Our new contributing editor kicks off the New Year with a cold and inspiring hike at Afton State Park.
Afton State Park naturalist Linda Radimecky
New Year’s Day found me clomping down a snowy path at Afton State Park. There was a cold breeze blowing outside the visitor center, situated on the edge of restored prairie, and our group hustled along to the shelter of the wooded bluffs. We were there for a “First Day Hike,” ringing in 2013 with nature and exercise.
I’ve been to the park many times in all seasons, but in the company of park naturalist Linda Radimecky I saw things with fresh eyes, like the fact that a patch of mixed hardwoods we walked through was a home site and golf course before the park was a park.
Out there together
I was impressed by the 50 or so people who showed up on such a day. There were young and old, some fully equipped in the latest cold weather gear and some with just a pair of boots, jeans, and a heavy coat, people who lived a mile away and people who had driven out from the Twin Cities.
Examining animal tracks under the bridge
This was the Minnesota I know and love. A beautiful park, open to all, along my favorite river in the whole world and a bunch of friendly people who choose to celebrate the new year by going out for a hike in the cold and snow.
Meet the new guy
A day like that is why I’m excited to have recently joined Minnesota Trails as a contributing editor. We are lucky that any day of the year, you can find a new adventure in our state, and I think we owe it to ourselves to take full advantage of our parks and trails, lakes and rivers. I hope we can help you do that through this great magazine.
Greg Seitz on the St. Croix
My home turf is the St. Croix River valley – I grew up in Stillwater and currently maintain a Facebook page dedicated to the river which has more than 20,000 fans. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is my other great love; I worked for the past four years as the Communications Director of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.
In my work with Minnesota Trails, expect to read about lots of canoeing, skiing, snowshoeing and perhaps even an appearance by my 10-month-old daughter Annika. We hope to get her out in the canoe for the first time this year. I will share opportunities to enjoy our great outdoors, and hopefully inspire you with a few stories about the wonder of our woods and waters.
Minnesota State Parks director Courtland Nelson
State Parks director Courtland Nelson was also along on the New Year’s Day hike, and my conversation with him revealed just how hard people work to make sure we have great experiences at our parks. He told me it shouldn’t matter how you experience the outdoors -- it doesn’t have to be with snowshoes or skis -- and often as not a warm pair of boots will be good enough in the winter.
I imagine a lot of expensive gear was sitting in closets on January 1, with its owners nursing hangovers. Out at Afton, at the end of the hike, we all had to get ourselves up the last switch-back climb back to the top of the bluffs. People in the fancy gear did it, and people in old Sorels and jeans did it. All of us were breathing hard and smiling by the time we got to the parking lot.
Stay in touch with Minnesota Trails online via Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow my personal Twitter account, where I post about everything from music to politics to the environment -- and a fair amount of news, photos and observations about enjoying our parks and trails. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you think there is an adventure I would enjoy writing about.
Heading back up the hill