Since the flooding caused by 10 inches of overnight rain in northeastern Minnesota last week made the national news, you’re probably already aware that Mother Nature – aka “Mama” – paid a recent visit to Duluth. MN and the North Shore of Lake Superior.
You’ve probably already heard about the dozen or so animals that drowned at the Lake Superior Zoo, the polar bear that escaped it’s enclosure, and the harbor seal that was found in the middle of a city street. You’ve heard about the evacuations of small towns and neighborhoods, seen pictures of road washouts and the sink holes that swallowed automobiles, and learned that the water level in Lake Superior rose 3 inches in one day. But you probably haven’t heard about what happened to the local trails and what it means to some of our races that take place upon them.
Here’s the current skinny:
The Superior Hiking Trail northeast of Gooseberry State Park (start of the Superior Sawtooth 100 Mile), only has a few nicks and should bounce back fairly quick, so the fall Superior races and other events in that part of the state shouldn’t be affected.
Southwest of Gooseberry is a different story. The entire Duluth section of the SHT is currently closed, as are a few other sections. Several bridges have been damaged or destroyed, and at least one bridge is completely missing. Check current conditions here. The fast and furious flood waters have stripped trees of their bark and punched a hole through the earth such that Forbay’s Lake was completely drained of it’s water. How fast were the flood waters? The Fond du Lac station on the St. Louis River typically measures water volume at 2,000 to 5,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). Last Thursday it was running at 47,000 cfs.
The Superior Hiking Trail Association estimates that it will cost approximately $10,000 (which is not in the budget) and many, many man hours of volunteer labor to restore the bridges. They have established a special fund to help raise money for this project if you’d like to donate money, or there will be plenty of opportunities to donate time and muscle if you’d like to volunteer your labor over the coming weeks and months.
A more pressing concern at the moment is the fate of the Voyageur and Half Voyageur races, which are set to take place next month. The course runs from the town of Carlton to the Lake Superior Zoo, through Jay Cooke State Park and over the historic swinging bridge. This entire area took a beat down: Carlton was evacuated, you’ve already heard about some of the happenings at the zoo, Jay Cooke is closed until further notice, Hwy 210 has several mud slides and wash outs and is closed until further notice, and part of the swinging bridge was swept away. Check out the video from last week:
The Voyageur race directors and local runners are working their tails off trying to come up with a safe and viable solution – it’s just too early to tell what’s going to happen. Right now, we’re thinking about showing up no matter what – either for a race on a re-routed course, or for a trail maintenance day. Either way, it will be epic!
Updates seem to be coming in faster on Facebook that on official websites right now, so here’s a list of Facebook links:
How you can help:
Join the SHTA and/or add your name to the volunteer list.
Donate $ to the SHTA bridge fund.
Show up to help rebuild bridges, trails, clear brush, relocate mud, etc.
If you can’t afford to give money and northeastern Minnesota is too far away for you to come and help with the grunt work, then volunteer at one of your local trails. It’s only a matter of time ’til Mama comes to visit your neck of the woods, too.