If the (deep) snow won’t come to me, I go to the snow. Where I currently live, near Minneapolis, there is adequate snow but not quite enough to go snowshoeing. Tromping through the woods on snowshoes is my winter passion. The other day, I decided to go to the snow. Near the Brainerd Lakes area, where I previously lived, there is a lot of snow – well over a foot.
I went to one of my old haunts, the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. The temperature was below zero and the wind was brisker than I prefer, but my friend and I were prepared. The snowshoeing buddy I went with is one I’ve had nature adventures with for years. Our snowshoeing events have included tromping through the woods, following trails, and (my favorite) a trek up a tall hill to watch the winter solstice arrive in 2019. That year, the solstice arrived at precisely 10:19 p.m. in the Northern Hemisphere. We wore headlamps and arrived at our summit in time to welcome winter and enjoy a shooting star. It was magical!
When my friend and I reached our destination the other day, we parked, got out of the car, fasten on our snow shoes, and headed for our favorite hill. I winced in the biting wind and pulled my gaiter up around my face. The initial climb was relatively steep. It was difficult, considering I hadn’t been out yet this winter. As we climbed, veering into the woods and onto a snow-covered trail, my energy increased. It’s like that was snowshoeing (as I’m sure it is with other things). Starting out can feel a bit rough but you reach a point where you have a renewed energy and the initial fatigue dissipates until the sport becomes pure enjoyment.
The air was cold, the snow was deep, the woods lovely, and I was in the fantastic company of a good friend. Alongside the road that led up the hill, we ventured onto a few short trails that looped off the road and back again. White drifts surrounded paper birch, maples, and evergreens with branches that were weighed down with snow. Absolutely beautiful!
At one point, on our way down the hill, I stopped to make a face impression in a snowbank. I had seen someone do it on the Internet and I had it in my head to give it a try. I found the perfect spot, a snow laden, upward slope. I rested my knees on the bank and lowered my face into a wet, white pile. I made an exaggerated “O” with my mouth and stuck my face in, up to my ears. Good grief, it was cold! Freezing! The coldest part was removing my face from the snow because it was so wet and a bitter wind was blowing. I was only warmed by the laughter of my friend.
It was fun; had it been less fridge it out, I might have tried a couple different expressions for my snow impressions. Still, I had tried something new, and I loved it.
I’m sure many of you can relate when I say I sometimes get something in my head and I can’t get rid of it until I just go ahead and try it. Like last year, I tried the Polar Plunge for the first (and probably last) time in a cold, Northern Minnesota lake. For years I had wondered what it would be like to participate in the frigid dunk. Finally, I decided to stop wondering and just try it. Yes, it was cold. Yes, it took my breath away. Yes, I screamed when I hit the icy water. But it was also fun and very gratifying. I was with the same friend (she took the plunge, too) and we had ice cream cones afterward. The face mold was a little less extreme, but fun, nonetheless.
I’m glad I went to the snow. It was nice to get back out on snowshoes; now that I’ve been out once this year, I’m eager to get out more. It is one of the ways I keep myself in love with winter. Snowshoeing. It’s a great activity. My hope is for more snow this year. A lot more snow!
Winter is a fantastic season and an excellent time to get outside and enjoy a favorite cold-weather activity. It’s also a great time to try something new, like sticking your face in the snow!