Sunday, January 31, 2010

Real Northlanders

Noelle says that she's a "real Northlander" now. Her reason she assures me, is that she has eaten lutefisk, owns XC-skis, and has even now attended a dogsledding race. Today marked the start of the John Beargrease sled dog Marathon and Noelle and friends Amy and Jami got to see the start off jean Duluth road here in Duluth. I was on a trip with Special Olympics in Wausau, Wisconsin so I didn't get to see the start. I did however, get to see the first checkpoint of the race on a cold night outside of Two Harbors.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Life on Skis

Moving to "the Northland" has given Noelle and I the opportunity to ski like never before.

In the past three weeks I have spent at least part of most of my days doing some type of skiing whether downhill or XC. This is despite the fact that three weeks ago I had never been downhill skiing in my life. I get to ski for work. They even paid for me to take a lesson. Noelle does not get paid to ski, but she has been going Nordic skiing with me at Boulder Lake and Hartley Park. I don't know what I'm going to do come spring. Oh wait, yes I do: hiking, hiking, exploring, running and hiking.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Book Review: Ka-Ka-Ska-Ska by Jim Lewis

So back in December Noelle and I had gone to a special event: Christmas in a Logging Camp at the Minnesota Forest History Center in Grand Rapids. We really enjoyed the event and had fun seeing what life was like in an early 1900s logging camp around the holidays. While we were there we met a guy who had a little table set up with copies of the book he had written about his kayak trip down the entire length of the Mississippi River from Itasca State Park to the Gulf of Mexico. The guy's name was Jim Lewis, and being a lover of adventure stories I figured I would give the book a read.

Purchasing the book turned out to be a good investment. Not only was the book an excellent adventure read, it was also quite humorous. Mr Lewis has a great sense of humor and is a surprisingly good writer to boot. In short, if you're looking for a funny read about the adventure of a lifetime pick up Ka-Ka-Ska-Ska, you won't regret it. And if you want to know about the weird title, you're going to have to read the book.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Amnicon Falls State Park

Eric and Noelle at the Falls

Covered Bridge

Today was a beautiful, warm winter day and Noelle, Mom and I decided to get outside to take advantage of it. We packed our snowshoes and headed over the Blatnik bridge into Wisconsin. Our destination was the wonderful Amnicon Falls State Park. We spent some time checking out the falls area on the packed snow trails. The frozen waterfalls were beautiful. After that we hit the short 1.5 mile snowshoe trail, a loop that returned us to the car.

We had a wonderful day despite the fact that I completely blew out my snow boots. No need to worry though, we headed over to Northwest Outlet on the way home and I got a new pair.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

We've got skis

Today Noelle and I finally had the time to head over to the local ski shop and pick up some waxless, XC classical skis! The damage was a bit pricey, but I think it will be worth it in that it will give us more excuses to get outside and exercise on the cold Duluth days.
XC Skiing

After our purchase we were just itching to get out and use our new toys. We decided to head over to Boulder Lake where they have some "easy trails" as the saleswoman at the ski shop told us. We made the drive to Boulder Lake, passed a parking lot crowded with cars, and pulled into a trailhead parking lot that was completely deserted. I thought that this would be a good thing since there would be no one around to see us as we fell and generally made ourselves look like complete greenhorns.

Since there was no standard signage system informing us of the difficulty of the trails we simply headed out and almost immediately down a steep hill. No problem though, as there was no sharp turn at the bottom of that first hill. However, as we skied further in along the trail the downhills got steeper and each one offered what seemed like a 180 degree turn at the bottom. Needless to say a lot of falling was done. Luckily the trail (called the Rolling Pin) was short.

After our experience on the Rolling Pin we headed to the other trailhead and gave skiing another whirl. The trail we skiied was much easier and no falling was done. I think we figured out why everyone was parked at this trailhead. Lesson learned.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Perrot State Park: Ascent of Brady's Bluff

Trempeleau Mountain

The Approach

Another great day for a snowshoe! Noelle, Mom, and I packed up the gear and headed over to the local state park for some more winter fun. it was Mom's first time on the shoes and I think she was a bit nervous at first, but she and the rest of us made an impressive, windy ascent of Brady's Bluff. The view from the top was spectacular. This was the first time I'd been up there on a day that was not hot and muggy. The lack of atmospheric haze and snowy landscape made the view impressive.
Brady's Bluff

The trails that we traveled today offered more than just a climb up the bluff though. We also traveled along the mighty Mississippi River and through some the beautiful frosted forest.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Snowshoeing the Seven Bridges Trail

About two years ago over the Christmas break, Noelle, myself, and Noelle's cousin Leah drove over to the Seven Bridges Trail to do some snowshoeing. We enjoyed the experience so much on our first visit that Noelle and I decided to return for some more adventure. The wildlife refuge that the trail is located in is quite scenic and winter, we've discovered, is a much better time for exploring this trail than summer. The reason: besides the snow and wintry scenery, wintertime is much more pleasant because of the lack of insects, particularly mosquitoes.

We snowshoed as far as the Black River, stopped for a break, and then headed back to the car. It was an exhilirating experience in the cold and the exercise felt great. We're looking forward to doing some more snowshoeing tomorrow!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy New Year

Sorry it took so long for the first post of 2010 but I've been busy the past week. I enrolled in a Wilderness First Responder class with Wilderness Medical Associates in LaCrosse. It was a tough class and I spent a lot of my free time studying, but I'm now a certified WFR.