Now that I am back in The Netherlands I have a bit of time to reflect on my trip last month to Minnesota. Once I finally dipped my kayak in the water at Big Marine Lake I spent the last few days I had of my visit exploring the areas around the Southern edge of the lake.
I stay at Big Marine Lake for the easy free access from the boat launch to the lake available to campers who stay at the Veterans Campground. The cabins located at this campground are mostly empty this time of year offering a quiet location in nature for rest and relaxation. The price is affordable at $450 per week for a two bedroom cabin. This is a 501(c3) non-profit camp run for the benefit of all veterans and active military and their families.
From the cabin it is a nice walk through the woods and seasonal campground down to the dock and boat launch area. I always like to get on the lake either in the early morning or late evening in order to avoid any traffic from motorized boats. In early Spring I really don’t have to worry as much about boat traffic. The wind is also a bit calmer in the early part of the day making it easier to paddle or to fish.
The amount of wildlife is also abundant. The water is clear and the weeds have not yet started to grow making it fun to watch fish or loons swim by under my kayak in their liquid underworld.
A brand-new fly fishing rod did not improve my luck of catching anything on the lake and the next morning I decided to paddle without the fishing gear. The wind had picked up overnight and now the larger part of the lake had waves. Not ideal for picture taking and so I paddled into a cove surrounded by marsh grasses and look at birds.
The cove was alive with the songs from the Red Wing Blackbirds but it was also alive with bald eagles fishing, and hawks flying, and Canada geese nesting. I found one goose nesting on a beaver lodge.
Paddling along the edge of the lake back into the open bay I started to see the one thing I hate to see when I am out on the water. Plastic trash! Once I see it I can’t just paddle by and pretend I don’t see it. Plus, it seems to multiply in front of my eyes. So… I started picking it up as I made my way back to the boat launch area.
I had better luck with fishing all of this out of the water than I did the day before when I was actually fishing.
This shoreline is alive with nature. This result is due mostly to the undeveloped shoreline. Washington County Parks, Veterans Campground and private landowners have maintained a distance from the shore when building. I was reminded how important it is to maintain such natural shoreline as I watched a kingfisher dive into the water from an overhanging tree. It brought a smile to my face as I watched from my kayak as he tried again and again to fish from his perch, hitting the water with a splash of violence. Quickly landing a small fish in his beak and returning to the perch.
As the day came to a close I sat at the fire pit at the campground, alone with my thoughts, but happily reflecting on the close of this vacation to my home state of Minnesota. I did some wonderful hiking, paddled in some great spots, caught my first trout, and spent some well needed time in nature. I wondered about what the next year would bring but then tossed that aside as a casual thought not to be revisited. Better not to know.
Better just to be at peace in nature. It is so simple.
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