There was so much to do at Lake Itasca that I had to stay for a full day. Plus it was good to have a kind of "rest" day. How to do that but still spend it biking and hiking around the lake?
I unhitched the boat from the Brompton, snapping off all the bungee cords and cutting out the duct tape and rubber that had been the cushion between them. The bike was so fast, so small, and spritelike without a canoe to tow that it was a long time before I left top gear. It was exciting how nimble the thing was around turns.
Itasca State Park is like a national park in disguise, considering the quality of its trails and boardwalks, its centers for interpretation and commerce surprisingly well staffed and stocked for the late season. It was a relief to me, the large quantity of field guides and free maps of the upper Mississippi at the gift shops. And compared to many of the provincial parks I have been to, not many recreational vehicles. The gift shop is state owned and the activities here more culturally similar to what I am used to, I suppose.
I bounded up and down the hills, taking a complete lap around the lake, as I saw the largest white pine, and what was left of the largest red: real record-holders. I walked down to a lake slowly silting into a meadow, and hiked the Dr Roberts trail, 2 miles through a bog with a certain Beatles song stuck in my head.
The bicycle portage was the most difficult thing I had done (until the upper Mississippi) and it was as hard on my equipment as it had been on me. The following parts gave their lives in the effort:
8 spokes, 1 axle and bearing set, 1 tire, 6 patches, 1 paddle, 1 inner tube (rubber for cushioning), 1/2 roll of duct tape, and that license plate got beat up pretty good too.
Day 118 ended: Mississippi Headwaters Hostel