Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park: April 22, 2012

Joe and I went to Northfield, Minnesota on Saturday to visit some good friends: Mandy and Mark!  Mandy was in a play, so we went to see how she did.  (She broke many legs, and a good time was had by all). Thunderdog went to play with her puppy friends at Doggie Day Care (she loves it, and stays overnight every once in a while) so that Mandy & Mark's dog, Winter (who turns 14 in a few weeks) could relax without having a crazy dog invading her house and wanting to constantly play with her.

On Sunday, before heading back up north, we decided to stop by Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park.  We are not often in that part of the state, so it seemed like a good opportunity to check out another Hiking Club Trail.  I had been to Nerstrand-Big Woods before, Joe hadn't.  I managed to keep one of the neatest parts of the trail a secret from him - Hidden Falls.  We followed Prairie Creek for a while, came around a corner and - wow!  There it was. 

Joe thought that it was a very pretty waterfall.  Although we're right at the height of Spring Melt season (and it had rained for a few days earlier in the week), the creek was very shallow.  I was able to walk halfway across the top of the waterfall on almost-dry rocks.

One of the big draws for Nerstrand-Big Woods isn't very big at all: the Dwarf Trout Lily is a spring wildflower that is only found in this corner of Minnesota.  It's not easy to tell it apart from the Trout Lily (it's nearly identical bigger relative, which is not endangered).  Although I was interested in the nuances of what is a Dwarf and what is not, I didn't get too intimate with the flowers.  This is a field of regular old Trout Lilies.

There were also fields of False Rue Anemone, which I think were particularly pretty.

It was a nice little hike!  The temperature was in the upper 50's, the sun and clouds took turns warming us up and cooling us off, and we heard a lot of birds in the trees.  I feel pretty lucky that the first three parks I've visited this year have been so different, and in such different areas of the state.  If the weather holds, I'll probably hit one of the North Shore parks this week.

Total miles hiked today:  2.2

Total miles hiked (in 2012): 26

Total ticks today:  Joe - 0; Thunderdog - n/a; Elly - 0

Total ticks (in 2012): 13

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