Hiking Gooseberry Falls State Park

Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
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Trip End Jun 01, 2012


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Flag of United States  , Minnesota
Monday, June 27, 2011

Gooseberry Falls is one of Minnesota's natural jewels that was protected from development when it was turned into a State Park. It is a magical slice of land filled with rushing rivers cascading over rocky cliffs as it runs to a wide open bay on Lake Superior. 

The day we chose to take a hike in the park was picture perfect, sunny skies with a nice breeze to keep the mosquitoes in the grass.  Our hike took us up river on a beautiful path along it's edge, leading us to another path called the Superior Hiking Trail, considered to be the second best long distance hiking trail in the United States, next to the Appalachian Trail in the southern part of The States.  The trail winds up and down the rolling hills of the Laurenitian Divide that runs along the border of Minnesota and Canada... with rivers flowing either south to Lake Superior or north towards Hudson Bay.  The trail often twists into a narrow path meandering over gnarled cedar roots while climbing to rocky overlooks made up of some of the oldest exposed rock on the planet. The vistas from the tops of these plateaus are stunning... with views of the world's largest lake on one side and what appears an endless forest stretching into the horizon on the other.  It is hard to explain how massive Lake Superior is, as it can not be fully seen, as it's shoreline simply disappears into the distance, appearing more like a sea than a freshwater lake.   The inhabitants that live along it's massive shores are proud of their huge body of water, often sharing various tidbits of information to help describe it's reverence.  Some that have stuck in my aging brain are... "It is the world's largest freshwater lake... by surface area", "It contains 10% of the Earth's freshwater", "The deepest point is around 1,300 feet", "If Superior were to empty out it would flood all of North, Central and South America with a foot of water", It's average temperature is around 40 degrees... meaning that if one fell into the lake they would have about 10 minutes before their limbs would freeze up and stop working... making it a very dangerous body of water".  

The lake is only part of the draw to this area, the other is the thick blanket of forests that cover the land.  This area of the U.S. is still wild, with over 3,000,000 acres of national forest, state forest, national parks, state parks and numerous preserves protecting the many creatures that still healthily exists within it's depths.   I have been hiking this land for over 20 years and have seen a stunning array of species on my sojourns... wolves, deer, mink, grouse, black bear, eagles, delicate orchids, bobcats, neon colored mushrooms, loons, ancient cedars, plate-sized moths, towering norway pines... It is also a land of extreme temperatures, mostly cold, very cold as it remains covered in a blanket of snow for around two thirds of the year with temperatures that keep most away, helping it stay pristine.   But once again water reigns proud even on the land, as it is riddled with countless rushing rivers, sky tinted lakes, burbling streams, tranquil ponds and waterfowl strewn sloughs that seemingly fill every low lying area. It's northern boundary is bordered with the million acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area, a national park filled with over 1200 lakes with connecting rivers that are mostly restricted for canoe travel only... an untouched place that National Geographic has awarded as one of the 50 must see global destinations of a lifetime.  

Travelers often find themselves yearning for the far away places that exists on the other side of the planet from where they reside. I have looped the globe on my journeys around the world and have seen many shockingly beautiful places... from the towering Himalaya Mountains in Nepal, the billowing sand dunes in the Sahara Desert in Morocco, the flower covered Carpathian mountains in Slovakia, the silty black volcanic sands lining the Pacific coast of Bali, the Tiger haunted jungles of India, the tree filled Andes Mountains of Chile's Patagonia Region, the butterfly littered jungles of Costa Rica... yet I still find Minnesota's Arrowhead region to be one of the most beautiful... mostly because it is a place of profound and intimate beauty... one that needs to be experienced from the soul and not only seen with the eye.   
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