July 23, 2013
Today was the most beautiful day outside. The sky was blue, the breeze was light and the heat was just right (how's
that for poetry?). Naturally I had to venture out to Whitewater and scale the bluffs. The wildflowers were everywhere
(though as usual several of them are invasive weeds I'm sure)...and at my favorite spot the butterflies were all over.
This is along the trail that goes up a neverending hill after crossing what I call the "bouncy bridge" by the campground
(I despise that thing!). After climbing the neverending hill (I go the opposite direction, but it still takes forever
to go down) you turn a corner and there is a field on one side filled with flowers and grasses and it's just so pretty
there. This trip was the first time I'd ever gone up and down four different bluffs. Needless to
say my legs were pretty wobbly by the end of the hike.
June 21, 2013
Today on this, my last day of vacation, I ventured over to Nerstrand. This is the park I frequent most often
after Whitewater, though I've never been on the trails south of the road there (shame!). Today was a partially
muddy hike as the area has had some serious rainfall lately. There were down trees and one in particular required some
negotiating to get around. The Big Woods are very nice and peaceful to wander through and like most parks, there are generally
few people out on the trails away from the popular areas. The crossing at Hidden Falls was impassable due to the high
water so I couldn't make a loop. To avoid having to go around that tree again, I walked through the walk-in
site area. The river crossing reminded me of my last trip to Whitewater where I had a terrible hike and haven't
been back since. Why can't they just build real bridges instead of using those stupid concrete slabs or that bouncy
bridge thing they had at Whitewater. Had being the operative word. This year the thing wasn't there and so I had
to turn around and hike all the way back the way I came. There were no bitter feelings at all after that....Anyway...I'll
say one thing for Nerstrand- the mosquitoes were downright pleasant after Itasca!
June 20, 2013
Just got home from a trip up to- where else- Itasca. This year I'm just not in the mood for camping, but made myself
drive up there to get out of my house. I was surprised at how empty the campground was. Seems like last year the
spots were mostly full even during the week, but this year the Poplar Loop (where I always stay) was mostly empty and there
were empty spots even in the Bear Paw CG as well. One place I attempted to check out while up there was the new La Salle
Lake Rec Area. This is only about ten miles north of Itasca. They have no signs on Cty 9 at the park entrance
so it is not easy to spot. I found the campground, which was a typical RV oriented place- no privacy between sites,
but it looked nice overall. The sites seemed pretty expensive at $34/night. I then went west
on 9, for a short jaunt, to first road after the CG and this is the rec area- which I didn't know until I got
home and looked at the map. There is no sign at the entrance saying so, and I saw some cabins which made me worry it
was some sort of private camping place, so I didn't go in. Turns out that was the right place and those were just camper
cabins. Oh well. It's not like I won't be going back up there again.
Since I was already north I figured why not go all the way north- to Zippel Bay. The mosquitoes this year
are horrendous and it was no different there. Things were fine walking along the shore, but going anywhere inland was
a test of fortitude. Even with layers of bug spray on, they are just exhausting to be around. I even got
a bite on my eyelid of all places! Zippel Bay was beautiful of course, and the beach area was completely deserted...as
usual. The Rainy River was also drool-worthy as I traveled east on MN 11.
My trip also involved a stop at Lake Bemidji which I hadn't been to in seven years. The bogwalk was the highlight
as I got to photograph the Pink Lady-slipper. I was saddened to see there are no Showy Lady-slippers this
year at Itasca. The yellow ones were all over, which I hadn't seen last year anywhere. Perhaps they are on
some sort of rotation schedule so one kind doesn't steal the spotlight from the other? Haha. I could look
at those flowers all day. The pink one isn't quite as exciting, but still pretty. Now it's just the white
one left to complete my collection, and if I was really lucky- the ram's head. And so another vacation has come
to an end.