Thursday, May 29, 2014

Savanna Portage State Park: May 24th, 2014

Joe and I have been dreading Savanna Portage State Park.  We have been warned, numerous times, by many different people that it is a buggy, buggy park and that the 5.3 mile Hiking Club trail can be downright miserable because of it.

Savanna Portage is also the last State Park on the list that is reachable via day trip from my house on the North Shore.  We've now covered all of the North Shore/Arrowhead parks, and we've covered most of the parks that are within striking distance from Joe in St. Cloud.  From here on out, it's going to be weekend trips that will require a bit more planning than just throwing the dog in the car and going for a ride.

Don't I said in the last post, we're going to be relocating to the Cities this fall (we hope) and will get to check out more of the Southeast Minnesota parks.  But first: Savanna Portage.

There ain't no bugs on me!

Savanna Portage State Park is pretty big.  It covers over 15,000 acres: rivers, lakes, bogs, forests, really famous portage.  The Savanna Portage connects the Mississippi River to the St. Louis River, crossing over the Continental Divide from the Mississippi/Gulf of Mexico watershed to the Great Lakes/Atlantic Ocean watershed.  The Portage has been in use for hundreds and hundreds of years.  During the frontier days, it would take trappers and fur traders five days to cross.  You got that right - it's a six mile portage that took FIVE DAYS to cross.  That's some tough ground.  And I am sure the bugs were just as bad back then.

The boardwalk is a delightful new addition to the bog.
Imagine slogging waist-deep through the muck with 150 lbs of furs on your back.

Thunderdog was an exceptionally good dog on the boardwalk.  Joe kept her on a short leash so that, if she were tempted, she would not be able to jump into the deep bog on either side.  I wouldn't hold it past her.  When she was a wee pup, she jumped into a deep water-filled quarry when she mistook the leaves on top of the still water for solid ground.  That was the first and only time she's ever swam.  I think that the experience traumatized her for life, and she hasn't been a fan of deep water since.

Joe and Thunderdog on top of the Divide: to the left, the Gulf of Mexico.  To the right, the St. Lawrence Seaway.

I'm thrilled to announce that we encountered just a few mosquitoes, and a grand total of four ticks.  I killed a few mosquitoes while on the trail.  Perhaps they would have been the Ancestor Mosquitoes of all those that would be born this summer...meaning fewer mosquitoes?  A girl can dream.

By the way, the Bog Boardwalk wasn't technically a part of the Hiking Club trail.  It pretty much runs parallel to the legal trail, and it comes after the secret password.  We didn't feel guilty about veering off the main trail.  Actually, I'd recommend it to anyone who is doing the Hiking Club trail - unless you're not too steady on your feet.  Parts of the Boardwalk are a bit carnival-funhouse like in their wobbliness.

Looking east towards the Atlantic, over Lake "Gordon" Shumway

It was a warm day, and Thunderdog was flagging a bit.  We're still not in tip-top hiking shape for the year.  Here is a picture of her looking particularly doofy.  What good is having a dog if you can't post doofy looking pictures of her on the internet every once in a while?

Durr I'm a dog

 It was a thoroughly pleasant walk.  Not too tough of a hike: some hills, but the path was wide.  Definitely take the Bog Boardwalk instead of strictly following the Hiking Club trail that runs parallel to it.  Although spring had not really sprung yet (lots of brown and grey), it was worth going early to avoid the bugs.  We saw the bogs and shallow, stagnant pools that were no doubt filled with mosquito larvae.  Perhaps we visited Savanna Portage at the perfect time: warm enough to enjoy the spring weather, but not far enough in the season to encounter the swarms.

No mosquitoes on this pleasant path

Total miles hiked today: 5.3
Total miles hiked in 2014: 8.8
Total Superior Hiking Trail miles hiked in 2013: .8
Total ticks today: Joe (still Ticksbane) - 0; Thunderdog - 2; Elly - 2.
Total ticks in 2014: 4

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