Summer Above:Winter Below ~ Crow-Hassan (Hanover, MN) 11-Apr-2023

Possibly this is the Spring of Deception. Possibly not. Whatever. But temperatures are forecast to approach 80℉ (26℃) over the next 4 days. Along with ample sunshine. 😎 And a steady, but refreshing, breeze. Conditions we’ve been dreaming about for months. And ones not to be squandered inside.

So we made a list of hikes to take advantage of this (most likely temporary) warmth. First up was a return to Crow-Hassan Park Reserve outside Hanover. Our last visit there was just before Thanksgiving last year. The first snows of winter had fallen and the Crow was beginning to ice up. Now, it was clearly unfrozen and forecast to rise to moderate flood stage in the next few days. 😲

The waters rise

Today’s goal was to enjoy the warmth and see the rising river. The trick was figuring out what to wear. Shorts, of course. Footwear was more of a challenge. The LovedOne went with her winter boots – and chose wisely. I opted for my Gore-Tex “water resistant” summer boots – and chose poorly.

Despite it having been the 3rd snowiest winter on record in the Twin Cities, there is already a great deal of bare, brown ground, and only a few patches of snow, showing around town. This, as we would discover today, is not the case out in the hinterlands.

The trails we were on today displayed the full range of ways water can express itself in Minnesota: hard snow, soft snow, hard slick ice, melting slick ice, puddles, puddles covered with thin ice, mud, standing water, flowing water, shallow postholes, deep postholes, wet dirt.

Previous hikers had left footprints in the snow and these had melted and morphed into a very uneven trail surface. Walking – and staying upright – on these lumpy, mushy, wet trails was, regardless of our footwear, a lot of work.

The LovedOne threw some positive spin on this by suggesting we were exercising all the “small muscles” that had atrophied during the long winter. What was clearly getting exercised was my patience. Eventually, even The LovedOne had to admit that these were “tedious” trails. Had this been Scrabble, “vexatious” would have been a winning word choice. πŸ˜’

But we pressed on. From the Horse Trailhead to Intersection 10, then to 5, 2, 3, and 7 to 9 at the Blue Stem Group Camp. From there, we continued south to 13 so we could stand on the river bank at the canoe landing. After that we went through 12 and then straight back, past 11, to the trailhead.

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve Minnesota
We hit a chute of ice right out of the parking lot
And did some impressive postholing
Crow-Hassan Park Reserve Minnesota
On our way past Intersection 10
Every small gully had its own gushing rivulet
Crow-Hassan Park Reserve Minnesota
Some dry ground between Intersections 8 and 5
A small pond near Intersection 5
Crow-Hassan Park Reserve Minnesota
A stretch of dry ground past Intersection 8
Crow-Hassan Regional Park, Minnesota
Sun above ~ Ice, snow, water, mud below
Crow-Hassan Park Reserve Minnesota
Open prairie past Intersection 2
A flight of American Pelicans passing overhead
Crow-Hassan Park Reserve Minnesota
Mud ruts past Intersection 3

Not far beyond Intersection 3, we got our first view of the Crow River (with the orange domes of the Saint Michael Waste Water Facility in the background). While the river was clearly much higher than when we’d seen it last November, it still looked remarkably placid for a major river on its way to flood stage. As in: “Nothing to see here, just going to wash away your gazebo and maybe flood your town.

Overlooking the Crow River from Crow-Hassan Park Reserve Minnesota
Crow River from the bluff southwest of Intersection 3
Keeping the trail open
Blue Stem Group camp, Crow-Hassan Park Reserve Minnesota
Open ground, with a hint of green, at Blue Stem
The view from Blue Stem

There are two places southwest of Blue Stem where we could get right down to the banks of the Crow – a short off-trail route and the canoe landing (with steps). In both places, the river was flowing by so smoothly it was hard to see it posing a flood threat.

On the banks of the Crow River at Crow-Hassan Park Reserve Minnesota
Crow River near Blue Stem
Last year’s leaf slowly rots away
On the banks of the Crow River at Crow-Hassan Park Reserve Minnesota
Crow River at the canoe landing – the land across the river will be inundated if a moderate flood stage is reached
Crow-Hassan Park Reserve Minnesota
Going from Intersection 12 straight back to the trailhead
A day of ice and water
Crow-Hassan Park Reserve Minnesota
And back to the trailhead

Our loop came to 5.6 miles (8.9 km) with a cumulative gain of 300 feet (91 m). My boots were seriously wet by the time we got back to the trailhead – Gore-Tex not being invincible. Even The LovedOne’s snow boots had leaked some, what with all the slipping and sliding and puddle plunging. So some lessons learned about hiking through the various forms of water rampant during Minnesota’s “shoulder” season. πŸ™„

The trails might have been tedious or vexatious or both but the sheer beauty and warmth of this day completely overcame these negatives. 😍 That no flying, biting insects 🦟 were yet about only added to the beauty.

Post-hike we went over to Big Bore Barbecue in Hanover to either celebrate the warmth of the day or commiserate about the trail conditions or a bit of both. Regardless, it was a fitting – and tasty πŸΊπŸ–πŸ˜‹ – end to our day outside. 😁

Our loop at Crow-Hassan

7 thoughts on “Summer Above:Winter Below ~ Crow-Hassan (Hanover, MN) 11-Apr-2023

Add yours

  1. Sorry, but no. This moment of warm & dry appears to be our Spring of Deception, and will only last until Friday. πŸ˜• Then it’s back to rain, a bit more snow, and “seasonal” (cold) temperatures. 😟 So we’re keeping this warm for ourselves. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Can you send some of that sunshine and warmth to Oregon please?


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