Few would claim that the Northland is at its best in the spring. While temperatures are nearing the comfort zone in the Twin Cities, we are still hovering around freezing. Although spring flowers may be poking up in warmer climes, here the vegetation is still brown. The ground is muddy and still icy in spots. In short, it’s pretty bleak.
And yet, when the sun comes out it is hard to resist heading outdoors. Never mind that cold wind off the lake, spring calls. That’s exactly how I found myself in Gooseberry Falls State Park this morning.
The woman in the Visitor Center warned that the trails were wet and slippery. But the draw was irresistible. I hadn’t come to the park to walk on the road. From the abundance of muddy footprints I followed, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Others too were enjoying the squish and slide of mud season. There is something innately satisfying about setting foot squarely in the midst of that soft wet earth and the squidgy suctiony noise that accompanies its exit from the quagmire. Big kids that we are.
If the lack of vegetation deprives us of color, it also grants vistas. En route to the lake shore, I was able to take in the falls from a distance, and enjoy the twisty, windy path of the river. It’s fascinating how it transitions from roaring falls to lazy stream in just a short distance. The dogwoods added a welcome touch of red to the scene. Not all scenic views were a product of nature. I particularly enjoyed the symmetry and design of the steps that took me high above the river to the cliffs above. Workers more recent than the original CCC crews that created the park’s magnificent log and stone buildings back in the 1930s were responsible for this ascending sculpture.Hiking between the shoreline and the falls, I decided it was a dual sound track park. Next to Lake Superior, the rush of the wind and the pounding of the waves filled my ears. It was a familiar noise I could feel as well as hear. Both sensations retreated as I moved away from the lake, soon to be replaced by the roar of the falls. The thunderous din grew as I drew closer to the source, and witnessed the power of the water as it crashed over the rocks. Still swollen by the spring run-off.My circuit complete, I tracked globs of mud back to the car on my boots, fresh air tingling on my face, and fingers feeling a slight chill despite my warm gloves. All so very satisfying. Spring in the Northland, mud season at its very best.