HIKE NUMBER SEVEN
My North Shore hiking has taken me to Pigeon Falls on the Minnesota side of Pigeon River. To find the trailhead, drive into Grand Portage State Park, a bit past the town of Grand Portage and right before you head into Canada.
To get to Pigeon Falls, walk through the visitor’s center where you can pick up a map with lots of interesting details about the region. The trail begins right out the back door.Pigeon River is the international boundary between the United States and Canada. The lower 20 miles of the river is a series of roaring cascades and waterfalls. Because it had rained so much a few days earlier, all were spectacular! On the hike in this rather remote and scenic part of the North Shore, you can see the High Falls — the highest falls in Minnesota — as well as Middle Falls. The hiking is easy on a paved trail, but there is quite a bit that is up hill. Boy, is it worth the effort.
Alone and holding on to my own rainbow
This hike gave me hope. When I got to the High Falls, the mist coming off the falls was filled with rainbows, reflecting in the early morning sunshine. Because it was early and I was the only one there, I felt like the biggest one was my very own rainbow!
As I hiked the Middle Falls loop, I saw weird-looking mushrooms that would have been fun to point out to someone hiking along with me. But I was alone! I realized that instead of being able to say “we did this or we do that,” it’s now just “I did this or I did that.” This one of the hardest things for me to get used to, because now I do most things alone. I could try to bring Barry along on my hikes, but he does not like hiking anymore — even though he used to love it.
Not the best company now
Each night at home, I struggle to get Barry out for an evening walk around the neighborhood. He usually goes, although at first is not happy about it. I point out familiar things like the cat that hangs out, the guy who smokes in his garage and some of the cute dogs walking with their owners. Then I always say, “Aren’t you glad you don’t have to pick up the litter?” Picking up litter was one of the care-taking jobs that we had to do each day. Barry is not the best company these days, but at least he is someone to talk to.
Although I hiked alone at Pigeon Falls that morning, it really didn’t feel too lonely. Maybe I am getting used just me. That hike was so beautiful and magical, maybe it was best that I was alone to take it all in. When I got the Middle Falls, I sat on a rock where I could see and feel the power of the falling water. A young man who came by startled me, and I startled him, too. He kept walking; we both were perfectly comfortable being alone. I’ve come to appreciate solitude more and more now, along with the self-reliance that builds from it.
Back at the visitor’s center, I saw lots of couples and families coming to see the falls. Seeing that togetherness bothers me less now. I had a rainbow and some new ideas for doodles. It was just a wonderful morning with me, myself and I. The entire hike took just over two hours.
Onward to Hike Number Eight. Eagle Mountain here I come!
For more information on Pigeon Falls go to http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/grand_portage/index.html