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Just a Day in the Park Week 6: Beginning of Summer, Luke Reaches Lake Country

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

Traveler, Luke Gorski is making his way into lake country as he continues his journey to visit each and every one of Minnesota's 66 State Parks. Luke checked in with Heidi Holtan and John Latimer to give KAXE/KBXE Morning Show the update on his trek. Click the "listen now" player above to hear the entire conversation.

Since the last time Luke checked in with the morning show, he's been busy visiting parks in the central part of the state. On the docket this past week were Crow Wing, Mille Lacs Kathio, Father Hennepin, Banning, and Moose Lake. Along with Luke's regular hikes at each of the parks, he also took time to visit the most-notable features of the parks as well. "The fire tower at Mille Lacs Kathio was definitely the thing I was most interested in because of the views. And my first-ever look at Mille Lacs Lake was from the fire tower."

Luke's favorite of this crop of parks was Banning, near Sandstone, MN. And even though Luke would not consider himself a water creature, the kayaking on the Kettle River was enough to draw him in. "With the water levels up on the Kettle, there were a great set of rapids and they were rushing. That part of the park's the prime sport kayaking destination in Minnesota," Luke said. "Lots of rapids."

Latimer asked Luke if he tried his hands at running the rapids. "I have not," Luke said bluntly. "Me neither," replied Latimer. "It's an exciting ride, but I don't want to be there." On that, John and Luke agree. A point that the two did not agree on is the fun of swimming in summer lakes. But there's still time for Luke to become a water creature yet.

When asked about the flora he has been noticing on his journey, two flowers stood out to Luke: the Orange Hawkweed and the Blackberry Flowers. Latimer pointed out that the berry flowers are coming in further north as well, but had words of caution about the Hawkweed. "It's new to northern Minnesota," Latimer said. "I don't recall seeing them before, but since the '80s and '90s, they've come in in a great rush. It's a beautiful little flower, but it's incredibly invasive and it's not good forage for cows. They don't like that hairy prickly plant, and farmers are yelling bloody murder when it gets into their fields."

For those following along at home, as of this interview, Luke has visited 42 out of 66 state parks in Minnesota. Almost two-thirds of they way through, and Luke is still yet to get to the good stuff. The next legs of his journey are sure to be awe-inspiring.

"You've got a lot of climbing to do as you get to the north shore," Latimer warned. "Should be a lot of fun!"

Along with the North Shore parks, Luke is still to visit Itasca, Scenic, and some of the other gems that we have in our neck of the north woods. Stay tuned for more!

A field at Crow Wing State Park
A field at Crow Wing State Park
Rapids on the Kettle River at Banning State Park
Rapids on the Kettle River at Banning State Park
Mille Lacs Lake at Father Hennepin State Park
Mille Lacs Lake at Father Hennepin State Park

Heidi Holtan has worked at KAXE/KBXE for over 20 years. She currently helms the Morning Show as News and Public Affairs Director. 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.
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.