Happy Snowday!

It’s snowing big fluffy flakes in Duluth right now! What a gorgeous city. I got out for a solo ski in Lester last night and to my amazement, I saw one person on the trail the entire time. I had the place to myself as the snow fell all around me. It was absolutely just what I needed. I haven’t been running much since October. I’m still battling a foot injury and it won’t go away. I haven’t been doing my exercises all that much though either…oops. Cross-country skiing has been my saving grace the past two months. My foot actually feels better when skiing, so I’ve been trying to get out as much as possible to stave off the insanity that surrounds an injury. I sure do miss running, but it’s winter and that means skiing trumps all other activities as long as there is skiable snow around. There will be plenty of time for running come spring, summer and fall. For now, it’s time to wax up the skinny skis!

The promise of snow and adventure prevails this weekend and I’m excited to spend the day tomorrow with my brother skiing up the shore. We’re planning to ski from Silver Bay to Tettegouche State Park. There is a connector trail that runs between the two and I’ve heard it is awesome. I’ve skied at both places separately before and I love them each, but I probably love Silver Bay’s trails a little bit more. They’re the perfect combination of single-track, secluded, roller-coaster goodness with the occasional wolf track(s). Enjoy the snow this weekend, people!

Here’s another cover that I came across today that is quite lovely.

A Wonderful Serenity

I got out for the second ski of the season last night and it was so, so beautiful. This ski was better than my first outing. I used my new skis (new last year) and I’m so glad I opted for those over my waxless skis. I was joined by Cremers, who also donned his new skis and we glided around Lester chatting about “this new store and that new thing and how’s so and so and I can’t wait to go downhill skiing, etc.” Our legs were a bit wobbly and it’ll take a few more times to get our ski legs back in proper order, but we had a great time. When I got home, I peeled off my outer layers and danced around like a huge dork in my long undies while cooking a breakfast dinner in my apartment…that’s how pumped I was that I had just been skiing. I even contemplated going back out after eating my scrambled eggs. But I didn’t and I kinda regret it.

Anyway, the whole point of this post is because of this quote I read yesterday afternoon. I was reminded of it again while out skiing on the trail. This is what cross-country skiing feels like to me and my soul. (Replace spring with winter and I wasn’t alone, but you know what I mean!)

“A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine.” —an excerpt from The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (what a name, eh?!)

Check out Cremers' frosty beard action!

Check out Cremers’ frosty beard!

Call Me Crazy

It’s starting to feel more like summer today, but I gotta be honest with you—I’m really missing this right now. I know I’ll forget about it for a while once the temps reach a balmy 80 degrees in Duluth and I’m running around in shorts and flip flops and drinking gin and tonics by the pint. But, at the moment I’m day dreaming of the snowy solitude of the North Shore. By God, that was a beautiful day of skiing.

By the way, have you heard of the group Pickwick? They’re good. This song is good. Like, toast and peanut butter. Enjoy the weekend!

Solo

Duluth got an additional 15 inches of snow while I was in the cities this past weekend!!! The fresh, fluffy kind, not the rock hard cement stuff we got last Wednesday. With that in mind and the need to spend some time cross-country skiing before the temps warm up too much, I decided to take Monday off of work and spend the day alone in the woods on the north shore of Lake Superior. I live for days like this. There’s not too much that beats a fresh powder ski day up the shore. I haven’t spent much time by myself in the woods lately either, something that happens naturally while trail running, so yesterday was a much needed solo adventure.

I arrived at the Sugarbush Trails in Tofte with loose plans to ski as much as I could in one day. I also wanted to cover some trails that I had never skied before, specifically Homestead Loop. The temps were already climbing a little as I left the parking lot, but they seemed to hold over the course of the day. I pretty much had the entire place to myself, as I saw only three other skiers. Two right in the beginning and one at the very end. I saw the groomer guy, too, right after a complete yard sale on the bottom corner of a big hill. The skate lane was super soft and it just pulled me down. It was kind of fun to crash though, especially with all the fresh snow. Homestead Loop proved to be very scenic, but I think maybe I skied it the wrong direction. I felt like I was climbing almost the entire time. From certain points I could see Leveaux Mtn., Oberg Mtn., Lake Superior and even the ski hills at Lutsen. After Homestead, I skied Hogback Loop, a favorite at Sugarbush. I also skied up and down Bridge Run three times, a 1.5k downhill run that leaves your eyes watering and your heart soaring. It was in prime, speedy conditions and after three climbs of it I wished there was a tiny ski lift to bring me back to the top.

