Pre-surgery sashay along the SHT

When you’re body is fixin’ to be laid up a while, it’s crucial to work out some of that sphizerinctum in advance. Whenever possible, it’s even more effective to intertwine that need for raw body movement with exploration by simultaneously taking a dip into that refreshing well of adventure.

This reminds of a recent argument I had with the wife. For some reason or another, our clan was sitting around on a Saturday morning doing nothing. The sun crested some mysterious meridian out the window and I began to snap, becoming increasingly difficult to be around. Shawna called me on it, but my conciliatory words were cancelled by the still impatient tone. Rather sharply, I responded, “I know you’re right. I’m sorry. Please accept that. However, I can’t sit here and analyze my tone. Let me work it out through my body…” Then I went on to varnish this painting for her:

The sweeping arm motions of smoothing clear varnish along this 40-inch-long work of art helped me work out the stink in a way that discussion could never accomplish. Additionally, the simple act of service became a sort of penance. Words were no longer necessary.

Our bodies aren’t mere vessels of decaying flesh to be directed by the formidable command and control center between our ears. Your body is every bit as much “You” as your brain. Loving God with all our “Heart, soul, mind, and strength,” has something to do with this as well. This tension, at least to we modern souls, has been a constant companion since my days spent rotting in a corporate cubicle. I prefer to work it out with my body rather than analyze the mystery to pieces inside my brain. There’s no little man pulling levers in there. Body, mind, soul: complex beings we are…

With the recent reversion to Standard Time, the sun disappears at 4:50 pm. Daylight is not to be wasted when there are a couple of unexpectedly gorgeous days between now and shoulder surgery. And so, between the planting of spicy mix yesterday and the evening sowing of sunflower seeds, I spontaneously shoehorned in a perambulation of the Superior Hiking Trail. The dog and I headed to our next stretch of the trail: Rossini Rd to the Lake County Demonstration Forest, wasting zero time deciding where or what to do in the handful of hours at our disposal. I had hoped to make this more of an epic by running the full 15.5 miles one-way all the way to Two Harbors, but alas, this was to be a safer 10.5 mile out and back.

My slim survival kit was stuffed into the tiny pocket of the hydration backpack that has become far handier than I ever imagined: book of matches, beanie, extra Clif Bar, headlamp. The time change caught me a bit off-guard. Arriving at the somewhat remote trailhead well into the afternoon, I was happy to have the extra stuff along just in case.

This section of the trail isn’t particularly noteworthy. That said, I’d liken it to being a true fan of a band while carefully exploring their back catalog, listening song by song through every album, rather than contenting oneself with what some recording executive has determined is their “greatest hits.”

With the leaves all dropped, one’s eyes are drawn to the land itself. There were a number of subtle glacial features to observe, such as this kettle.
And this esker. I love when trails traverse these ridgelines, which slope downward on both sides, providing interesting perspective of the terrain.
That truck-sized boulder downstream is a glacial erratic.
Eventually we reached this old mine, with its ancient overburden strewn across the trail, and turned around shortly thereafter. No big overlook or landmark up there. Just head back into the sun.

Probably the most noteworthy thing was that I truffle-shuffled out of St. Louis County, briefly poking into Lake County. About a hundred miles are behind us in our quest to hike/run/skip the whole thing.

Perhaps the county line was right around here. Lake Superior is rather east of the trail, but you can sense that the path is on the verge of making a hard right turn and come back into its orbit.
We stopped at the McCarthy Creek campsite for a snack in honor of Mike McCarthy, the former Superbowl winning coach of the Green Bay Packers. I fear he’s on the verge of losing his current job. I know what that’s like, so I feel for him.

That babbling brook provided a marvelous soundtrack. Otherwise the forest was virtually silent, the wind having taken the afternoon off. The only other sounds of note were a couple of spooked grouse (a thrilling adrenaline rush) and an oak sapling that stubbornly clung to a few dozen leaves and rattled rather creepily in a brief puff of wind shortly after we embarked. Even the owl that glided away from the trail as we approached did so without a sound.

Funguses of different colors co-existing peacefully. There’s plenty of food for everybody.

I wish we could have spent Election Day, and beyond, deep in the woods. We sent our ballots in a long time ago. I’d prefer to step away from the drama a while. Alas, fate has me driving down to Minneapolis on election day today, the very heart of the beast, to deliver that painting pictured above, along with some of its friends, to Gallery 360. I will be fortunate to be camping this evening instead of encamped around a television set, however, as I’ll pitch my tent in the yard of one of the groomsman from my wedding. I haven’t seen the man in about a hundred years. Apparently he has become expert at brewing beer, so I’m eager to sample some varieties with him.
His family is just as strict at social distancing as we are, freaking rare indeed, so it felt great to have to sell his wife on the notion of having me sleep out in the yard and light up the darkness by sharing a campfire with her husband: I’ve had a pre-surgery COVID test in precaution, I won’t go inside, and even told Brandon I’d defecate on his compost pile if need be, haha. My wife is embarrassed when I do things like bluntly ask if I’d be permitted to eat whatever slop they’d want to provide, but I’m not going to risk this surgery by doing anything unnecessary down in the Cities. Peeps tend to be willing to bend over backward for a fella on the cusp of surgery.

It was a splendid relief to see Old Dodgey across this recently logged clearing. It’s parked roughly beneath the setting sun, which was just hitting the distant treetops, precisely my goal for this trek. Rather than eeking out every last drop of daylight, there was plenty to spare.

Muscles and joints are rather sore today, but no ibuprofen for me. Anti-inflammatories are strictly verboten this close to surgery day.

And so, now I head off to plant all the pea and radish seeds, which will be harvested one week after I go under the arthroscopic knife. How will the harvest go with a useable left hand and family members serving as my right arm? I have no idea, but beg y’all to be patient these next couple weeks. I’ll be dropping off gigantic deliveries for your consumption on Thursday afternoon, with the hope that folks will load up. The following week my deliveries will be smaller. I’ll have no Sunny Disposition then, but there will be ample pea shoots available. Lord willing, of course…

2 thoughts on “Pre-surgery sashay along the SHT

  1. I have two regrets from our time on the SHT: 1) I didn’t journal at all, and 2) We never hiked in the fall/winter. Your blogs are allowing me to feel a sense of relief from my mistakes. It’s truly a pleasure to get a “redo” of sorts through your blog.

    Praying for your surgery and recovery.

    1. Sweet! That’s about the best reaction I could ever hope for. Thanks pal. Also, the trail isn’t going anywhere, but it does change day by day. It’d be cool to do it all in every season over time. Cheers

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