This past weekend the wife and I stayed for three nights at the largest state park in Minnesota, St. Croix State Park. We used it as a jumping off point for our day of volunteering at Voyageur, but then had a couple of relaxing nights just to ourselves.
On Sunday morning we got up to go for our runs. One of the things that we immediately discovered is that at this time of the year, but flies are bad. I mean very, very bad. We both headed out for our respective paths, and after an hour or so met up again. I was sick and tired of the bugs on the horse trails, and my wife was tired of the overgrown paths that she found. Since we were both frustrated we decided on a reset. I hopped over to the paved bike path in hopes that the flies wouldn’t be as bad, and she headed out towards a different section of paths that was slightly better mowed.
I finished out my run and came back to the camp to shower. When I was done I started walking down towards where my wife had parked, but she was already coming down the road towards me. It was then that I found out that this other path she took resulted in not one, but two black bears making their presence known to her. One of them climbed up a tree near her, and the other started running down the path in front of her trying to get away. Needless to say, she hightailed it (noisily) back to the car and called it good.
Once we were both cleaned up we decided to go for a photo walk down near the western side of the park. We managed to get down the path a little over a mile before we had to turn around and head back because of the flies. We drove to a couple of other spots that were considered scenic, but in all cases it was hard to do anything because of the bugs.
Also, I just have to mention that the natural features like “Head of the Rapids” and “Big Eddy”, were somewhat lackluster. Perhaps if we weren’t getting constantly attacked by insects we would have enjoyed them more, but overall they were pretty benign sites to see. I did manage a few pictures that I’ll post later this week.
The rest of our day was uneventful; we made a short trip in to town for some lunch and more beverages (I can’t be this close to Wisconsin and not come home with some New Glarus). Thankfully, the campgrounds were pretty fly-free, so we were able to enjoy another wonderful evening by the fire. The next morning I braved the flies to get some sunrise pics over the river before we headed back in to town. It was nice to get back home and still have a full day to recover. Since we were only an hour from home it made for a really quick morning drive as well.
The main thing that we were really fascinated by (landscape wise) was the large blow-down area that reminded me of someplace like Florida. Single trees sticking up from the greenery, that almost looked like palm trees. It was pretty impressive to see just how damaging a major wind storm could be. It makes you appreciate the power of weather. Seeing the difference between the areas that were blown down, and the untouched forest, was striking. One moment you’re surrounded by trees, the other, there’s almost nothing to be seen.
I feel like St Croix State Park might be an interesting place in the winter. Many of the trails are overgrown in the summer, but in the winter they might make for really interesting exploration. It’s fun to have such a large park so close to us, and I could see us going back again… just maybe not at the height of fly season.