Winter Trails

Superior Hiking Trail alongside Keene Creek

Today was one of those winter days I could not, would not, stay indoors. In past years I’d be soaking up the winter sunshine while on a fatbike.

Foot Travel Only

This winter I’ve been trying to stick to walking, hiking and snowshoeing to let my arms heal up.

View of the St Louis River

We’re warming our way out of a deep freeze. After of period of night time temps in the teens and twenties below zero, today was 25F/-4C degrees with light winds. It felt warm. The bitter cold firmed up the trails nicely. No snowshoes needed.

I can see my house down below.

When we moved into this area in the early 2000’s there were no trails for human powered travel. Now there is the Superior Hiking Trail and a network of mountain bike trails that crisscross or run parallel to the hiking trail. There’s also a snowmobile trail and the deer have their own network of well packed down trails. The deer and an occasional snowmobile used to have this wooded hilltop “park” overlooking the City of Duluth and Lake Superior all to themselves. Nowadays it’s fun to see so many people out fatbiking and hiking in February. I’m not sure the deer like sharing though.

Frozen Lake Superior in the distance.

I hiked four miles. I enjoyed every step on a beautiful winter day on a beautiful winter trail. A trail right in my neighborhood.

Bitter Cold: Just the way I like it.

I work some Saturday mornings now. We’ve been having a stretch of bitter cold. The air temp was -15F/-26C degrees when I left home before sunrise. There’s a saying here in the winter, “It’s warmer by the lake”. Lake Superior being the lake. It’s immense volume of water prevents it from cooling as fast as the surrounding air during the winter. This provides a warming effect near the lake. My work today had me driving west away from the lake.

I knew the temperature would drop as I went over the hill leaving Duluth. And continue to drop for the first half hour or so. And did it ever drop. This picture of the dash readout is a bit blurry, if you look closely you may be able to make out the exterior temp reading:

It says -36F/-38C degrees. That’s the reading shortly after sunrise when it’s the coldest.

We’re in the middle of an arctic blast of cold air. I’ve learned to love these cold spells. All the outdoor activities I do are more fun when the air temp gets below 0F/-18C degrees. The snow is dry and where it’s been packed down or groomed it becomes firm and grippy. Specially for snow biking.

Quarry Park, Duluth, Minnesota

Unfortunately my fatbiking outing a few weeks ago didn’t do my healing arms any favors. It’s really tough for me not to be able to be out on the trails on my Pugsley in these ideal winter conditions. I’ve also haven’t been cross-country skiing this winter.

Fortunately I can still get outside and enjoy this winter season. I’ve been walking when I do get out. Another activity I love that gets me outdoors.

I’ve been enjoying frequent walks in our neighborhood’s abandoned quarry. Today’s walk was nice with the sunshine and biting cold air. And oh, by time I got out for my walk it had warmed to a very pleasant-3F/-19C degrees. That’s the air temp before you figure in the wind chill. (I always get a little thrill when it’s -3 degrees. Back in the early 90’s when I was living in St Paul my favorite local band was named “3 Below”. It was a kick-ass blues rock trio. Miss those guys)