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Just A Day in the Park Week 5: Forward to the Minnesota River Valley

Just a Day in the Park
Just a Day in the Park with Traveler Luke Gorski

Luke Gorski has been to every state park in South Dakota and Iowa. This summer, Gorski has a goal to visit all 66 state parks in Minnesota. Heidi Holtan and John Latimer have been visiting with Luke each week as he treks across the state in pursuit of his goal to find out what Luke is seeing, which trails he is hiking, and how bad the mosquitos are. Join Luke, Heidi, and John as they learn more about Luke's adventures in our KAXE/KBXE series Just a Day in the Park.

The parks that Luke visited in the past week include Sibley, Lac qui Parle, Monson, and Big Stone Lake. Unlike previous weeks, there was a clear favorite for Luke in this group. "Sibley was my favorite park of the week by quite a bit," Luke said. "The water on Lake Andrew was really clear, really nice. The beach was hoping because school had just let out. The campground was hoping. It was great."

The uptick in fellow park visitors is predictable as the summer months roll on here in Minnesota. But there was also a different type of uptick that Luke noticed on his daily hikes in the park. "Monson Lake is a small park, only 300 acres. It only has a mile of trails," he said. "But I tell you, the mosquitoes were the worst I have ever encountered."

We can all share in Luke's pain this spring, as there have been many reports of worst-ever year for mosquitoes. But in the past week or so, there has also been a light at the end of the tunnel. "The dragonflies came to save the day," Luke said. "There were so many dragonflies suddenly when I was at Monson Lake. I was able to do the entire one-mile hike with no bugs spray." The cavalry arrived just in time for Luke to enjoy his day in the park that much more.

Luke also reported some interesting geological features in his travels this week. About five miles separates Big Stone Lake (the headwaters of the Minnesota River) and Lake Traverse (the headwaters of the Red River of the North). What makes these headwaters even more unique, is that the continental divide bisects the two lakes. Water from Big Stone Lake and the Minnesota River eventually flow southward to the Gulf of Mexico. Water from Lake Traverse and the Red River flow northward to the Hudson Bay.

And what conversation with John Latimer would be complete without a phenology report. Luke has observed a variety of wildflowers blooming on his travels. This week, Luke observed Corn Flowers and Hoary Pique.

Next time, Luke will be traveling further northward to visit Glacial Lakes, Charles A. Lindbergh, Glendalough, Maple Wood, and St. Croix. Join us to learn more about Luke's adventures in these state parks (and all the Minnesota state parks) in our next instalment of Just a Walk in the Park!

The pictures in this post and the previous posts were generously provided to us by Luke Gorski.

A bridge over Fort Ridgely Creek at Fort Ridgely State Park
A bridge over Fort Ridgely Creek at Fort Ridgely State Park
A trail at Big Stone Lake State Park
A trail at Big Stone Lake State Park
Mount Tom at Sibley State Park
Mount Tom at Sibley State Park

Heidi Holtan has worked at KAXE/KBXE for over 22 years. She currently helms the Morning Show as News and Public Affairs Director where she manages producers, hosts local interviews and programs, oversees and manages web stories and establishes focus areas of programming like phenology, clean energy, Indigenous voices, Strong Women, local foods, clean energy, economic development and more. Heidi is a regional correspondent for WDSE/WRPT's Duluth Public Television’s Almanac North. In 2018 Heidi received the “Building Bridges in Media” award from the Islamic Resource Group for her work on KAXE/KBXE hosting conversations about anti-Muslim movements in rural Minnesota. During the pandemic, Heidi hosted 14 months of a weekly statewide conversation on COVID-19 for the AMPERS network.
As a mail carrier in rural Grand Rapids, Minn., for 35 years, John Latimer put his own stamp on a career that delivered more than letters. Indeed, while driving the hundred-mile round-trip daily route, he passed the time by observing and recording seasonal changes in nature, learning everything he could about the area’s weather, plants and animals, and becoming the go-to guy who could answer customers’ questions about what they were seeing in the environment.
Max Philbrook (he/him) is a Producer at KAXE focused on telling the stories of the people, events, and organizations that make up the fabric of northern Minnesota. Based out of Grand Rapids, Max spends his time reading fiction at the library, seeing sports and live music, and supporting the arts and cultural events in the area. Get in touch with Max if you have a story to tell, an event to publicize, or just want to chat about life in the northland.