It was my first unscheduled day in a long time. I decided I wanted to hike 10 miles. Why 10 miles? Not sure. Nice round number, I guess.
This day was all about connections. In the past I hiked east from Locke County Park. One of my earlier blog posts is about slipping on the ice in the section between Central Ave and Silver Lake Road. East from Locke County Park the trail meanders back and forth across the creek for a couple miles, joins the road for a bit, follows the railroad track, and eventually meets up with Long Lake Park. On this day I wanted to try going west all the way to the Mississippi and see how this trail connects to the Mississippi River Trail. I walked that trail at the Coon Rapids Dam a couple months ago.
It started out beautifully. Sunny cool day, dirt path, creek flowing, birds singing. This part has lots of uphill and downhill which I love. That is what makes it hiking, not just walking.
And then suddenly the trail stops. A fence blocks my way and an orange construction sign says, “Trail Closed”. Looks like new housing is going up. New streets and everything. Bummer. I see that there is no way around or forward. I backtrack until I find a casual path into the woods. Of course there have been others that ran into this same obstacle and needed to find a way around. Using the map on my phone, I found my way to a cul-de-sac that connected to the street that could get me to the next part of the trail. I had to cross University Avenue using the crosswalk. My least favorite part of this walk. Standing there knowing that every car is watching me and maybe judging me or worse yet, feeling sorry for me. Personal safety also enters my mind more in these situations. What will I do if this happens or if that happens. Always thinking about personal safety is important but when I am waiting at a crosswalk I get more anxious about it. That 90 seconds seemed like an eternity.
A small lake is just on the other side of the busy street. A welcome respite. To loop around this lake is about a third of a mile. After that the trail goes through an open field and then a long straight section parallel to the railroad track. A fence and a ditch separate the path from the railroad which is good because those tracks are still used by trains. Many train tracks in Minnesota have been repurposed into bike trails but not this one.
Once I got to Manomin Park on the Mississippi I was thrilled to realize that this is also the location of Banfil Locke Center for the Arts! Too bad it was a Monday, they are closed on Mondays. The gazebo was an excellent place to rest, sketch, and eat my lunch. The loop trail in this park is lovely and very short. Fishing and dog walking seem to be the favorite activities of the other people here.
On the way back I saw the sign for the detour around the new housing development. It went very far away from the woods into a neighborhood. I took a shorter way but not the same as before. I followed the road at the edge of the neighborhood until I came to an entrance to Locke Lake Park. The detour signs were there so I was back on the official trail.
This hike was only 8 miles, not 10 like my original plan. My rest and sketch time was long and I stopped often to take photos. At one point I ran into an old friend and chatted for quite a while. My husband asked if I wanted to meet for lunch. It is healthy to be flexible with our goals. My overall goals are to make art, be outside, and spend time with people that are important to me. This day was a victory in that regard. The 10 mile goal was not more important than connecting with people. Stopping to draw made the day more enjoyable. Numerical goals sometimes blind us from the true goals. Keep your eyes and mind open. Last Sunday, a speaker at church talked about wanting to live his life so that what is important to him is obvious to everyone who knows him. That is a good indicator of life success. What is important? How do you show it?