive through Floodwood you would not think that much of it. To ride into it after a long day in the bush and it is like mecca. There are gas stations, a bar, a hotel and even a grocery store. Even more important though is the Floodwood Bridgemans! Not sure how many Bridgemans do breakfast but this one did and we owned the place!
|On the big river now!|
Numerous snowmobiles had ripped down it in the past few days and thankfully so because the snow pack had warmed up to the point where it felt like riding through molasses. Slow is not descriptive enough of a word.....
|What the forests looked like in 1917 (Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society)|
We witnessed lots of bird life including a huge flock of Cedar Waxwings that were bathing and drinking in an open pool on the river.
The two of us pushed on as long as we could, but the pace was agonizingly slow and we started to realize that we were going to have to bail once we hit Paupores Road. Although I hated to break off the route we had selected we needed to get to Thomson that night in order to finish the tour on Sunday. So with heavy hearts, but happy legs, we opted for gravel. It speaks to the adaptability of the bike in the fact that we had that option. Had we been on skis, we would have been walking at that point, although we might also have been moving a LOT faster!
|Change of texture.....and speed!|
|Eric's best Troll impression: Brookston, Minnesota|
As we neared Cloquet darkness started to gather and the winds were really picking up. We had assumed that we would be getting pounded by snow all afternoon but somehow it had held off longer than expected. The storm had other plans for us.
|Stick a fork in him he is ....done|
This was our hood, Eric had grown up in Esko, MN and of course I currently reside here. So we covered this ground quickly. In my official trip plan we were to hit the Dalles of the St. Louis. However in the dark and with the deep snowpack we skipped it.
In reality the portage skips this section of river as well. From Cloquet in fact it was overland all the way to Fond Du Lac so we actually did this section in good form. This part of the route however is by far our favorite section and we have ridden it, many many times so it was a real bummer to have to skip it. Again, more fodder for the next attempt!
Landing at home was a treat in itself. We had beds, food and a great nights rest. Another huge perk of a "Stay Venture"!
Just before bed I read the weather report in the paper, it did not seem as bad as they predicted so we relaxed a bit, the ride in on Sunday would be a cake walk, victory lap for sure!
The restless demons that had visited me in the night while camping did not come back and we slept fitfully and maybe a little late.....