Schoolcraft State Park (Minnesota) 18-Jul-2022

Working on the house has been a tribulation but one that may be nearing an end (for the moment). We can see the light at the end of the tunnel – or of the sewer pipe as the case may be. 🙄 Thanks to an informative conversation with one of our new neighbors, it looks like we’ll be able to DIY a task that we thought we’d have to contract out. More work for us, but less expense (unless, of course, mistakes are made 😒). But, before embarking on yet another fix-it project, we decided to head northward to continue with our state park quest. We picked seven parks and one recreation area, all with some connection to the Mississippi River.

The Mississippi is the second longest river in North America. Although measurements differ, it flows some 2,552 miles (4,083 km) from its source at Lake Itasca through the center of the continental United States to the Gulf of Mexico (the Missouri River, one of the Mississippi’s tributaries, is 100 miles longer). Although Henry Rowe Schoolcraft was guided to Lake Itasca by Ozawindib, an Anishinabe guide, Henry is credited with identifying that lake as the Mississippi’s source. He also came up with the name “Lake Itasca” – thus bypassing its original name of Omushkos (in Chippewa).

So it seemed appropriate to start this episode of our state park quest with a visit to Schoolcraft State Park near Deer River. We arrived in sunshine, with mild temperatures and relatively low humidity. Here biting flies and mosquitos were at a minimum – which made forgetting to pack our headnets seem like no big deal (it was and we would suffer for it 😬 ). Schoolcraft is a small park and the 1.6 mile (2.6 km) Hiking Club route is its main trail, so we hiked that. By the time we finished this short hike, the sky had clouded over and was threatening rain (it didn’t until we were back on the road).

Starting out clock-wise on the Hiking Club route
The Mississippi is partly marsh at the north end of the park
Back into the forest
Colorful mushrooms outnumbered wildflowers on this hike
Through an avenue of pines
Diamond Polypore
Deciduous forest
Birch Bolete
Seasonal color changes have begun
Fly Agaric
More seasonal colors
Looking upstream along the Mississippi
The park’s dock in the Mississippi
Looking downstream along the Mississippi to its confluence with the Vermilion River
Still life on the Mississippi
The Hiking Club route at Schoolcraft

After this pleasant hike at Schoolcraft, we made our way to Bemidji where we would spend two nights as we visited three more parks linked to the Mississippi: Itasca (Minnesota’s oldest park), La Salle Lake, and Lake Bemidji.

Although some of the other parks we visited have longer trails available, we would end up defaulting to the Club route at all of them. This was partially because those routes took us to interesting features in each park, but mainly because the hoards of biting flies and mosquitos 🦟🦟 we often encountered severely discouraged longer hikes. 😥 A headnet, a headnet! My kingdom for a headnet!

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