"When you go to hide a cache, think of the reason you are bringing people to that spot.
If the only reason is for the cache, then find a better spot."
.... Briansnat


Saturday, April 09, 2016

Call of the Wildflower

We had the opportunity to add our 34th state with geocaching finds with a vacation in Minnesota. We traveled from Minneapolis to Duluth/Superior to Grand Marais to Ely and back to Minneapolis. We are suckers for state park caching and for multis so the state park sponsored Call of the Wildflowers geocaching trail was perfect for us. We covered most of the state parks on our travel path but left many, many places to still visit in the future. The week was a state park highlight show with so many great locations to see. We missed much on our travels, but the images below are a good sample of our journey. If you like visiting state parks, this is a wonderful way to get to know Minnesota.

The best feature of our geo-rental was the parking sticker we added to give us entry to the parks.

Actually, we liked the rotating knob for the transmission selector, but were focused on the delicious chocolates we found on the way,

Our journey started Friday afternoon at William O'Brien State Park and a quiet walk along the shore.

We took a break from the state parks to pay a visit to Franconia Sculpture Park.

The glacial erosion at Interstate State Park made for an interesting earthcache on our journey.

and we did see wildflowers near the glacial formations

Jay Cooke State Park included a very nice bouncy suspension bridge and some very fast water.

Gooseberry Falls State Park

At Split Rock Lighthouse State Park we enjoyed the lighthouse up close and from afar. We even enjoyed a little birding.

At Tettegouche State Park Ali spotted signs of earlier blossoms from nodding trilliums. These are uncommon in our normal travel and caching areas.

Bunch berries are more common near home for us, but in the parks we visited they were everywhere. They were well past blooming but their distinctive leaves and berries were very visible to us. The plant below was spotted in Judge CR Magney State Park. We probably didn't give this park as much time as we should have, but we enjoyed seeing the bunchberry and a nice view of Lake Superior.

After a brief visit to Thunder Bay, we crossed back to the states and enjoyed a quiet day's end walk to the river at Grand Portage State Park.

Every day brought more waterfalls. We started the second half of our vacation with a visit to Cascade River State Park with high views of the falls, spots along the trail at water level, and some very interesting rocks.

Whale Lake wasn't a part of the state park geotrail, but this serene lake in the Boundary Waters area at the Eagle Mountain was a quiet and pleasant stop on our way to Eagle Mountain.

Minnesota's highest peak was another side journey for us. Eagle Mountain is a low high point by most standards and not tall by comparison to many of our climbs, but it was a spirited hike from the low elevations of the Boundary Waters to the summit. We seemed to be threatened by rain this entire walk, but the weather held out for us to visit the marker and stop to enjoy the view at the top. On the way down, another wildflower, indian pipes, were visible along the side of the trail.

The fast waters running through deep cut gorges at Temperance State Park started another day of adventure for us.

Since this geotrail was about the wildflowers, we enjoyed spotting blue vervane on our journey to Ely.

Whether it's huckleberry, blueberry, wine berry, or tasty raspberries no summer vacation on the trail is complete without many helpings of berries along the trail.

I was thrilled for this bird sighting near the end of one day.

Where would be a better place to continue the Call of the Wildflower geotrail than a half-mile underground? We weren't going to pass by the opportunity to tour the old Soudan iron mine. The mine has been closed since 1962, but it offers a rare view into mine life at that time using mine equipment from the same era. We were both happy to have the opportunity as a side trip before continuing the Call of the Wildflower geotrail.

This is what you see after descending a half-mile to the 27th level in a mine elevator filled with over a dozen other people.

That's me, looking at home with a hardhat in a mine car.

A three-quarter mile tram ride took us to the last stages of the mine and our tour.

Back on the surface, we diverted from the geotrail to find Minnesota's oldest cache and enjoy the call of the wildflowers at a wetlands boardwalk.

We ended the last full day of vacation visiting multiple state parks on the way back to Minneapolis. Our first stop was Bear Head Lake with a view that called out to sit and relax by the shore

Moose Lake State Park was also quite inviting. If it were practical, I would have wanted to just spend time on the water. It was like glass and invited a visit.

We finished our day and this journey with a multi along the river at St. Croix State Park.

This is a geotrail that deserves a look and a visit if possible. I had a great time and have great memories. The parks and the general area were locations that left me longing for just a bit more time to spend and enjoy. We took it relatively slow. It would take us at least two more vacations to visit the rest of the state parks. It won't happen, but we were rewarded for completing just a part of this journey. Maybe one more is possible to see the prairie parks...