Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Winter's Worth of Cross Country Skiing

The snow has only been gone for a few weeks, but I already miss it. I always get this feeling; Spring's coming doesn't fill me with the same sense of rebirth that others get. The ability to move around more easily is appreciated, however I don't long for the death of snow, never have.

This year Winter was much more pleasant than the past 4. Over the past few years I got into riding my commuter and cyclocross bike as much as possible. The weather patterns in South Eastern Michigan make it fairly easy to run semi-skinny tires year round. Our first week in Marquette I quickly found out that my semi-skinny tires wouldn't cut it up here. It works just fine to run down to the co-op for groceries but taking it anywhere that's not plowed or well-traversed is a poor idea. Next Winter I will have a fat bike and things will be a little different.

Luckily, Marquette has so many snowy-weather activities to make up for my lack of winter biking. In the late Fall I got Chelsea into cross-country skiing.

She isn't interested in going downhill and I am fine with that. We like to be able to get out away from people and quietly enjoy nature so xc skiing works really well for both of us. We picked up some wider touring-style models. The extra width is no bueno on groomed trails and track which is totally fine because we usually go places where we have to break the first tracks. 

So much solitude: miles of trails along the southern shore of Superior in Marquette County. So many areas that are difficult to access when the ground is bare open wide up when the snow comes. The woods are a blank canvass for you to write your story. Get out of your chair and do it.

Nice use of the ski pole bipod.

She's all smiles at Presque Isle. (Her first day on her new skis)

Chelsea loves breaking trail. I took her on one semi-groomed trail one time and she quickly determined that it was not her cup of tea.

My little fatties. The Marquette Backcountry skis are hybrid snowshoe-like contraptions that really allowed me to go almost anywhere this winter. Next year they are going to get some serious use! (They will also be getting a binding upgrade. More on that later)

Skiing during a blizzard.

More Marquette Backcountry skiing on a bluebird February afternoon. We were blessed with quite a few of these days.

When you live in an area that has so many months of Winter you need to either be super stoic and not say anything or get outside and enjoy each and every flake. We choose to do the latter. Next Winter I will be much more diligent posting daily trip reports complete with stories. This year we were all about getting out there and exploring.

If you are a Marquette or UP native and you have some secret spots that you would be willing to share please get a hold of me, I am always looking for new places.


Sunday, April 12, 2015


Thursday brought 6-9" to the marquette area. Friday we had a high of 38; the weekend's prospects of pleasant adventure looked grim. Then came Saturday: 55 and sunny with a slight shore breeze. 

I started the morning off searching for some steelhead. I got skunked but it was great being knee deep in the river. 

After splitting a muffin and draining Bany Cakes' coffee urn we headed north on 550 and pulled off into the Harlow Lake parking lot. 

The last time I was here we had several feet of snow on the ground and the the going was kinda slow. 

The sun did a number on the newly fallen snow and turned most of the trail into a creek. We walked on the built up snow berms along the trail. The view from the top was totally worth it though. 

This could be one of my favorite places. I know that it's way too early in my transformation into becoming a Yooper, but it's true. Beautiful views without people.

Very glad to have been able to share such a lovely place with a wonderful person. I drag her all over the place doing silly things that leave us with soggy wet feet and windburned cheeks. If you don't have someone like this then you should keep looking. 

Great weekend outside.