“Not at home. Not at home at all.” Again and again, this was the phrase I mentally muttered as I opened up my stride on the Escarpment overlooking Lake of the Clouds. Similarly to whom I borrowed this quote, Bilbo Baggins experienced this same jubilation whilst tip-toeing around Smaug underneath the Lonely Mountain. The views, my effort, and the atmosphere culminated at once, leaving me ecstatic and even emotional at times. I was two and a half hours deep into a long run in foreign backcountry territory, yet my fitness allowed me to enjoy every step. I was not at home.

A couple hours later, here I am, slouched in a library’s armchair in -look it up- Minocqua, Wisconsin, still feeling the euphoria of the day’s effort.

Yesterday, Twitter brought me news of an inhuman feat by one Jim Walmsley. Jim became the fastest human to double cross the Grand Canyon (R2R2R), running the 21 miles across (North Rim to South Rim) in 2h46m then repeating the 21 miles (South Rim to North Rim) back to where he started. It took him 5h55m, shattering the previous record of Rob Krar’s stout time of 6h21m, crowning him as the new King of the Canyon. Legendary stuff.

Jim’s accomplishment aided in today’s motivation. I wanted to run far. I wanted to hurt. I wanted to be depleted of calories. I wanted to get muddy. Check. Check. Check. And check. My legs felt surprisingly refreshed after yesterday’s 25-mile effort (combined with six hours of driving) and compounding abuse of eating an entire bag of Lays BBQ kettle cooked chips, a whole large bag of Haribo Gold Bears, and 12 chocolate chunk cookies as sides to a foot-long sub. #calories

Here is the 30-mile / 4h58m route I covered, via pictures (not mine). Enjoy:

My truck


Summit Peak (highest point in the Porkies)

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Mirror Lake

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Lake of the Clouds

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Escarpment (Escarpment Trail basically dips and rises along the rocky bluffs of the Porcupine Mountains, completely exposing the runner to all the elements that the Upper Midwest offers. To my right, over the rocky eskers, lies Lake Superior. Deep blue. Harsh. Wavy. Intimidating. To my immediate left (1k’ below) lies Lake of the Clouds.)

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Trap Falls (the blue skies turned gray and, by the time I hit Trap Falls, greeted me with a cold/foggy rainstorm. Rain like you wouldn’t believe. Chafe city.

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Government Peak

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Mirror Lake

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Summit Peak

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My truck

It was one of the most magical/sensual things I’ve ever experienced. This effort matches up with the big runs I did with David Kampf and Greg T. in the Adirondacks.


Through my trips to the Northwoods, I’ve been mentally compiling a list of one-liners that characterize the area. I will leave you with them:

1. Pine trees

2. Lakes

3. Motels

4. Wind

5. Logging trucks

6. PBR beer (unfortunately)

7. Paul Bunyan bars

8. Toyota Tacomas

9. Oldies Rock music

10. Old miners

11. Trails

12. Rocks and roots

13. Depressing homes

14. Fishing

15. Cold/unpredictable weather

16. The bare essentials
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