We slept well, thankful that our fellow campers had the same goal as did we…to take rest. We were aware of a family with young children down a small hill from us. They were quiet, respectful and we barely heard them get into the bear box. Our tents were close enough together that we could communicate quietly before drifting off to sleep. For our entertainment, our the Exped Synmat sleeping pads created noise not dissimilar to the passing of gas as we found comfortable sleep positions…so we had a couple chuckles between us before falling asleep. We woke with the sunrise and I stumbled out of my tent around 7:00 AM to take some photos of the late sunrise on Lake Superior. I nearly walked right into the young family coming up! They were so quiet.
We’d heard somewhere that the second day would be our biggest challenge, not because of the trail but because of the body aches. We did occasionally report to each other what part was screaming. For me, it was that pesky little toe. It hurt much more than the blister I could feel growing on my big toe. It did seem that once named, the pain was easier to ignore. Penny was plagued by a small bone in her foot that had suffered a break years ago. She managed to stretch for the plantar fasciitis but that bone…well, there wasn’t a lot she could do about that. Penny put a blister Band-Aid on my toe for me. I wrapped my little toe with moleskin and Band-Aids vowing not to unwrap it until our hike was completed. I couldn’t see anything visibly wrong with it…but if it got worse, I didn’t want to know.
We broke camp and enjoyed a meager ration of fresh wild blueberries in our breakfast oatmeal. We headed out around 8:40 AM. At the lighthouse Penny checked in with Dave and was happy to report he had succeeded in locating the site number for second camp.
It was an easy hike from the lighthouse to the Hurricane River, taking us about ½ hour to go 1.5 miles. Some young ladies were gracious enough to take our picture on the bridge. I took pause on this stretch to take some photos of ghost pipe flowers along the trail. There were plenty of ups and downs as well, including two road crossings before we got to Benchmark Campground. We paused at Benchmark to find the thunderbox and have a bite of lunch. I had been sucking on Bolt energy chews by Pro Bar in the morning to add a little fruity energy to my hike. They lasted a long time and one pack was enough for two mornings. Same with the Pro Bars I’d packed for my lunch. One bar was two servings. Initially I had doubts that I would be consuming enough calories to keep my energy up; however, I also didn’t want to burden myself carrying a lot of food. My intake was sufficient.
Just beyond Benchmark was the Twelvemile Beach day-parking and campground. Our trail passed all the way through the campground where one couple called to us to “have a good hike!” Those small exchanges really bolstered our mood. Mentally, we were feeling pretty good. It was a lovely, wooded stretch along Twelvemile Beach. We watched a pair of piliated woodpeckers fly silently and gracefully through the trees. I always think of them as a cross between a woodpecker and a tetradactyl with their spikey red heads. The trail was sandy but usually firm as it skirted along the top of the dunes.
We were feeling fatigued as we approached the Sevenmile Creek camps. In fact, I’d say we got a little disoriented and perhaps dehydrated. It had been warm and taking off a full pack to pee in the woods, then loading back up, was a bit of a hassle. I think I subconsciously wanted to avoid that exercise and had not pounded enough water. We hiked to the group camp right off the trail and then, thinking we’d missed the turnoff to our camp, backtracked to the signpost to check. Nope, our camp was beyond the group camp. Had we just checked our maps we could have figured that out. Our error added about a half mile to our trek for the day. In between those two camps we restocked our water supply from the Sevenmile Creek.
We located our site up an incline from the communal fire ring. There was no thunder box at this camp. People were expected to dig cat-holes for their waste. Located right behind a large tree next to our campsite was an enormous pile of poop. We debated, “bear or human?” There were lots of toilet paper clusters around this campground as well. We set up our tents and then scrambled to the beach to soak our weary feet at the mouth of Sevenmile Creek.
Again, sweet bliss was found in the water. The Lake Superior stones were beautiful with a variety of colors. They caused me to think of our mother. She collected buckets of “interesting rocks” from all over the country. We had spoken of her more than once on the path. Mom would have delighted in this adventure. We knew she would have been very proud of us for undertaking the challenge. Mom was not always quick with praise, but we were sure she’d have given us kudos for this one. We lingered until the biting flies drove us from our respite.
Upon our return to our camp, we realized to our horror, that after all the trouble to get the correct site number from Dave…we’d set up camp in the wrong campsite! We hurriedly moved our belongings to the correct site and started over. This site was a better for pitching two tents, so at least that was a win. The rightful occupants of the other campsite arrived about ½ hour after we were moved. Whew. Embarrassment avoided. I resolved to drink more water the next day. I suspected that we had sweated out more than we had taken in along the trail.
We went back down to the beach to watch for sunset. We saw storm clouds to the east and west of us. Also noted two ships on the horizon, one a 1,000-footer. It was a bit of a dune climb to get back up from the shoreline. We were exhausted. My step counter recorded over 31,000 steps for the day.
We’d only been gone a short time but when we returned there were four tents set up at the next campsite down from us…we’d been told there was a 2-tent maximum. We now had four couples with zero campsite etiquette. As darkness settled, we attempted to get some sleep. Our neighbors carried on far past 10:00 PM…not just talking loudly, but yelling. As they’d head off to find a place to pee their lights shined into Penny’s tent. I hoped that the storms we’d seen and heard developing around us would eventually drive them into their tents. Regrettably, they did not get rained on. It was not a good night for sleeping.