Sunday, June 26, 2011

Glendalough and Lake Carlos State Parks + Inspiration Peak!

Last night a thunderstorm went through. While there was a good amount of lightning and thunder, we didn't get much rain. The sky was dark and gray though when I got out of the tent so I quickly ate breakfast and packed everything up to try and beat the rain. As I hit the road it looked lie rain was imminent. I started to wonder if it was a good idea to try and do some more hiking. Eventually I convinced myself that a hike in the rain, should it happen, would be a pleasant and welcome experience, and so I headed south again to Glendalough State Park.

The Hiking Club Trail at Glendalough makes a 3.3 mile loop around Annie Battle Lake.
Jenny Battle Lake

It was a pleasant hike, but to be honest I felt a bit bored by it. It just felt like the hikes this weekend were all too similar; a hike through deciduous woods and grassy areas, with a few lakes sprinkled in here and there. The gray sky and a stiff breeze blowing across the lake probably didn't lift my spirits that much either. The hike around Annie Battle lake did offer some pleasant woods to walk through and even a few wildflowers to look at.

From Glandalough State Park I headed east to Inspiration Peak State Wayside. Inspiration Peak is a 400 foot tall glacial feature and the tallest natural point around for miles.
Inspiration Peak Sign

Author Sinclair Lewis praised "the enchanting peace and seclusion of this place for contemplation" and there is a nice view from the top.
Inspiration Peak View

After descending Inspiration Peak I headed south again to Lake Carlos State Park. The trail here stayed mostly in the woods.
Hiking Lake Carlos

I saw some interesting fungi growing on a tree trunk

Fungi Patterns

and saw a few wildflowers like this bladderwort.

Then it was the long drive back to Duluth.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Buffalo River and Maplewood State Parks

Bumblebee & Clover

Yesterday after work, I paced up a few things, ate some dinner and than hit the road headed for west-central Minnesota to log some Hiking Club miles. Noelle had left earlier in the day to go to her parents' house for the weekend, so I would be making the trip solo. The start of my trip, I must admit, didn't go quite as planned. Outside of Walker, Minnesota a deer ran into the side of my car.While the deer didn't do any damage, it scared the heck out of me. Then when I arrived at Buffalo River State Park, where I had planned on camping for the night, I learned that the campground was full. To make matters worse, when I consulted my trusty DeLorme Minnesota Atlas and Gazetteer I discovered that the campground at Buffalo River is the only one, public or commercial, around for miles. Sadly, I headed into Moorehead to find a hotel for the night.

After a descent night of sleep in Moorehead, I headed back to Buffalo River State park to do some hiking. The hike started out with a pleasant walk along the park's namesake river.
Buffalo River

Eventually I found myself at the MSU Regional Science Center where there is an interesting sculpture of the local prairie grasses.
Prairie Grass Sculpture

From the sculpture, I headed into the woods, made a loop and then headed into the prairie. It was nice to back in the prairie for the first time in a long while.
Prairie & Tree

I enjoyed walking through the grasses. Unfortunately, there weren't many flowers in bloom, but with a warm sun and blue sky replacing the clouds I didn't mind the lack of blossoms too much.

From Buffalo River State Park I headed south to Maplewood State Park. The first thing that I did was get a campsite for the night. Then I hit the trail.
Hiking Eric

Maplewood State Park is interesting in that it contains many different ecosystems. There is the prairie, the deciduous forest, and the lakes. I started off by heading into the woods, passing a tree decorated with red balls
Decorated Tree

and then paralleled the shoreline of Cataract Lake.
Cataract lake

I then headed back into the woods before passing another lake, this time Grass Lake.
Grass Lake

Like at Buffalo River, there were not many wildflowers in bloom, I guess it's just not the right time of the year. I did see some spiderwort

and some other yellow composites that I could not identify.
Unknown Yellow Flower

After passing Beers Lake (nice name by the way) things got a bit interesting. The trail got wet, and not just a small puddle, really wet. I tried to find a way around the wet spot, but was unsuccessful and so I took off my shoes and waded into the water.
The Hiking Club "Trail"

It was deeper than I had expected coming up past my knees. It made for the most hard core of my Hiking Club walks yet! It also happens to be the hike to take me over the 100 mile mark for the Hiking Club.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Another poor weather weekend

It was yet another weekend of bad weather in "the Northland" this weekend. Cold, rain and fog meant for less-than-optimal outdoor adventure conditions. We decided to stay close to home instead of hitting the road. Yesterday there was enough of a break in the rain that we were able to do some "urban hiking" around Duluth. We walked down to Superior Street to watch Grandma's Marathon,
watched a ship head under the Lift Bridge
Olympic Candian

and ate lunch at Sammy's Pizza before heading home.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Paul and Matilda Wegner Grotto

Entering Wegner Grotto

Home Sweet Home

Originally I had planned on heading over to Perrot State Park to explore the canoe trail there. Noelle and Mom didn't seem to be into the canoe idea and so we decided instead to continue on our recent theme of art environments and visit the Wegner Grotto, and interesting art environment near the town of Cataract, Wisconsin.

Of all the offbeat, concrete art gardens that we've been to in the past few weeks, I think the Wegner Grotto is my favorite. Among the features is what the locals refer to as the Glass Church,
Noelle & Glass Church

Glass Church SIde View

a small chapel of concrete adorned with broken glass.


Wedding Cake


W Star

Ashes of Amercan Flags

Bird House


Preacher Eric

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Carley and Latsch State Parks


After checking out the awesome Prairie Moon Sculpture Garden, Noelle, Mom and I headed further north along the banks of the mighty Mississippi to the Creamery in Nelson, Wisconsin where we got some delicious garlic cheese curds and ice cream. Dairy products are wonderful energy sources for hiking. From the Creamery we crossed the Mississippi and headed into Minnesota to Through the town of Plainview to Carley State Park.

Carley is a small state park, but we had an interesting hike along the Whitewater River.
Crossing Whitewater River

Unfortunately the bluebells which the park is known for were no longer in bloom, but we enjoyed our hike nonetheless.

From Carley State Park we headed back towards the river and headed towards Winona, Minnesota. We stopped at the small and unusual John Latsch State Park. I saw this park is unusual because there is nothing in it except for a solitary trail. This trail is a great one though. It ascends over 600 stairs

Noell & Stairs

to the top of the bluff and some great views of the river.
Eric & Noelle at Latsch

Mississippi River

We spent  a few minutes up there before descending back to the car.

Prairie Moon Sculpture Garden

The Gate

Last night after work Noelle, Parker and I headed down to Mom and Dad T's in Galesville. This morning Mom, Noelle and myself headed out for some adventure. Our first stop took us up Highway 35 north of Fountain City to the Prairie Moon Scuplture Garden. We learned about this place through a brochuere we found at the Concrete Park a few weeks ago. Like the Wisconsin Concrete County Park, Prairie Moon features lots of concrete statues. There is also an impressive concrete fence that runs for 260 feet along the boundary of the garden.
Fancy Fence

The sculpture park is the work of the late Herman Rusch, who was a farmer, played the fiddle for local dances and created some interesting art.
Eric & Twin

Here are some photographs of some of our favorite sculptures:
Killer Bear




Star Pole

Bear Killer

Noelle & Snake

Noelle and Sculpture