Sioux-Hustler Trail 2007 – Day 1

Synopsis: Trailhead to Devil's Cascade. 7 miles. Saturday, July 21.

Getting There

Mike and Wendy picked us up at about 7pm on Friday — right on time — and we piled into their Jeep and headed north.

Around midnight, we were approaching Ely. Reid and Mike had scoped out a forest road on the map that might have a nice spot to pull over and pitch a couple of tents. We turned off, and then turned off again, straining to see candidate spots in the darkness as we drove over bumps and under branches. There were a number of apparent possibilities, but nothing that passed even a cursory flashlight in inspection.

It was starting to look worrisome when suddenly a fine clearing appeared. Mike parked the Jeep in the middle of the road. It was chilly and very quiet, and we pitched the tents and crawled into bed.


In the morning, we found ourselves in a very nice spot.

Photo by Reid Priedhorsky.
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Erin found some rasberries to add to our breakfasts (though Mike and Wendy had them on the side with their pizza).

When we arrived at the ranger station, Ranger Pat recognized Reid from years past and quickly produced a permit for us. We didn’t even have to watch the cheesy video.

45 minutes later, we were finally parking at the trailhead. That’s not too long, but when you’re so close to the real start of the trip, it really drags.

On the Trail


At the trailhead. L-R: Wendy, Mike, Erin, Reid.

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Erin signed us into the very full trail register (due to age, not frequent use). We did not see the notation from a few weeks back that a party of two had together removed 1,360 ticks, which was probably just as well.

We put on our packs and headed down the path.

High weeds were the norm on this hike. Even on the first section of the trail, which is a wide and clear old logging road, we often brushed our elbows on tall grass and occasional thistles.

After not too long, we arrived at the turnoff, where the "real" trail leaves the logging road and dives into the deep woods.


Some tall grass not far beyond the turnoff.

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View from the far side of the first beaver dam, the one that Erin fell off last time. Today, no sweat — we merely took the bypass we found on the way out previously: a quick hop over a stream and we were all set.

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Soon we came to another section of trail following an old logging road, but this one was very overgrown, with little evidence of the road remaining except and oddly wide flat zone with the trail wandering down the middle.

This area was the first of several where the old McKenzie map (2000) placed the trail correctly but the new one (2005?) did not, according to my GPS.


Makes it look easy.

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Descending by the falls at Elm Creek Portage.

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We stopped for lunch about three or four miles in, just below the falls. Several parties of canoeists passed by on the portage on the far bank.


The first “real” beaver dam crossing.

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Through the woods. A nice fine trail so far...

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We were all feeling pretty tired by the time we arrived at the Devil’s Cascade campsite. The next campsite is another 6 miles in (almost as far as we’d already traveled), and none of us had any interest in that. We would have preferred to stay at some different campsites than before, but this itinerary is really the only good option when traveling in this direction, particularly on the western half of the trail (where the only options are Devil’s Cascade at 7 miles and Pageant Lake at 13).

But woe! The canoeists from lunch were already occupying the campsite (which is a quite nice one). Reid walked up to the only visible person, explained the situation, and asked if we could camp with them if we were unable to find something else nearby. He was caught off-guard, and while not rude about it, he clearly wasn’t too excited about the idea (and neither were we, frankly).

We went back up the trail a little ways to have a powwow. Hikers are allowed to camp anywhere they like provided it’s not too close to trails, other campsites, and water, but it’s very tricky to find anything reasonable in the dense woods. While we were discussing, the man reappeared and gave some advice about things he had seen nearby and very graciously invited us to stay with them if we couldn’t find anything (having relocated his “Minnesota Nice”).

We scouted around for about an hour and located a spot along the Devil’s Cascade (the official site is up on a bluff) that was quite pretty, not far from Lower Pauness Lake. It didn’t conform to the law, being too close to water and the Devil’s Cascade portage trail, but we hadn’t seen any other options, and it was clearly impacted already.

We stomped around the woods a little exploring, Mike and Wendy went for a swim, and we relaxed for a while.


Wendy at Camp I.

Photo by Erin Tatge.
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Our successful bear bag, raised using Mike’s clever new technique.

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Reid modeling the latest.

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Relaxing at Camp I.

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Soon after raising the bear bag, the bugs started to come out, so we turned in.

Data for today:

  • Deadfall: 4
  • Ticks removed: Reid, 3.

Please continue reading on Day 2.

Copyright © 1999-2013 Reid Priedhorsky and Erin Tatge. Last modified: 2009-11-01 16:35 CST. Disclaimer.