Charles A. Lindbergh State Park (Minnesota) 21-Jul-2022

This park was created in 1931 on land donated by the Lindbergh family in memory of Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr., a prominent U.S. Congressman from Minnesota and father of Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr., the famous aviator, military officer, author, inventor, and activist. Charles Junior was raised here, on what was then the family farm and in Washington, DC. The land sits on the bank of the Mississippi River just downstream of Little Falls, Minnesota.

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Crow Wing State Park (Minnesota) 21-Jul-2022

We awoke in Baxter to cloudless skies, moderate temperatures, light humidity, and little wind. Thus favored by the weather, we continued with our park quest by driving the short distance to Crow Wing State Park at the confluence of the Mississippi and Crow Wing Rivers. The 2.5 mile (4.0 km) Hiking Club route here includes part of the Red River Oxcart Trail, offers some good views of the Mississippi, and passes a few historic landmarks.

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Mille Lacs Kathio State Park (Minnesota) 20-Jul-2022

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park has the usual park amenities (including 35 miles (56 km) of trails) but its main focus is on the history of human settlement in the area, a history that dates back at least 9,000 years. This makes the park one of the most significant archeological localities in Minnesota, with 30 sites identified thus far. Its connection to the Mississippi is the Rum River, which leaves Mille Lacs Lake, transits the park, and then continues south to a confluence with the Mississippi near Anoka.

This morning’s breezes had finally died and the day had warmed a lot, so the 3.3 mile (5.4 km) Hiking Club route past some archeological sites and Ogecchie Lake seemed just about right. The park’s website cheerfully reminded us that it was now fly and mosquito season and we should prepare accordingly. Yes, we did that by forgetting our headnets. 😧 Fortunately, we had a generous supply of DEET.

We started on the Landmark Trail, which took us through the woods along the shore of Ogechie Lake and past sites that were Mdewakanton Dakota villages up until about 1700 CE. In those days, such villages extended from Mille Lacs Lake for some distance down along the Rum River. When the Dakota migrated west on to the plains, they were replaced by the Ojibwe, who still live in this area.

Starting out on the Landmark Trail
On the Landmark Trail
Ogechie Lake
Site of one of the pre-1700 Dakota villages
Honey Mushroom (?)
Indian Pipe Fungus
Another Dakota village site

The walk along the Landmark Trail was both informative and pleasant, as a breeze off Ogechie Lake forced the bugs to work extra hard to reach us. Then the Hiking Club route turned inland, over a rolling terrain formed by glacial moraines and past ponds teeming with insect life. And the breeze disappeared. 😲 On with the Lawrence of Arabia style bandana head coverings and more DEET too.

Into the woods (and the bugs)
Michigan Lily
One of the several marshes harboring insect life
A spot of yellow in the forest
Common Cinquefoil

We passed through a second-growth forest that’s probably beautiful in the Fall when the leaves are colorful and the bugs are DEAD! DEAD, I say! DEAD! {cue hysterical cackling here} Today, however, the bugs were not dead and they were soon all we could think about. We made it back to the trailhead with flies clinging to us and spent a few gleeful moments mooshing the ones that foolishly pursued us into the truck. 😈

Our route at Mille Lacs Kathio

Our Plan A was to visit a another park today but the heat and the bugs were too much. So after a short stop to see the Rum River, we invoked Plan B and headed to Baxter for the night. A hot shower to remove the DEET residue and bug carcasses, followed by a nice dinner πŸ”πŸΊπŸ˜‹, proved great ways to end another action packed day in our quest for Minnesota’s state parks. 😁

The Rum River at the outlet of Ogichie Lake

Father Hennepin State Park (Minnesota) 20-Jul-2022

The clouds drifted away in the night and today broke clear and cool and very windy. Lake Bemidji was decorated with whitecaps as we left to drive south and west to our next state park, Father Hennepin, on the shore of Mille Lacs Lake. This lake is Minnesota’s second-largest inland lake, covering 207 square miles (536 square km). From shore, with the wind whipping up some impressive waves, Mille Lacs looked like an ocean, but without the briny smell. Then a pelican flew by and we couldn’t help but think of it as an ocean. πŸ™„

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Lake Bemidji State Park (Minnesota) 19-Jul-2022

After its birth at Lake Itasca, the Mississippi flows north for a bit, then turns east and enters Lake Bemidji. It exits the east side of that lake, crosses Lake Winnibigoshish, and continues on east to Grand Rapids. There it finally turns south and starts for the Gulf of Mexico in earnest. Its path to Grand Rapids looks like a giant reversed question mark. These changes of direction probably added to the challenge (back in the day) of finding its true source.

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