Saturday, July 23, 2016

Gorge of the St. Louis River - Jay Cooke State Park

Jay Cooke State Park Carlton, Minnesota

I first visited Jay Cook at age 17. Then I was a goat and I clambered all over the ancient rock. A beautiful mix of boreal forest and swift water over rock. It was a mythic place for me, I dreamt I would meet my wife in the park. The park buildings are WPA projects of stone, The lot is surrounded by tall forest.

Now in my sixties I am not able to scramble over rock because of a damaged leg but the gorge still draws me to its beauty. The swinging suspension bridge of my youth has been replaced, damaged by flood. In my first visit we travelled up the north canyon wall from Hwy 23. That route was also destroyed by flood and under construction. Access the park off I-35 through the Carlton exit via Hwy. 210. The final miles to the park center is a slow meandering under a boreal canopy, you can hear the river roar to your right. 

Beautiful in all seasons, Mashell and I visited two weekends separated by a three to seven inch rainfall which flooded all the local rivers. First weekend the character of the St. Louis was placid the next weekend the waters raged through the gorge.

The lower St. Louis is a whitewater enthusiasts haven, There are great hiking and biking trails. The boreal environment contains Black Bear, Timber Wolf, White-tailed Deer and Coyotes. Hawks and Herons fly the gorge skies.

Jay Cooke has beauty in abundance which calms my spirit. Feeds my desire for nádúr.

Ancient rock; slate, greywacke, with intrusions of basalt 1.5 billion years old.

The restored Suspension Bridge.

Looking west off the bridge

Left or south channel

Pool east of the Swinging Bridge

The right side channel

Next week after three to seven inches of rain.

Forest calm and river tempest.

The swollen left channel.

A mist hangs over the turbulence.