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 and found my keys.
This is an update to a post from April 2019 and August 2020 and May 2021. Now it is August 2021 and northern Minnesota really needs rain. As I write this I am in Duluth and it is raining here. I hope it is also raining in Bemidji.
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 that day in May 2021. 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.
I’m glad I visited the bog walk early in my walk so I did not rush there. In August 2020 I wore my mask, but in May 2021 it did not seem necessary. The boardwalk is too narrow to social distance when encountering other hikers, but it was not very busy in May. Looking for interesting plants is what I like to do there. In August it was too late in the summer for Lady Slippers. In 2021, May was too early. I saw plenty of other flowers. In the past I read the Ojibwe names of the plants on the informational signs. I did not see them on the new signage in May 2021 but one had returned when I was there in August 2021. I hope to learn more Ojibwe plant names in the future. I appreciate how much work goes into maintaining this section of the park.
In each post lately, I bring up race. It is part of what I notice. On past trips here, I saw only white people. In August 2021 we passed a group of about 15 people who seemed to be together and it seemed that 3 different ethnic groups were represented. They smiled and greeted us as we passed each other. I love noticing uplifting experiences like that. I’m not going to speculate any further on that but I invite you to comment if you feel so led.
What stories do you have of Lake Bemidji State Park?
The rest of the photos are from May 2021.