Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Maplewood State Park: September 27th, 2013

Time for another Big Trip, Big Fun!  Joe and I had a summer full of work obligations that didn't allow for a vacation, so we wound up pushing vacation time to the very end of September.  Our destination was westward yet again - Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota!  Neither of us remember whose idea it was to go to the Badlands on vacation, but it was a good idea nonetheless.  As per usual, we stopped at a Minnesota State Park on the way out and one on the way back, to knock off a few out-of-the-way Hiking Club trails...and to stretch our legs a bit during the long drive.

First stop: Maplewood State Park!

Maplewood State Park is famous for its fall color.  Unfortunately for us, our timing was off and we arrived when the park was at about 25-50% color.  Still beautiful, but we did not get to see the maples in full-on red.  There was some red  though - the sumac was in full color.  I love autumn sumac!

Sumac surrounded trail

We knew that this would be a challenging hike.  It's 6.2 miles - the longest Hiking Club trail that you'll find - and there are a lot of hills.  We started out at around 10am, when it was still cool out.  I soon regretted my decision to wear jeans.  Never again!  Readers, please remember to pack plenty of water and wear proper clothes while hiking!  Do as I say, don't do as I do.

Green path

The yellows and greens of ash, birch, and aspen trees lined our way.  The lakes shone blue and we were pleased to notice that the mosquitoes had either died off or blown away.  It was pretty windy at Maplewood...but nothing compared to what we'd experience later on in the weekend.

Yee haw!!

Horses!  Maplewood is a popular park for horseback riders, and this is a great time of year to get out with your equine friend.  We saw plenty of horses at Maplewood, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and at Buffalo River State Park (where we stopped on the way back).  Joe and I had never seen quite so much horse poo in our lives.  Luckily, we had too good of a time to mind.

Into the forest

Story time!

Many years ago, I had a job with Tuesdays off.  One of my friends was driving up to Moorhead for a day job on a Tuesday, and I asked if he could give me a lift to Maplewood.  He'd drop me off on the way to work and pick me up on the way back, and I'd be able to get in a nice day of hiking.  He agreed, and off we went!

I arrived at Maplewood and set off on a trail.  Blissfully walking along, I didn't realize that the sky was getting dark.  It wasn't until I heard the first clap of thunder that I realized I was in trouble.  I had no rain gear: just my hiking clothes and my backpack.  I ran for the only structure that I could see - a fish cleaning shack - and got inside just as the rain started pouring down.  It was a hard rain, but I was able to stay relatively dry in the 6 foot square shack if I stayed clear of the screen walls.  Unfortunately, I had to share the small space with a large bucket of fish heads and guts underneath the fish cleaning table.  It was too heavy and slimy for me to move.  I was stuck with it.

It rained...and rained...and rained.  I stood in there for THREE HOURS, feeling sick from the smell of the fish and picking ticks off of myself.  It was spring, and every tick in Minnesota was also coming to my fish cleaning shack for shelter in the rain.  I could not sit or lean - the only furniture was the fish cleaning table and it was pretty grody.  The walls were all screen - leaning against them was not an option (I'd get rained on). I did not have a cell phone, but I did have a that I had really been struggling to read because I found it boring.  I still think that the only reason I ever finished Dune was because I was trapped in a tiny fish cleaning shack with absolutely nothing else to do (other than pick off ticks).

The rain let up in time for me to jog back to the parking lot in time to meet my friend.  He found the whole situation hilarious.  Looking back, I agree...but at the time, I swore I'd never go to Maplewood again!  Good thing I got over it.

Joe and I did not pass my fish cleaning shack while on the Hiking Club Trail.  I was kind of hoping to show Joe my refuge from the rain...maybe next time.

Lakeside color

Joe and I had a pretty good hike at Maplewood.  I was pretty overheated by wearing jeans instead of proper hiking clothes (Maplewood: the Park of Poor Decisions?) but still had fun.  And we reached a pretty cool milestone: we got our 100 mile patches!  We actually blew past 100 within the first mile of the hike (we got up to 99.4 at Bear Head Lake last close!) and are well on our way to 125.  This will also push me over 100 hiking miles logged on this website this year.  Banner day for Joe and Michele.  :-)

Running out of space on my backpack!

Total miles hiked today: 6.2
Total miles hiked in 2013: 101
Total Superior Hiking Trail miles hiked in 2013: 19.7
Total ticks today: 0
Total ticks in 2013: 54


  1. I love Maplewood. That and Buffalo River are the two state parks of my young childhood as I lived in Fargo/Moorhead until I was 8 and my grandparents lived in Perham. The view from the big hill in the park is wonderful in the fall.

    1. Maplewood was pretty beautiful. We liked Buffalo River as well (that's the park we hit on the way back). We drove by Perham, home of KLN Family Brands such as the chips that Ron Gardenhire is always shilling during Twins games. We did not pick up any chips.

  2. Congrats on the Hiking Club milestone!

    1. Thanks! :-) We're gonna catch up with you guys eventually...