December 4, 2004
A Goat Prairie
During the summer, my brother Jim and his family were up for the weekend and we attempted to hike to a goat prairie located just across the Root River from us. There's no real trail, just the remnants of an old road. We got about half-way up the bluff, but we decided to turn around as the vegetation got thicker and the "path" disappeared into a bed of poison ivy. (I guess I should have brought along the Ivy Block.)
But now with the poison ivy gone, it seemed a good time to hike the goat prairies. Goat prairies, which also go under the name of bedrock bluff prairies, are located on the steep, rocky, southerly slopes of the bluffs located in our area. Because of the underlying rock and steep slopes, trees (and humans) have a difficult time gaining a foothold. It is one of the few remaining vestiges where native species of prairie plants have continued to grow for centuries.
I started my hike at the foot of what was once an old dirt road. The old road marks an easy uphill hike to the top of the bluffs. It was interesting to note how cold and snow covered the ground was on the north side of the hill—hardly any sun reaches this side during the winter months and whatever snow reaches the ground, tends to stay put until spring. There were plenty of deer and turkey tracks along the road and only one pair of human footprints.
Part of one of the three goat prairies was removed for its underlying gravel.
As I made it to the top, I noticed why there was an old road here. Evidently the site was once a gravel pit. It was sad that part of the goat prairie had been lost due to man's ignorance, but I was glad that the Minnesota DNR had purchased this land prior to its total annihilation. I would imagine that quite a few goat prairies have been turned into gravel pits due to the abundance of limestone present under them.
Hiking the top of the ridge , I was amazed at the two entirely different worlds that existed: to the south of me were the beautiful grass slopes, bright sunshine and breath-taking views of the area while the north side was covered with hardwoods and a fresh blanket of snow.
It was a great late autumn hike and I was kicking myself for never taking the time to discover this treasure earlier. I'm sure I will be back next spring and summer to catch the prairie plants in bloom along with my bottle of Ivy Block.
I do have to admit that taking a nature hike wasn't my only motive. There's something else that can be seen from this vantage point when the leaves are off of the trees. Click on the image below to zoom in closer:
Progress on the house has been slow with winter knocking at the door and the holidays just around the corner. I have started framing out the master bedroom and installing electrical conduit. A few modifications to the floor plan were made to make the bedroom a tad bigger. This increased the size of the master bedroom by over 3' and allows room to maneuver a wheel chair just in case either one of us ever became handicapped.
Don't forget...we're still accepting signature logs for the remaining 5 walls. Our collection continues to grow. If you'd like to contribute a log, drop us a note using the comment section on the left hand column of this page. We'll send you instructions to send us a log with your signature and any words of wisdom that you would like to share.
|Here's our collection so far. The most unique log so far is a log with a CD attached to it: Simon and Garfunkel's "Cecilia". I guess I'll have to find a CD player that can "log" songs as well as play them.|