Monday, September 21, 2009
Approaching Eagle Mountain
This is heresy. The hike to Eagle Mountain is not all that great.
The hike up Eagle Mountain, Minnesota's high point, is terrific.
To climb Mt. Everest, you must first schlep for a week to basecamp, then start climbing. To climb Denali, most parties nowadays get flown in to Kahiltna Glacier and avoid days of criss-crossing glacial streams by foot.
To reach Eagle Mountain, you must persevere through two, TWO miles of hard hiking through flat and rocky terrain. You cross three boardwalks, and in those few instances the woods open up just a bit and you can see around. Otherwise, it's a long and monotonous hike over a lot of rocks.
Then you get to Whale Lake, and you get a burst of energy. There's blue skies and blue water and across the lake an imposing "mountain," not actually Eagle Mountain but its little sister.
The trail loops around Whale Lake for a third of a mile until you find this fork in the trail:
The long approach is over. The climb begins. It's 400 vertical feet to the summit, spread out over 0.7 miles of trail. Views start to open up off to the south. Finally you get the big view, out over the BWCA:
Now it's all worth it. The two miles of rocky trail on the approach. The grunt up the mountain. The water in your bottle never tasted sweeter, nor the PB&J more delicious.
Enjoy the hike. The whole thing, if you can, not just the last climb. It's all good.