#47 of my 52 Hike Challenge
Trail/Park: Great River Bluffs State Park
Trash Collected: .1 pounds
Every adventure eventually comes to an end of some kind. Waking up this particular morning I was filled with mixed emotions. My wanderlust is strong. It’s easy for me to keep rolling down the road taking in what lays out in front of me. The the planned and unexpected. New sights, smells and perspectives different than my own. I’m a firm believer in traveling and it’s ability to show us both how big our world is and how small our place is in it. Traveling responsibly and respecting the people and places we encounter connects us all and shows how truly similar we are, no matter where we live and recreate. It reinforces how interconnected we are no matter how we interact. I’m grateful that here in my home state there are so many different places to explore. So many things to learn, voices to hear.
On this my last day of my adventure, I reflected on these things as I wound, somewhat lost, through southeastern Minnesota’s valley roads on my way to the last hike of my trip. After many wrong turns, some backtracking and simply delighting in the unintended path, I found myself at the entrance to Great River Bluffs State Park.
Visitors at the park can use the self service kiosk at the entrance to pay fees and learn a bit about the surrounding landscape before heading to the parking area near the King’s Bluff Trail which is the park’s Hiking Club Trail. The 2.5 mile out-and-back trail heads north through the King’s Bluff Scientific and Natural Area. The trail is a wide and relatively easy, flat one slowly gaining elevation over its length.
The Mississippi River bluffs are some of my favorite and often, for me, vertigo inducing. As I set out on the trail, my hope was to find a trail a little less than my experience of the the day before on the Hole In the Wall Trail at Beaver Creek Valley State Park. Thankfully the park map description was exactly what I found. Beautiful pine woods that border section of prairie leading to an overlook of show-stopping beauty. Traveling the trail, I noticed many of the Hiking Club Trail directional signs are in desperate need of replacement. I learned poison ivy has a variety that climbs trees. That this trail too is used by horse riders.
I took my time, the day wide open in front of me. Reflecting on all the days of this trip. On all the things I’d experienced, all the things I’d learned and the unanswered questions that had arisen. Once again hoping that my travels had little impact on the places and people I’d crossed paths with along the way. Grateful for my body, out of shape after months at home, finally feeling like its old self while also deeply changed.
Nearing the end of the trail at the overlook, I slowed further taking in the sweeping views leading up to what I was sure would take my breath away. Clear skies, empty of clouds, opened overhead. Coming up on the overlook, I was blown away. I’ve been all over the state, hiking, camping and marveling at the beauty that Minnesota offers. I’ve hiked our beloved North Shore with it’s iconic vistas. But this one … maybe it was all the week had given me, caused me to gasp in awe. The overlook provides an unending view of the Mississippi River as it widens on its flow south and across to Wisconsin for miles. I sat with gratitude on the bench at the top and took it all in.
I finally felt like me again.
Next Post Preview: It’s been a few weeks since the big summer adventure as John and I head north for our annual North Shore respite. We know it’s going to be different, but we know it will be what we both need and that we can do it responsibly so we leave little impact on the place we love so much.
GEAR: Merrell Women’s Siren 3 Mid Waterproof, Columbia® Women’s Arcadia II Rain Jacket, Marmot Kompressor Pack, SPOT GEN3 Satellite GPS Messenger, Dueter Dirtbag, Kula Cloth, Leki Women’s Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA trekking poles, ENO DoubleNest Hammock with Atlas Straps, Guardian Bug Net and Pro Rainfly, Slumberjack 2-person tent with footprint, Paria Thermodown 30 down quilt, REI Flash 3-Season Sleeping Pad, Thermarest Z Seat™, Z Lite™ Sleeping Pad, Thermarest Z Seat™, MSR Pocket Rocket Stove, GSI Pinnacle Dualist Cookset, MSR® IsoPro™ Fuel. Want to know more about my gear selections? Head on over to Gear & Gadgets or look for my “Gear In Review” posts.
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