A Camping Tale - Janky Gear Staff at Aefintyr
Hidden in the bluffs near the White Water River is a new privately owned campground, Aefintyr. After meeting owner Chelsi Low at a networking event, the Janky Gear staff all made the trek over to experience what Aefintyr had to offer.
We were welcomed by a cool breeze blowing over the bluffs, blooming spring flowers, and a healthy stand of deciduous trees offering plenty of shade. It is truly a nature lovers oasis, and the uniqueness of its name is fitting. Aefintyr is a Norse word that was historically used to describe the seafarers desire to chase the horizon into the unknown. In Chelsi's own words it means much more than that:
"I first read the word aefintyr in the book 'How to Read Water' by my favorite author Tristan Gooley. I had been working on a campground and recreation business concept for about a year at the time and I knew instantly that would be the name. The word has been used to describe the spiritual restlessness of humanity and the profound peace of the adventure and the unknown. I have this feeling within myself ... My connection with and management of this feeling, a way to embrace it and enjoy it, is being outdoors, exploring nature, taking time by myself, observing many of the beautiful amazing living things, seasonal cycles, the weather and the relationships between it all."
True to its name, Aefintyr offers much to explore and a variety of amenities that will instill the feeling of adventure for any explorer. The campground is located on the bluff top that requires a short, but challenging hike with great views of the river valley. Although you're not that far from your vehicle, this hike gives a backcountry feel and opportunity to disconnect from the busyness of your day-to-day. Once atop, follow the whimsical wood-burned signs to find your campsite.
Aefintyr offers a variety of camping experiences including: primitive sites, outdoor beds, outfitted bell tents, and a treehouse inspired cabin (no hike necessary for the cabin). Janky staff camped in Morus, a primitive site that felt like an elevated backpacking experience. Our campsite included a table and chairs, a fire pit, and complementary firewood. We hauled our tents, sleep systems, cookware, clothing, and food in backpacking packs up the 1400 ft hike with a 230 ft elevation gain. The trail is an narrow gravel road, only suitable for hikers and the campground's off-road vehicle. This was good practice for preparing for longer backpacking trips we may take in the future, and was great exercise on a breezy summer day.
We happily settled into the Morus site. It was centrally located and close to the communal campfire/board game area, and only a 1 minute walk to the composting toilet. The table and chairs were at great touch and made dining at the site comfortable. Our campfire ring overlooked the valley, and we loved spreading the picnic blanket out and lounging near the fire.
Once settled, Chelsi gave us the tour and history of the grounds. She purchased the land over 10 years ago, and described how much she has enjoyed spending time here. We are grateful that she eventually decided to share it with Southeastern Minnesota, and were inspired seeing the results of her vision. As we walked to view the other campsites, Chelsi pointed out and identified native flora and inspiration for naming the various sites - when you visit, ask her what your campsite name means.
One of our first stops was Celtis, a spacious site with fire pit, table with chairs, and a queen sized outdoor bed outfitted with linens and pillows. The bed itself is enclosed in mesh, zipping waterproof sidewalls, and has a clear roof for stargazing or for moodily watching rainfall drip and run off. There is also space to put up one tent, to accommodate a total of four people. This site offered even more of a view than the Morus site, and felt secluded - ideal for a romantic getaway or quiet retreat.
With more tree identification and flower talk from Chelsi, we made it to the Quercus bell tent site. Like the other sites, a fire ring and dining area were included, but the bell tent was the showstopper. Large enough to stand up in, it included 4 twin mattresses outfitted with sheets, blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags. It also had a cute rug and lantern, making the space feel cozy.
The outdoor beds and tents offer a more glamping experience, but are also great if you don't currently own any camping equipment, or are new to camping. All campsites are private and have distance and foliage in between one another, but if you're feeling social there is a group fire pit and gathering tent with outdoor furniture and board games. Other shared amenities include the composting toilet, bathhouse at the base of the bluff, stargazing area, and several sets of tables and chairs dispersed through the grounds.
The Aefintyr grounds are beautiful on their own, but if you get the itch to explore more bluff country, you're very close to attractions such as Carly State Park, Whitewater State Park, and the Elba Fire Tower. Just two minutes down the road there are a couple dining options where you can hang with the locals and eavesdrop on good fishing spots.
With everything Aefintyr has to offer and only being half an hour from Rochester, we will surely be camping there again in the future. This time we might go more glam with the outdoor bed or bell tent set up. There is something extra relaxing about just bringing the essentials of food and clothes, and maybe some wine to sip by the campfire.
We recommend checking out their website and social media accounts for more information and descriptions of the camp sites available.
Visit them at: www.aefintyroutdoors.com
- Has a great remote feeling, while still offering campground amenities.
- Glamping sites look awesome! Offering an easy way to camp without hauling all your gear.
- Option to treat it as a backpacking trip and haul your own gear in.
- Composting toilet and potable water
- Pets allowed
- Cabin available for rent at base of campground
- Showers available at base of campground….if you really need them.