Biking the Heartland Trail


When I was shopping in Walker on Monday, I picked up some "Heartland Trail" T-shirts for Tom and me, since we had both been biking portions of the trail. My shirt said "Forty-nine miles" on it, and stirred within me the idea of meeting that challenge. I had only done a little less than half of the trail before (from Cass Lake to Walker), but thought that I might be able to complete the whole thing if I took my time.So this morning, Tom and I and Leah (and Migizi) drove to Park Rapids, Minnesota, to the trail head. We got our bikes and gear out and sent Leah (and Migizi) back to Cass Lake with the car. We now had 49 miles between us and Cass Lake, with two bikes and four legs to get us there.

The trail started out very populated with walkers, runners, and other bikers, but thinned out as we moved farther from Park Rapids. At the 6-mile point, we came to the small town of Dorset, a.k.a. the"restaurant capital of the world." I hear there are more restaurants per capita than any other town. Tom said that isn't hard when your population is "about four." Actually, I've read the population is 22, and there are four restaurants in town. For more interesting Dorset info, including how they chose their 16-year-old mayor (who replaced their previous 4-year-old mayor), see this article on Dorset.

After a quick restroom break there, we went another six miles to Nevis, where we stopped at a trail-side picnic table for a snack. After yet another six miles, we entered the small town of Akeley, home to one (of many?) Paul Bunyan statues and a P.B. museum. We took a couple of pictures in Paul's big hand, and moved on down the road. Nine miles later, we arrived at Walker, which was about 28 miles into our trip, having added a mile through various little side trails.


We refueled at Subway and I rested my weary legs. After lunch, my body was starting to rebel a bit, but once I got things moving, I felt better. We enjoyed the scenery and wildflowers along Leech Lake and stopped at a "Free Little Library" (a little box people put out for trading books) where I picked up "Eat, Live, Pray." Since I didn't have a book with me to trade, I'll have to drop one off next year...Tom says I can just leave "Eat, Live, Pray" after I finish it.


Maybe it was because the end was in sight, but I really started to feel it on the last 10-12 miles. But I pushed on, and we finally arrived back at the resort at about 4:30. We went 52.85 miles...basically I rode my age!


We finished off the evening with a nice kayak ride for the ladies (Deb, Melissa and I) and some evening fishing. Nicole and Leah joined us, and although we only caught two fish, we had an exciting time. From the guy who chewed out Tom for driving through "his" fishing spot ("You gotta' be kidding me! Get a life!") to a beautiful sunset, to Nicole's 12" crappie...we had another great adventure on the Lake.