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Back to Minneopa

A couple of weeks ago, we got a new Minnesota State Park pass. This year’s featured park on the sticker is Sibley. Yay, at least I’ve been to that one a few times. And in these past two weekends, we’ve made good use of that park pass by visiting state parks located two or less hours away from Marshall.

I wanted to go back and visit the bison at Minneopa, located near Mankato. We reached the bison drive around 3 p.m., but the animals weren’t up close and personal like they were back when we last visited in January. We could make out some brown dots in the distance as we listened to a radio station (AM 1610) that’s specifically about the bison in the park. We’re listening to bison facts and figures as we’re bumping along the trail. But since we weren’t really seeing anything, and the drive closes at 3:30 p.m., we turned around to go somewhere else in the park.

We’ve hit most of the highlights of Minneopa State Park, like the waterfalls, Seppman Mill and the bison drive, so we wanted to do something different. We parked in a lot that was near the campground and set off. A young couple had hit the trail just before us, and they had turned around when they saw a sign that said the trail was closed a quarter-mile down the path. Ross started talking to them, and one half of the couple mentioned this was her first time in the park. He told them about the falls, so I think they took his advice and headed there.

We hung a left on the trail and hiked through one of the campgrounds. There were even some scenic views from parts of the campground, so that made things worthwhile. Our path led us alongside the woods near a railroad track. We heard the rumble of what we thought was a train. Or was it a loud truck on the highway? A few minutes later, a train came down the tracks, and Ross stopped to take photographs.

Since the days are getting shorter and the sun now goes down before 5 p.m., I was worried I would be stumbling around in the dark when we reached the last section of our hike. But I hoped for the best.

I can sometimes be a little oblivious on our hikes. Sure I may catch sight of the back ends of white-tailed deer as they bounce across the prairie, but I didn’t notice another critter that was just a little off-trail from us. I sort of paid attention to when Ross was talking about an opossum eating lunch near us, but I didn’t see it. I only saw it after Ross posted a photo he took of it on Facebook. Shows how much I take in of my surroundings.

Our trail took us around the bison enclosure. It was getting dark fast, but luckily I could still sort of see where we were going and Ross in front of me. On the last leg of our journey, part of the path was sandy. I managed to hit something hard in the sand (a rock probably) and tripped. If I could only get through a hike without falling on something. I also got a bunch of burdock on my mittens (I must have brushed against some while wandering in the twilight). Ross pointed out the bison on the other side of the fence (we finally got our up-close view, albeit in the dark). There’s never a dull moment on our hikes.

We reached the entrance to the bison enclosure, so I knew we weren’t too far away from where we were parked. But my night vision isn’t always the best

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