Sunday, July 7, 2013

Glendalough State Park: July 4th, 2013

Joe and I have been eyeing our Minnesota State Park Hiking Club logbook.  We've been inching closer and closer to our next milestone - 75 miles - and we've also been inching closer to the anniversary of our 25 mile patch.  "Wouldn't it be neat," we said, "If we could get our 75 mile patch on the Fourth of July?  50 miles in a year?"  We both had the fourth off (of course) so we planned on hitting two parks in one day: Glendalough, and Lake Carlos.

First off was Glendalough State Park.  It was a 3.3 mile trail that essentially just goes in a big circle around a lake.  We've certainly hiked BY many lakes over the last two years, but not all the way around one as a Hiking Club Trail.  When we stood at the Trail Center and looked out over Annie Battle Lake, we were a bit intimidated.  It looked like a huge round lake, and a super long trail around it.

That's a big lake

But we really wanted to get that 75-mile patch ON the fourth, so off we went.

Sometimes the trail hugged the lakeshore, sometimes it went up into the woods.  I preferred it when the trail went by the lake.  There was a delightful breeze that counteracted the blazing sun, and we could look out at the vacationers in their canoes and rowboats on the lake.  Annie Battle Lake is a no-motor, paddle power only lake.  A very nice surprise - especially in a park that is otherwise flush with amenities.  There's a good-looking trail center, lodge, beach, picnic area, and several campsites. The park was packed, but it didn't feel overcrowded.

The grassy-reedy side of the lake

The trail was not that hard to follow.  It was a big circle, so if we just kept the lake on the right we would be okay.  But I was annoyed by the lack of Hiking Club Trail signs.  The mowed grass path eventually merged with a gravel road, and I worried that we had somehow wound up on a maintenance road.  Nope - we were just fine.  They must have been widening the path into a road that cars could drive on to reach the group campsite.  Perhaps the posts/trees that held the Hiking Club signs had been removed for the road project.

Green and gravel trail through the trees, nary a sign in sight

Dang, it was beautiful outside!  Even when we walked out of the woods and onto the sunny prairie, it was still pleasant.  A far cry from last year's Fourth of July hike - the muggy, buggy heat of St. Croix.  You've probably noticed that we did not bring Thunderdog along on this trip.  Well, I felt a bit bad leaving her at home when we were at Glendalough...but once we got to Lake Carlos, I was glad that she was chilling in the A/C at the house.  More on that later. 

Big sky, big prairie

Everything was going along swimmingly until Joe made a random comment about how his ankle hurt.  We stopped to look and...uh oh.  He was wearing short socks with his hiking boots and they had literally worn a hole through the back of his ankle.  The blister had already popped on one foot and looked pretty bad on the other.  Noooo!!!

We had no band-aids in the backpack (a ridiculous oversight on my part that I remedied at the first store we saw after leaving the park), so we had to improvise.  I had tall hiking socks on, so I suggested that we trade.  His feet are so much bigger than mine that his little shortie socks came well up onto my ankles, keeping ME from getting blisters.  It worked out fine.  I think Joe enjoyed the little lacy tops of my hand-knit hiking socks.

Joe in the lacy socks.  I know what someone's getting for Christmas!!

This was just a really nice, mellow, beautiful walk.  The path was simple (no hills to speak of, really) and for the most part it was pleasant.  The location of the Hiking Club Password signs (one going each direction, you can loop around the lake either way) is kind of comical, but I will leave that for you all to discover*.  I think this would be a great camping park, and an excellent place to take the canoe out for a spin before heading out to the BWCA.

Pretty little creek - we saw a Small-mouthed Bass in the shadow of the bridge.

* There is also what appears to be a picture of a former President in the buff in this park.  I'm not going to tell you who or where the picture is...I want you to be just as surprised/confused as I was.  :-)

Total miles hiked today: 3.3
Total miles hiked in 2013: 58.4
Total Superior Hiking Trail miles hiked in 2013: 12.9
Total ticks today: 1
Total ticks in 2013: 53


  1. We did Glendalough and Lake Carlos in 6/2011. We really enjoyed Glendalough, and camped there for two nights. It's a fun park!

    1. It was pretty sweet! I thought it'd be a great place to try out camping (Joe's still never been) and canoeing as well. We'd probably pick a less hopping time than the 4th of July weekend, though! It looks like there was plenty to do, and town was just a bike ride away.

  2. Sarah and I camped there probably five or six years ago. It seemed like a pleasant little park. I also used to live near by in Starbuck when I was in jr. high. Have you made it out to Glacial Lakes State Park yet? Though I've not been back there in years, I always enjoyed it with its rolling hills and pretty wooded lakes.

    1. I have been to Glacial Lakes, years ago. It seemed to me at the time to be a great place to stargaze. I'd actually reserved a secluded campsite for the Pleiades Meteor Shower a few years back, but could not actually go due to me taking the job up here on the North Shore. I remember the campsite being essentially one site in a small copse of trees right in the middle of the prairie. We're planning on going there later this year and staying out late to stargaze - not sure if camping or not.

    2. Mark and I still want to camp/stargaze with you at Glacial Lakes one of these days. Maybe a few years from now, but eventually!

    3. Absolutely! Joe and I are game - in a few years. I think my tent and gear may have fallen into a black hole at the back of my closet. :-)