Monday, May 6, 2013

Fort Snelling State Park: May 5th, 2013

We decided to go easy for the first Minnesota State Park Hiking Club hike of 2013.  Fort Snelling State Park is located right in the Cities: just south of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and right next to the MSP International Airport.  Wilderness it ain't, but it's good to have a State Park right in the Metro.  We saw plenty of people out and about, enjoying yet another cool May morning.

There's a lot going on at Fort Snelling: the State Park, Historic Old Fort Snelling (we'll go back and visit someday), the national cemetery, a National Wildlife Refuge, etc.  We saw bikers, runners, people pushing kids in strollers, and fishers in boats.  We took a look in the Visitors Center (quite nice) and then got to the hiking part of our day.  The Hiking Club trail took us around Pike Island, which is right at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers.  It was about 45 degrees and overcast when we set out.  

Not a lot growing yet, but it'll happen eventually.

The trail was wide enough for a legion to march in formation, and well-packed down.  More of a walk than a hike, but this was a fine way for Joe and I to ease back into the hiking thing.  Better to start with this than with Crosby Manitou!  Give us a few weeks to work up to that.

Pike Island has some very impressive trees on it.  There are some towering old Cottonwoods along the river - amazing!  No leaves yet, hardly any buds, but that gave us a good look at how gnarled the trunks and branches were.  We came across a tree that - no joke - looked like a ground squirrel.  Just like the one that tortured me on the Gitchi Gami trail last year.  Take a look!

Ha ha!!
 And, Mr. Ground Squirrel himself:

My nemesis

Kind of uncanny, huh?  I hope that this isn't a bad omen for the upcoming summer.  Hmm.

We saw quite a few small birds fluttering around, making quite a racket.  We also saw evidence of beavers, but no actual beavers.  They'd taken out a few trees and had started in on a few more along the Minnesota River side of the island.  I think beavers are great.  Imagine a critter the size of a beaver gnawing through a 100-year-old tree, then gnawing off all its bark, and then trying to dam the Mississippi.  You go, little beavers.

Busy busy

We couldn't really escape the fact that we were at a park in the middle of the metro.  The low buzz of traffic kept us company the whole time.  It could have been worse, though: we noted all of the standing water around the island, and were glad that we came to this park before mosquito season.  Then we would have been hearing a whole different kind of buzz.

Underwater, overpass

We might be back to this park one of these days.  There is a paved bike path that connects this park to Minnehaha Park - just three miles away.  Fort Snelling State Park is a nice park.  A bit too urban and heavily used for me, but it was still a good time.  By the end of our hike, Joe and I had shed our hats and gloves and he'd taken off his jacket.  It was 64 degrees when we got back to the car: spring seems to have finally arrived, and I am thrilled.

I will turn Joe into a treehugger someday

Total miles hiked today: 3.0
Total miles hiked in 2013: 6.2
Total Superior Hiking Trail miles hiked in 2013: 0.8
Total ticks today: 0
Total ticks in 2013: 0

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