March 1: Ride From Finland, MN To the End Of the Gunflint Trail

Took a ride on Saturday with Jamie from Finland (we parked near where the Rec Center used to be on #7) up to the end of the Gunflint Trail, then down into Grand Marais for dinner, then back to Finland. This was certainly one of the better rides I've been on in terms of scenery.

The trail from Finland to Devil Track Lake was excellent - freshly groomed and in places we were the second track on the trail for the morning. We were quite surprised by the total lack of people we saw all day, especially in the morning. We were the only ones parked in Finland when we left the parking lot (at 9:15am), and saw only a handful of sleds between there and Devil Track Lake.

Once we got to the cutoff for the "X" Expressway Trail, we opted to continue up the North Shore Trail to the "G" Trail, then go to the end of the Gunflint Trail, then come back on the "X" Trail.

I was fairly unimpressed with the Gunflint Trails in general - they were poorly groomed, icy, and very poorly marked for corners and such (mostly true north of Trail Center). We found numerous corners where we crested a hill and found the trail took a hard right or left, without notice (and on an icy corner). The trails (especially the "G" trail) is also VERY twisting - there are not very many straight sections but lots and lots of tight corners.

As I said earlier, the scenery up the Gunflint was amazing. I've been to Trail Center a few times in the past, although that's as far as I've ever been up the Gunflint. I'd like to return here during the warmer weather to check out some of the many hiking trails in the area (I think the fall would be the best). You can look at some of the pics here. There are a number of overlooks, and even a few spots where you're in a field but can see for many miles. Even when you're in some of the valleys you're amazed - the area is fun to be in - much of which you would never see from your car.

Talked a little with the DNR officer when we got to the end of the trail at Sag Lake - he was out checking for trail stickers and such. I always figured that there would be SOMETHING at the end of the trail - a lodge or something maybe to eat at. Instead there was a parking lot and a sign on Sag Lake outlining the rules to proceed to Canada. Sort of a disappointing ending to the trail.

After that we headed back to Grand Marais and had lunch/dinner at My Sister's Place, which is a favorite of mine (although the meal didn't quite sit right with Jamie or myself, so I'm not sure how much of a favorite they will be - we'll find out on the next trip).

The ride would have ended in a perfect ride from a mechanical standpoint if it weren't for the last 10 feet.. The wear rod on my left ski was apparently loose (the nuts must have backed off over time), so when the ski went up to go on the trailer the wear rod separated from the ski, went through the tail light of the trailer, bent into a funny shape (there's a picture of that), and then bucked the sled about a third off the trailer. The only thing I could do at that point was laugh.

All in all, a very good ride, although very tiring. Glad it wasn't part of a 300-mile day. That's coming up in just a couple of weeks....

Total trip mileage: 264
Total year mileage: 1638

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