Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Itasca State Park

This is a continuation of my previous posting. After a day of hiking around the state park we stopped for supper at the Douglas Lodge. It was built in 1905. The state park is the second oldest in the nation- the park at Niagara Falls is the oldest. At the lodge's restaurant I had a meal of wild rice and vegetables, John's supper was a walleye sandwich- good Minnesota fare!  After our meal we started out on the Old Timer's Cabin Trail around Mary Lake. As an aside here, the park has about 150 lakes.
 Just as we were starting on the trail a lady approached me and asked whether I wanted to see lady slipper flowers, to which I replied that I had my eye out for them all day and had seen none. She directed me as to how I might find them on the trail. What a joy to see those delicate orchids along  the wooded trail!  There were a couple patches of the flowers pictured below  I later also found a small yellow lady's slipper further down the trail. We learned later that it takes at least 50 years for the plant to get started before it blooms.
As it was getting late in the evening, our hike ended at the Old Timer's Cabin.  It is a Civilian Conservation Corp cabin that is only 4 logs high. A sign near the cabin notes that the lumber came from trees which had fallen in wind storms, and that they were typical of what trees use to look like when allowed to grow.
On our way back from the cabin we had some interesting sights of wildlife. A heron flew down on some tree branches above our heads and eyed us warily. At the same time we noticed two loons splashing about in the lake ( prior to that we had been hearing their flight calls over the lake). Near the loons the head of an otter popped up out of the water- we were not sure who was fussing at whom!  It was the perfect ending of our day at Itasca State Park.  Driving out of the park we had a couple sightings of deer by the roadside.

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