The posting read “Cabin Available.” We scanned vacation rental sites for hours. State parks were booked. A few of the Lutsen ski condos were open, but we wanted something smaller, something rustic, something away from everything. Then we found it. A tiny cabin on the shore of Lake Superior in Grand Marais. It was three miles east of town, three miles further from Minneapolis. “Private pebble beach,” say no more.
This cabin had a tiny kitchen that hosted taco dinners both nights. It had an electric heater that kept us warm. The refrigerator was large enough to hold a growler from Voyageur Brewing, which we emptied Friday and refilled Saturday only to empty it again. Two bedrooms each had doorways that were no wider than my shoulders. The dresser was likely assembled in the room like a ship in a bottle. It was perfect.
We spent most of our time outdoors. Saturday morning was spent hiking along the Brule River in Judge C.R. Magney State Park. The proximity of the park to the famous brunch of Naniboujou Lodge is worrisome for future brunch-filled hikers, as we learned. Bacon grease and hot tea fueled our hike to Devil’s Kettle and beyond.
Waves crashed along the rocky shore. Small craft advisories were issued. Choppy breakers were 3-5 ft. Two dudes in a Saturn with a pair of longboards strapped to the top rolled up to the beach and paddled out. “If you fall, cover your face to protect yourself from the rocks,” the freshwater veteran instructed a newby to these waters. Within a few minutes, the vet was riding a frigid gray wave to the shore.
I explored the coho salmon run on the Devil Track River. My 7wt fly rod in my right hand and my 4wt in my left (just in case). Schools of zombie fish chased each other without regard for eating. A cheeky river otter devoured a coho meal on the opposite bank. I wouldn’t catch anything.
The wind vanished and we had a fire overlooking the big lake. Purples and reds and oranges painted the sky to our west as the sun set. Waves still crashed on the volcanic rock, sending pink mist skyward. We sat outside until the fire died and tacos called our names for a second night.
We hiked to Lookout Mountain in Cascade River to view our favorite forest overlook. Every deciduous tree was in full autumn blaze. Cedars and pines and spruces were green specks in a golden see of leaves. Driving along highway 61 felt more like a martian landscape than a boreal forest. A gale warning two days later would remove all the color from the forest.
Baptism River beckoned for a visit on our trek home. I pulled a few rainbow trout from the rusty current that were so dark I thought they were melanistic. Nope, just dark fish that have adapted to dark water. A large river otter enjoying a crayfish feast concluded our trip. I hope another cabin is available soon.