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Thru-Hike the Superior Hiking Trail: Planning, resupplying, safety, bears, bugs and more by [Annie Nelson]

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Thru-Hike the Superior Hiking Trail: Planning, resupplying, safety, bears, bugs and more Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews


“This guide provides a thorough and easy-to-understand overview of how to plan a trip on the SHT from someone who did it the right way. It’s written for thru-hikers, but the information is useful for day hikers and overnight backpackers too.”
―Jaron Cramer, Superior Hiking Trail Association --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Planning Your Thru-Hike

The details involved in planning a thru-hike can be overwhelming. I spent the final two weeks before I left with a migraine because of stress. Hindsight is 20/20; this was totally unnecessary. Before delving into the details, I want to encourage you to give yourself as much flexibility in your hiking plan as you can. The Superior Hiking Trail is so well-documented between the guide, maps, its online communities, and now this thru-hiking guide, that you can plan by section rather than by day. Find a balance between the Leave No Trace principle of “Plan and Prepare” and obsessive overplanning (like me).

Do pay close attention to the Trail Conditions page on the SHTA website,, which the SHTA updates weekly. Also read the Know Before You Go, FAQ, Thru Hiking and Leave No Trace pages on the website, which outline rules, trail safety, and more. Check the Trail Conditions page during your planning stage, right before you go, and whenever you’re in town or have cell service. Take a screen grab of the web page on your phone before leaving town to reference when on the trail if you don’t have service. Other hikers you meet on trail coming from where you’re going will also be a good source of information on trail conditions. The woods are constantly changing: beavers flood the trail, trees come down, new reroutes are sometimes needed.

One of the best parts of thru-hiking is that you have time on your side. The luxury of free time is a rarity in our fast-paced society, and it took me a while to realize how much flexibility I really had. If you can embrace being more relaxed with your hiking plan, you will set yourself up for success.

If you’re going to hike 10-12 miles a day, plan to resupply every 50 miles or so. Most hikers carry about 1.5-2 pounds of food per day per hiker, so 10 pounds of food gets a solo hiker five days of uninterrupted trail time. If you’re hiking 15-20 miles a day, plan to resupply every 75-100 miles.

If you have a mileage goal for the week instead of a daily goal, you can be more flexible with yourself, the weather and any unforeseen circumstances. Most resupply options are very flexible, time-wise. Hotel reservations can be changed. Resupply packages sent “General Delivery” to post offices will be held between 10 days and a month.

To maintain the frenetic pace of our everyday lives, it’s hard to avoid developing a frantic outlook on time. If you can force your mind to let go of worrying about deadlines and just focus on putting one foot in front of the other, your confidence will grow with each step in your ability to adapt quickly and successfully to changes.

Some days, you are going to wake up and discover your body is hungry to hike. You’ll cover 10 miles by lunch and be amazed by how you feel ready to hike another 10. Other days, you’ll wake up and be struggling by mile four, more in the mood to hang out by a babbling creek. One of the biggest gifts you can give yourself on a thru-hike is allowing your body, nature and the weather to guide your day. Sunny and feeling strong? Hike fast and far. Blisters getting excruciating? Take a rest day.

Study this guide, study the SHTA guide, sketch a general plan for your hike, but don’t worry about planning your hike down to the day unless that brings you joy, or lessens your stress. You can and will figure out your hike as you go.

Trail overview

When people think “Minnesota,” they don’t think “mountains,” but after hiking the Superior Hiking Trail, that changes.

The Superior Hiking Trail runs through the Sawtooth Mountains, formed 1.1 billion years ago in the same geological event that created Lake Superior. Over the length of the 310-mile trail, the trail gains and loses 41,000 feet in elevation. What does that mean? You do a lot of climbing up and down on this trail. The trail is more physically taxing than many hikers anticipate.

A general analysis

The Duluth section of the trail caught me by surprise: It is rugged! I had assumed this 50-mile stretch near and through the city would be easy, or involve a lot of walking on sidewalks or roads. Not so. The Superior Hiking Trail Association created a truly magical stretch of trail through the city that feels like a secret forest corridor. Houses and cars can be seen and heard, but the Duluth hiker is more often in the trees than on the street. This section offers big climbs as it runs the ridges from Jay Cooke State Park until getting north of Duluth.

The trail is its flattest between the Martin Road and the Castle Danger trailheads, about 60 miles of gentle trail that weaves through beaver ponds and young forest. The most difficult part about this stretch are the sections that follow the North Shore State Trail, a snowmobiling trail, which can have high grass if not recently mowed.

At the Castle Danger trailhead, the terrain gets a bit more rugged as you start to get into the Sawtooth Mountains along Lake Superior. One of the steepest climbs on the trail, if traveling northbound, happens up to Wolf Rock just north of the trailhead.

After looping up the Split Rock river, the trail heads toward one of the most rugged sections through Tettegouche State Park. The climbs up Mount Trudee and to the Bear and Bean Lake overlooks are tough but extremely rewarding with some of the best views on trail.

From Tettegouche State Park all the way to the northern terminus, the trail is very rugged as you climb one Sawtooth Peak after another, and climb up and down stunning river gorges. Toward the northern terminus, the trail flattens out a bit but still offers some lung-sapping, leg-burning climbs up Hellacious Overlook and Rosebush Ridge, the highest point on the trail.

The short version? Duluth is hard. Duluth to Castle Danger is pretty easy. Castle Danger to Tettegouche is a bit harder. Tettegouche to the northern terminus is really hard. --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07QNBLB8S
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Wild Stories LLC; 2nd edition (April 12, 2019)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ April 12, 2019
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 25777 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 176 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35 ratings

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