Along the Saint Croix River, Minnesota Bank
The Saint Croix River
When I was back in Minnesota, I took three kids, ages 11, 13 & 14, camping out to Wild River State Park, which lies along the St Croix River, on the Minnesota side. We had beautiful weather, but it did drop down to the low thirties at night.
We did a lot of hiking, the kids may say that I made them do a lot of hiking, either way… that was the point of getting out. The wildlife was out enjoying the sunshine too, as we spotted turkeys, deer, ruffed grouse, hawks, eagles and plenty of ducks, geese & loons. The kids learned the different croaks of three species of frogs, including the wood frog, which is Alaska’s only frog. They also learned several bird calls. We also did some geocaching, even though an exasperated 11 year old, found that entire endeavor, a complete waste of time.
With three kids, a campfire was mandatory. S’mores, and roasted hotdogs were part of the menu, but I was greatly amused by the kids’ willingness to try out several dried food choices. The freeze dried mac & cheese was a disappointment, the chili a 50/50 deal, and the spaghetti being the overwhelming winner.
I think it is safe to say that my type of camping was a new experience, and this was as close to “glamping” as this wandering Alaskan ever gets. My favorite question of the weekend was: “How do you boil water without a microwave?” I was left speechless. I had picked up a used Coleman stove and lantern, thinking that this would not be the only camping trip I took the kids on. Coleman camping gear is about as bullet proof as gear gets, and the used gear can be picked up at some very reasonable prices. I bought the gear from a guy who had at least a dozen stoves to choose from, and over twenty lanterns! Coleman hoarding?
Pressurizing the stove, I kept getting asked, “Why isn’t it turning on? What’s taking so long? Is it broken?” Alas, I may have taken them out too late. It took some explaining, and I thought I was making progress, but the same questions followed the lantern lighting. My responses were simple, yet widely ignored: “Quiet. Watch the whole process. No, it’s not broken. If the three of you stopped talking at once, you might learn something. It’s the same as the stove. What do you mean you forgot how the stove lit?” In the end, they received a couple of new experiences, if nothing else.
Not the Wild River
Designated a National Scenic Riverway, The St Croix River is one of the original rivers to be protected under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. The St Croix is 169 miles long, and it’s final 125 miles forms the boundary between Minnesota & Wisconsin. It really is a beautiful river, and would well be worth the time to float.
When we were there, the river was over the flood stage, after the area received the ridiculous April blizzard, which dumped 18″ or so of vile snow. Fishing had opened on the river, but with the high water, it was near impossible for the kids to fish from the bank. Shrubs and small trees which would have been behind you, were now under water in front of you. Snags were commonplace, and I had to wade in to untangle lures on occasion.
Overall, a great little park, with a beautiful setting. Lots of wildlife, trails and most important: 18 miles of the St Croix.