It might not have been what the doctor ordered, but it was the best medicine I could take. I was still coughing and dragging from a bout with the flu when Erik called. “Would it be all right if I came up tomorrow night to ski the North Shore on Monday? You’d be welcome to join me.” Of course it was more than all right!
I tossed and turned all night long. Was I crazy to spend a whole day skiing when I could barely get off the couch just days before? I’ve never been one to hold back, nor necessarily listen to reason, so in the dark wee hours of the morning I rose and piled on layers of ski clothes.
As we drove the shoreline the sun rose in a cloudless sky, lifting over Lake Superior and bisecting the radiant band of orange hovering over the cold blue water. By the time we reached the Sugarbush Trailhead above Tofte, it hung low in the sky sending long sinewy shadows across the trail but doing little to raise the zero degree temperature. Pristine corduroy lay before my skate skis, crisp deep tracks for Erik’s classic version. We entered the deep silence of the trail.
Erik had some serious skiing to do. His goal was to complete the Picnic Loop and any other bits of trail he could find to ski 40 kilometers. As a serious contender in the upcoming Birkie Classic race, he relished this extensive training opportunity. So I waved him off, content to plod along at my own pace.
The cold snow squealed under my skis, glide eluding my fresh wax job, but the extra effort warmed my stiff chilled body. I didn’t meet another sole for at least an hour and a half, skimming the snow, lost in thought. Imperceptibly the sun gained strength, my fingers and toes rejoiced, and my skis slipped ever so slightly farther. Weaving through the woods, uphill and down I lost track of time and distance. Forgot my recent malady.
Through sheer luck, we finished at nearly the same time. Flush with excitement over the fantastic conditions, Erik confirmed his 41k distance – to my 20k in the same amount of time! Over lunch at the Coho Café we traded superlatives about our morning – the deep glistening snow in the woods, the distant lake views, the challenging but fun hills, the joy of skiing.
The Northwoods Ski Trail in Silver Bay gave us a leisurely afternoon ski. Narrow single classic tracks wound through the woods, with snow laden pines slipping past our shoulders and towering overhead. We skied together over the soft snow, sharing the views and even spotting a marten that scampered up a tree to peer down at us. A steep uphill got our hearts pumping, and rewarded us with a long smooth downhill. This wasn’t a workout, it was an experience.
A full day, sharing a mutual love of skiing, chatting in the car, just being together. One-on-one time with one of my adult children is a precious gift. This one also delivered a hearty dose of healing. Goodbye flu, I think I skied it out of my system. And Erik? He opted for another 15k on the Lester Trails when we returned, topping off his mileage above 60k. We both got the medicine we needed.