Bemidji, Minnesota, USA has a state park with a campground, camper cabins, a swimming beach, boat marina, visitor center, bike trails, and hiking trails. It is also the place where I lost my keys last fall.
My daughter and I walked the Bog Walk. It is about a mile out and a mile back from where we parked at the end of the camping area. It was a crisp autumn day with some snow on the ground. The boardwalk leads you through a stand of evergreens growing in a peat bog. If you go in the summer, you will see a wide range of vegetation. The lush biodiversity includes the ladyslipper, Minnesota’s state flower.
But on that November 2017 day, somehow my keys fell out of my pocket. I assumed it was at the bench where we sat and admired the small lake at the end of the boardwalk. We broke the rules just a little bit and climbed down onto the frozen bog and dug around in the snow and dead plants trying to find my keys. We retraced our steps twice to no avail. Luckily my husband had a spare set of keys and for the rest of that winter we continually asked each other “got the keys?” every time we exited the vehicle or got up from a chair, bench, or table.
We were back there again in May 2018. I knew it was a long shot, but I asked in the ranger station if anyone turned in a set of keys. Sure enough, just the week before someone found them when the snow melted. What good luck! Or amazing blessing, take your pick.
On April 14, 2019, I returned to this park. It had just snowed enough to make walking difficult. Snow in April is not unusual in Northern Minnesota, but enough snow to cover the boots? Not fair. Still, it was nice to be outside and feel the sun on my face. 42 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) is perfect walking temperature. It was a little more of a workout than I expected. I was walking on unevenly packed snow or in deep heavy wet snow. I stopped often to take photos, to sit and sketch, or just to rest. It took me over 2 hours to go 3 miles (5 kilometers). It was such a relief every time I came to a melted patch of ground.
I started from the beach area and walked along the shore of the big lake, Lake Bemidji. There is a wildlife viewing station that was an excellent place to rest. That trail wound around to the other end of the park where it crossed the road and joined the Bog Walk. I decided to check in with the place of lost keys.
There were not many people here on this day. A few on the popular Bog Walk but no one on the other trails. The people I did see were sociable and greeted me in passing. I like that about hiking in Minnesota. People say things to strangers like, “Hello” and “Nice day, isn’t it?”
What stories do you have about losing things or finding things on the trail? It could be interesting to get metaphorical about losing and finding the keys. Sometimes the things we lose or find are not things at all.