Technically, we received our patches before even hiking one step. We stopped in the office at Upper Sioux Agency State Park to get a trail report, and the Ranger was just on his way out. He suggested that he give us our patches (and he sign the book) BEFORE the hike, since he would probably not be there when we got back. I felt nagging guilt at taking the patches at the beginning of the hike, but we were determined and would not turn back. Even when the Ranger said, "By the way...bug spray. You will need it."
|Joe gets ready for the plague of mosquitoes|
Upper Sioux Agency State Park is one of the "prairie parks", according to the biome map. I was excited: you all know how much I loved Glacial Lakes State Park, and I was looking forward to another hike through the waving grasses. Unfortunately, the majority of the 4.3 mile hike was in the woods. I wonder if the prairie parks tend to "showcase" what little forest there is, compared to the vast grasslands all around them. Oh well...there are still plenty of "prairie parks" left for us to explore in Minnesota.
|Woods, with a rider on horseback disappearing around the bend|
The path is wide, and it was super-muddy. The muddiness was not helped by the horses, which smushed the mud into deep hoof-holes and then pooped on them. We found ourselves dodging all manner of obstacles until we branched off the main trail and onto the trail that took us down by the Yellow Medicine River. We were looking forward to the views of the river, when we came across a disheveled barrier.
Oh. We came across the river much, much sooner than we expected.
|Second park in a row, flooded out!|
This trail was even worse off than the one at William O'Brien. William O'Brien's flood was just standing water covering the road; this one was the Yellow Medicine River completely over its banks and eclipsing the trail. It even had a current. We couldn't see where it let up around the bend, so we had to double back. We wound up hiking the whole Hiking Club Trail backwards.
In addition to the swarms of mosquitoes, we encountered a plague of another kind of forest creature: frogs. Northern Leopard Frogs, to be specific. As we traveled along the horse-hoof-pocked muddy trail, these frogs were hopping all over the place. We started counting them and wound up with 70 Northern Leopard Frogs, and one big fat toad.
After hiking for about an hour, I finally got my wish as we left the mosquito-filled woods and entered the prairie. It wasn't as wide or wild as Glacial Lakes or Blue Mounds. If you're looking for the wide open prairie, this ain't it. Nice little prairie, though.
Upper Sioux Agency State Park is one of the few where you can stay in a tipi! Joe and I crept up to take a closer look at this one, and ran off when we realized that there were people sleeping inside. Whoops, sorry people!
|People sleeping within|
After we completed the hike (and officially earned our 125-mile patches!), we checked out the Upper Sioux Agency Historical Site. It was mainly one rebuilt building and some foundations, but the history behind them is quite interesting. We were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, though, so we fled back to the car. The museum in the State Park office is worth checking out. We will have to come back someday when the mosquitoes are not quite so irritating. Also - this park will also be overrun with nice, ripe raspberries in a week or so. I ate a few early not-quite-ripe ones, and wished we'd waited another week to visit so that I could fill a whole bucket.
Total miles hiked today: 4.3
Total miles hiked in 2014: 13.1
Total Superior Hiking Trail miles hiked in 2014: .8
Total ticks today: Joe - 0; Thunderdog - 0; Elly - 0.
Total ticks in 2014: 11 (but the mosquitoes...uff da)