" Escaping the shops for the trail was the best decision we've every made "

Taking a hike on Black Friday Shopping

This year’s Black Friday was different, but not because we decided to stay home. We’ve never taken part in Black Friday shopping and we weren’t about to start. Instead, with my family gathered for the holiday, we decided to do something together and take a hike on Black Friday, literally.

At a little after 12:45 p.m., Niecie and I rode up to the trailhead we’d agreed to meet at in Great River Bluffs State Park. The park is located just outside Nodine, Minnesota, right along the Mississippi River. It’s a favorite hiking spot for us because it’s about half way between Winona, where my sister lives, and our apartment in La Crosse.

We’d actually planned to meet around 12:30 p.m., but I forgot my hiking boots, and I wasn’t about to hike in my Oxfords.

It was chilly and overcast, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves.

The only thing missing today was my little brother Morgan, who decided to stay home and finish up his homework ahead of finals. Maybe he was still scarred from our last trip.

Hitting the trail

kings bluff trail head

The Kings Bluff trailhead is populated by a thick section of pine trees that frame the trail. Soon, these trees would be covered with a thick layer of snow.

We would be hiking the Kings Bluff Trail, which follows the bluff side and offers great views of the driftless region.

It was a short hike, just 2.5 miles round trip, but it didn’t feel too long or too short. Best of all, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, especially the dogs.

Sarabi, my sister’s black lab, led the charge, blazing the trail. The little dog ran loops around us, ensuring no one was left behind.

Nala, my sister’s oldest and most difficult dog, stayed tethered to the leash. Nala may be cute, but she’s also a terrific trouble maker.

Geology:

This region of Minnesota is quite unique because it was one of the few regions that were left mostly untouched by the advancing glacial ice sheets of the last ice age.

driftless region geology pic

The geology of this region is both fascinating and beautiful

The driftless region, as it is often referred, is an area of South-Eastern Minnesota and South-Western Wisconsin untouched by the grinding forces of the last ice age. As a result, great bluffs rise 400 plus feet from the valleys below. The peculiar landforms once formed the bed of ancient seas, which once covered the region more than 450 million years ago.

The end of the line

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Upon reaching the end of the King’s Bluff Nature Trail, we were presented with a clear view of Queens Bluff across the valley; goat pastures spotted its ridge line. Below, the Mississippi River flowed quietly, the massive expanse of water wider here than many lakes.

Here, we took a short break to take in the sights and rest up before heading back down the trail again.

While Niecie and I pulled a snack from our pack, Sarabi took a seat with the rest of us.

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Better than waiting in line

I think this is how I am going to spend every Black Friday from now on. Hiking with my friends and family was far better than waiting in line for any material thing. The memories we made together that day would stick with us forever.

Thoughts?

  • When was the last time you went hiking?
  • Where do you like to hike?
  • Do you enjoy hiking in the winter?
  • Where should we go next?

Gallery

Below is a full gallery of all the images in this story:

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3 Comments

  • Customs -N- Classics

    This is something that my family would like to start doing, now that my youngest is old enough to keep up. We may just start going on these little adventures.

    December 29, 2016 - 3:06 pm Reply
  • Sister

    What a nice family memory!!

    December 31, 2016 - 8:04 pm Reply
  • Allyson

    Wonderful article! This is a great geological setting. Your article does it great justice. The photographs are so intimate. I agree, this is the way to spend a holiday!

    January 24, 2017 - 5:26 am Reply

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