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LENGTH 3 -3.5 miles on the South end of the park.
DIFFICULTY easy, flat dirt and crushed gravel
DATE VISITED September 18, 2021
MAIN FEATURES Theodore Wirth park is a 759 acre park right in the heart of Minneapolis. It is slightly smaller than New York’s central park, but can feel much larger since it connects to the Chain of Lakes, Grand Rounds Scenic Byway and Victory Memorial Parkway. It’s one of my favorite places to hike year around and offers opportunities for hiking, skiing, mountain biking, golf, picnicking, swimming and snowshoeing (to name a few). The park is named after Theodore Wirth, who was the City of Minneapolis Parks superintendent in the early 1900s. His goal was to establish a park within 6 blocks of every Minneapolis resident, and his work helped weave the interconnected tapestry of green spaces that makes Minneapolis the beautiful city that we know and love today. Here’s a link to other posts I have written about Theodore Wirth Park – I hope you visit and enjoy it all year round! Read more history of Theodore Wirth here.
Today’s hike was a special visit to “Theo”! The brilliant women at Kula Cloth reached out to me and asked if I would lead a “Kulas on the trail” community event in Minnesota. I jumped at the opportunity to organize another Art Hike. I hosted my first Art Hike for the Women Who Hike Minnesota Community in May of this year, and it was a lovely combination of my favorite things and a way to bring people together. Kula generously provided a limited edition kula to each hike participant – designed by yours truly! These special kulas are not for sale, but if that changes, I will certainly let you know!
The general plan for our event was to hike to the bog for some tiny, close up inspiration…then to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden for an uninterrupted HOUR of creative time in nature, then a slow and silent walk along the forest bathing stations just outside of the garden…and then a stroll around the forest on our way home. It felt wonderful to focus on being present in our surroundings and less on the miles or map.
Wirth Beach and Quaking Bog
Our adventure started with introductions at the Beach house on Wirth Lake. The 15 women on our hike came from around the city and as far as 2 hours away, to join in community, spend time in nature and have dedicated creative time in the outdoors. First stop, Quaking Bog! About a week ago, I wrote about my fascination with bogs, after a visit to Big Bog State Park. If you haven’t been to quaking bog, check it out, and I challenge you to learn more about these critical ecosystems and the fascinating worlds that live within them.
Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
Next stop, the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden for an hour of independent creative time. Participants found a spot, and wrote, drew, painted, and just sat and enjoyed the space. The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden is open seasonally and features regional plants (with handy name tags) and is a treat to visit during the different seasons. Plan your visit: There is a pay lot adjacent to the garden, and their seasonal schedule is posted on their website.
The wrought iron entry gate to the garden welcomes each visitor with the words “Let Nature Be Your Teacher”. Within the park you will find plenty of inspiration and places to sit and appreciate it’s beauty.
I was having too much fun visiting to finish painting my sketch, but it gave me something fun to work on back at home.
Forest Bathing or Shin Rin Yoku
Our next stop was through the Forest Bathing trail that is located just outside of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden. Forest Bathing is the Japanese tradition of deliberate and slow time in nature that focuses on connecting with the environment around you. It can be meditative, relaxing and leave you feeling refreshed by looking at your surroundings from a different perspective. I read the book called Shin Rin Yoku by Dr Qing Li a few years ago, and appreciated the connection that the author made between medical science, the lasting health benefits of being in nature and slowing your mind for a bit on a regular basis. We hiked the trail silently and followed the signs that the park system had posted with activities that focused on listening, paying attention, picking up natural elements and holding them for a while, and both resting and moving your body along the way.
After our silent hike, we paused by a GIANT Red Oak tree for a time of reflection and transition to our hike through the woods back home. We walked along the hilly, Eastern border of the park, back to where we started, meeting three deer on the trail and sharing our favorite parts of the hike.
And just like that, we were back at the Beach House, where we had started. Refreshed and grateful for this beautiful day and our new friendships! HUGE thank you to Kula for supporting this event, providing each participant their very own kula cloth and the opportunity to connect in nature.
I finished my painting later that day, remembering how much fun the morning was, with a full and grateful heart. It’s so great to be making art again and watercolor feels like fresh joy. I’m honored to have my artwork on a kula cloth and have a head full of ideas that I’m pretty excited to share when they are ready. If you want to stay up to date on what’s new around here, hit the subscribe button on the top of the page and I’ll keep ya posted!
How are you celebrating the end of Summer and the start of Fall? Have you tried forest bathing or slowing your roll as you hike? Drop me a note in the comments or head over to the Wandering Pine Facebook Page to join the conversation.
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Gear Used on This Trip
Granite Gear Crown 38 pack, Kuhl Klash Pants, Wright Socks – Cool mesh tab, Zensah Compression Sleeves, Altra Timps , Altra Gaiters, Leki Micro Vario Trekking Poles , Granite Gear Hip Wing, Kula Cloth, Kula Cap , Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors, Moleskine Watercolor Notebook, Isabey Travel Paintbrush
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