I biked through there this morning. I talked with a guy on roller skis just coming over from Fort snelling and headed down this path. Maybe one of your buddies, but I didn't ask his name.
We encountered a guy who headed uphill on Big Rivers Trail between Lilydale and Mendota, maybe around 8:45. Exchanged a friendly greeting in passing. If that's the guy you meant, we did not know him.
How is your roller skiing going? You should join us for the Saturday morning workouts, if you are interested. They are informal and we have many skill and fitness levels. I can email or text you location and time. I think you do have my email address, if not, ping me via FB messenger.
I'll reach out in a couple weeks.