(Mirror Lake to Buckshot Cabin)
I reluctantly left my warm sleeping bag at 7 am on the fourth day to make coffee and put on a few layers of warm clothing. It felt like temperatures had dropped into the low 40s during the night, and we were in for a cold start to the day. The wind had stopped, so I followed the path to the lake hoping I would be able to take a decent reflective photograph. Mirror Lake was almost completely hidden in fog, but with the sun rising above it, the effect was just as amazing. I lingered at the water's edge for a few minutes, then returned to the cabin to eat a quick oatmeal breakfast, pack up, and get ready for the day's hike.
The trail descends steeply along the edge of an amazingly green and very scenic stream valley. I had developed some pain in my left knee, so this long descent was as torturous as it was beautiful. The steepest stretch of this segment descends about 500 feet in ½ mile, and in a particularly interesting spot, the trail becomes a gnarled network of tree roots that tangles its way down the valley.
We stopped partway down to look back the way we had come. Like something out of a Tolkien novel, the trees looked like they might start creeping in on us using their tentacle-like roots. We were very glad to be traveling north on this trail instead of climbing it in the opposite direction.
At 11:45 am, we arrived at Lake of the Clouds and the end of Mirror Lake Trail. Before reaching the scenic overlook, the trail crosses a stream via a long footbridge, then climbs steeply through a series of switchbacks. The clouds hung low in the overcast sky, which gave credibility to the lake's name. We took advantage of this highly visited spot by emptying our garbage, using the nice bathroom, and taking a long lunch break at a picnic table. We decided to live a little and mixed gatorade powder into our water and made a few quick dehydrated meals instead of peanut butter & jelly. At 12:45, we left Lake of the Clouds and walked east on M-107 for a mile until we found Lake Superior Trail.
The three miles from the trailhead to Buckshot cabin include a lot of steep terrain, much of it a fairly sharp descent. The trail itself consists mostly of loose, jagged hunks of shale, which makes for a somewhat slow progress. Only a few times did the trail break out of the trees to provide views of Lake Superior. For the most part, the big lake was just beyond view. A sign marks the spur to Buckshot Cabin and warns hikers to stay away from the structure unless they are staying there, as paying guests make their reservations well in advance in order to enjoy the quite, private setting.
|Lake Superior Trail|
|A rare glimpse of Lake Superior on its namesake trail|
We want to be cool to anyone we meet on the trail, but this was very bad etiquette. Hikers do not invade others' campsites, and this was no different. The situation was extremely awkward. We unlocked the cabin, and Craig let them know that we preferred they didn't stay long. After about 15 minutes, the cabin crashers packed up and left, apologizing on their way out (past the previously ignored sign telling them to keep away from the cabin).
Buckshot Cabin would be the perfect spot to spend a whole week, and I knew that I was going to be very sad to leave the following day. If we could do the trip over again, we would plan to stay here for more than one night. The woodpile in the corner to the left of the door was a mess, so Craig spent some time cleaning it up and re-stocking it while I started a fire in the wood burning stove. After dark, we walked to the lakeshore to lay on the smooth rock under a black sky filled with an unfathomable number of stars.
Miles: 7.5 (approx)
To be continued in: Day 5 - Buckshot Cabin to Lake Superior Cabin
The video below is of Lake Superior just after sunset.