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Blooms Abound

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center has a specific wildflower trail called Moccasin Lane. The trail, known for its pink stemless moccasin flowers that bloom in late spring, takes off right behind the museum and follows an old cabin road to loop back into the parking lots. But it’s not the only place on Chik-Wauk’s grounds that host a wide variety of wildflowers. Whichever of the five trails you choose to hike at Chik-Wauk, you’ll want to keep your eyes peels for the subtle wildflowers that are often lurking along the trail’s path.

There was a plethora of wildflowers to be found on the Tamarack Alley hiking trail yesterday. You need to watch your step because several pink stemless moccasin flowers are in full glory . . . right in the middle of the path.

Starflowers have been blooming for a few weeks, but because of their small size, it’s always fun to find them peeping out of the undergrowth.

Labrador Tea is also at the high of their blooms. Found in boggy areas, there’s a large stand of Labrador tea among tamarack trees right at the start of the Tamarack Alley path.

False lily of the valley, another bitty wildflower, has popped up next to the more showy moccasin flowers to make a lovely forest floor bouquet.

If you have a chance to take a hike in the woods this Memorial Day, be sure to take a good look at the forest floor as you move along. There might be some lovely wildflower gems waiting to be found!

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Nature center comes to life

While the display installers keep hard at work inside the Chik-Wauk museum, hustle and bustle also fills the outside world surrounding the museum. Some exceptionally warm May weather (about a week and a half with consistent highs in the 70s, if not 80s!) has given the gardens a terrific head start and if the chorus of birds chirping happily in the trees every day is any indicator, it seems the wildlife has all resumed their busy summer lives.

You’ll now find sign posts and trail maps marking the beginning of all five of the Chik-Wauk nature center trails. You can learn a little more about the trail offering at Chik-Wauk here. If you want a sneak peek of the Chik-Wauk trail system, you can join Ecologist Jack Greenlee and Botanist Erin Heep for an introduction to the Amazing Orchids of Northern Minnesota. Chik-Wauk’s wildflower trail, Moccasin Lane, boosts its own orchid collection of stemless pink moccasin flowers.

The summer gardens haven’t quite been completed yet, but the warm weather allowed some of the perennials to burst into colorful blooms. Right now, the lilacs and irises are especially exquisite.

Although it’s hard to be sure just yet, it appears that a loon couple has decided to build their family home in the Chik-Wauk bay. They’ve certainly been busy swimming back and forth around the bay from the rock pictured below. Loons aren’t always terribly keen about having house visitors, but the Amikwiish Way trail offers a secluded place to peep at the loons without ruffling the loons’ territorial feathers.

The loons aren’t the only ones calling the Chik-Wauk bay home. At least one painted turtle has been spied sunning itself on a log along the shoreline. If you keep your eyes peeled, all sorts of wonderful discoveries are in store at Chik-Wauk.

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A Sign of the Times

A beautiful new sign — the workmanship of Bruce Kerfoot and Dave and Nancy Seaton — now welcomes visitors at the Chik-Wauk gate.  It’s just one of many signs around the property that after five years of dreaming, planning, and most importantly, hard work, the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center is almost open for business.

Last Monday (5/17), the semi from Split Rock Studios arrived with all museum “innards,” including displays,  glass cases, desks,  shelving, a replica white pine. In just four hours — a relatively short time considering it took the crew nine hours to load the truck! — a crew of six workers emptied the seemingly bottomless semi.

And what had looked like this:

Looked like this:

It looks like an awful, illogical mess, but the wonderful folks from Split Rock have been putting in long hours over the last week, getting everything organized and installed.  In an amazingly short period, what was just an empty building is starting to look like a true museum.

There’s still a lot of work to be done before Chik-Wauk is ready to open its doors to the public. But we’ll keep you posted here about our progress. We’re anxious to show off!

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Opening July 4, 2010

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center is Minnesota’s newest museum, open July 4 through October 17, 2010, daily 10 AM to 5 PM.

Website by Katherine Hellner and Boreal Access