One More Reflection of Gratitude: Nature

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir

tettegouche lake overlook 14 9_23_12

Just had to share one more John Muir quote with one more photo from our Sunday hike to the Tettegouche Lake Overlook (more photos and details about that hike in this post).

Ciao! ~ Kat B.

Fifth Falls Trail: Gooseberry Falls State Park

Gooseberry Falls is one of Minnesota’s iconic State Parks.  We have hiked the well-worn trail along the edges of the Falls and Gooseberry River countless times; it never gets old.  This classic view (below), however, is one we left behind for one of our two geocaching hikes last weekend.  Instead, we followed the Fifth Falls Trail inland, in pursuit of one of the Avian Adventure geocaches (so that we could end the weekend with only 80 left to check off the list before June of 2014 — as you may recall, the other geocaching hike of the weekend was the lovely Tettegouche Lake Overlook Trail).

Gooseberry Falls ~ Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota
Gooseberry Falls ~ circa 2008

The grasses and wildflowers were close to peak color along the forest floor.  I am always fascinated by the twisted, craggy trunks of the old cedar trees, their graying bark standing in stark contrast to the colors of the forest surrounding them.

Gooseberry Falls State Park ~ Fifth Falls Trail

Moving inland away from Lake Superior’s cool breeze, we broke a sweat as we hiked along, and as soon as our lab sensed water was nearby, he started tugging at the leash.  For some reason, I thought it would be more convenient to put my trusty friend on the jogging leash (hands-free, attaching around my waist with a bungee-type extension leading to the dog), and free my hands for the camera and water bottle.  It was convenient, until we reached the river’s edge, and I stupidly did not unhook him to jump off a small rocky ledge into a slow-moving pool of water upstream from the falls.  I instinctively held my camera safely above my head, so only my elbow nailed the rock as he jumped  . . . there may have been a few profanities unleashed as well as the dog at that point.  My son wisely did not say a word.

Gooseberry River, upriver from Fifth Falls ~ Minnesota

The water level is incredibly low with the lack of rain we have had in recent weeks, leaving much of the rocky river bed exposed to view.  Moving downstream from the falls provided great views of the interesting small caves and openings along the steep river banks.

Fifth Falls ~ Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota

Fifth Falls ~ Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota

Fifth Falls ~ Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota

After locating the geocache, and tucking away the biome bird card as proof of the “find”, we headed back along the Gooseberry River.

Fifth Falls Trail ~ Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota

Gooseberry River ~ Fifth Falls Trail (Minnesota)

Although we have just dipped our toes into this Minnesota State Park geocaching challenge, it already is proving to be an enjoyable way to see different parts of the parks we have visited for years.  The challenge also will take us to numerous parks we have never explored despite living in the state for over twenty years — the Garden Island State Recreation Area cache on an island nineteen miles from shore in the middle of the Lake of the Woods will take a little planning!

Fifth Falls Trail ~ Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota

Two down, eighty geocaching challenges to go . . . but what a delightful way to explore Minnesota’s diverse outdoor offerings!

Ciao! ~ Kat

Tettegouche Lake Overlook Trail

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” ~ John Muir

Oak Tree along the Tettegouche Lake Overlook Trail

This John Muir quote came to mind as my son and I hiked up the old gravel road with one of our black labs trotting happily alongside of us.  The hike may not have been long, but what it lacked in distance was more than made up for by the scenery that waited for us at the Tettegouche Lake Overlook.

Earlier in the day, as I sat down at the computer to catch up on some work, I looked outside at the sunny sky, with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees, and the knowledge that fall colors would be peaking soon (or fading fast).  Reminding myself that life is short, and nice fall days in northern Minnesota usually shorter, I pulled up the Minnesota State Parks’ Fall Color Reports and selected a park for an afternoon hike.

Tettegouche Lake with Lake Superior in the distance

One of my sons became interested in geocaching years ago. Motivating a teen to voluntarily accompany his mother on a Sunday afternoon hike is not the easiest task, but when I discovered a new geocaching challenge created by the Minnesota State Parks, the Minnesota State Parks Geocaching Avian Adventure, I had more than just the dog as a willing hiking companion.

Tettegouche Lake Overlook with Lake Superior in the distance

We drove along Scenic Highway 61 to Gooseberry State Park (more about that in a future post), and after a short hike there, drove further north to Tettegouche State Park.  We have hiked Tettegouche many times, but find it hard to tear ourselves away from the classic views of Shovel Point and other Lake Superior vistas.  With the geocaching activity determining our trails for the day, we found ourselves exploring a section of the Park new to us inland from Lake Superior, at the Tettegouche Lake Overlook Trail.

Tettegouche Lake Overlook ~ Tettegouche State Park, Minnesota

The trail followed an old gravel road, climbing steeply through forests of still-turning golden-leaved maples and crimson-leaved oaks.  Branching off from the gravel road, the trail turned into a dirt path winding through the woods and making its way toward Lake Superior.  Acorns were scattered along the narrow path, like bread crumbs marking our way.

Tettegouche Lake Overlook ~ Tettegouche State Park, Minnesota

As the trail opened to the rocky ledge, we were amazed by the palette of fall colors stretching for miles in all directions.  The leaves seemed somewhat lackluster along the highway as we drove to the Park, so I was prepared for an underwhelming display as compared to the year before.  What a wonderful surprise to see the late afternoon sunlight illuminating the classic colors of autumn — rich golds, oranges and reds, in sharp contrast to the bright blue of Tettegouche Lake below, and Lake Superior far off in the distance.  The colors changed in intensity as the sun sank lower in the sky.  I reluctantly turned away from the scene to head back down the trail.

Tettegouche Lake Overlook Trail ~ returning to the trailhead

The task list looks the same as it did the day before, the laundry baskets are full.  But, when you are given the gift of a fall day like we had yesterday, a person is wise to heed the words of John Muir and refuel both body and soul with the beauty of nature.

Ciao! ~ Kat B.