Today’s ride began with a stop at Reconciliation Park in Mankato, a sacred parcel of land near the site where 38 Dakota Warriors were executed during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 – the largest mass execution in U.S. History. The poignant park lists the names of those lost, features a spiritual buffalo statue, and tries to both teach and amend the clash of cultures through a powerful phrase: Forgive Everyone Everything
Just a bit North of Mankato is the trail head for the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail. Sakatah is a Dakota-Wahpekita tribe word for ‘Singing Hills’ – so the trail literally translates to ‘Singing Hills Singing Hills’ – which is very apt, with chirping birds, humming dragon-flies, scurrying chipmunks, and singing recreationalists lining the route. A former rail line connecting Mankato and the Minnesota River with the town of Red Wing and the Mississippi River, about 95 miles distant. Teeming with trees, the converted Rails-to-Trails line elicits spontaneous bouts of Singing from those on the path!
Jax parked the car at an old rail stop building midway along the trail in Elysian and joined the trail for several miles, doubling back to fetch the car. We were tempted to leave the car behind, but figured it might prove useful for the rest of the trip. Alas, the Sakatah trail came to an end at the town of Faribault, but a few low-travelled and wide-shouldered roads led to a reconnection of the rail-trail line, now called the Mill Towns State Trail.
Owing to advanced milling equipment devised and implemented in this area, Milled Minnesota Flour became a popular commodity in the late 1800’s and brought fame to this valley. Rail cars served the river-powered mills and brought enterprising settlers into central Minnesota. The mills eventually burned down, but the history remains.
From the town of Cannon Falls, the Cannon Valley Trail offered another beautiful car-free corridor towards today’s destination of Red Wing. 20 miles of down-river and down-wind bliss, complete with rest-stops.
And then, the Mississippi River town of Red Wing – home of Red Wing Shoes. 97 total miles, the vast majority on well maintained paved trails. What a great ride…
… and a great celebration at the end of the day! Tomorrow is a rest day as Jackie and I celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary. See ya.