A candlelight hike in Split Rock Creek State Park

Ross and I enjoyed time at a couple of the state parks this past Saturday. Several of the Minnesota state parks are currently doing candlelight events on Saturday evenings — whether it’s cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or hiking. Ross and I had gone on a candlelight hike last year on the second weekend of February in Lac qui Parle State Park. That evening was a little damp as it was raining. Fortunately I had brought along an umbrella along with my little flashlight.

Last Saturday’s weather was cloudy, but it was rain and snow-free.

Split Rock Creek State Park was having a candlelight hike from 6-7 p.m. this past Saturday. We had some time to kill beforehand, so we headed to Camden. Ross wanted to check on the progress of the new bridge across the Redwood River. From there, we set out on the River Trail.

Even though there were a couple of cars in the parking lot when we arrived, we didn’t see the occupants of them. But we did see some fat tire bicycle tracks as we walked along. The path was wet and icy, but we managed without falling. Honestly, it seemed like the trail went on forever. I thought it was a short loop, and I was getting concerned that we’d miss the candlelight hike in Split Rock Creek.

Walking through Camden is enjoyable, we just have to be careful when walking on some of the paths in the winter. It’s been an adventure going on these winter hikes, something I haven’t experienced on a regular basis. It’s the stillness of the surroundings, the white of the snow and the frosty air in my lungs. And I don’t necessarily like winter.

We didn’t get done with our hike until probably quarter to 6, so we had to book it a bit to get beyond Ihlen. We reached the shelter at Split Rock Creek State Park around 6:40 p.m. Some people were already getting in their vehicles to leave as we pulled up to the parking area. Oh, I hope we didn’t miss it.

But the luminaries were still lit along the trail, so that was a good sign. Their glow outlined the path, and there was a peaceful feeling that came over me.

We walked along in the faint light. I did turn on my flashlight a few times, which helped when we approached a couple of the walking bridges — “oh, there’s a bridge there.” We’ve only been to Split Rock Creek State Park one other time, and I really can’t remember any of the details. We went beyond the lighted path and trudged through the snow. The lake was on the side of us, and then we looped back to the lighted portion, heading toward the bonfire. The hike wasn’t terribly long, and it seemed like we were the last ones to be on it. Well, it was only scheduled for an hour, according to the Facebook page for the event. Folks who were helping out at the event were picking up luminaries and cleaning up the shelter house as Ross had some hot cocoa and a bar.

Candlelight hikes are a pleasant and fun experience. Visit the link http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/candlelight_events.html to find upcoming candlelight events around the state.

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