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Campsite Photo Trip - 2013

Karma Chameleon

We visit the headwaters of the Mississippi River and wrap up the state of Minnesota.

I left Lake Bemidji a week ago Saturday with the newly repaired trailer. Before leaving I gave some motorcycle campers a bunch of firewood. Good Karma. I stopped at the Wal-Mart for supplies before hitting the road. On the way back to my car I found a ladies wallet in the parking lot. Driver's License, Social Security Card, credit cards and a bunch of cash. I went back inside and turned it over to customer service. The cash as well. Over $200. I figured I had banked enough Karma to get some sun for the next week. Turned out to be just a day.

I headed about 50 miles away to Itasca State Park.


This is the granddaddy of Minnesota's parks. It was established in 1891 and is the source of the Mississippi River. It's 32,800 acres include 28 hiking trails and two camping areas, Bear Paw and Pine Ridge.

I had reservations at Bear Paw number 9, the campground on the lake.

I set up camp and lit a fire. I still had plenty of wood left over.


Sunday morning was pancakes.


I took a walk down to the boat ramp and checked out the lake.

Itasca-Boat-Ramp Lake-Itasca

Some clouds were forming but it didn't matter. I had beaucoup Karma. After a fun hike I took a cruise along Wilderness Drive, a 10 mile mostly one-way road that meanders through some of the last virgin pine forests in the state.

Itasca-Trail Wilderness-Drive

Returning, I walked bear Paw campground. There are 70 sites here, with an additional 10 cart-in sites. They mostly look like number 32.


I did not bother with a fire on Sunday night. Even if I had wanted to there was no way to get the water soaked logs to light.

Yeah, a massive storm dropped about 3 inches of rain in two hours. Completely flooded my tent and bedding. This is what my ground sheet under my tent looked like on Monday morning.



I lay everything out to dry but my site was in the shade so I didn't hold out too much hope.

I left to explore the mini Mississippi River.


The river exits over some rocks from Itasca Lake.


I just had to walk across it.


Proof of my accomplishment.


OK, so it wasn't that deep, but I still walked across the Mississippi River.


Have you? I put my hiking shoes back on and headed back to camp.


Almost forgot my sandals. I stopped by Pine Ridge campground to take photos. There are 158 sites here and though farther away from the lake they have more privacy, like number 189. (the numbers start at 100)


I needed to find some sun so I drove 90 miles southwest to Buffalo River State Park.


The sun actually came out and by evening everything was dry.

Drying-3 Mud-1 Drying-1

My sleeping pad, however, is starting to develop spots of mold. Doesn't smell that great either.


Tuesday morning I walked the campground's 43 sites. The park is only about 30 miles from Fargo, North Dakota, and it gets a lot of use. Check out the sunrise over site 16.


The day use area has a swimming hole and picnic area.

Buffalo-River-Pool Buffalo-River-Picnic-Area

I was only staying for one night but I still had time to take a hike.

Trail-2 Trail-3

And take some photos of dew encrusted flowers.

Pink-Flowers Yellow-Flowers

The dew, of course, soaked my hiking shoes. But it was worth it.

So on Tuesday morning I left and made a stop at Maplewood State Park. The sun was out and I passed by a million lakes.

Road-to-Maplewood Maplewood-Sign

There are 71 sites here in several different areas. I really liked site 7 on Grass Lake.


It backs up to site 16 and using both would make a great spot for a large family.


There are over 10 lakes in the park and my gps actually found me a neat one, Cow Lake.

Bad-GPS Maplewood-Lake-View

It was supposed to guide me Lake Carlos State Park but, oh well.

I finally found the right road.

Otter-Trail-Sign Lake-Carlos-Sign

There are 121 sites here in two separate campgrounds.The upper campground has 51 sites that look like this, number 14.


The lower campground is a zoo. Literally. There was no need to take individual photos because all they would be is the front of RV's and trucks.

Lake-Carlos_077-102 Lake-Carlos_127-152

So if you go there and want to be near the lake, book a site numbered 109 to 124. They have a view of the lake at least, not your neighbor.


And it is all about the lake here. After launching your boat you are allowed to tie up on the shore.


And then go for a swim.


I did find a few interesting things here. A giant canoe.


An ice fishing house that doubles as an RV.


That wraps up Minnesota. I decided to drive 500 miles west to Badlands National Park in South Dakota on Thursday for two nights stay.

I followed Highway 14 west, which passed through the town of De Smet, home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote Little House on the Prairie. There were all kinds of Historical Buildings but what really caught my attention was a statue in the nearby town of Huron.


The worlds largest pheasant.


That's the kind of stuff I like!


The roads across the plains are pretty much vast stretches of fields. It was exciting to see a single tree.


Followed by rain.


And then sun.


West of the capital town of Pierre small hills started to appear.


After 11 hours I reached Badlands.


There are 96 campsites here, about half have electricity. Three have a tree for shade. The biggest tree is at site 40.


The Cedar Pass campground does not take reservations. Except that it does. It is very confusing and is just being rolled out. The hosts are extremely flustered with the new system. Most people showing up did not know about it. I didn't, but got lucky by arriving early on a Thursday.

To make a reservation you need to call the Cedar Pass Lodge at 605-433-5361.

Anyway, the view from my site was terrific.

Campsite-View Campsite-View-2

I got up early on Friday morning to explore.


Saw a couple of deer, one sporting a fancy collar.

Another-Deer Collared-Deer

I didn't hike this trail.


I took a picture of a flower instead and started up along the Badlands Loop Road.


This is what the campground and lodge look like from above.


You can see my big tree on the right in the campground. I kept going.


There is a 1000 foot drop at the end of that rock. I got a little closer.


Far enough. The colors are brilliant here.


The gorges are cut through vibrant green grasslands.


My kind of road.


Well, they are not all green.


Some of the rocks are yellow too.


They are called the Yellow Mounds. Good choice.


My favorite part of the drive was coming across some Bighorn Sheep.


There was one male and about five females.


And lots of little ones.

Baby-1 Babies

This little sheep was munching on some flowers.


Dad finally gave me a dirty look and told me to leave.


In his honor I had a hamburger back at camp.


While Blue Birds keep a watch for unwanted visitors.


We all watched the sun begin to set after a busy day of hiking and chirping.

Badlands-8 Badlands-10

Saturday morning I woke up early to see the sunrise.

Saturday-Morning Saturday-Morning-2

A wonderful place. I left and continued west to the Black Hills of South Dakota. I will be here for a while as there is much to explore. Over 15 campgrounds including Custer State Park and many interesting small towns. I plan on finding some buffalo as well.

Oh, I almost forgot. In addition to having the world's largest pheasant, Huron, South Dakota also holds the honor of the world's thriftiest town.

Here is just one example. One Way signs. Instead of buying both directions, they make use of just the left facing one. When a situation arises that calls for a right arrow, the frugal Hurons simply make do.


Regards, Park Ranger


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