Mini-headland, cove. Trees, boulders, up, down. Scrambly bit. Rooty bit. On it went. We passed a lone hiker carrying (in his arms) a barely weeks-old husky puppy, lying on the round white rocks of a little cove, taking a little nap. We'd been playing hiker tag with him on and off as we progressed our way along the coast. Although he was super friendly, it also reminded us that the campsites were first come / first-served. If a party - even a party of one - came upon a campsite ahead of us and snagged it, we'd be forced to move on - especially along this stretch of coastline, which literally offered no suitable flat spots to place a single tent - let alone four. So, onwards we pushed. It was now 5pm, and we were tired and thinking much more about a hot dinner than about continued hiking.
Approaching Buckshot Creek
Another beautiful isolated mini-cove. Another up and down to and from the coast. And another hiker group (this time a couple). We were at this point angling for campsites adjacent to the Buck Creek river, which we could see not too far ahead on our map. We wanted to get there before the [recently-passed] other two groups re-passed us, and hopefully one of these campsites would be suitable for our larger group. Only a touch farther, only a touch farther....
We reached the mouth of the Buck Creek river shortly before 6 pm. Since it was a little too wide and deep for a ford, the Coastal Trail heads inland along the banks for a bit, to a narrow enough point where a solid footbridge crosses over. Then back down the other bank to the coast again, and out onto a wider cove with a coarse pebble beach. And then, a little blue diamond camp sign, and... looking hopefully beyond, we spy empty tent spots. Free!
A quick evaluation reveals that it isn't really the best of sites, though - only one real spot for a larger tent and that spot had a number of large and awkard roots running through it. Our map showed another little campsite triangle here in this cove, too.... so I went a bit further along to check it out.
Happily, it was also unoccupied, and was more spacious than the first site. But it was also going to be a bit of a squeeze for our four tents. We spent the next few minutes debating what we were going to do. Technically, given our size, it was totally reasonable to split up across the two sites. I offered to put a tent on the pebbly beach to make extra room.
After some confusing back and forth, with a distinct lack of clarity and communication, the Hatkos decide to take the rooty first site, leaving the more spacious campsite to the remaining four of us. The two sites are not more than a hundred yards from each other, so it's not a big deal as far as communal eating and communication, but still, we feel that we're leaving the Hatkos a bit short-changed with a potentially uncomfortable campsite. They were already half set up at this point, though, so it was settled. More than anything, I think, folks were happy to be able to drop their packs, relax for a bit, and eat a satisfying dinner.
Despite the somewhat late 6:30pm arrival time, there was plenty of daylight left for us to set up, eat, hang food (after much trial and error), and generally hang out on the shore and watch the light of day fade away. Chris was even skipping some stones now, which was an encouraging sign (with respect to his back). Clearly the day's backpack - and over rough terrain at that - had not made his back worse, and in fact he seemed a bit better. It was starting to look like he'd made the right choice to come along with us.
So, what's the summary for day 1? Well, everyone did well, I thought - we had managed over 11 kilometres (most of the way to Beatty Cove) and we had not had encountered anything that I had considered extreme, dangerous, or exceptional. No one had had any unfortunate incidents or incurred any injuries. As for my opinion of difficulty, well... certainly the trail is rough in many places - often in a continous manner, which definitely lowers one's average speed and tires one out sooner. But superlatives like hardest thing ever or sketchiest trail ever, well... no. At least not so far. Maybe the worst was yet to come?
In any case, those were thoughts for another day. Darkness was falling. There was not going to be any stargazing tonight, given the combination of a mostly overcast sky and a just-barely-past-full moon. Instead, a nice early sleep would make for a nice rejuvinating sleep and hopefully have us all raring to go early the next day.
Lake Superior Coastal Backpack day 1 - Hike Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet