I would like to think of this as my private lake, Echo Lake has provided me with such joy ov er the years and filled my head with fond memories. Located right off Interstate 35 at exit 214 it is contained within the boundaries of the Moose Lake State Park.
It was the perfect location this spring to take my two new toys, my 12 foot Wilderness Pungo120 kayak and my 12 foot Taxa Tiger Moth trailer camper for their first outings.
In April, the weather can still be very cool in Northern Minnesota. I had decided to camp in my Tiger Moth at the Moose Lake State Park campgrounds. The campgrounds was only open for dry camping. They don’t turn the water on or have the rest facilities open until the fear from pipes freezing has passed, sometimes that isn’t until mid May.
This park has 20 electrical sites and 13 non-electrical with two sites as tent carry in sites. I picked 23e the first 5 days I stayed the week of April 10-15. The snow had just melted and the park was muddy from the run off and quiet. I was alone with only two other campers in the entire park. I found out quickly that my Tiger Moth needed some additional heat source. Temperatures were still dipping to freezing each night. I quickly resolved that by purchasing small electric heater. The addition of the heater kept the inside of my all aluminum trailer warm instead of like a icebox.
The ice on the lake was gone and I waited for the days to clear. Waiting for the day temperatures to warm enough to place the new shiny orange hull of the Pungo into the water. I wanted to search for the loons that had been calling to each other as I was falling to sleep each night.
Each year one pair nests and raises their family on Echo Lake and the eerie calls carry over the expanse of the lake. This particular family of loons and I have had some history over my years of paddling this lake. The adult male surfaced one time right in front of my Old Town kayak nearly scaring the hell out of both of us. That was the closest I ever came to dumping my kayak. He immediately dived again and I sat trying to catch my heart that had jumped out of my chest. I returned to the total silent bliss on the lake. I now look constantly for the location of the loons as I enter the lake.
The 12th of April I woke to calm winds and clear blue skies. I quickly loaded my kayak and parked at the boat launch. The lake was like glass! I stood there for a moment and breathed the crisp fresh air and listened to various birds starting to sing and chatter in the brush that line the banks of Echo Lake. It wasn’t hard to hear the more noticeable traffic noise of I35. Noting that this time of year without the leaves of the trees the noise is noticeable.
I glided out onto the lake in my new kayak. I paddled across the lake with a speed I had not experienced when paddling my Otter kayak. This new Wilderness Pungo120 sliced through the water with ease and when the wind started to pick up and create riffles on the water I was more stable than I had ever been in my older kayak. The new removable deck that is standard on the Pungo was a huge improvement for me. I could now stole all my small items safely without having them rolling around in the bottom of my boat.
I paddled around in bliss that morning. The water fowl on Echo Lake was entertaining.
I was dressed for winter as the breeze was still cool, but remained warm sitting in the kayak with the padded seat that is standard on this model. It was a perfect day to test my new equipment.
I spent several more weeks at Moose Lake this past spring and fall. The campground was always very quiet. I was entertained one night by campers next door to me who played their fiddles around the campfire. A nice unexpected wilderness concert.
I stayed in campsites 29e, 16e, and 7 this past year and they all are nice campsites providing cover and plenty of room. 29e is south facing and provides a nice afternoon sun.
There are hiking trails that I would recommend that either sweep past the larger Echo Lake shores or cross HWY 137 to the North side of the park to circle the Wilderness Pond. The pond is a great place to spot nesting Sandhill cranes and Trumpeter Swans and all sorts of ducks. The trails are wide and mowed on a regular basis. The trails are a great place to experience the forest and the marshes that are common to this area of Minnesota.
As I exited the lake that morning, I remembered why this lake has always been special to me. I have spent many paddles on this almost isolated, hardly used lake over the years. I have shared this lake with my kids, step kids, hubby, and occasionally I have unexpectedly donated fishing lures into it’s depths. I have encountered interesting entertaining people along it’s shores and on the water while I was paddling. Most of those times I was trying to work through my frustration with the universe, the universe answered by providing these entertaining diversions from my thoughts. It grounded me in the worst and the best of times. If a lake can be a kindred spirit then this lake is mine. My special go to place to paddle when I need to regain my balance with life and to listen to the wisdom of the loons.