Hiking Club Trail #30
Date: May 4, 2019
Location: Altura, MN
Length: 1.8 Miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 84.4 of 197
2nd hike of the year and I am starting to be asked by more people if they can join us in our hikes - I love hearing that people enjoy our adventures and I love even more that they want to come along. So today we brought along my co-worker and friend Shannon. I let her choose the park and we decided to head down to Carley and ease her into this hiking thing with a short trail - that we assumed would be easy...
This park was beautiful but it wasn't necessarily easy. We also assumed because this park is small that it would be fairly empty even on one of the first 70+ degree days of the year... we were wrong we walked right into their Bluebell festival - which would have been great minus brining the dog who is anxious around lots of people. Good news most of the people stayed at the Park by the parking lot and the trails were almost completely empty.
Flowers a finally blooming... bluebells everywhere! And this park has a crystal clear almost teal in color river running through it, almost reminded me of the glacier rivers in the Canadian Rockies.
This path was mostly easy except for the river crossings. You must cross the river 3 times - the first crossing has no bridge of any kind so you just end up walking through it, knee deep with a rocky bottom. The 2nd crossing comes right after the first this one is one of those sketchy concrete step crossings but it was fairly level and easy. The 3rd which is right a the end of the Hiking Club Trail was by far the worst one - the same sketchy concrete block path as the 2nd except this one is not level, half of it is under raging water, it's slippery and at the end there is a very unstable board you have to walk on to get to a mud hill you have to climb to get out. Now we have to get 3 people and 2 dogs across this and one of the people is legally blind... this was quite the adventure but with patience and a lot of team work we made it across all 3 with no one falling into the river. WIN!
Because of the difficulty of the river crossings we were in this park a lot longer than expected for a 1.8 mile trail. And even though we were all a bit tired we headed over to Frontenac to do a little more hiking because it was such a beautiful day...
Lesson learned: Don't underestimate the small parks!!!
Hiking Club Trail #29
Date: April 28, 2019
Location: Brainerd, MN
Length: 2.3 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 82.6 of 197
After a very long cold winter and tons of snow - we have been itching to get back on the trail and finally made it happen.
I love hiking early in the year - the parks are empty.
This trail was a great pick to start off the year and get back into our hiking groove. Very little rocks or roots. Paths were well kept and flat.
The trail runs along the Mississippi River (which is still a bit too high and flooding in places) in fact we had to find a way around part of our trail because there was knee deep water. You follow an historic ox cart trail into the old town of Crow Wing - the townsite was interesting and worth a visit. Things are well marked and there is quite a bit of information.
At one point I got pretty close to an eagle in a tree (didn't know it until it flew because I was racing my dog...haha).
Also my legally blind mom received her 75 mile patch - again if she can do it, anyone can. Get out there you don't know what you will find!
Hiking Club Trail #28
Date: October 13, 2018
Location: Two Harbors, MN
Length: 2.2 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 80.3 of 197
Due to my Mom's injury at Sibley State Park we have been on a month break from hiking. She felt better this last week so we thought we should go up to the North Shore and see if we could salvage the last of fall - some charts were saying Northern MN was past peak...
It was worth the drive - fall was in full swing and we were not disappointed!!!
And with it being 45 degrees and a bit windy, what normally would be an insanely crowded State Park was fairly low key. Especially out on the Hiking Club Trail. I have been to this park probably hundreds of times and I think this was the one trail I have never hiked because the trail is across the river - most people make it to the falls and that's it.
Not to say the park wasn't full - by the time we got there they were expecting lots of people so anyone with a State Park Pass was sent into the park and down by the lake which is about 1.5 miles from the falls.
That being said the trip started with having to put Penny on a bus... This dog is afraid of everything. Good news this allowed me to test the new calming treats I got for her. Turns out they worked not only did I have to drag her onto a bus but we got the last seat which was right in front of another dog (see previous posts Penny has extreme dog anxiety) she didn't even bark... AMAZING - I NEED TO BUY THESE TREATS IN BULK!!!
