Day Five: Destination Hayes Lake & Lake Bronson State Parks
This day will stick with me for a long time. The best and worst of what can happen when you go hiking in a new place. At least for me it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Either way, I wouldn’t have known without stepping into the day with an open mind and a bit of trail earned mettle.
Hayes Lake State Park
#30hike of my 52 Hike Challenge
What can I say about this park? Hayes Lake State Park is another beautiful gem of a park, the staff (Bob and Sue, a shout out to you!) are uber helpful and there is so much more to explore than I was able to do with the time I had. I was blessed with another beautiful day to hit the road again.
When I arrived at the park the office was closed so I wasn’t able to check with the ranger before I headed to get water and to find the Pine Ridge Trail that is part of the Hiking Club Trail. As I neared the beach from the parking area, I found park staff Bob and Sue hauling sand and moving rocks to give the beach a bit of an upgrade. They were kind enough to stop work and give me suggestions on options for hiking. Both also tried to sway me to camp the night, though, of course, I had other plans. Sue told me about a few swans that had taken up residence along the lake and to be sure to take a little longer to check out their short bog walk. Based on their recommendations I headed east to follow the shoreline toward the campground and bog.
The trail goes through a beautiful stand of old pine that were just starting to show their summer blooms. A thick layer of needles was underfoot and the sounds of the wind blowing through the trees accompanied me until I got closer to the campground.
I took Sue’s advice to take the side trail to see the bog. It’s a short boardwalk trail that’s seen better days, but it was still interesting to explore, especially after all I’d learned the day before at Big Bog State Park. My eye was now better trained to see the details in the vegetation. Unfortunately I didn’t have as many sightings of blooming plants, but it made more sense to me with the dense pine covering above the bog.
The park includes a dam that slows the flow of the North Fork River. I spent a bit of time exploring around the area, watching a flock of Canadian geese. Fishing is obviously another popular activity with the large fishing dock at the western end of the lake. As I hiked back to the beach, I mustered up the courage to ask if there was anyone who could help me get a park patch. Sue was uber-helpful, finding the right person to help me. Then it was off to the next park and my campsite for the night. I was left feeling really happy and thankful that the people who work in our state parks are such truly helpful souls.
Lake Bronson State Park
#31hike of my 52 Hike Challenge
I was really looking forward to my hike and camping at this park. When I had made my reservation for Lake Bronson State Park, I’d only been able to reserve a campground site. I really wanted one of the walk-in sites so I called the ranger and was able to have one held until I got there. When I checked in moving the site was easy. I spent a bit of time talking with the ranger and then headed off to get camp set up.
I’d reserved the River Meadow walk-in site. It’s the closest to the Two Rivers Campground, about a half mile away. When I got there I was pleasantly surprised it was mine – a spacious area with trees perfectly placed for my hammock, a fire ring, and my own private outdoor latrine. Even though most of it was south facing and in full sun when I arrived I was really happy. I set up my hammock, got out some food and made lunch. While I was heating up the water, I felt something on my leg. Ticks. Two of them. I brushed them away (yup, forgot to grab ’em and behead ’em). I hate ticks.
I finished up making lunch and sat in the shade behind my hammock to eat. When I finished I put my pot on the ground for a couple minutes. I picked it up and there was another tick on the rim. This time I had the presence of mind to kill it. Gross. I figured it would be best to get to my hike and hope that the ticks were just an anomaly. Wishful thinking, but I am a hopeful person.
The Hiking Club Trail heads across a wide prairie area before it winds around a youth camp and private homes. It’s beautiful with interpretive trails and a few trees that offered a bit of shade. But when I stopped I felt the familiar tickle on my legs – more ticks. So I got moving again. As I neared the private homes, I got to the road and found a turtle that was sitting right in the middle road. I gently moved it to the side of the road and moved on.
I rounded back into a wooded area and toward the lake. All of it beautiful. Every time I stopped ticks. It had hit the point that I’d decided that didn’t want to sleep at the site I’d set up. I had this deep sense that I wasn’t meant to camp there and that the ticks were my warning shot from nature. So I hiked back to the site and moved. Twice. I finally ended up at the Lakeside Campground in my tent. I showered and headed to bed.
The next morning I got up early, packed up and got breakfast. I knew I’d need to settle up with the park about all my moves of sites before I left. I took a bit of time to drive to the park’s WPA tower first. The park office was understanding and helpful. As I left the park a flock of wild turkey were blocking the highway allowing me to take some photos before I bid the park farewell. I would learn later at another park that ticks are part of the “experience” of Lake Bronson. While it’s a lovely park, it’s not for me.
GEAR: Columbia Women’s Arcadia II Rain Jacket, Vasque Talus Mid UltraDry Hiking Boots, Granite Gear Blaze 60 Backpack, Marmot Kompressor Pack, ENO Double Nest Hammock/Guardian Bug Net/Profly Rainfly, Paria Thermodown 30 Down Quilt, MSR Pocket Rocket, MSR Dualist Cookware, Slumberjack Trial Tent, REI Co-op Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad, Dueter Dirtbag, Kula Cloth, Leki Lhasa Lite AS trekking poles. Want to know more about my gear selections? Head on over to Gear & Gadgets.
Next Post Preview: Two parks steeped in Minnesota history sit a few hours down the road.
*To find out more about Leave No Trace (LNT) principles,
check out the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.
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