This one is WAY late in the posting and I don’t have any pictures because we did this at night, so the post itself isn’t so great but the activity was AWESOME.
Our new thing for February was snowshoeing. Here in Duluth we had 3-4 feet of snow by mid-February so there was plenty on the ground to allow for this transportation method turned winter sport. We rented our snowshoes from Ski Hut for $20 (that’s for 2 pair and 24 hours) and headed up to Hartley Nature Center after work. We’d never been snowshoeing before and we’d never really hiked the trails in that area before so unfamiliar walking method plus unfamiliar territory plus pitch black equaled a slow start. We soon got the hang of it, though, and were able to figure out where we were, and proceeded to have a wonderful experience.
We followed the first trail up to a scenic overlook that, in the daytime, would give you spectacular views of Lake Superior in front of you and the forest behind you, but since it was the middle of the night we had to settle for the twinkling of Duluth’s city lights off to the south. Hartley Nature Center is well within Duluth’s city limits, but there is so much nature around you it makes everything seem so far away. Even sitting on top of that hill, drinking hot apple cider (lightly spiked with some brandy), and knowing exactly where we were, the city itself looked like it was 20 miles away. The thick snow on the ground and coating all the tree limbs deadened all the sound we were making so everything was still and quiet. We sat on the hill and enjoyed the peace for a while until we decided to do some more exploring.
We followed the trail back down the hill and found another one that went across the lake and up the opposite bank through the forest. Here the trail was less packed down and it took a little more work to make progress, but it didn’t matter to us. We took some side-trails just to see where they went, and usually they took us so far off the beaten path that we had to turn around. The snow was so fluffy and my Husband so… um… larger than me, that he kept sinking up to his knees. It happened so often that he started to think the snowshoes were useless, but then one of the shoes fell off and he sunk in up to his waist. I was laughing so hard I could be of no help to him so it took him a while to get his one leg out of the hole, then find the snowshoe he had fallen on top of and get it attached to his boot again. After that we stuck to the more well-traveled trails.
We decided it was time to turn around when we ended up in someone’s back yard and thought that in the dark we may have gotten off the public trail. Up to this point the weather had been absolutely perfect for this kind of activity. It wasn’t so cold that we had to wear a lot of hindering layers, but it wasn’t so hot as to turn our snow pants into a sweat-swamp. Until just before we reached the lake. A cold front must have come through just at that moment because it was like we had gone through a wall and it was instantly below freezing. We were grateful for the thermos of brandy-cider and that we were not too far from the trail head. That was the moment we decided it was time to call it a night, though for the enjoyment of it we could have gone on for a few more hours. But it was getting late, and suddenly cold, so we went back to the car.
When we got back to the info center and glanced in the windows, which, in the dark, acted like mirrors, we realized how cold that sudden temperature change really was. Husband’s beard was completely white with frost and my hair had turned into a thousand icicles dangling from under my hat. My eyelashes started freezing together. We were a sight to behold.
Snowshoeing is definitely an activity we’ll continue to do in the winter, especially since it’s a relatively cheap activity at $10 each and a plethora of free trails to run around on. And going at night is definitely the best time.