After crossing the river and getting onto the HCT we maybe saw 8 people all day. The fall colors were amazing from the trees to the ground cover. This trail also has amazing views of the river and Lake Superior for 80% of it. And because you are up high on the ridge the views are spectacular and unlike the views you get from the rest of this park. The trail was mostly flat a few small hills here and there and very little obstacles so it was a perfect trail to try out after an injury.
I could write more but with this one I am just going to let the pictures do the talking - did any of you get up to the North Shore this fall? I've said it before Lake Superior is my happy place and this fall was more colorful than I have seen in years!!!
And I got the 25th Stamp in my Passport Club book - which means I got my Pin and one night of free camping - which means this club has already paid for itself! (I joined this one after the Hiking Club so I am still a couple of parks behind)
Hiking Club Trail #27
Date: September 8, 2018
Location: New London, MN
Length: 4.0 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate/Hard (Mostly hills)
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 78.1 of 197
This one was rough not only was it hot and humid - this park is nothing but hills. As soon as you get to the top of one you are immediately going down then right back up again. Because of this each mile felt like 3 miles.
I wish this park had more HCT signs - we didn't get lost but it would have been a little reassuring if there wasn't such a huge distance between the signs.
Had my Mom, Penny and Winston along. I realized how long it had been since I had Penny out on the trail almost immediately. She still has such a hard time when we come across other dogs on the trail. I am trying desperately to distract her from it but to no avail. She gets so anxious and even once got off the leash causing a small situation and just adding to my frustration on this day.
My mom is also dealing with some knee issues that had mostly gone away before attempting this park. But the hills cause some issues. Half way through she was doing ok but the last mile brought to life my biggest fear of taking my legally blind mom on the trails with me.
What happens if we have an injury on the trail???
She had mentioned to me that her knees were feeling weak. We had just under a mile to go and we were pretty deep in the woods so we were trying to take it easy. We come to a bigger downhill and she is having some trouble seeing due to the shade and she really isn't trusting her knee. I am helping her down the hill when she suddenly falls - I just happen to pull Winston out of the way...
Now she has fallen before and really she is pretty good at it but this time it was different. Usually she falls and is on the ground laughing - this time she is in pain... I quick tie Penny off to a tree and hope no other dog walks by - quick hook Winston to another tree and then go try and help her up. She manages to stand up but I can tell she is in pain and I am hoping there is an easy way out of the woods and that I don't have to try and drag her up and down hills until we get to the car.
Long story short we very slowly make our way about 1/4 of a mile to a road. That road isn't on my map so I am not exactly sure where we are. I want to leave her at this point and go find the car but because the road (and the parking lot I parked in) are not on the map I am not even sure which way to go to find the car (this seems like a huge miss for this park as I almost always know the way back to the car). Good thing a car came past and the woman (DNR Park worker) gave my mom a ride back to the car and I walked with the dogs back.
Good news I no longer have the extreme fear that we won't be able to figure it out in an emergency (and I ALWAYS carry a first aid kit for both the humans and the dogs). And I am very glad the injury wasn't much worse.
We will be taking a little break from hiking - especially the hilly parks - in order to heal. But can't wait to get back out there.
OH BY THE WAY I RECEIVED MY 75 MILE PATCH - Mom and Penny will get theirs at the next park (we are almost caught up to each other which means I won't have to do any more parks for the 2nd time.
I started this journey less than a year ago - I am officially 78 miles in but unofficially I have done almost double that amount...
Labor Day = the end of summer. I don't know about any of you but I like to stay close to home on this holiday. Most of the state parks are full, traffic is heavy - just not my style. The weekend after Labor Day is my favorite though because suddenly the Parks that were full over the summer become empty just like that!
So in an effort to catch my Mom up to me on her hiking club miles we headed out to William O'Brien to do a 6 miler and finally get her to within 2 parks of me.
