Thursday, November 21, 2013

Site Occupied

Shortly after the North Shore Tour we reload and occupy some sites in the south west corner of the state. On the way to Blue Mounds State Park we stop at Schell's Brewery. The tour is suppose to be pretty good but our guide is not interested in showing us anything so we get the worst tour I've ever been part of. I saw more waiting around for it to start so the paid tour is a joke but your results may very. The brewery is worth a cursory look around so if you're passing through New Ulm, MN stop at a local coffee shop that has free WiFi and take the virtual tour. I'm kidding of course, a smart phone is all you need.
That's the brew-house (not that we got to go inside) and the truck is full of used hops and grains (not that we got to see how they are used). The only reason I know what's in the truck is it spilled some contents while driving away and I looked at the mess that spat out the back. 

 Above: These are hops. They are flowers that are used to give beer a tart flavor and preserve it.
Below: A historical record of all the breweries in Minnesota. Some still exist but their tour blows.

Speaking of tours we are on our way to Blue Mound for the weekend. On the way it's windy as hell and my house is getting blown all over the road. I say this because we coin another inside phase, 'The Winnie Wiggle'. Ocho isn't a speed machine so we are glued to the right lane and get overtaken a lot. This means that much of the time I have a car on my left. Be it, I want to change lanes or Ocho is taking an unplanned wind wiggle, it gets tense. It's not more than 20 minutes and I realize every time I crowd the dotted line anyone next to me gives it the berries and gets out of my way! So if I want some safety margin for a lane change or anything, I simple weave a tiny bit and a wide berth opens up. Call it the Winnie Wiggle.

It's not long and we are set up as 1 of 2 people in the park.

I use to do a lot of rock climbing here with my good buddy Brad so I have special memories of this place. I once sat down to a camp dinner and ate 1 pound (uncooked weight) of spaghetti with a pound of Jimmy Dean sausage and the majority of a small can of sauce by myself. It was about 3800 calories and I can't say I felt well that night. burp

As usual we lump up on the couch with the trail maps and read them with the intensity of astronomers trying to find a new planet. After an hour or so we have a route that will give us the best blend of wide open spaces and fine grain structure and it's packaged into a 4 hour loop. In the morning we go wild for a pan of cinnamon rolls right out of the oven, get lazy and blow an early start to our day.

We'll be leaving the park soon but there is something really cool about this rock. Its not that it's up to 5000ft thick quartzite and that it's wicked hard but that it's 1.8 billion years old. Why do you care about it's age? Because 1800 million years ago life hadn't evolved so it has nothing in it but sand!
Back at camp I'm fired up to go to Sibley State Park and hike Mount Tom the next day. There is little left at Blue Mounds and Sibley is a little closer to home. Yadda Yadda Yadda ... it's the next morning and we are at Sibley, have eggs and get an early start to the day.
First order of business is the hike to ever iconic, Mount Tom. I load up the day pack with all the standard 'what if' gear and some experimental hot cheese fixing. About an hour or so out of camp we are teased by the breathtaking vistas of Little Mount Tom.
Our goal is lofty, nothing less than the rarefied air of Big Tom will do so we press on into the wonderful weather and the path most traveled.
Scooby is electrified and pulls us up the last hundred feet and pow!
Of course it's not really worth the hype I gave it but it's easily worth the little bit of effort it took.

After we take in the views which are quite good we need to keep a schedule and take a different return trail to keep things interesting.

We have several mile to go and it's getting close to munch time and I'm dying to try out my new griddle.

The first trail crossing we get to is an XC trail that isn't likely to be used in summer. We get off the beaten bath so we can have lunch without interruption and make grilled cheese sandwiches.

The cheese is good from such a tiny stove.

Our internal furnaces stoked by hot cheese we get back to the campground to find everyone else has left and we are the only campers in the park. I take a short walk around to look at the old water tower created under the WPA and it's amazing stonework before we Winnie Wiggle our way home.

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