Another Mini Camping Trip
I can’t believe that summer is nearly coming to an end! (Well, technically it ends September 21st, but…it feels like it ends once September starts). I feel that there is so much that I didn’t do this summer. It never lasts long enough. I suppose that is why I felt that I needed to take another mini camping trip. It won’t be long before it is too cold (though I suppose I could someday try winter camping…). In any event, I once again checked online to see what programs were being offered by state parks. I saw that Temperance River State Park was offering a plant identification hike. So…I decided that I would head there for a little camping and lesson on plants.
Temperance River is about an hour and a half northeast of Duluth. I set out early Friday morning to make certain I arrived there on time for the ten A.M. plant identification hike. It was a pretty drive. The road was not yet crowded with vehicles and the accompanying scenery of Lake Superior made me feel happy to be alive. I have been many places but there really is something special about Lake Superior, especially the north shore with its dramatic cliffs and craggy shores.
The plant identification hike was pretty cool. Those sorts of programs don’t tend to attract huge crowds, so it was a naturalist, a family, and myself. I knew many of the plants already, but I did not know that Jewel Weed can be used topically to treat stinging nettle. I also saw Wild Beebalm, which I had never noticed growing around here before. I also learned that Victorians used to back Tansy into cakes. The smell is pretty…strong and not very enticing…so I am not certain why it was added to cakes. But, it is mildly toxic, which ended tansy’s career as a cake flavoring. Hmm. The hike lasted about an hour and a half. When it was done, I decided to purchase two guidebooks from the park office and set off on another hike. I purchased a guide on fungi (as I have been more interested in fungi recently as a result of the Feminist Frolic earlier this month) and another on berries (as many berries are appearing now).
I set off for Carlton Peak, which is the second highest point in Minnesota. Because it is the second highest point, I figured it might actually be a bit of a challenge. It really wasn’t, which I guess goes to show that Minnesota really isn’t a dramatically tall state. But, it was still a fun time. I stopped along the way, taking note of interesting fungi and doing my best to sort of identify them. There were also many warblers hidden in the woods, chipmunks scurrying about, and the early touches of yellow on some of the leaves. The hike took me to the top of the peak, where there was a nice view of Lake Superior and the surrounding forests. Like usual, most of the hikers were couples, families, and friends. I didn’t meet anyone else on a solo adventure that day. After taking some photos of the top, I went to nearby Tofte Peak for another view.
Oh, I also ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This is a challenge when I go on these mini trips. I never know what to pack. I need to bring things that are easy to make and which don’t spoil without refrigeration. I have yet to come up with a satisfying menu of camping foods- so I tend to eat snacks. In this case, I brought peanut butter, jelly, and bread. Only…my bread was kind of old. It tasted gross and stale. I ate the sandwich anyway, but my stomach felt uneasy for the rest of the day. I also lost my taste for PBJ sandwiches after that one bad one…even after buying some better bread. Despite an upset stomach, I went on several other hikes that day. I wandered around Lake Superior and went on a hike along Temperance River. In all, I was up and moving around from 10 am to almost 8pm (though it wasn’t strenuous non-stop movement as I sat down, did identification work, took photos, etc.).
At 8pm, I made a fire and rested for a while. I made myself a grilled cheese and avocado sandwich, but my taste for food was non-existent due to my nasty PBJ earlier. I mostly stared at the fire and journaled in the dim light. Also, I came to the realization that my tent…which I had not used since my rainy camp adventure in July…smelled really, really musty. I aired it out through the day, but it still smelled. I think it will be better next time, but it could really use some airfreshener. My stomach was not a happy camper and the smell of the tent was not going to do my digestive system any favors. I ended up sleeping in my car to avoid the smell. Yep. But, not before wandering to Lake Superior in the darkness and sitting on some rocks. I observed the stars and enjoyed the darkness. There is something wonderful about the blackness of night. It is mysterious and frightening in a fun way. I listened to the water on the rocks and the sound of leaves. All of the other campers were already sleeping, so it was nice to stay up and out there alone.
I had big ambitions for the following day. I planned on doing more hiking and visiting some other state parks on the way back to Duluth. But, after hiking so long the day before, I wasn’t that energetic. I did a little geocaching around the park and stopped for some photos at nearby rivers and the abandoned town of Taconite Harbor. However, I wanted something more substantial than what I had packed to eat. My stomach felt normal but wasn’t hungry for what I had packed. So, I made my way back towards Duluth in search of food. I stopped in Silver Bay and did a little more geocaching, but began to feel drawn home by some activist obligations. Originally, I had set off with the intention of staying out late at Gooseberry Falls State Park so that I could catch a presentation on ravens. However, this would mean missing out on a prisoner solidarity protest and a benefit dinner for a UMD student from Syria. My roommate Adam texted me asking where the signs I had made were. I didn’t actually make any signs for the protest.
Visions of eating Mexican food and attending these political events drew me home earlier that I had intended. I didn’t catch the presentation on ravens, but I did have a fun time eating Mexican food and going for a walk with Adam. I was also glad to attend the political events later in the evening. I am not much of a camper, but I enjoyed the hiking and genuinely felt glad to live in this part of the world. There is a lot of beauty to partake in here. Each time I camp, I learn something new. This time I learned to really, really think about what I want to eat and not to pack expired bread- even if it isn’t moldy yet. I also learned that I should be more careful with my tent and not assume that it was “dry enough” when I packed it up. This can lead to a musty misadventure. In all, it is fair to say that I am not the most adventurous person…but I enjoy my little mini adventures. It removes me, even for a short time, from people, work, activism and the demands of everyday life. It is an important part of my self-care and I always learn something new.