Running in Fort Snelling State Park

I took full advantage of today’s warm up and went running in Fort Snelling State Park after work. Fort Snelling is a stone’s throw away from the MSP airport (so close, in fact, that as I was ascending out of the river valley, a plane was landing and it was scarily close. Like, nightmarishly-airplanes-hit-things close). Anyway, considering the park is nestled in the city, it doesn’t feel like it. Even the traffic and airport noise was a distant chatter to the songbirds and other relaxing nature noises. The park itself offers golfing, swimming, picnicking, hiking, biking, an interpretive center, historic site (run by the Minnesota Historical Society; fees apply), and more. A vehicle permit is required, or you can purchase their new license plate, which replaces the vehicle permit and also provides a minimum $50 donation to Minnesota’s State Parks. If driving isn’t your thing or you want some extra exercise, there is also a Nice Ride station near the visitor center.

I ran the Pike Island loop. There are options for 1, 2 or 3 miles. I felt a little ambitious and wanted to see the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, so I decided to run the full 3-mile loop.

And by run, I mean jog (let’s get real here…I don’t run unless something is chasing me). And by jog, I mean jog 1.5 miles. Take a break. Jog 0.25 miles. Walk 0.25 miles. Take pictures. Repeat.

I managed to jog all the way to the confluence, which was about the half way point. I expected the park to be busier, considering the weather, but after I passed the cut off for the 2-mile loop, I didn’t see another soul.

The confluence was beautiful as the sun moved closer to the horizon. And I had it all to myself.

I love walking along river beds – tree roots are oftentimes exposed near the trunk base and their unique twists and turns are beautiful. Water always makes me feel at peace.

Once dusk arrived, nocturnal animals became active. I rounded the corner during one of my jogging intervals and stumbled upon some fairly tame deer.

Shortly after this, my run ended. The bridge back to the mainland looked like a peaceful spot to cool down. While stretching, I heard an odd noise and looked across the path. There was (what I’d guess was) a beaver hanging out on shore. He/she swam away before I got a decent photo, but if you look closely below, you can see him/her in my poor-quality camera phone photo.

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Yoga poses are a great way to stretch after a run. Dancer pose was successful and felt amazing; my attempt at using my phone’s camera timer for the first time was a bit of a fail.

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The full 3 miles on a turf trail was probably a mistake since I haven’t fully completed my Couch-to-5K training program and usually run on a treadmill or pavement, but the nature therapy was completely worth it. Hopefully tomorrow is kind.