Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rice Lake State Park: September 15, 2012

A baby shower for my friends Mandy and Mark (hi guys!) took us back to Southern MN for the weekend.  Since it's a bit of a haul from where I live (and several hours from Joe's place), we decided to stay over in Owatonna so that we could hit two more State Parks.  Not only did we go to Rice Lake State Park and Sakatah Lake State Park, we visited an Apocryphal State Park.  Stay tuned for the excitement.

Rice Lake State Park is a shade over 1,000 acres, and it includes the entirety of Rice Lake itself.  We had heard that this was the "less interesting" of the two parks we planned on visiting over the weekend.  We set forth in the early evening...one of our few sunset hikes.

path and wood duck house

The dusky, slanting sunlight was great for a beautiful hike, but it sure made for some crap pictures.  Most of the good pictures we took at Rice Lake were silhouettes, sky shots, and a few that looked like dusky paintings of biblical settings.  The late hour also made for an exciting forest: we saw deer, flickers, plenty of chattering red and grey squirrels, and we heard a pileated woodpecker.

Rice Lake

The lake itself is the largest one in the area, and it's really shallow.  It's a popular place for migrating birds to stop - making Rice Lake State Park a great birding park.  Unfortunately, it wasn't migration season quite yet.  We did see some of the "bird amenities" in the park - dozens of wood duck houses on trees surrounding the lake.

The park is not large, and there aren't that many hiking trails.  However, the ones that they had were poorly marked.  Somebody needs to go fix/replace a good number of the trail signs.  We didn't see the sign for the Hiking Club Trail until we had completed it - it was on the back of an informational sign, facing away from the trail itself.  Hmm.

Sun and clouds over the silhouette of trees

Did I mention that it was a beautiful night?  We were surprised at how nice this little park was.  Later in the weekend I asked my dad about Rice Lake (he grew up in Owatonna).  He said that he and his brothers used to go fishing there.  I like thinking about him and all of his brothers running to the park after school with their poles to fish and do whatever mischief boys did in the 40's and 50's.

biblical painting

In addition to being surprisingly nice, we had something else exciting happen: Joe and I earned our 50 mile Hiking Club patches!  Hooray for us!!!

after all the nice dusky pictures, here's one to haunt your nightmares.

Total miles hiked today: (this park) 2.4
Total miles hiked (in 2012): 122.4

Total ticks today: Joe - 0; Thunderdog - n/a; Elly - 0
Total ticks (in 2012): 48

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