Saturday morning we woke up early (well kind of, we slept in a little) and headed north west about 50 miles to Lake Maria State Park (pronounced mariah... not sure why though). From talking with our buddies at REI they suggested a good beginner backpacking place of Lake Maria. So we thought we'd check it out. Given that it was Memorial Day weekend, of course every state park in the state, well except about 5 were booked. Although all parks have a few spots left open for first come first serve. We didn't think we'd get one, but we thought we'd prepare in case we lucked out. We got there at 10 til 10, when the office opened to see if they had any camping spots left. No luck, which was okay because we planned to hike anyway. (and we had plans the next afternoon which actually worked out better because we would have been in a mad rush Sunday morning to get home and back to a friend's house for a BBQ). Funny how every holiday weekend, we are stuck LOOKING for a place to camp, nothing like waiting for the last minute. But if we wouldn't have waited in the past we never would have gone to Blue Mounds State Park or Charles Lindbergh State Park.
Anyway, we really just wanted to get some experience backpacking. While I was home visiting family, my brother had given me his old sleeping bag and a small tent... thus giving us 'pretty much all we needed to backpack' LMAO!!! HAHAHA yeah right... until we found the wonderful world of REI! We got packs, towels, clips, rope, a kitchen sink, backpacking burner, deflatable mugs, etc!!
After all that THEN we were really ready to backpack, lol. We loaded our packs Friday night, then Saturday I weighed them to see where we stood. Kyle's = about 19 lbs, mine about 12 lbs. Not too bad. Everything for one night camping. And even though we didn't camp it was still nice to walk 5 miles with our packs on to get a feel for it. Kyle and I did great... Harpo was DONE by 1:00. LOL
Here we are with our packs:
The mosquitoes were bad in the shady swampy areas, but like all other hiking trips we just pretty much high tail it through the shade then relax when we make it to blazing sun where there are no mosquitoes.
After about two or so miles we decided to go back to the jeep and unload our sleeping bags and tent (well kyle had the tent, we each had our own sleeping bag in our pack) to somewhat mimic if we were to arrive at a camp site unload those three things, then go back out. Really we couldn't tell a difference in weight, but we thought we'd give it a try. While loading back up we made an AWESOME discovery!
Our chest clips have WHISTLES! Isn't that totally awesome! We have a whistle, compass, thermometer combination, but now ti's great to know there is always one there!! After blowing them for a little bit and getting our joy out, we figured we should probably stop before someone things we're in trouble, lol.
All the state parks, well I think all of them. Have a 'Hiking Club' really it's just a designated trail and about halfway through (the farthest part from the parking lot usually) there is a password!
I have been keeping track of the passwords we've encountered. They sell a book, well hiking club membership and you write out all the passwords and I think after a certain number you get a free night of camp or something. I just need to buy one of the books, which every place I try they are out...
After some more hiking and finding some crazy fungi:
We decided to stop to cook up some lunch. We wanted to test out our new backpacking burner
and since REI was having their 'biggest sale of the year' we also got some freeze dried food to try. For lunch we had Turkey Tetrozzni.
It actually wasn't too bad, just tasted like a hot dish (or for those of you non Minnesotans that is the same thing as a casserole). We also tried some desserts. I was actually REALLY excited about this, but not too impressed.
Although the ice cream sandwich was the better of the two and actually tasted like an ice cream sandwich minus the chill and the softness.
I can't close without a picture of Harpo :-)