It was HOT and HUMID so the park was more empty than I thought it was going to be which was a pleasant surprise. This is my 4th time out to William O'Brien this year and this Park never disappoints.
Beautiful scenery. You can see that we are starting to change from summer to fall. Some leaves are changing colors, the field is starting to take on a pinkish tint, flowers are starting to die and the light is taking on a more golden glow. We are coming into my favorite time of year and I couldn't be more excited.
This time on the HCT I opted to do it in reverse - to get the hilly section out of the way in the beginning as my mom has been having some arthritis flare ups in her knee. This worked out great by the time she started to tire we were on mostly flat ground which is a lot easier to handle.
Ran across some wildlife: 2 turtles, leopard frogs, a snake, 2 rabbits and a deer. Winston was having a great time with this - even though he is mostly deaf now if he saw it he'd chase it as far as he could on the leash.
This park is one of my favorites and I still kick myself that I have lived fairly close to it for most of my life and my first trip there happened last September... If you get a chance go check it out!
Hiking Club Trail #26
Date: August 18, 2018
Location: Sunburg, MN
Length: 1.0 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 74.1 of 197
Not much to say about this park - it is tiny - the hiking club trail is really poorly marked (good news is there are only 2 miles of trails through this park so just start walking you will find the password eventually.
Penny loved this park - quiet trails were filled with small wildlife to chase... Salamanders, snakes and leopard frogs.
Things seemed kind of run down out on the trails but it was a quick in and out for us. We got our passport stamp and hiked the trail and were on our way in less than an hour.
Hiking Club Trail #25
Date: August 18, 2018
Location: Ortonville, MN
Length: 2.2 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 73.1 of 197
This park is weird - it is in 3 different sections all miles apart. I stopped at the main offices to get my passport stamp then had to drive another 11 miles up the road to the section of the park with the Hiking Club trail (for the size of this park there is very little hiking). On the short hiking club trail you hike near private houses (which I don't care for) but the entire way you do have great views of Big Stone Lake and South Dakota.
We were by ourselves the entire time which was nice - I was able to let Penny off the leash at the beach so that she could explore the shore line and hunt for rocks (this dog is obsessed with rocks...).
Highlights were watching Pelicans fish, saw a few field mice and got pretty close to a deer.
This trail isn't traveled much which was obvious with the amount of spiderwebs I took to the face.
It was nice to explore this side of the state but I probably won't be back to this park anytime soon.
Hiking Club Trail #24
Date: August 18, 2018
Location: Two Harbors, MN
Length: 5.8 Miles
Difficulty: Easy (minus a good deal of steep stairs at the end)
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 70.9 of 197
Water is water, but Lake Superior is different - it calls to me. I can tell when I have been away too long... it beckons me and when I finally answer the call it completely recharges my soul!
The rock formations the crystal clear, deep, cold water - it can be completely still and blend to the horizon and change in a minute to be dark and ominous. It is Minnesota's ocean and still after all the places I've been, the shores of this lake remain my happy place!
It's been sooo hot here lately - 90's for days - I needed an escape. I've been dreaming of Lake Superior for months now and decided it was time to make a trip up there even if it was just for the day. It is usually quite a bit cooler along the shores of Gitche Gumee especially once you get North of Duluth. With high temps forecasted into the 90's again in the Twin Cities - I was so glad I made the 3 hr drive - temps stayed in the low 80's with an ice cool breeze coming off of that lake (Mother Natures air conditioning - I have so missed this)!
Winston and I headed from the Trail Head Parking Lot directly to the Hiking Club Trail as I realized I have been to this State Park a few times and I don't think I have ever hiked any of the trails - which seems odd as I lived in Duluth for years and would make trips up the shore to hike often.
