Sunday, November 16, 2014

Been There. Scenic

Scenic State Park has managed to stay off the radar of a lot of people. Even I didn't hear about it until this year. It's very wooded but not very large as parks go. I was talking to some dive buddies about going to an old open pit iron mine from the 1970's and the plan formed up for me and the wife to go up to Scenic SP the day before and then meet a few buddies at Ore-Be-Gone 'lake' out of Gilbert, MN for some scuba.

Looping back to Scenic SP and Miss Otter uses the last few hours of daylight to go packrafting for the first time. I'm not about to be left standing on shore so I kit up in my new drysuit (custom out of Turku Finland) for a swim. It may be of interest that the water is in the low 40F but that day we are having a bit of a heat wave for October.

A short word on safety is probably worth commenting on. The water is easily cold enough to paralyze K before she could swim to shore so if this was anything more than a short test run she would also be in a dry suit. She has an inflatable PFD on and I'm already in the water so we could get her back in the boat and to shore before anything serious happens.

I notice the lake has millions of snails and some fresh water clams. I haven't seen any of these since the Zebra muscles took over local lakes.

Early the next morning we go hiking for a few hours before going to Gilbert. The weather isn't very nice. Lots of wind making it feel much colder but we only have one day in the park so we grim up and hike out.

Forest management, invasive species control or simple logging? I've see this kind of harvest to kill pine beetles in South Dakota but this looks more like pulp mill work. Later we see it has to be.

 At the end of the trail is a primitive hike-in campsite with a small shelter. Unfortunately it's taking a lot of wind off the lake. We had intended to make some hot soup and beverages to warm up before the hike home, about 6 miles. Scooby dog was also a little chilled but a few milk bones cheered him up. We settle on just a mug of hot cider because it's just too windy to enjoy anything more.

I love this cook kit. Someday I may post the detail but it contains everything we need and it all fits in the pot. stove, fuel, flint, spoon, insulated bowl with lid, and powered cider mix.

Heading back down the trail we take a turn to return on a new trail making a large loop trail. We find this survey marker and a Potlatch plaque saying they donated the trees. This explains the harvesting we saw, Patlatch replanted this area, presumably after a large fire or something the state needed help with. Years ago this would have irritated me but we now understand if you protect the forest too much it gets destroyed. Some harvesting and clear cutting is healthy to maintain a balance of young and old trees vs downed and standing dead for bugs and birds to use. New growth is also better food for animals and the better plant diversity.

We leave Scenic and head over to Gilbert and its Off-Highway Terrain Park. That too is a state park so everyone has a place to do their thing and these guys take rock crawling seriously.

We are actually parked at our campsite and this is the view. It's a private campground on the top of a large hill of overburden. When they scooped all the ore out of the pit mine they piled the trash rock and it eventually became a campground that overlooks a very scenic, new, lake they called Ore-Be-Gone.
I borrowed the next four photos from a good friend we call DetectorGuy.

This was an ugly open pit mine. Now it's very nice so it's not blight forever.

We dive on 2 helicopters, a bus, a jeep, a plane and 2 small trains call speeders. All of these were installed as a diving attraction by the local scuba shop that didn't survive the economic pressures.

We started at an old park called Scenic; learned it's currently being clear cut, move to a open pit mine and learned it's now green and beautiful. On that capsized look at nature, good bye.