Hiking Into Fall

Last fall, my friend, neighbor, and reader, Jeff, was retiring from his MegaCorp job and told me about a retirement plan he came up with to visit every State Park within three hours of our town. It was one part of his ‘Not Bored List’ and a good cross-training endeavor since he is also a marathon runner.

Related: Pre-FIRE ‘Not Bored List’

I’ve never been much of a hiker, but when he told me about it we made plans to go on a 3 mile hike with our wives – so he could ‘check the box’ on a State Park about an hour from our house. He told us about Minnesota’s State Park ‘Hiking Club’ that he joined. You go on a designated 2-6 mile hike and look for a sign along the path that has a secret password. Collect the passwords in a MN Hiking Club passport book and you can earn 25-50-75-100+ patches and free nights camping.

I thought it was a fun idea, but for whatever reason, I didn’t ‘join the club’. Recently, he sent me a picture of his State Park map and the 18 parks he had already visited and I decided it was time to join. I got my State Park Hiking Club passport book in early August and have already hit 10 parks, earning my 25-mile patch this week.

It’s been a fun complement to the weekly waterfall field trips I’ve been making all year and boosted by two overnights I’ve taken to Minnesota’s beautiful North Shore / Lake Superior. I’ve even brought my new drone and gotten some great shots on the hikes.

Related: Weekly Waterfalls / Field Trips

I’m not sure I can get my 50-mile patch before winter comes our way, but it’s nice to have something to shoot for. Jeff recently earned his 75-mile patch and is quickly heading to 100!

What have you been doing to get outside this fall?

Image Credit: (c) MrFireStation.com

12 thoughts on “Hiking Into Fall

  1. Fun! I like it! We have numerous National Forests, State Parks, and hiking opportunities near us at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s been an incredibly hot summer in the mid-Atlantic area, so we have been focused more on kayaking instead of hiking this year. We have yakked as many of our local rivers as possible this summer. Our trips are typically 4-9 hour kayaking trips down our various rivers. Most of our rivers are Class 1-3 rapids (pretty light). It really depends on rainfall, and we hit one river two weeks ago that was classified as a class 3, but after a couple of 4’ to 5’ surprise waterfall drops (and subsequent wipeouts that had to be class 4’s!) we learned quickly not to rely on website info! We do have some tougher class 4-5 rivers in our area, but I doubt I will be looking for that much excitement anytime soon!

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    1. Yikes – that seems like a long time in a kayak and a bit dangerous. I’ve only River kayaked once – on the Brule River in Wisconsin. I enjoyed it a lot, but there wasn’t much for rapids to contend with. I was amazed how many cars that had kayaks strapped to the roof on the MN North Shore. They seem to have replaced canoes in what is still known as ‘canoe country’.

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      1. I think the relatively low entry cost of kayaks these days, coupled with the social distancing phenomena has exploded the yak industry this year. We live on a small lake and have two other lakes within 2 miles of our house and at least six kayak-able rivers within 30 minutes. We used to only see an occasional fishing boat on our lake, and rarely another kayaker on he rivers. This year not a day goes by without seeing ten kayaks on our lake, and it seems every other vehicle on our two lane country road has one or two kayaks strapped on top.

        If done right, with the right equipment, it’s very safe and tons of fun. And a great backup to hiking on hot, humid Virginia days!

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      2. Dumb question … after going down river, how do you get back to your car? I know the rental places drive you to the top of the river and you kayak back to your car, but how do you do it with your own car?

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  2. Valid question! There is usually a group of us going. We take at least two vehicles, one to drop off everyone and the yaks at the top, and then two of us drive two vehicles to the (lower) take out point and drop off one retrieval vehicle, and both return in the second vehicle to the starting point. The retrieval vehicle just has to have room for everyone taking out when you arrive at the bottom (and the yaks, which are usually on a small trailer). But my wife and I have done it with just the two of us on many occasions. Just have to take both vehicles.

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      1. A friend’s brother lost his keys in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area a few years ago. Required someone driving 8 hours round-trip from the Twin Cities with a second set of keys!

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    1. I haven’t run across any bears ever – even when my son was in scouts and we camped out 100 nights. I suppose they are there, but not too much of a worry so far.

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