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(Foot)Notes on Iowa - Day 19 - Robert Mulroney Recreation Area to Osgood

Updated: Feb 22, 2022

After the rains on Part 3, Day 1, a cool morning and clear skies greeted me on Day 2. I spent the early morning blow drying my shoes in the hopes of protecting my already blistering feet, however, the day's walk would end up taking a major toll. However, with only three days remaining to make it to Big Spirit Lake and close my journey, I returned to the Robert Mulroney Recreation and Wildlife Area and got started on an eighteen or so mile journey to Osgood.

Winding my way along the river, I eventually ended up on Bushy Bayou Road, a level B service road along a wildlife area of the same name just south of Emmetsburg.

The 75-acre wildlife area provides habitat for wood ducks, deer, wild turkey, and many other animals. As I wound my way a few deer leapt across the road, and the songs of many birds greeted me in the early morning. The moon continued to set, and I snapped a photo as it fell behind a grain silo.

I pushed on, eventually arriving at Highway 4 about three miles south of Emmetsburg. As I made my way, I crossed the west fork of the Des Moines River for the second time during the day. By the time I arrived at Emmetsburg, the town still slept in the hush of the early Sunday morning.

A town of roughly 4,000 people, Emmetsburg's Irish origins find evidence throughout the small town. During the Great Irish Famine (1845-1852), many refugees made their way to the town named for Irish nationalist Robert Emmet. A piece of the Blarney Stone rests next to a statue of Emmet on the lawn of the Palo Alto County Courthouse, and businesses throughout the town still incorporate Irish heritage into their names.

Five Island Lake, a 973 acre body of water located just north of Emmetsburg, hosted the Dragoons in 1835. Today, their passage is marked by the final Daughters of the American Revolution Dragoon Trail Marker I would come across on my journey. Since leaving Montrose and the "Here Began the Dragoon Trail" maker, I encountered eleven of the plaques mounted in various ways throughout the trail (Montrose, Stockport, Libertyville, Ottumwa, Oskaloosa, Knoxville, Des Moines, Boone, Webster City, Fort Dodge, Emmetsburg). I still need to see one additional marker, located on the route from the Boone River confluence to Wabasha's village in Osage.

I passed through Emmetsburg with little fanfare, and after pausing briefly to visit the original townsite (located in the floodplain on the western edge of town), I headed north on a gravel road near the Emmetsburg location of Iowa Lakes Community College. 450th Avenue led me between the Prairie Gold Wildlife Area to the east and the Roads End Prairie Wildlife Area (and the Des Moines River) on the west.

Natural habitat provided great views, however, my focus continually returned to my rapidly deteriorating right foot. Throughout the course of the day a six inch long blister developed along the outside of my foot. I stopped and did some basic first aid, however, I eventually ended up tearing off my wrappings as I neared the end of the day due to circulation discomfort. Attempting to keep mind over matter, I slowed my pace and trudged on toward Osgood.

As often proved the case, especially as I trekked through northwestern Iowa, a grain elevator helped to mark my progress. I neared the location of Osgood and realized the abandoned elevator rested alongside a railroad track, seemingly on private property. Stopping short to avoid trespassing, I ended the walking for the day. I spent the evening working on my feet, hoping to find a combination of bandages or other means to keep me on pace to finish at Spirit Lake two days later.


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