Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Father Hennepin State Park: May 10th, 2014

Time to get back on the trail!!  We've dusted off the backpack, found the floppy hat, washed out our water bottles, and headed out to hike the first Hiking Club Trail of the year - Father Hennepin State Park.

Father Hennepin is usually kind of eclipsed by its next door neighbor: the much larger and more-amenitied Mille Lacs Kathio State Park.  Father Hennepin is a dinky little 300 acres to Mille Lacs Kathio's 10,500 acres.  What Father Hennepin really has going for it is access to Lake Mille Lacs.  Last weekend was the Fishing Opener, and we kind of felt like the only people out there that weren't going after a big fish.  One of these days we'll come back with a boat and catch ourselves some walleye for lunch.

Map says: follow the mud

As I've mentioned in the last few (terse, frustrated) posts...it's been another long winter.  There's a huge difference between the North Shore and the southern half of the state.  This was my first trip outdoors without a jacket in 2014!  Although the temps are rising and the grass is growing, there's still a lot of mud and standing water around.  It was a muddy hike.  Thunderdog didn't mind, though.  "I LOVE MUD!!!" she said.

Happy puppy, glad to be hiking again

We started off at the beach parking area, and followed the trail to the left.  Almost immediately the lake disappeared from view and we found ourselves walking through a grey forest that was just starting to wake up for the spring.  We saw plenty of birds: a red-tailed hawk, blue jays, and tons of little chirpers.  We also shared the woods with Spring Peepers and Western Chorus Frogs, which I remembered from last year's Frog and Toad Survey.  Check out the video below - starring Joe, Thunderdog, and what seemed like hundreds of frogs.

The second half of the trail followed the lakeshore, where we saw plenty of anglers trying their luck at the lake.  We encountered a cranky little red squirrel...it's amazing how much more aggressive and nervy they are than their grey cousins.  It chucked and chirped at us as we walked by.


It was only a 2 mile Hiking Club Trail.  We thought about heading next door to Mille Lacs Kathio State Park and knocking both out on the same day, but decided against it.  There's so much to do there that we're going to dedicate a whole day to it.  Also...we are running out of nearby parks to visit.  Of course, there's nothing wrong with visiting a park twice (how many times have I been to Gooseberry??) and there are plenty of other places to explore in Minnesota.  But we're hoping to get to 125 miles by the 4th of July this year...which we can do, but after that we'll have run out of parks for day trips.  I guess we'll have to start camping.

Joe skips his first stone of the year, Thunderdog chases after it.

There's other exciting stuff in the works for 2014...more on that later.  :-)

Total miles hiked today: 2
Total miles hiked in 2014: 2
Total Superior Hiking Trail miles hiked in 2013: 0
Total ticks today: 0
Total ticks in 2014:

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