We survived St. Croix State Park!

Posted by Nate in Travel, Weather.
Sunday, June 29th, 2008 at 6:01 pm

20080629164243_pict0025.jpgThe Solas family went camping this weekend up in the near north: St. Croix State Park, a delightful and huge state park following the St. Croix river as it traces the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin.  I say "delightful" here in the slightly hypothetical, for while in retrospect and from the safety of our truly delightful deck the trip was a success, the park itself over this weekend can be summed up in three words: Full.  Of.  Bugs.

20080629164425_pict0002.jpgWe arrived about 8:30 Friday, ate and played some games, then hit the sack about 10:30, both tired from long weeks.  This was Bruno’s first time in a tent, and we were anxious to see how he would do.  No fool, our dog, he would wait for either of us to sit up to adjust the lantern or grab a book and then quickly lay on the most comfy part of our sleeping bags!  Having none of this we tried a few arrangements for his bed and finally settled between our feet, where he was content to alternate between leaning his full weight against one of us or just resting his head and chest on our feet.  The rain I expected never came, and it was 6:30 (doggie breakfast time) before we knew it.

20080629164412_pict0005.jpgAnticipating bad weather, we got up and ate and decided we should go hit the trails – there was a CCC-built camp a few miles away that looked interesting, and the trail followed the river.  Perfect.

20080629164400_pict0009.jpgAlmost as soon as we got out of our campsite, the mosquitoes began their attack.  We made it to the camp, and I kept telling myself it would get better soon.  We pressed on a bit, thinking we’d come to a lake we saw on the map — surely, it will get better soon.  There’s a breeze, the sun is out, they have to stop swarming sometime, right??

20080629164440_pict0001.jpgNo.  The answer is no.  I’ll spare you the details of my freakout, but as long as there is sweet human (and doggie) flesh anywhere in range, the mosquitoes of St. Croix will rally to the feast.  I don’t know if I’m more sensitive to their bite (I used to get quarter-sized welts that lasted for days, and it’s still pretty bad), or just taste sweeter, but it was Out.  Of.  Control.

20080629164339_pict0016.jpgPerhaps most troubling was the fact that everywhere around us there were happy campers wearing only shorts and T-shirts, sitting around their camp sites with no visible protection.  (This pic of K is in the one hour on Saturday where they calmed down enough we could take one more walk)  How could they survive the onslaught?  Were they hardy midwesterners used to the bugs?  Were they simply tougher, or less tasty?  Why could we not poke our heads our of our sanctuary without being swarmed by the bloodthirsty hordes?  I think the answer is deet, which we were slightly reluctant to slather on ourselves, but saw no such hesitance in our fellow campers.  Not complete fools, we did use some bug spray, but it seems that without a visible sheen it’s just not enough to ward them off.

20080629164350_pict0015.jpgThere were a few highlights: the screen tent 20080629164327_pict0018.jpgwe got from my grandparents (a.k.a. the Sanctuary), the "Pudgy Pie" maker we got from them, and the sweet marshmallow roasting sticks from Karen’s parents (up at the top of the post).  The pie maker produced the most amazing ham and cheese sandwich, tu20080629164304_pict0022.jpgna melt, and finally a bacon, tomato and cheese delight.  Yum.  20080629164230_pict0026.jpgKaren discovered her all-time favorite S’more combo: ginger snap cookie, marshmallow, and mint chocolate.  Whoa.

We also stopped by Taylor’s falls on the way home, a pretty amazing geological site along the river.  K had been out there before, but it was my first time – very cool.  And hey, no bugs!

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7 Responses to “We survived St. Croix State Park!”

  1. troy Says:

    Wow, that looks like super fun, bugs aside and all! I have got to try those ginger snap cookie, mashmellow, and mint cookie s’mores sometime!! I think I would like winter camping though in that there are no bugs. I would just pack some extra Smart Wools! Miss you guys! By the by, I am past the 2 week mark as a nonsmoker again! Yeah!

  2. Rick Says:

    Well, it is great you got out. And good for the sanctuary – glad you had that for some protection. But those mosquitoes sounded pretty nasty! Hard to enjoy the great outdoors when you are getting feasted on. Sounds like Bruno did well, as long as he had both of you to sleep next to (on?), so that’s cool. Any good birds?

  3. Q Says:

    Dude, the tick (?) in that second picture looks like a giant squid attached to your pack! When you said “Full. Of. Bugs.” I didn’t realize it included sea life!

    Sounds like you made the best of the trip though, bugs be damned.

  4. Mary Jo Says:

    Glad to see you had such a great time–bugs and all. Don’t feel that you were singled out with the mosquitoes though–they’re just as bad here in Nebraska and I know when we left Wisconsin they were the same. We couldn’t sit out on the deck there or here at Dean’s place–he lights the torches at night, but I think the mosquitoes don’t realize that they’re not supposed to be attracted to them—or is it all the fireflies around here that they’re attracted to?–don’t think so since they’re not biting them, only chewing on people.
    I must admit to being a little disappointed here with your pictures–didn’t see any of Bruno with his doggie back pack.

  5. Marianne Says:

    Glad you had fun despite the mosquitoes. Karen, your new favorite s’more flavor sounds delicious.

    I am with you in not liking to put on much DEET. Have you ever tried the repellents with picaridin? It works pretty well for me, but you might have different mosquitoes out your way.

  6. Leigha Says:

    I hear you on not digging the DEET. Because of that, I did a ton of research last year and came up with this stuff, which in a gajillion tests and ultimately published in backpacker magazine or something like that, proves second only to DEET: “REPEL, Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent.”

    I am rather wary, though, that their ingredients are listed as “40% Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus; 60% Other Ingredients,” so upon further research ultimately decided to make my own – I combined a 4 oz bottle of Sesame natural skin care oil (with Vitamin E – no breakouts!) with 50 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus Oil. (And yes, I mean “Lemon Eucalyptus” and NOT “Lemon AND Eucalyptus oils” – you can get it at The Wedge). Anyway, I was just fishing up in the North Woods last week, and it worked wonders.

    Happy bug-free camping!

  7. Barb Says:

    Did you do any repelling down the cliffs at Taylor Falls? Do you know if there is access from above and below?