Once we moved to Minnesota and started accumulating Sams again, we soon discovered new places to stretch our legs.
So far we've explored two of the larger parks -- Elm Creek Reserve and Crow-Hassan Reserve. Crow-Hassan has become my
favorite because of its vast prairies and fewer people.
Crow-Hassan Reserve is a 2600-acre park, with 600 acres of restored prairie. It is fast becoming my favorite of
the local park system because it is relatively undeveloped (no paved trails = no bicycles) and it is located
rather far from the metro area (far = no people).
My first hike with Mazzy in August was at Crow-Hassan; this was his first real hike with a pack and he did very well.
He carried water (his and mine), dog food and
snacks (although I'm discovering he doesn't like to eat either when on the trail), camera, and poop baggies. All
told, his pack was around 7 pounds which is a light for a 57-pound dog but I didn't want to overburden him his
first time out. I don't like to hike until the weather cools down. I moved to Minnesota for the winters, not for the Midwest
We ran into a few horse-riders but other than that there was no one around so we were alone on
the prairie. The trail winds through open fields/prairies through some small areas of hardwoods where it
parallels the Crow River. It quickly became apparent that we would have two different experiences on this
hike depending on the landscape: if on the prairie, we'd be hot but there'd be a breeze and few mosquitoes;
if in the woods, we'd be cool but no breeze and mosquitoes galore. The woods felt too "West Nile-y" for
comfort so we hurried through them and braved the heat.
I had planned to hike the approximately 7-mile loop around the Reserve, but as the morning wore on the temperature
kept rising until it reached the lower 80s and that was too much for either of us. So we cut across the middle of
the loop through some lovely prairie -- from the rises in the land I could see vast expanses of wildflowers and
the grasses turning to russet and purple as they went to seed.