The caution sign before Bridge Run.

Some neat shadows cast through the trees.

Self-portrait after the yard sale.

Looking back up Bridge Run.

After skiing for a few hours, I made my way to the Coho Cafe for a delicious lunch and hot tea. I decided to stop by Temperance River State Park and take some shots of the lake on my way to Silver Bay where I would do some more skiing. The Silver Bay trails are some of my favorite in the area. It’s classic only and a little more secluded feeling, as the trails are fairly narrow and lined with snow-covered pines. There’s also another big hill in this system, Herringbone Hill; a steep, winding hill that you have to herringbone up. But the reward of this hill is so great. The down is an equally steep, but straight shot that makes me smile from ear to ear. I didn’t get a chance to ski here last year, because the conditions weren’t very ideal, so I was excited to be back. However, the trails weren’t marked, so I had to rely on my memory as to where each trail section led. The last 30 minutes of the ski were absolutely amazing. Giant snowflakes started floating gently from the sky, but it soon turned into a flurry of near white-out conditions. It was absolutely peaceful and beautiful.

Yummy lunch at the Coho.

The glorious Gitch.

Iced up pebbles on the beach.

Snowy Silver Bay.

Herringbone Hill.

All in all, I was so happy and lucky that I got to spend the day skiing in some of my favorite places (I ended up skiing close to 30k!). And although I was content to spend the day alone, another part of me wishes I would have had some company to share such a beautiful and perfect day with. Go out and get some skiing while it’s still good!

 

Winter’s Here!

Finally!!! An acceptable amount of snow arrived in Duluth this weekend and I couldn’t be happier. I’m even more excited and happier to know that a predicted 8+ inches of the white stuff is coming tomorrow and Wednesday. The weekend started with a beautiful 2+ hour trail run with cousin Dave and our new running buddy, Ryan. The trails were in awesome condition, the sky was blue, the air was crisp, the sun was out. It was the quintessential Duluth day. The kind of day that makes you fall in love with this city all over again. I spent the rest of the afternoon running errands and most importantly, waxing and prepping my new xc-skis. I was so excited that I sliced my finger while trying to get at the kick wax. I can hardly wait.

Sunday, as the snow was coming down sideways outside, I was inside laying all sloth-like on the couch, just melting into the cushions and on the verge of sleep when Marcus called. He was looking for someone willing (crazy?) enough to go trail running at night in the snow with him. He succeeded in persuading me to go with and I’m so glad that I did! I can not say “no” to any kind of activity that has even the slightest promise of adventure. This might be a bad thing that Marcus has figured this out about me. He seems to have a similar mentality, so we work well together when it comes to these things…even though it takes a little extra motivation at times. So, of course, I said yes and it’s no surprise to me that I loved every second of our run. We switched on the headlamps and silently made our way through the guardrail loop in Hartley. The light from our lamps lit up the snowflakes like flecks of floating silver and fresh snow glittered in every direction. It was pure magic.

I fell in love with Duluth again last night. That’s twice in one weekend. I don’t know how much more I can handle. We’ll see what happens to my heart when the skis touch the trail this week. It just may implode. Swoon! Enjoy the snow, people!

How’s your Big Aspen?

After taking all of last week off completely of any physical activity, yesterday’s xc-ski outing proved to be fabulous. My old stomping grounds had seen a bit more snow than the Duluth area and we were stoked to finally hit one of our favorite trails, Big Aspen. I like to run here in the summer, there are some nice climbs and the rolling terrain and lack of people make it a hidden gem. I headed out with Tom and Jenny. After only a few minutes into the ski though, Jenny wasn’t feeling it and decided to turn back and wait for us in the car. There was a fresh layer of powder covering everything and we glided effortlessly through the woods. The temps were cool, a mere 6 degrees, but we warmed up soon enough and at times it even felt warm out. It felt so good to be skiing again! I’ve missed it so much. I didn’t use my new skis yet though, but I would have been able to out there. At any rate, the skiing was still top shelf. We hit one of our favorite twisty, downhill “screamers” and it was so fun we decided to climb back up and do it all over again…hooting, hollering and eyes watering in joy the entire way.