Superior Hiking Trail Day 15: The Biggest Challenge Yet

One of the hardest days of my life.

Day 15

Tuesday May 31, 2016
Canal Park, Duluth to Jay Cooke State Park
33.1 Superior Hiking Trail Miles

Canal park sunrise
Canal Park
I knew today wasn’t going to be easy. I had over 33 miles of trail to cover, including ascents and descents over uneven and rocky terrain.

But nothing prepared me for this.

Heavy winds were rocking Lake Superior as I started out this morning. I hoped the fierce winds would be limited to the lakeshore.

They were not.

I climbed out of Duluth with little incident. It was windy. It was cloudy. But that was about it.

Then it got bad. Very bad.

When I reached Ely’s Peak, I was faced with some of the strongest winds I’ve ever encountered. But that wasn’t the worst part.

The worst part was the sleet. Slivers of water flew at me at speeds I couldn’t comprehend. It was as if I was being shot with tiny bullets during a monsoon. I had never encountered conditions like these on the Superior Hiking Trail.

Needless to say, I didn’t see any other hikers today.

After 13 hours and 40 miles, I mercifully made my way to the deserted Jay Cooke State Park campground.

My journey comes to an end tomorrow. I’m a mere six miles away from the (current) south terminus of the Superior Hiking Trail. I’d love to savor the moment, but instead I’m going to crawl into my sleeping bag to fend off the hypothermia.

The Superior Hiking Trail

The Superior Hiking Trail follows the rocky ridge line of Lake Superior’s North Shore in Minnesota. The trail stretches over 300 miles from the Canadian border to the Wisconsin border south of Duluth. The Superior Hiking Trail is known for sweeping views of Lake Superior, excellent trail and camp conditions, ample wildlife, and majestic waterfalls.

The Superior Hiking Trail has been lauded by many, including National Geographic, who called it, “The best long hike in the country between the Continental Divide and the Appalachian Trail.”

SHT Thru-Hike Field Journals

Field journals from my May 2016 thru-hike of the Superior Hiking Trail. Join me for the fun and misery!



Dave is a nomad, avid hiker, and ultralight backpacker. He covers thousands of miles each year on foot, primarily in North America. You can find him traversing the desert, backpacking in the mountains, or running your local trails.