Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Afton State Park: August 10th, 2013

It seems like just yesterday that Joe and I went hiking with Mandy and Mark at Split Rock.  We don't get to see them all that often...and now we got to meet them for TWO hikes in less than a month.  Hooray!

This time we headed south to the Cities for a visit to Afton State Park.  Afton is one of the few that Mandy and Mark haven't visited yet.  You may be impressed by the 75 mile patches that Joe and I have...but Mandy and Mark are just a few miles from their 150 mile patches!!  We have a lot of catching up to do, but not this weekend.  Afton bumped all of us up another 2.5 miles towards our respective goals.

It was a beautiful day.

We were joined not only by Mandy and Mark, but by Dante and Maggie on their very first Hiking Club trails.  Maggie slept through most of it, but Dante enjoyed the big walk.  He and Thunderdog are good buds, and they had a great time.

Dynamism of two dogs on leashes

The Hiking Club trail starts at the Picnic Area.  We had a nice picnic lunch before heading out (lots of Pringles, no disasters this time).  There were a LOT of families with kids around - it turns out there was a program going on in the Trail Center.  Later, we saw lots of kids walking around with GPS units.  I think it's great that there are so many neat programs in the MN State Parks.  Another great thing about Minnesota!

The first part of the trail is a Prairie Interpretive Loop.  It was only about 3/4 of a mile long, but that's about as long as it needed to be.  The sun was beating down on us and the signs weren't terribly interesting.  Maggie was actually awake for this part of the hike.

Mark, Mandy, and Maggie in the prairie

The trail then headed north and wound through the woods.  We took a long flight of stairs down to the St. Croix riverside (88 steps total), and let the dogs play in the water for a bit.  There were a lot of boats on the water - huge, huge boats as well as small paddlecraft.  It was beautiful but warm.  I think I've become used to the cool breezes off Lake Superior - even an 80 degree day with moderate humidity will knock me out.

Minnesota on the left, Wisconsin on the right

It was a nice hike, but we all agreed it wasn't exactly a "destination park".  Its proximity to the Cities makes it a "local park" for those on the east side of the Metro, and it did kind of feel like the sort of place that folks would pop out to for an hour or so on a nice summer day.  We also all agreed that it would be fun to come back in the winter.  None of us downhill ski, but if we wanted to learn we could shoosh down the Bunny Hill at Afton Alps, which is right in the middle of Afton State Park.  There are plenty of X-country ski trails in the park, and it looks like an awesome place to snowshoe and then warm up with some hot cocoa at the Chalet.

Maggie enjoyed her first Hiking Club Trail...I think

Total miles hiked today: 2.5
Total miles hiked in 2013: 74.3
Total Superior Hiking Trail miles hiked in 2013: 19.7
Total ticks today: 0
Total ticks in 2013: 54

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