After a winter spent diligently plying the ski trails, it was the perfect day to change our tune and head out on snowshoes. With the Birkie behind us, all sense of urgency for training had dissipated. The brilliant sunshine and the deep fresh new snow just begged for an afternoon of discovery. My son, Erik, and I answered that siren’s call.
Living on the far edge of Duluth, the vast beauty of the North Shore beckoned, and we sought out the nearby Sucker River for our trek. Starting from Old North Shore Road, we were a bit off-put by a large group of snowshoers that preceded us down the trail to the river, and even less thrilled by the snowmobile trampled path that led upstream where we’d intended to go. So it was an easy decision to head the opposite direction, and we were well rewarded for our choice.
That section of the river was unspoiled by snowmobile tracks and had only vague signs of earlier snowshoe imprints before the last deep snowfall. The snow was blindingly white as it reflected the bright sunlight, and we sank deeply into the thick fresh powder as we made our way downstream. We saw only one set of skiers and a couple of hikers along the way. The rest was virgin territory for us. It was exactly what we’d come for.
The snow was soft and moist in the near-freezing air, perfect for a snowman. Erik couldn’t resist the opportunity to create a friend along the way. The warmth of the sun quickly dissipated in the shady areas, sending us a chill, but rewarmed us immediately upon returning to its toasty rays.
Reaching the shore of Lake Superior, we were treated to a beauty of a different nature. The ice coating the lake near shore was thin and fragile, stacking itself into piles of delicate tiles that floated on the softly undulating water. It made a tinkling sound as it bobbed up and down, and broke into glassy shards when it encountered a nearby rock. It was mesmerizing to watch and listen to its gentle sounds.
We traveled only 3.5 kilometers, down the river and back. But it was a rich and satisfying hike that allowed us to unwind and enjoy nature’s beauty without constraint. It’s what a sunny winter afternoon should be. It was sheer delight.