Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lake Itasca :: Headwaters of the Mississippi

Monday, August 8th - - About 9:15 pm a Park Ranger drove through the campground at Copper Falls announcing over the loudspeaker that the National Weather Service had issued a severe storm warning effective until ten o'clock. High winds, hail, heavy rain and lightening were imminent. All campers were to take immediate shelter!

I saw people scurrying around their tents putting things away and heading towards their cars or trucks. Me? I was already sitting in Van Dora. Snug as a bug in a rug. I didn't see anyone leaving the area so I stayed put. Besides, where were we to go?

Within a few minutes after making the announcement, the rain came. Aside from a lot of lightening there was only the rain. No hail. No high winds. And it only lasted about an hour. And for that I was thankful. My thoughts went to that campground in Arkansas last year where flash floods went through the area and several people lost their lives. We had some warning, and I was ready to leave, if necessary. But the question came once again, where would we go?

Tuesday, August 9th - - It was cloudy and overcast this morning. It rained off and on all morning. I was traveling west on US 2 toward Minnesota. At Ashland, Wisconsin I picked up State Road 13 and followed it along the beautiful Lake Superior shoreline all the way to Superior-Duluth where I returned to US 2. By then the weather had cleared. The clouds were gone (mostly) and sunshine filled the skies as I traveled nearly three-fourths of the way across Minnesota. I would spend several days at Itasca State Park south of Bemidji.

Wednesday, August 10th - - Itasca is a huge State Park with a lodge, cabins, two campgrounds with more than 250 sites, more than 40 miles of hiking trails, a 5.8 mile paved biking trail, and numerous lakes within its 32,000 acres. The Park was established in 1891 to preserve remnant stands of virgin pine and to protect the basin around the source of the Mississippi River.

This little stream doesn't look like much, does it? However, it is the Mississippi River, flowing rather quickly just a few hundred feet from its source at the north end of Lake Itasca.

This sign proclaims “Here 1475 ft above the ocean the mighty Mississippi begins to flow on its winding way 2552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.” My Mother and I visited New Orleans in the summer of 2003 and saw where the Mississippi flowed into the delta and into the Gulf. Like US Highway 41, I've traveled along portions of the Mississippi and now I've not only been at its end, I've seen its beginning. Rather cool, I think.

This is it. The headwaters of the Mississippi River. People are encouraged to “walk across the Mississippi” here, one of the few places accessible for the average person to do so.

The rocks were quite slippery. This man and his son nearly toppled into the water several times. I didn't attempt to walk across the rocks but there was a narrow log footbridge - perhaps 18 inches wide, so maybe not so narrow, but it seemed so when walking across it without handrails for assistance!

I walked a ways down the trail along the shore of the lake but little could be seen because of the trees. There were some interesting wild flowers though!

And this small, fluffy, milkweed type of plant.

1 comment:

Michelle Goodrum said...

Hard to believe the mighty Mississippi starts in such a calm and tranquil place. Looks like a fun spot.