Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fort Ridgely State Park: May 22nd, 2015

Our first stop on the first Hiking Club Weekend of 2015 was Fort Ridgely State Park, located in Southwestern Minnesota by the small town of Fairfax.  There is an Interpretive Center in addition to the park - we decided to check it out as well as hike.

One think to keep in mind is that the Interpretive Center is run by the Minnesota Historical Society, and you will therefore be required to pay admittance in addition to getting into the park.  It was $6 apiece for Joe and myself, and it was the first day of the season that it was open.  I'd say that it's marginally worth it to visit the Interpretive Center.  If you're really interested in the history of the U.S./Dakota Conflict, you should check it out.

Little Fort on the Prairie

Fort Ridgely was at the center of the U.S/Dakota conflict of 1862.  It all started when tensions between the settlers and the Dakota boiled over.  Settlers began to seek refuge at the fort, frightened by reports of attacks.  The Dakota were upset with their treatment by the military and fur traders.  In August, 400 Dakota attacked Fort Ridgely.  After the conflict ended, Fort Ridgely became a training ground for soldiers in the Civil War.

The Hiking Club Trail is a loop that technically starts at the upper picnic shelter.  However, we noticed a Hiking Club sign not far from the Interpretive Center.  We took a little detour over a field and hopped on the trail.  Since it was a loop, we figured it wouldn't matter much if we started in the middle.

Hooray, on the trail again!

The Hiking Club Trail is 2.6 miles long, and it is quite hilly in places.  The trail goes alongside Fort Ridgely Creek and past a surprisingly full RV camp.  We went around the loop clockwise and kind of wished that we'd gone the other way: I was stymied by several large hills and, once again, I was foolish and wore jeans.  We also forgot to fill the water bottle.  It was very obviously our first trail of the year: a good time to get the mistakes out of the way.

We also got lost.  There was an unmarked turn that, instead of turning left into the woods, we turned right...onto the golf course.

Care for a tee time?

Yep, there is a golf course at Fort Ridgely State Park.  It was kind of weird.  After all of the information about the U.S./Dakota conflict...and then it's time for golf.  For what it's worth, it looked like a NICE golf course.  I liked that the sand traps looked like natural rocky outcroppings, and that the water hazards appeared to be actual small ponds.

We benefited from the golf course in another way: there is a pop machine.  I was glad to see it because of my stupid empty water bottle.

Come to me, water!

At the end of the hike, we crossed back over the field and I punched Joe in the stomach!  Don't worry, I had a good reason.  We were walking along and he almost stepped on this:

look out!!

He almost stepped on a nest of Killdeer eggs.  Killdeer (who got their name from their call - "ki-deer! ki-deer!") are notoriously bad at picking places to lay their eggs.  They're often found in the middle of fields, on rooftops, or in industrial sites.  When I lived in Two Harbors, a Killdeer had built its nest on the chipped stone next to the railroad tracks by my house.  The adults do this "broken wing" act when people or animals get too close to their nest - "Oh I am a poor injured bird, come eat me instead of going after that nest".  The parent Killdeers were nowhere in sight when Joe nearly made scrambled Killdeer eggs, so I had to intervene in loco parentis.  Luckily, Joe understood.

Total miles hiked today (this park): 2.6
Total miles hiked in 2015: 2.6
Total ticks today: Joe - 1; Elly - 2
Total ticks in 2015: 3
Countdown to All Miles: 41.1 to go

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