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Winter Wonder Land


It’s late January and I’ve been conducting a little experiment since October when I returned from India. For the past few years I’ve wondered whether I’m still tough enough to live in Duluth, Minnesota, that frosty industrial port city on the southern tip of Lake Superior, where I was raised. I’ve been basking in the sunshine of Santa Fe, New Mexico for the last few decades, but most of my family still lives in Minnesota. Since I love my family, it seems a shame to be separated by half a country. But still, winters in northern Minnesota can be brutal. So far we have had a few weeks of sub-zero temperatures, but everyone tells me that this is a nice, mild “starter” winter. The die-hards here play outside day and night, making the best of whatever weather comes their way, as witnessed by the recent Arrowhead 135 adventure race (the winner finished at 9 p.m.) and the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon (the first musher crossed the finish line at 2:53 a.m.). I’m not quite that tough yet. But I have been poaching runs on the fine private golf course pictured above, trail running through the pines in Lester Park and Hartley Field, and Nordic skiing at Snowflake, an interconnected series of 15k loops owned by George Hovland, my favorite Duluthian and a former Olympian.  I’ve also gone in search of groomed Nordic perfection at Giant’s Ridge ski area and on the Birkie Trail in Hayward, Wisconsin. I still haven’t determined whether I’m tough enough to stay. But one thing I do know is that if I want to drink a “Dirty Bastard IPA” at Canal Park Brewing Company, I definitely have to ski a few extra kilometers the next day.

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