|Leaves and trees and trees and leaves|
We'd heard that it was more interesting than the nearby Rice Lake State Park, but that wasn't our experience. It was a perfectly nice park, don't get me wrong. Perhaps it was just the time of day that we went. At Sakatah Lake State Park, we saw no critters of note at all (compared to the deer, squirrels, and birds of Rice Lake State Park). There was a 'lake' - it's actually a natural widening of the Cannon River, not a lake per se - but it was not visible from the Hiking Club Trail. We wound up driving to the shore so that we could see it.
|Hidden Pond, hidden under greenery|
The first part of the Hiking Club trail is the Hidden Pond trail. When we reached the pond, we realized that it had receded to the point that it was just a mucky marsh. No doubt this is a result of the drought that has been plaguing much of the country. I don't see it much on the North Shore - we've had a dry year (with one notable exception) but we've had more rain than Joe's had in St. Cloud or that folks in other parts of Minnesota have had. We saw a lot of dry riverbeds on this trip to Owatonna and the surrounding parks.
|Exhibit A: a dry riverbed|
It was a nice place for a walk on a fine September afternoon. We didn't realize it at the time, but the giant trees that we saw on the trail were part of a stand of Oak and White Pine along the south side of Sakatah Lake that had never been logged. We drove to the lakeside and joined an angler at the pier. We saw bikers on the Sakatah-Singing Hills State Trail - which Joe and I will investigate at a later time.
With Sakatah Lake State Park we hit another milestone: we completed our 20th Hiking Club Trail of the year. We are quickly running out of nearby parks to visit - there's a few left near St. Cloud, some near the Cities, and the looming specter of the all-backcountry Crosby-Manitou State Park up by where I live - so our impressive streak might soon come to an end. Next year we may have to knock off a park or two on long weekends to the far reaches of the state, or on the way to somewhere more interesting like Cedar Rapids, to see the Twins A team play!
I'll be on the North Shore for the next few weeks - Joe will be up here on the weekends. I am nervously and anxiously awaiting the peak of fall color. The drought has wreaked a bit of havoc on the trees - forecasters are predicting that the peak will be early and short this year. I am wishing for mild weather and no devastating rain (or snow...ugh) until the end of September. Be on the lookout for fall color hike posts in the near future!
|Joe jumps up and hits what very well may be a virgin oak, just fallen down after 300 years.|
Total miles hiked today: (this park) 2.2
Total miles hiked (in 2012): 126.1
Total ticks today: Joe - 0; Thunderdog - n/a; Elly - 0
Total ticks (in 2012): 48