Wandering to West Pike Lake
We left St. Cloud, MN about mid morning with our gear and three canoes. Other than a couple of stops to adjust the load, our trip was smooth all of the way to Grand Marais where we stopped for some delicious Sven and Ole's pizza. After also picking up some bait and some beverages for the bunkhouse that night, we proceeded down the Gunflint Trail to Clearwater road and our base for the evening--the Charlie Boostrom-built lodge at the end of Clearwater Lake. Once we got checked in and settled into our bunkhouse for that night, we took the canoes out for a quick paddle to the palisades that overlook Clearwater. Finding the trail-head to the first palisade was a bit tricky and the climb to the top is nearly 400 feet but the view was well worth the effort. We got up there just in time to watch the sun set, enjoy a gentle breeze and take in the expansive vista up and down Clearwater Lake. What a great way to start the trip! The return paddle to the lodge had us pulling up on their beach right at dusk. We stowed the canoes for the night and after enjoying those beverages, swapping a few stories and conducting some final organization of gear and food, we all turned in for a restful evening before the adventure started in earnest.