These western Minnesota miles are almost all different from when I hiked them before. The trail now goes through downtown Fergus Falls, and then skirts the edges of town through a number of properties. One of the really nice ones is the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. I'm going to mention the others to demonstrate how off-road trail has to be pieced together with permissions from so many entities. There were sections in the Townsend Waterfowl Production Area, Delagoon Park, Mavis Waterfowl Production Area, the One Mile Prairie, and then Fergus Falls city property. Those, with a multi-use trail provided 9 miles off-road. And before that, there were a couple of miles on sidewalks. I don't mind walking these because there are usually interesting houses and gardens to see.
In the Prairie Wetlands I saw a bird that I couldn't identify. And this picture is no good- I was lucky I caught any kind of shot. But it does show the shape. And I should have recognized it from that (slim, long tail, narrow wings). It's one of the hawks I've known since childhood, except... I learned something new today. You can't see it in this picture, but when I first saw the bird I was above it on a hill as it swooped low over one of the ponds. The cloudy day made the whole bird look dark except for a white stripe across its tail, up near the body of the bird. Huh? I had no idea! This is the Northern Harrier, formerly called a Marsh Hawk. When you can see it, that stripe is very definitive. (I think that's redundant.)
Lots of prairie plants- mostly bad pictures because of a stiff breeze, but this Gray-headed Coneflower isn't bad. Notice the deeply cut leaves.
The Otter Tail River, and many small lakes along its length were the stand-out features of the day.
Don't you love portals like this? So welcoming, and it really identifies the trail to help it stick in people's minds.
We ate lunch at a picnic table outside a whole foods store, and went back later with a car to shop a little. I found a real treat for tonight's dinner- yellow beets. I haven't had them in several years. The only improvement would have been if the tops were still attached, since I love beet greens. Really yummy.
Miles today: 14.8. Total miles so far: 2994.8.
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