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Category Archives: Cross Country skiing

A beautiful day for skiing along the Red Cedar State Trail. We haven’t seen the sun all that much this winter but this was one of those days.

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This was the first time in two years we have had enough snow to ski on the Red Cedar Trail. It was such a beautiful day that we skied nine mile which turned out to be a bit much for our first time out.

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Red Cedar Trail Bridge

Red Cedar Trail Bridge

Our second stop on our skiing road trip was Calumet, Michigan were we skied the Swedetown Ski Trails. We love Swedetown because of the fantastic snow they receive. As soon as we arrived we headed out onto the Backcountry Trail. This is a trail that winds through the trees. It is packed occasionally but usually not tracked.

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The snow on the trees was something special. It looked like they had wet snow driven into the trees by strong winds creating a winter wonderland of a landscape.

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Along the trail we reached one of my favorite photography locations. This is a stand of pine trees framed in the snow.

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As it turned out we really lucked out because the trails had just been packed for the first time. Warm weather had made it impossible to pack the snow in the swampy areas until earlier in the week.

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Skiing Road Trip

Both by wife and I had been sick. Mine started at Thanksgiving and lasted into the new year. Once we were both better we needed to get out of the house so we scheduled a Ski trip to the U.P. We don’t have snow around our home and Minnesota doesn’t have much snow on the North Shore so the U.P. was the only alternative.

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This was our fourth ski trip to ABR in Ironwood. They have plenty of snow. They had over ten feet of snow by Thanksgiving. We were a little late getting started didn’t arrive until early afternoon. We still had time to get in three hours of skiing before sunset. It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies, something we don’t often see in the U.P..

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On our earlier trips some of the trails were closed because of deer hunting so we made it our goal to try out the closed trails. The trails were in tough shape in a few places. My wife took her first fall of the season and I took my first fall in three years.

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We have been up to the Ironwood area skiing three times already this year. This is by far the earliest we have skied in a number of years. The ABR Ski Trails are already a winter wonderland with over seven feet of snow so far this season.

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When TV news reports show over four feet of snow on the ground in Northern Wisconsin it can only mean one thing. Ski Trip!!! This is the earliest we have been skiing since the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 that dumped over three feet of snow on the farm.ABR-Ski-Trails-14-11-_0645

As things worked out we had tickets for the Dang-its performance of Sweet Dreams & Honky Tonks Revue at the Park Center in Hayward, Wisconsin on Saturday Night. A large crowd was treated to the songs of Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash and a brief history of each.ABR-Ski-Trails-14-11-_0639

The next morning we were up early for the drive to ABR in Ironwood, Michigan. ABR is the premier cross country ski area in the Midwest. They had been struggling to get the trails groomed because the ground was not frozen and they had been getting over a foot of snow every day. They did have open 40 km of trails. Some were still closed because of the ground and it was deer hunting season in Michigan.ABR-Ski-Trails-14-11-_0651

There were quite a few folks out getting their ski legs on their first ski of the season. It was mainly overcast with the sun breaking through late in the morning. At twenty degrees it was just right for skiing. A rare selfie.ABR-Ski-Trails-14-11-_0629

After driving up to Fort Wilkins Historic State Park we decided to drive back to Calumet so we could ski at our favorite ski trails. It was bitterly cold with the temperatures hovering around zero and the wind chill quite a bit colder. Still one of the objectives of the trip was to ski Swedetown. We dressed warm because we knew it would be cold out on the trails. We were a little surprised to find only three cars in the parking lot.Swedetown-Ski-Trails-14-3-_0019

 As I had mentioned in an earlier blog the Calumet area had been hit by a major Blizzard a week earlier with fifty mile per hour winds and a foot and a half of snow. This was reflected in the winter wonderland that we found along the trails.Swedtown-Ski-Trails-14-3-_0039

 We were curious as to how deep the snow was and we found out when we stopped at a shelter at a crossroads in the trail. I took my wife’s photo by the shelter. When she looked into the shelter the dirt floor was about three and a half feet below the top of the snow.Swedtown-Ski-Trails-14-3-_0018

 Swedetown has received almost three hundred inches of snow this winter and many of the trail markers are just about under the snow.Swedtown-Ski-Trails-14-3-_0040

 

More photos from Swedetown can be found on my website.

 

A couple of weeks ago we drove to Duluth on a cross country ski trip. The next morning we planned on skiing the Boulder Lake Trails.Boulder-Lake-Ski-Trails-14-2-_1375

It snowed overnight and the reports were that the roads were really bad. Duluth is built on an escarpment and has very steep hills. We had some things we had to do in downtown Duluth so we combined them into a single day and postponed our ski trip to Boulder Lake. A good thing we did. Everyone was talking about how bad the roads were and as we walked through the skywalk we could see they were in bad condition. About the time we were leaving the condo there was a 30 car pileup a couple of blocks away.Boulder-Lake-Ski-Trails-14-2-_1378

The next morning it was cold but the roads were clear. We headed out to Boulder Lake. there were only a couple of other cars in south the parking lot. We had skied ad Boulder Lake earlier in the winter but had only done one of the loops. Our first trip had been on a Thursday and as it turned out it was dog day. Every Thursday dogs are allowed on the trail.Boulder-Lake-Ski-Trails-14-2-_1382

The trails had been freshly groomed and we were one of the first ones to use the trail. It was a beautiful but very cold day. Probably why there were very few skiers. The groomed trails had not setup yet so it was tough going. The wind was blowing so it was really cold in the open areas.Boulder-Lake-Ski-Trails-14-2-_1386

My wife and I have been skiing the Red Cedar State Trail several times a week. We usually pick a different section of the trail to ski so we have skied all of the trail from Menomonie to Downsville.Red-Cedar-Trail-14-2-_0484

We have been seeing a lot of wildlife on the trail. On three different occasions we have seen a pair of eagles near the ice wall at the 1.5 mile mark of the trail. On one occasion they were on or near the nest across the Red Cedar River and on two other occasions they were sitting side by side in a tree above the ice wall.Bald-Eagles-14-2-_0482

We have been seeing a lot of ducks between Menomonie and Irvington. Most of the river is open in this area and it is one of the few portions with open water. We also saw a lone Trumpeter Swan paddling up the river. It was making quite a bit of noise. We also saw a couple of hawks in trees along the trail. One flew off then came back and flew right at us before landing in a three above us. It just sat and watches as we skied by.Red-Cedar-State-Trail-14-1-_0997

On two occasions we had fresh snow on the trail so we were skiing on what  were ungroomed trails. It was a lot of fun skiing through fresh snow.

The day after Thanksgiving we took our first ski trip of the season. It was almost a month earlier than last season. Of course last season ended with a blizzard the first week of May.

Our first trip was to ABR in Ironwood, Michigan. It was about the only place with snow and it was crowded with anxious skiers. They had almost three feet of snow by the time we arrived. The skiing was good but the snow was still a little soft.ABR-Ski-Trails-13-12-_0704a

Last weekend we drove over to Brule, Wisconsin to ski on the After Hours Ski Trails. Surprisingly it wasn’t crowded. There was a lot of traffic on the roads but most of the people seemed to be heading to Duluth for a little Christmas shopping. The trails were good but it was very cold. The thermometer at the trailhead read 0 degrees.After-Hours-Ski-Trails-13-12-_0978a