Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Friday, March 6, 2015

This Is The Forest Primevel

On this cold early March morning I've decided to reminisce a bit and think green....We had spent the morning visiting the Mary Gibbs
Mississippi Headwaters Center. It is ground zero of the crown jewel of Minnesota's State Parks - Itasca.
It was to be a day trip outing from our camping
headquarters on beautiful Mantrap Lake. We learned the history of the park, along with doing the usual "see I can jump across the Mississippi River", thing.
After lunch we decided to do a fourteen mile
auto tour through the vast forest, focusing on locating some of the parks record size white and red pines.
We were about half way thru the loop when we noticed an interesting trailhead. The Troutbirders and friends
Gary and Rosie, being the intrepid explorers that they are,
decided to check the trail out.

The trail had an interesting story to tell. Several years
before, a huge storm had ripped through the vast Superior
National Forest, felling million of trees, causing much property damage and human injury. Throughout the area the felled trees posed a huge potential fire danger for the future.
In the park a decision was made to have loggers salvage and remove much of the downed timber.
The trailhead lead thru an area that was left in its natural storm
damaged condition. The purpose was to show visitors what the
forest looked like in the aftermath of the storm and to reveal the natural process of recovery directed by the hand of Mother Nature.

You are invited to come along as we hike thru the area.
The trail is quite narrow and even disappears in places
so stay close. I don't want anyone to get lost! We will stop for pictures along the way.
Now into "the forest primeval."

"This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest."
From Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Yes we did survive! And that evening had a great
dinner at the German restaurant near Akely.
If you would like to learn more about Itasca State Park
and especially the inspiring story of a very young woman,
Mary Gibbs, who long ago saved it from destruction
by the logging industry follow this link:


  1. nice to see all the greenery - glad they could utilize mother nature's wrath in the best way.

  2. Your photos looks like true wilderness. I wish they would have left all the storm destruction as it would have been so in early times. So does one get to view the headwaters of the Mississippi at this park? From your wonderful photos I know that I would love to visit the park. --- barbara

  3. It looks like it was full on summer at the time you visited this place. Sure will be nice to see such greenery soon now! :-)

  4. Nature can be as cruel as it is beautiful. It certainly knows how to survive.

  5. I think it is interesting that the park kept a portion of the land in the condition in which the storm left it. Both the destruction and restorative power of nature are on display. Thanks for taking us along on your hike.

  6. And the green will come again. Our family has also stepped across Old Man River.

  7. Hi troutbirder, What an interesting journey going along with you through the forest left in its natural state. Neat to see the way Mother Nature is restoring the forest slowly but surely. Your post reminded me that I did go out of my way, years ago, to visit the Mississippi Headwaters. Back when my folks were still alive I would take annual road trips from Seattle down to Texas to visit them. One time on the return I went straight (almost) up to the Headwaters and then across the northern US to Seattle. I need to dig out those photos of the stepping stones where I walked across the Mississippi! Have a good weekend!John

  8. That's a beautiful entry.

    Entry. Post. We're reduced to language like this now? It's literature, but what? A story? Essay? Maybe the internet is shaping literature now. I reckon it is, but the language is lagging. The kids these days will come up with some names and I won't like them and they won't care and it won't matter. Thanks for that, though.

    The linked to post about Mary Gibbs is worth reading, too, folks. It sent me on a search for a recording of Charlie Maguire's song. I found where you can buy it but not where you can listen at the price I prefer. Charlie seems like quite the Minnesotan, with songs extolling the Iron Range and its people, odes to National Park Rangers, Woodie Guthrie tributes. It looks like he sings a lot at elementary schools. Here's him singing with some third graders in Hibbing.

  9. The Park is full of so much history. We don't get there are often as I would like, we live about 22 miles away you would think we would go there more often! :)