It’s been awhile since I posted here. My last camping trip was not the unalloyed pleasure I had hoped. Someone dumped garbage on my last campsite. I had been planning on a new location not far from there. I was happy to have gotten a good picture of that site on the last trip. I called the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources only to be told to call the County Sheriff. When they came out they were a combination of amused and angry that the state wanted the county to foot the cost of removal.

When I left that area last the garbage was still all there except for a nice foot thick log about five feet long. I dragged that to my new site and used is a a backstop for my cooking fires. I the stuff isn’t gone by the time I get back there later this week, I will make a sacrifice of bagging and dragging most of it up to the road.

For me this beautiful natural spot is a place of worship and the folks who use it as an ashtray or garbage disposal site is a foul deed. I don’t mind picking up garbage but a big pile of it? I found about a hundred cigarette butts during the two week stay as every time it rained a new layer of crud was exposed. It wasn’t a complete bummer, though. I did have some fun.

My idea of fun is probably different from the typical state forest visitor, though. Finding a species of spider I had never before seen in the wild in this state was a thrill. I thought it was a species of wolf spider, but here it is:IMG_2923 (2)

It is called the Dark Fisher Spider or The Nursery Spider. The webbed enclosure contain the spent egg sac, something dead and yummy for the little baby spiders which you might be able to spot inside the nursery web. The mother guards the nest until the little ones are ready break free. She ate the father after they mated, although the literature claims that the father dies of natural causes before being consumed. Her body is about 3/4 inch long and full width from toe tip to toe tip us about 2 3/4 inches. She moves so that she is in full sun as much as possible, probably to conserve her physical resources. The beige borders that define the structure are very distinctive.

The other notable creature I saw was a huge raptor of some kind that landed in a humongous old cottonwood tree, which was how I judged the scale of the thing. I had not seen this bird in the wild but the shape of the wings was a giveaway. I learned later that it was an osprey; a real thrill to see! The body is about 2 feet long and the wing span is between 5 and 6 feet! I had already spotted bald eagles, red tailed hawks, and golden eagles enjoying the thermals created by the lines of hills that are close to the Mississippi River.

Ospreys feed mostly on fish; Hay Creek is known as a good trout stream, though a lot of the people who fish there catch nothing. At sundown you can see the fish as they feed; their snouts poke up out of the water to grab a bug on the wing, and they make a distinctive little ‘sploop’ noise. On the second weekend I was there they had a trout fishing clinic near my campsite.

The people who live in the area have been curious and friendly. This visit I saw several locals at my site. An old guy who has property just the other side of the road that serves the park stopped by and chatted for awhile and gave me a weather report. He came back the next day to find me packing up as I didn’t want to spend most of two days stuck in the tent while it rained. He surprised and delighted me by giving me a pint of freshly picked raspberries from his garden!

I also got a visit from L.A., who owns a horse riding stable in the area. She reminded me that bow hunting for deer was in season, and so was pheasant, grouse, and quail season. She was going to bring me a blaze orange vest to wear when I went hiking, but I was gone before she could do that. I shortened the trip by two days to avoid any more wet weather.

Another thing that did not happen was me starting any more new pictures. The days were significantly shorter and I found myself squeezed for time. It seemed as if I would finish cleaning up from breakfast and it was already time to make a new fire for lunch. There wasn’t time to do much more than sitting and enjoying the scenery for awhile. I had set up camp farther away from the road so I got a lot of hiking in as I tried to hear the weather at least once a day on the car radio. I also stored the firewood I had purchased in the trunk of the car as it was just too damp down my the creek. The dew fall was so heavy that things were wet as if it had rained overnight every night I was there.


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