Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Flandreau State Park: June 23, 2012

After going to visit Hermann the German, Joe and I headed for Flandreau State Park.  It wasn't that far of a drive: Flandreau is actually IN New Ulm: neighborhoods back right up to the park, and it had more of a "city park" feel to it than any other State Park I've ever been to.  It was downright weird at times.

Things started out normally: we found the Hiking Club Trail, and started our hike.  It was a nice day - a bit warm, but not oppressive.  Perfect June weather in Minnesota.  I was looking forward to hiking in this particular biome - there are four in Minnesota:  Coniferous Northwoods (where I live), the Eastern Hardwoods Deciduous Forest (where Joe lives), the Prairie Grasslands (southern and western MN) and the Tallgrass Aspen Grasslands, which are way up in NW MN.  Flandreau was my first Prairie park (Sibley might be considered prairie, but we'll pretend it wasn't), and I was looking forward to it!


What have we here?  A pool?

This is the first Hiking Club Trail that I've ever been on that comes equipped with a concession stand.  This is  where the City Park Strangeness came in.  The pool is rather unique - it's like a person-made pond with a sand bottom and a fake spring feeding it.  There were some kids shouting at each other in the water and some other ones running around.  It was really, really strange.  I'm used to wilderness, not swimming pools and bomb pops.  I need some nature, stat!!

Ah, much better.

Luckily, the City Park section of Flandreau didn't last too long.  Soon we were on a hiking trail, walking through the woods.  The trail was easily ten feet across and had obvious tire tracks.  Again, not exactly wilderness...but it was pleasant.  We had nice views of the Cottonwood River and there were plenty of birds and wildflowers to listen to and look at.

Downright beautiful little road

We didn't actually see any prairie.  It was mostly forested - there were a few open areas, but they appeared to be small marshlands.  It was a perfectly pleasant walk in the woods, but it does not rise to the top of my Favorite Hiking Club Trails.  Perhaps if I were still in the scream-in-the-pool-and-get-a-bomb-pop demographic...

Joe hikes down the road.  It really was a nice day.

Towards the end of the Hiking Club Trail we actually got to hike on a honest-to-goodness hiking trail: perhaps sixteen inches wide, hugging a nice hillside.  We saw a deer through the trees, and it let us get surprisingly close to us.  We got involved in a bit of a stare-down.

"It stomped its paw at us," said Joe.
"I believe it's called a hoof, Mr. Nature," I responded, full of sass.

I don't think either of us mentioned it at the time, but there was probably a good chance that this was a mama deer and we were getting to close to her fawn.  We didn't get past the hoof-stomping phase though...we continued on, without seeing the baby deer.

Back off, humans.

Overall: I was glad to check Flandreau State Park off the list, but it is not one that I am likely to return to.  I am glad that there is such variety in State Parks, but I definitely prefer the wilderness to amenities.  Joe and I left and went out to lunch (which I wrote about earlier), and then drove about 20 minutes to the next State Park on the list: Minneopa.

Total miles hiked today: 2.8 miles at Flandreau
Total miles hiked (in 2012): 59
Total ticks today: Joe - 0; Thunderdog - 0; Elly - 0
Total ticks (in 2012): 45
Perhaps tick season is over??

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