Quickie camping trip to Whitewater

16 03 2009

With no plans for last weekend, me and Jason decided to take an impromptu little getaway. We headed down to Whitewater State Park, located near Rochester and Winona.  I wanted to hike and he wanted to fly fish, so it was a great place for both these activities.  We checked in with the park ranger and got the scoop on the trails.  Back in August of 2007, there was a devastating flood that caused over $400 million in damages to Whitewater and the park is still in a re-building stage.  Most of the trails were open and all new bridges have been built.  I don’t know what the park looked like before the flood, but most everything looked like it was getting put back together.

We set up camp right by a great trout fishing spot and had the entire campground to ourselves.  After scouting things out, we wandered over to a maple syrup tapping demonstration.  About 15 maple trees were tapped and people were collecting and cooking the sap.  We didn’t stay long enough to sample maple syrup sundaes – darn it!

Buckets collecting sap from maple trees

Buckets collecting sap from maple trees

Drop of sap coming out of tap

Drop of sap coming out of tap

Next we were ready for some hiking!  We did 3 peaks – Chimney, Eagle and Coyote Point – which took us just over 3 hours.  The trails featured limestone bluffs, caves, and forest – plus lots of mud, snow and ice.  One of the trails dwindled down to almost nothing, so I decided to make my own path.  We were on a steep bank down to the river and I couldn’t get my footing.  Well, a few slivers from grabbing onto tree branches and a mudslide later, I did make it to the bottom of the river:

Mudslide!

Mudslide!

Here’s a pic of me and J at the top of Chimney Point:

We made it - and Maggie too!

We made it - and Maggie too!

About half-way into the hike I was waiting for Wally the Beerman to jump out of the woods to offer us a cold one – but no such luck.  By 5pm my stomach was growling and my thrist for a brewskie was all that was on my mind.  We headed down the road to a small town called Elba and got some cheese curds and a glass of Trout Run Red at a little establishment called Mauer’s.  You know, the kind of place where you walk in and everyone stops what they’re doing and gives you the lookover because you ain’t from around here.  I like these joints – the characters you meet are hilarious.  Plus, $2 for a schooner of decent beer – you can’t beat that!

I was all ready to relax by the fire that night and stay up late – but the day must have got the best of me.  I think I hit the hay by 9:30pm.  Didn’t sleep so well – trying to get used to my new Sierra Designs sleeping bag and it was a bit chilly out.  My bag is rated for 30 degrees, but the temp got down to 28 that night.  I might have been all right if I would have put another pair of socks on.  Had to have Maggie sleep inside as well since there were plenty of coyotes howling through the night.

Jason beat me up the next morning and went fly fishing right outside our camp spot.  He caught 2 brown trout but there is no proof since he didn’t take pictures.  We did another 1 hour hiking loop before we headed back to Kato to pick up the boys from Grandma’s.

Me and faithful steed (aka Maggie, aka Margaret)

Me and faithful steed (aka Maggie, aka Margaret)

We are looking forward to bringing the boys with us back to Whitewater this summer.  We got the more difficult hikes out of the way so we can hit some of the easier ones with them and the swimming beach will be open for them as well.  I highly recommend this state park for camping/fishing/hiking and beautiful scenery.

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