Saturday, March 24, 2012

State Park Tour 2012: Chapter 2

Apparently sleeping my living room floor is far more comfortable than I'd ever imagined--for the second weekend in a row, Mom drove up to Minneapolis for a visit.  The early spring weather continued through the weekend, and so did our spring state park tour.  Having thoroughly explored both sides of Interstate State Park last weekend, we moved on to two new targets this weekend: Afton State Park and Willow Creek State Park.

The day didn't hold a lot of promise at the start.  I woke up to temperatures in the mid-50s and a fog so thick, I felt like I was driving through a bowl of New England clam chowder:

When we arrived at Afton State Park, I feared the worst when I laid my eyes a hiking enthusiast's worst nightmare: paved trails--which have no business inside a state park.  Paved trails were designed for the type of pathetic "campers" who roll into the campground in an RV, fire up the generator, and appreciate the outdoors by roughing it with a full day of satellite TV.

Then, in defiance of both the recent weather and the calendar, Afton's restrooms were still closed for the winter.

But I took things into my own hands, and my luck started to turn around.  The grassy area directly behind the restrooms is open year-round, and I gave it a warm--and slightly yellow--welcome with an official spring christening.  Before too long the clouds broke, the temperature climbed, and we found miles of unpaved trail overlooking the St. Croix River.

The afternoon took another step in the right direction when we arrived at Willow River State Park.  We found more trails and some great views of the water, including some impressive shots of Willow River Falls:

All told, we hiked for around eight hours, covered roughly twelve miles of trail, and saw and heard more than our share of frogs, owls, birds, deer and, unfortunately, human children.  Much like last weekend, I am completely fatigued and short on blogging time, so I will once again let the photos do most of the heavy lifting on this post:

The stairs to the lookout over the waterfalls.

Always nice to travel in something other than a tan Malibu.

 Another shot of Willow River Falls.

No confusion about the seasons this week--that's green grass...and, if you look closely, some kind of Indian family reunion soccer game near the beach.

One of the best dam photos I've ever taken.

Leaving the park near sunset after another great day of hiking.

1 comment:

  1. Best dam photos - ha! I don't get it.