Up North: Duluthian discovers meaning beyond the miles hiking entire Superior Hiking Trail
Spanning around 310 miles the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) snakes along the rocky ridges of Lake Superior all the way to the Canadian border.
Back in 2016 Duluthian Julie Ray set her sights on conquering every stretch
"I was looking to spend more time walking with my dog, my life situation had changed, and so I started walking different sections," Ray explained. "I was really motivated to do it because being on the trail really gives a lot back to me."
She took a few breaks, and even moved away for a year, but the old growth and earthy course kept calling her back.
"I logged quite a few hours doing it," Ray laughed. "I’m really slow hiker and I like to stop and take pictures and smell the flowers, literally and figuratively."
In June of this year all that remained was the Northern Terminus in Hovland, Minnesota.
Emerging from the trail head after the day trek Ray could officially check off one bucket list item: hike every portion of the SHT, out and back, at least once.
"It was a really peaceful moment for me," Ray said recalling the final day of her journey. "It also kind of wrapped up that five year time frame for me."
After taking the final steps of what ended up being a more than 600 mile journey Ray, wanting to share some of her self discoveries, published a few ‘Lessons from the Trail’ on a hiking Facebook group.
One reminded hikers that "no climb lasts forever and neither does any descent".
"It wasn’t necessarily about passing on the knowledge," Ray explained, "but I think that sometimes things in our lives don’t necessarily feel complete until we can share them with others."
Now it’s on to a new adventure.
The traveling treader is currently tackling the Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile route across Spain.
"I know that sort of truth in my life, being in nature and spending time in nature especially hiking, really brings something so important to my life and helps center me," Ray shared.
She added that she hopes to return from her overseas adventure with a stronger soul, and more Lessons from the Trail.