Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hiking Trail Defense Detour

For the next few days, the Superior Hiking Trail has a small detour.

Does the name "Superior Hiking Trail" evoke images of wooded ridgelines and deep blue views of Lake Superior? Do you feel the quiet of the trail, the peace of the forest? You probably don't think about throbbing engines, the sound of reveille, or a modular weapons system.

Trails get detoured for all kinds of reasons. Beavers flood the trail with a dam. A windstorm knocks down a few acres of trees. A private property dispute arises or the land is resurveyed.

For the first time that I'm aware of, the US Department of Defense has mandated a detour. Hardcore SHT hikers and a few residents of Duluth may know that the SHT runs right along the waterfront in front of the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. That waterfront space is now home to the Freedom, a brand new Navy ship built in Wisconsin and about to be commissioned in Milwaukee.

The detour is just in place through this Thursday, when the Freedom will leave for Milwaukee. But it's a serious detour; you can't just skip over the downfall or shortcut across property lines. Armed guards and a tall temporary fence make it pretty much mandatory that you take the detour.

The ship has attracted a small crowd of the curious and the patriotic. The humming and the geometry remind me of one of those opening scenes in Star Wars, as the giant Star Destroyer passes overhead humming (despite that inconvenient fact that there is no sound in space).

It really is quite a sight. Enjoy this detour while you can!

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