Friday, August 5, 2016

Big Bog State Recreation Area

Today was a day to get out of town and explore a bit. We opted to head back to Bemidji and check out the Big Bog State Recreation Area on the way. We headed southwest through the small towns of Koochiching County and into Kelliher, Paul Bunyan's final resting place, to Waskish and the Big Bog State Recreation Area. This relatively new recreation area was created in response to the crash of the Red Lake walleye population. It was seen as a way to bring tourists into the area.

We arrived at the parking area in the north unit of the recreation area and, after a quick restroom stop, we hit the trail.
walking to the bog
The beginning of the trail passed along the shore of a small pond where we spied water lilies
water lily
and Canada geese.
Soon we passed through an arch marking the beginning of the Big Bog Boardwalk,
start of bog boardwalk
a mile long walkway into a section of Minnesota's wilds that would otherwise be inaccessible.
Sierra and Noelle on boardwalk
We saw some interesting butterflies flying around right away. There were some Viceroys
Viceroy butterfly
whose colors and patterns are said to mimic those of the more famous Monarchs. We also saw many white admirals flying around and landing on the deck of the boardwalk and on trees.
white admiral on spruce

We headed deeper and deeper into the interior of the otherworldly bog.
boardwalk through spruce
The bog really did give the feeling of being in another world.
walking on boardwalk
I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially since the biting insects were not much of a nuisance. We soon encountered the site of a failed experiment in taming the swampy wilderness. Long ago the government sponsored a program of digging ditches to drain the bog and turn it into "productive" farmland. The experiment was a failure and today grassy swaths of former ditch are all that remain.
old ditch

As we approached the end of the boardwalk,
walking still
approaching the end
carnivorous plants began to appear. There were lots of purple pitcher plants
purple pitcher plant
pitcher plants
and not so obvious (but just as prevalent) was sundew.
Sierra and I got down on the boardwalk for a closer view of the tiny sundews.
looking for sundew 2
Then Sierra found a spotting scope and wanted to have a look.
looking through binoculars
She refused any help in looking through the scope and so her only view through the scope was of the cloudy Minnesota sky.

After a few minutes at the end point we turned around to begin our return to the car. Sierra was getting a bit tired after her mile hike and so she got into the backpack. We made pretty quick time on the return until we had an encounter with a dragonfly. This particular dragonfly landed on me first, but as I reached for the camera to photograph it, it flew away. I did notice, however, that it had something hanging out of its mouth. Soon our dragonfly friend landed on Noelle
dragonfly on Mommy
and sure enough it had the back end of some type of insect hanging out of its mouth.
dragonfly eating insect
We watched it nibble on its insect meal and listened as the exoskeleton crunched. Sierra was simultaneously disgusted and intrigued.
Sierra watching dragonfly
The dragonfly stayed perched on Noelle's arm for a long time before it finally flew away.
dragonfly on arm

Soon after it had flown, we found another dragonfly perched on the boardwalk.
another dragonfly
This, I believe was a different species. Mostly blue in color. Soon we were back to the pond where we walked around the section we had not seen on the way to the boardwalk. There was quite a bit of goldenrod in bloom,
which means fall is right around the corner in northern Minnesota. After returning to the car we made our way to Bemidji for a late lunch, the playground, a beer at Bemidji Brewing Company, ice cream, and watching a few of the dragon boat festival sprint races.
Then we faced the long drive back to the Falls for the night. 

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