Gnat Today

Bug Soother repels bugs, gnat-ually. A few spritzs of this magic lemongrass oil with a hint of vanilla on the back of the neck and behind the ears allowed us to hike 6 miles into the broccoli-top forest. It’s like magic. Sure, you smell a bit like fresh baked cake and that makes you kind of hungry for cake, but it sure beats the smell of DEET and it really works.

We pieced together a bunch of trails in the park to generally hike up and down to the surrounding ridges. Moving along muddy paths from river to ridge back to river back to ridge gave us a view of the park from all angles. Coming from the vast expanses of the western states, we felt as though we were hiking in a Amazon rain forest. Thick foliage and dense canopy coverage made views of the park fleeting.

The ancient granite rock formations were hidden behind layers of moss and fern. The sky threatened rain but fortunately held off. The cool summer temperatures were appreciated on the steep climbs and chilly along the windy ridges.

After circling the park, we biked to the nearest town of Elba, population 152, to pick up a few more jars of small batch Minnesota jams. Maybe it was the hiking, maybe it was the scent of vanilla wafting in the air, but our almond butter and blackberry jam sandwiches on Dave’s Goodseed bread were so good we feared running out. Interestingly, a Co-op Creamery is actually a thing in rural Minnesota. We picked up a small (by rural Minnesota standards) block of Horseradish Cheddar which is about five pounds and the size of a cinder block. Hope we like it.

Yesterday the gnats were in full on attack mode; the trout were a disappearing act, the rain was falling; and we were ready to raise the jacks and be anywhere but here. Today, a good hike and some local remedies helped us restore our spirits and enjoy the journey. It does not hurt that a crock pot of chicken chilly, made with genuine New Mexico hot green Chile’s from the Albuquerque food co-op, is waiting.

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