Camping in St Croix State Park

This year, we decided against planning big vacations until we finalized our imminent trip home. Like many folks living abroad, it has been at least 2.5 years since we visited our family members due to the pandemic. Our initial plan was to fly home this early summer. However, we decided against it to wait for the travel restrictions to be lifted first. Given the circumstances, we made a last-minute decision to join our friends’ long weekend camping trip in St Croix State Park by sharing a campsite with one of them. Coincidently, our first-ever camping trip in the US was in this state park on a very wet weekend in August 2017. We also crashed the party by sharing a campsite with the same friends. A week before this camping trip, it did cross our mind to cancel it due to the forecasted wet weather. The good news was it had rained a few days earlier. In fact, we were hit by a heavy hailstorm the day before. The bad news was it was going to be very chilly, with the temperature dipping below 35F in the morning. So, we dug up our winter gear and brought them along on this trip.

On our way to the state park, we first indulged in delicious Korean meals in Eagan before arriving at the campground at 1:30 PM. Our friends booked 4 campsites. As we were the first ones to come, we chose a site that would fit 2 tents. Knowing that 2 families had large tents, one with a pop-up camper and another with a towable RV, we measured each campsite carefully. We went through many unnecessary hypothetical scenarios before deciding on one. Unfortunately, it was super breezy in the afternoon. At one point, the strong wind nearly blew our tent away as we assembled it. Thankfully, there wasn’t anyone else at the campground to witness such an embarrassing moment. While the tent was staked down, we also placed all our gallon water jugs to hold it down. The last thing we needed was to return to the campground only to find our tent had rolled like tumbleweeds to other strangers’ campsite. After assembling our tent, we hiked the Two Rivers Loop trail for 5 miles before heading back to the campground at 7 PM. By then, most families began arriving on site. We sat by the fire at night, and the temperature dropped to 42F when we went into our tent at 11 PM.

As the first light pierced through our tent, we woke up at 5:30 AM while the rest of our friends were still fast asleep. It was freezing in the morning at low 30Fs, and we burned plenty of firewood to keep warm. A couple of our friends reported bird noises that echoed loudly like car alarms for almost an hour at 4 AM, but we heard nothing because we slept with our earplugs on. The campground was almost at full capacity that weekend and the atmosphere was lively, with the kids playing and bicycling around. The warm sunny weather greeted us in the afternoon, and we did a short hike while the rest of our friends rode their bicycles or explored the nearby trails and river banks. Since our campsite had 2 picnic tables, it became the official gathering point for everyone, where we prepared our meals and sat by the fire together. It also helped from a money-saving perspective, given that firewood bundles cost $6 each. We bought a total of 7 bundles to keep everyone warm. It was odd to see everyone wearing winter clothes at the end of May. Everyone slept early that night, but we stayed by the campfire until 10 PM.

We departed a little sooner after breakfast than others on the final day since we live the farthest away. Although this was an icy camping trip, we were glad it didn’t rain, and the chilly weather helped keep the annoying bugs away.

An explosion of colorful wild flowers on Two Rivers Loop trail.
Controlled burns on the right side of the bicycle path.
Typically, people prepare simple food during camping. Not this group. Here, we ate various types of marinated meat cooked on a portable wood-fired grill.
Quoting the Nobel Prize winning Irish poet William Butler Yeats: “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.”
The brown lines represent our hiking paths. This is a large state park. The drive from the Riverview Campground on the right to the Two Rivers Loop trailhead that begins at the Kettle River Overlook took about 20 minutes mostly on unpaved roads.

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