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SHT: day 1, Wild Valley Road to Red River Valley, 2.3 miles

It’s fitting that the last bit of work today is a presentation about my New Zealand hike. I have a small but completely engaged audience at St. Andrew’s Village that laugh at my jokes, ask great questions and tell me I’m “a natural” at public speaking. 

Richard dozes while I drive the two hours north, the maple and oak replaced by spruce and white pine, the hot and humid by a cool breeze. We leave the interstate for a two-land highway along verdant fields and woods, a vibrant early-summer green. Earlier in the day, we reserve a table at Brick’s Pub and Grub in W? but the place is only half-full. 

A pint and a blue cheeseburger fuels my start, only a few minutes away on an ungraded farm road where Richard immediately bottoms out. We took bets on how many cars we’d see and if anyone was camping in the one site at the Wisconsin border. It’s hard to say if either of us lose as there’s just one truck with a thru hiker planning to camp inside it. 

“Trippin” has just the two miles left to finish and is too hot and tired for anymore tonight. Her day was long under a hot sun with this glorious wind only showing up after she arrived. 

A narrow, dark hole cuts through the thick foliage the few miles to the Wisconsin border. Like the PCT and the AZT, to head to the start requires hiking in the opposite direction first. 

Richard joins me for a bit, the ferns up to our chests. I wisely picked up a long sleeved shirt and treated it with permethrin, but he’s getting chewed up by mosquitos, so we kiss goodbye on a boardwalk crossing a dry creek and I push on. 

The forest is loud with veery thrushes and their two-toned spiraling scale. 

The sun still shines at the tallest bits of birches shaking in the breeze. I’m sweaty as the trail rolls up and down. A train creeps by in the distance. 

I pass the spur to the campsite, then cross a bridge where coffee colored water burbles below. It’s a good pull on switchbacks, the packed dirt secured with wooden beams and a few stairs. And there it is! A simple wooden gateway with a sign welcoming me to Wisconsin. 

The Superior Hiking Trail is part of the North Country Trail which passes through ? states. I just touch my foot across before heading to the campsite. Mile 0. It may be the longest day of the year, but it’s almost 10 and the sky is getting dark. 

The site is lovely high above the water. I’m all alone and claim the spot open to the breeze. Someone brought a couple of plastic chairs and I use one for my gear as I set up the alicoop 2 trying not to allow any mosquitos inside. 

I surprise myself with a perfect bear hang on a high limb just as the land begins to descend to the stream, then crawl in as thrushes give way to frogs that give way to crickets that give way to fireflies and finally, just the wind in the trees. 

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