I came back from that trip to Canada with this renewed sense of self - I felt better, I was happier - and I think I interpreted it all wrong. I took it as it was all the exercise and time off of work that made me happy (and that was part of it) but after joining the gym didn't fulfill whatever it is I was looking for, I realized (almost a year later) it was the adventure.
So fast forward to early 2017 (work, friends, house projects... life just got in the way - EXCUSES!) I had a possible layoff looming - the company I worked for was filing for bankruptcy and changes are coming whether I like it or not. In preparation I needed to start saving money just in case - I needed to cancel that gym membership... but I was in the best shape of my adult life, how was I going to stay active?
My answer to this was get a State Park pass and take up hiking - minus the gas to get to all of these places this is a fairly inexpensive activity and I already had most of the gear needed to safely walk a lot of miles in the wilderness.
My first trip was to Barn Bluff in Red Wing (not a state park) - I had hiked this before but I had a friend who had never been there so off we went.
After climbing up the bluff and taking in all the views it was still pretty early in the day so we decided to drive farther south and just see what we came across. A few miles into that drive we spotted a sign for Frontenac State Park and decided to stop since neither of us had been there before and I had been wanting to buy a State Park Pass anyway.
This park is what did it for me - exploring new places, getting outside, being active - this is what I have been missing. Hiking can clear my mind - no matter how stressful life can get and here is where my passion really started. I think we walked 7 miles that day and I loved every second of it. It truly was a turning point in my life! (More on Frontenac State Park in a different post)
Date: April 1, 2017
Location: Barn Bluff - Red Wing, MN
Parking: Free but lot is small and you often end up parking along the road
Length: Approx. 2 Miles
Difficulty: Intermediate (it is a steady climb)
If you aren't an experienced hiker you'll probably want to take this hike at a slower pace due to the continual climb (it starts with a pretty good set of stairs...). It is well worth the effort it takes to get to the top - you will have pretty awesome views of the Mississippi River and the town of Red Wing. It is also a good place to spot Bald Eagles - I have seen at least 2 every time I have taken this hike.