Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Climbing Barn Bluff

Early this morning I drove my brother and his family to the airport. Their wonderful visit to the Twin Cities had come to an end. Not surprisingly I’m feeling a little down today.

Still, I’m happy that they’re continuing their U.S. holiday (they flew this morning to San Francisco). And, of course, we all have our happy memories (and photos) of our time together this past week.

For instance, last Friday (August 1) we traveled to the beautiful river town of Red Wing where, among other things, we climbed Barn Bluff (pictured above).

Rising almost 400 feet above Red Wing, Barn Bluff is one of the most well known natural features along the Mississippi River.

Artist Henry Lewis, who called the view from the bluff’s summit, “indescribably beautiful,” wrote of a Native American legend about the origins of Barn Bluff. According to this legend, a mountain twice as large once stood on the site, yet the inhabitants of two Dakota villages quarreled over possession of it. To settle the dispute without bloodshed, the Great Spirit divided the mountain into two parts. One part was left as what is now known as Barn Bluff while the other part was moved downstream to the second Dakota village where it rises above the present day city of Winona and is called Sugar Loaf.

Above: Ascending Barn Bluff on its steep, exposed (and hot) western side.

Above and below: The spectacular views from the northern end of Barn Bluff’s summit.

The eighteenth century explorer
Jonathan Carver described the views from Barn Bluff as “the most beautiful prospect that imagination can form: verdant plains, fruitful meadows, and numerous islands abound with the most varied trees. . . . But above all, reaching as far as the eye can extend, is the majestic, softly flowing river.”

Above and below: Descending the bluff on its eastern (river facing) side, where the vegetation is very lush and the temperature always much cooler than anywhere else on the bluff.

Above: Barn Bluff is a popular spot for rock climbers.

Above: The southern end of Barn Bluff, where we began and finished our adventure!

Above and below: Visiting other attractions of Red Wing - including the riverside area of the town (above) and Memorial Park with its panoramic views of the town and its surrounds (below).

Pictured above (from left): Mitchell, Cathie, Liam, Brendan, and Chris - Red Wing, Friday, August 1, 2008.

Above: Red Wing is renowned for its arts and crafts. I bought the above sculpture of a hare at a store in Red Wing called Cut Above Home. As you can see, this beautiful sculpture now sits in my garden and serves as a reminder of my brother and his family’s visit and, in particular, our time together in Red Wing and at Barn Bluff.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
An Afternoon at the Science Museum
Pool Party
Out and About - July 2008

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