It’s that time of year again. Not quite mud season. Worse. The piles of snow left on the ground have guaranteed this late winter phenomenon – thaw, puddle, refreeze, ice. It wreaks havoc with sidewalks, creating skating rinks overnight. It makes ski trails into luge runs in the morning, and slush in the afternoons.
This in-between season has forced me to modify my outdoor activities. A creature of habit, I too often get in a rut, reluctant to vary my routine. But Mother Nature is showing me that change has its rewards.
A hike on the Lester River Trail proved to be a viable option last week. I found that rather than focusing on a workout on my skis, I could just meander and take in the snowy sights in the very same woods. The trails were firmly packed by fat tire bikes and foot traffic, making travel easy. It was an entirely different experience. I was far more attuned to my surroundings.
At the Lester River overlooks, I wondered if I might have snowshoed up the riverbed. But the sound of flowing water and open spots in the ice told me otherwise. I was content to admire and follow my beaten path. All was quiet on that weekday afternoon, making it a most peaceful venture.
One look at the puddles on the Lakewalk was enough to reroute my morning run. Heading out before dawn, I have moved to the dry pavement of the Scenic Highway shoulders. As a bonus, I have a perfect view of the sunrise over the lake. One day a deep red line glows across the horizon. The next a pale orange hue hangs above the low clouds. The sun’s rays skitter across the lake.
By the time I turn around to head home, the low sun illuminates the snowy mounds that line the lakeshore. Adjacent to the deep blue water, the face of the snowbanks reflects the sunlight. The backsides are bluey shadows. It’s a color pattern that never grows old. I watch it for miles.
Reaching via Brighton Beach, I find a new scene every day. Over the weekend when the wind was calm, the water’s surface froze into a fine mirror. Its thin veneer perfectly reflected the rocks, snow and ice. The picture of calm.
I returned later in the day to see what sculptures the wind had made with the fragile ice. Sure enough, ice shards lay stacked in random fashion on the shore, glinting in the sunlight. As I walked the shore to take in Nature’s art work, I kept hearing an eerie whining sound. I turned to see rocks skidding across the surface of the ice, as if they were miniature curling stones. The resulting harmonics emanated from the rocks, changing pitch as they slowed and then stopped. I wondered how the responsible adults figured out this musical phenomenon.
This morning brought an entirely different experience. Once again traveling through Brighton Beach, I caught sight of Rich taking photographs. Following the trajectory of his camera brought this image into view:
I don’t know what possessed these young men to ride their fat tire bikes off the ice bergs to plunge into Lake Superior, but it was enough to stop me mid-run to watch. (To see Rich’s video, click here.) I may have found new ways to enjoy the outdoors this season, but I will stop short of trying this one.