From the parking lot you immediately end up at a beach with the best views of the Lighthouse that I have ever seen (again wondering how I have never hiked here) we headed into the woods up a hill and did a few miles along paved Gitchi-Gami trail. With wildflowers blooming everywhere it was beautiful. I tend to avoid the North Shore during the Summer and Fall on weekends just because of the sheer amount of people but it was crazy as soon as we stepped away from the lighthouse we were pretty much alone for the day minus a few bikers that passed us along the trail.
The second half of the trail brings you back into the woods high above the lake - you walk a trail with lake views almost the entire time. The only sounds were our footsteps, waves slowly crashing against the rocks below, birds chirping and the occasional boat driving by - it was wonderful!
At one point we came to a fork in the road - Corundum Mine ruins to my right (not on the HCT) but why not. It was a small, overgrown trail that wound around a large rock formation - there were fallen trees along the path and I almost didn't continue but I am so glad I did - the trail came to a stop on top of the large rock formation and it had spectacular views of the lake and the tree covered hills. I could have easily sat at that spot all day - but due to the hazy day and poor air quality from the wildfires currently burning in Canada - I knew spending extra hours outside probably wasn't too good for my 13.5 year old dog (or me for that matter) so after a short break we climbed down and finished out our hike.
Towards the end of the HCT there is a large set of fairly steep wooden stairs that seem to just keep going and going... but the pay off is worth it you end up back on that beach overlooking the lighthouse where you can rest your tired feet in the icy waters of Lake Superior.
This has to be one of my MOST favorite hiking club trails yet!
I love Lake Superior! Do you have one of those favorite places that has the ability to recharge your soul at first sight?
Date: July 28, 2018
Location: Moose Lake, MN
Length: 6.5 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: N/A
I've been taking a little break from hiking - it has just been far too hot for me - I really wish Fall was a longer season! After about a month off I just couldn't take it anymore it was time to get back our on the trail. I decided to head up and re-hike the hiking club trail at Moose Lake State Park... I did this hike in the winter and totally missed the password sign (Don't ask me how because I found it in the most obvious spot this time).
The hiking club trail is fairly short in this park - around 2 miles. It is a pretty easy hike but it is the hardest trail in the park - due to a decent amount of wash out and really tall grass. At this time of year the HCT was lined with wild raspberries and wild flowers, as well as a lot of flies (they were really going after my poor dog).
After finding my password I decided that this State Park is small (about 6 miles of hiking trails total) I was going to see what the rest of the park had to offer. So we hiked the entire park. Nothing super impressive but it was a nice quiet easy hike - some of the trails have beautiful views of Echo Lake. Also I had a really nice walk through a white pine forest. All in all a good day. 6 miles of hiking combined with about 4 hours total of driving and I was still back home for lunch!
Jay Cooke State Park
Date: June 23, 2018
Location: Carlton, MN
Length: 4.5 Miles
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate (there are some pretty large hills to climb - the trail is easy if you don't mind hills)
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: N/A
It's Lady Slipper season in Minnesota. The Showy Lady Slipper is the MN State Flower and seeing one of these flowers in the wild has been on my bucket list since the 6th grade when I had to make my Minnesota Scrapbook... Now let's be real - I really hadn't put much effort into finding them until this year.
Until I started the MN Hiking Club.
I'd been researching which parks I'd have the best chance in seeing them and when their blooming season is, Usually between Father's Day and the 4th of July. That is a short window when you will have to drive at least 2 hours to possibly see them. I knew the yellow lady slippers had started blooming the week before so we were heading up there on a hope and a prayer. Either way the trip wouldn't be a waste - my mom still needed to do the Hiking Club trail.
Jay Cooke is one of my favorite state parks - I spent a lot of time here while I was in college - there is always something new to see - plus this park is HUGE. Not only did we do the HCT - and it looked way different than when I first hiked that trail last fall (see previous post) - but we saw what we came here for - the showy lady slipper. They are impressive flowers!
It was an awfully humid day for a hike but it was worth it!!!