TOFTE—It was going to be our fifth time hiking Oberg Mountain. I turned into the parking lot off the Onion River Road and saw lots of cars. I just drove 90 miles away from people in Duluth so I could be around more people? I looked at the opposite end of the parking lot. The end where nobody was going. I suggested Leveaux Mountain instead. My adventurous crew agreed to try something new.
My family found the tip of the mountain and got the same view you get from Oberg. The vast sweep of the big lake from a ledge of rock. Nice views over the fall foliage. The colors rolled like ocean swells down Britton Peak to Carlton Peak, farther west. We were the only ones there.
Three years later, my dog Leo and I ran on the Superior Hiking Trail. An 18-miler from Lutsen to the Temperance River. We ran by Oberg Mountain and I thought, “Let’s take the spur to the summit.” We saw 30 people in a quarter mile. We blew it off, retreated, and ran out the west end of the parking lot again. Leo rounded the end of Leveaux Mountain, surrounded by orange leaves. We sat there all by ourselves and basked in the sun glinting off that giant blue mirror. Sometimes, your second choice should be your first choice.