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  • Writer's pictureEmily Ford

My First Thru Hike - BRT to SHT

Hiking from the border of Canada to my house in Duluth, MN felt like a first doable thru-hike. It included the Border Route Trail (bordering along Canada and Minnesota) and the Superior Hiking Trail (skimming the northeastern edge of Minnesota covering around 324 miles.

Since few people know about the BRT, here's a bit of info:

"The trail was planned and built in the early 1970's by the Minnesota Rovers Outing Club with the help of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the US Forest Service. It was the first long-distance, wilderness backpacking and hiking trail in Minnesota planned and constructed by volunteers. The Border Route Trail Association was incorporated in 2004 to coordinate the maintenance and increase public awareness of the trail..."

"The Border Route Trail is a rugged wilderness hiking trail that follows ridge-lines and the top of high cliffs wherever feasible. Therefore, hiking the trail offers expansive views across the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota and Quetico Provincial Park in Canada. Even though the trail is maintained by crews of volunteers, downed trees and patches of thick brush are common obstacles on the trail. Because of its rugged and primitive nature, it provides solitude and a true wilderness experience but also requires good map and compass skills." (Source:

Information on the SHT can be found here: They have a fantastic association that takes care of the 310 mile trail! It's easy to navigate and great for a first time thru-hike.

I have so few photos from this trip because I dumped my phone in a beautiful lake on my second day. I was squatting down on a rock and my phone slipped out of my jacket (it didn't have zippers...)

So the best I can do is give you a short 4 minute video of this trip from my GoPro. My dog, Zulu and I did this trip in October. By the end of the trip, our water was freezing overnight. I didn't bring mittens, so I used my extra socks to hike with in the early mornings.

It was my first time planning a route and I had no clue how many miles we would be able to crank out in a day (I had no clue what I was doing). I planned my route on the back of some USPS mail, shoved it in my guide book and set out. Starting at the western end of the BRT, heading east towards home.

As we went went along, I adjusted our mileage and realized that I was getting stronger as I moved along. A buddy of mine, who did a food drop for me, encouraged me to pick up the pace and get home! I'm gad I did since that October ended with gnarly Noreaster storms.


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