Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Fort Snelling State Park - Veterans Day

 One of the many wonderful things about living In St Paul is that we have a State Park in our back yard. (and a National Wildlife Refuge!) And while Tuesday was all freezing rain and snow, Wednesday was sunny and a holiday. It was a perfect, snow covered morning for a walk in the woods. 

Fort Snelling State Park, located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, pre-dates Minnesota's statehood by about 40 years. It sits between St Paul and Minneapolis and features in the origin stories of the Dakota people. This has always been a special place.

The Minnesota river flows north from Mankato to meet the Mississippi. South of the fort itself, on the other side of the rivers, behind the Sibley house in Mendota is the start of the "river bottoms" trail system that runs 20 miles up stream to Shakopee. 

The Minnesota river bottoms is where the now popular fat bikes were developed. These mountain bikes have 4 inch wide tires for floating over soft sand and snow. True to form, some local fat-bikers, not to be confused with fat bikers, had already laid down some tracks. the only other tracks I saw were one person on foot and two dogs. Or maybe two coyotes. I had to wonder if my fellow park visitors were vets out finding some peace and quiet in the woods. 

I made it as far as Gun Club lake. Its south shore meets up with the northern end of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The floodplain was alive with the sound of mallards chit-chatting. I also heard wood ducks, widgeon, gadwall (saw), coot, and Canadian geese. A pileated woodpecker crossed my path and I startled two bald eagles out of a tree.

Before the land of sky-blue waters was given statehood, 
this river was known as the St. Peter river. 

My home is a truly amazing place and I'm deeply in debt to those who stand up to protect it. Thank you all for your service and your sacrifices.

- Ride North

2 hours | 23f | fresh snow

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