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TRAVELING JACK

Posted 6/27/17 (Tue)

By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer

Under Amazonian shades of green, the Brule River roared around a rock and plunged to the pool below.
Only half the river went in.
The rest of the river thundered into a rocky pothole, sending half of the 50-foot falls into a hole that disappeared forever.
Welcome to Devil’s Kettle. Welcome to Minnesota.
We don’t have these types of natural wonders in Watford City (or North Dakota). It’s all grass and sky (though still quite exotic, I hear out-of-staters say).
Eight nights in Minnesota’s north woods this month were the longest stretch I’ve spent away from my home state.
You might say I was pining for North Dakota (a pun!).
Unlike a goldfish out of its bowl, I do fine away from my home. Tenting in the woods where the rain falls and the loons call wasn’t too traumatic.
A week in Arizona was a different story. So much sunscreen. But I digress.
A low fog covered the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Raindrops clung to a showy lady’s slipper orchid.
Loons’ voices fluttered over the water, and treetops shook with the wind as the earth stood still below.
And beyond the next bend, a waterfall roared.
The waters of the Baptism River splashed and danced along their rocky route until roaring over the 60-foot High Falls, where down below, children swam in the shallow river while parents clicked pictures on shore.
An afternoon shower caught me wearing a cotton t-shirt under the cool rainfall. No cameras were injured in the filming of that episode.
I stored my food in a bear locker at Tettegouche State Park and snacked on strawberry yogurt, a cookie and an adult beverage. My flimsy, high-dollar firewood crackled in the fire ring, burning up like cheap bottle rockets at Uncle Jim’s Fourth of July.
Mosquitoes and no-see-ums buzzed my campsite, and my fears for ticks were largely allayed as I found only one deer tick overall.
I credit permethrin and DEET. Keeps bugs off. But under no circumstances should you spray permethrin on clothes you’re already wearing, or so says the can.
Oops. Can’t put that genie back in the bottle (another pun).
Still, wading into northern Minnesota’s thick backwoods had its bonuses.
Plunge pools and potholes of the stormy Temperance River Gorge.
Itasca State Park’s observation tower at sunset, with storm clouds and rainbows on the horizon.
And the rocks of the lower St. Louis River, jagged and splintered along a badlandsy waterway.
Don’t fall in.