It’s been a week of wandering northern Minnesota – exploring territory new to both of us, in search of the headwaters of the Mississippi River. For the most part, we’ve had bright blue skies and most excellent weather.
At this time of year, we figured that we would be able to get along without having campground reservations. Right off the bat, we were wrong – our plan to stay at Pokegama Dam was thwarted by a full campground. No worries, John assured me – there’s a township park that looks to be okay about 40 miles down the road. Nope! That turned out to be a miserable park, with the bathrooms locked up tight. So, we just pointed the Fireball westward on US 2 until a turnoff appeared for a National Forest Campground at Winni Dam. An excellent choice! Situated on the Mississippi (where it’s still just an ordinary river), this small campground provided us with a park to wander around, and peaceful surroundings for the evening.Lake Bemidji State Park was our next destination. Home of Paul Bunyon and Babe, this park features miles of trails for cycling and hiking, so we decided to put down stakes for two nights and stretch our legs. Not only did we have lots of room to wander with Jezzy, we were also able to get our bikes out of the truck and ride the 17 mile path around the Lake (with the obliagatory beer stop at Bemidji Brewing.Of course, we did have to see Paul and Babe.cContinuing our quest to find the Mississippi River headwaters, we headed to Itasca State Park, the source of the Mighty Mississippi. Another gorgeous park, but with a quirk. We arrived on October 1 to find that it’s the day the bathrooms and showers close for the season, and the water in the campgrounds is shut off. We made do with a clean(ish) pit toilet across the campground, and water collected from the dump station. Any inconvenience was more than offset by our terrific campsite.A paved trail took us the three miles to the Headwaters, where warm temps had kids of all ages dancing in the water. A tear shed into the river here would travel 2552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico in just over 40 days. Day two began with the threat of widespread storms, so we decided to hit the Trail early and hike down to the Visitors Center, the opposite way of the Headwaters. Another delightful path, lined with yellow-leaved birch trees, rustling in the wind. The big rains did come – a deluge sent us scurrying under our awning for cover for the afternoon and evening.
We awoke this morning (Wednesday) to find that our stretch of wonderful weather may be at an end. It’s only in the 40s as we roll into North Dakota along US2.