This week the weather here in The Netherlands turned back to the normal, wet and mild. I am suffering from paddle fever and it gets worse with each day that passes. I was on the water here last year on 10 March. Doesn’t look like the weather is going to allow me to get into the water for a few more days. That hasn’t stop me from planning for my Spring Minnesota camping trips.
I started planning my Minnesota Spring trip mid winter. I have goals, I know where I want to go and the places I want to check off my to do list.
- Visit two Minnesota State Parks that I have not yet experienced.
- Explore the Minnesota River and parts of the St Croix River by kayak.
- Fly fish. I will try again this year to catch my first Minnesota trout.
- Kayak as much as I can, weather conditions permitting.
- Take some outdoor classes.
Last Spring, I was camping on 10 April at Moose Lake State Park and then when the forecast called for snow, I quickly changed locations, relocating outside the snow belt. I camped at William O’Brien State Park close to Forest Lake, Minnesota. I then moved for 4 days at St Croix State Park just east of Hinckley, Minnesota where I kayaked, fished, and hiked. Finally, I headed back to Moose Lake (read my blog experience here) before securing the Tiger Moth trailer camper back into a near empty storage unit. I had the same goals on my list last year, accomplishing almost everything. Sadly, catching a Minnesota trout last year eluded me.
Spring camping is not everyone’s cup of tea, friends think I am out of my mind camping in 30 F degree (- 0 C ) conditions even if I do have a camper with a small plug in heater. I also often have people ask me if I am scared, being a woman and camping alone. I just laugh.
I enjoy the quiet of the near empty campgrounds. It gives me joy to start a campfire and to sit it it’s glow at the end of a day of paddling or hiking. I can experience the return of the Spring birds and hear the frogs singing without the additional noise of civilization. I can still see the wild animals as they scurry around in the near bare woods void of leaves. I usually find that the campers who are out in those campgrounds at this time of the year are also pretty well grounded, interesting people.
My initial plan this spring, I was going to try camping at the State Parks close to Mille Lacs Lake. I quickly found that this option would not be the best option for my spring camping schedule as the average “ice out” date on Mille Lacs Lake is 24 April. The pictures and video of the dangerous ice mountains coming off the lake made me reconsider and then change my plans. This change made me very excited, it will be my first stay in a Minnesota State Park in the southern part of the state. Both parks I chose are close to the Mississippi River.
This week when I booked my camping spots at two Southern Minnesota State Parks, Whitewater and Beaver Creek Valley. I was surprised at the number of weekend and weekday camping slots that were already filled. Last year, most of the state parks I camped at, I had the entire campground to myself mid week and very few people were camped on the weekends.
I quickly found from my research on the DNR website, that during the time I am camping at these two parks, it is trout fishing opener. I will be sharing the rivers and campground areas with like minded fly fishing people. The fly fishing rod went on my packing list. I will be trying to catch my first Minnesota brook or maybe a DNR stocked rainbow trout. How exciting!
Well, excited is how I feel now, sitting behind my computer screen in The Netherlands. Lets just wait and see if I can catch anything on my line this Spring. I know from past experiences it could be a frustrating task waiting for a fish to bite the fly once I am on the river. I usually spend hours untangling line out of trees, falling into the river or the muddy banks, or having fun catching something that isn’t even a trout. Last year I spent a wonderful day on a small trout stream catching fish like crazy only to find out that they were river chum. Another morning in early Spring I was catching sunfish with every cast of my flies, fun for me just to catch something but I couldn’t fool anyone else that they were rainbow trout!
My goal of taking outdoor classes last year landed me a free fly fishing class at Afton State Park. I also attended another free REI presentation about a year long BWCAW canoe trip. Both of these classes were very helpful in my planning and enjoyment of my camping trips last year.
This year I have scheduled a REI class (free) presented by the National Park Service on paddling the St Croix River system. I have researched and located several other free class options but haven’t made additional plans just yet. I found that several county parks in the Minneapolis/St Paul area along with the State Parks have many outdoor classes in the months of April and May. Most of these classes are free or have a small reasonable charge.
So now the waiting game starts, as the days get longer (hopefully warmer) my paddle fever grows. I wait to load the kayak into the water here (The Netherlands). I dream of the April Minnesota waters.
Then, before I realize it, the big day at the end of this month will be here. The day where I fly to Minnesota leaving my tulip garden here alone.