John and Diana are traveling around the country with a 37-foot RV and an 18-year-old cat. This is their story.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
River Cruise and a Pothole Trail
Currently the Croix River is about 10 feet higher than normal at present. The captain of the paddle wheel boat we rode on yesterday noted that usually it is necessary to take 16 steps down to the boat dock, at present those steps are under water. He also said this often happens in April, not usually in June. The river cruise took about an hour and a half and provided us a good view of the scenic beauty of the Dalles of St.Croix River. The tour guide pointed out unique rock formations such as the Old Man of the Dalles and the Holy Cross. As the legend goes, supposedly the first explorers to the area saw a cross on a river cliff and named the river St.Croix. It was only at one angle of the rock where I could see a somewhat rough form of a cross, once the boat passed that spot the rock formation looked a bit like the head of George Washington.
Advertising for the river cruise claims that eagles along the river can be seen on 75% of the daily boat trips- we did see several flying over the river and also high up in the trees. After our cruise we hiked on the Pothole Trail. We soon discovered that the St.Croix River is also called Glacial St.Croix- the area surrounding it is referred to as the National Ice Age Reserve. According to information provide along the trail, Glacial Lake Duluth at one time could only drain via the St.Croix. Ice blocked the Superior basin's eastern outlet to the lower Great Lakes. The glacial meltwaters created a tremendous flood in the river valley. The waters cut deeply into lava rocks which created the great rock formations we see today along the river. The turbulent water also drilled deep potholes- sand, small pebbles and stones, as they became trapped in whirlpools, ground cylindrical holes into large basalt boulders which the river encountered on its way downstream. The widest pothole has been measured at 26 feet in diameter, and the deepest at 60 feet (there is evidence that some of the other unexplored potholes in the park may be deeper, however). Below is a picture of the Bake Oven Pothole, so named because it resembles a baker's oven doorway. Many of the potholes we saw were quite impressive and certainly gives testimony to the power of the glacial floods.