It has been nearly three months since the good folks at Mountain Hardwear sent me a package of goods and a booklet welcoming me to their #FindingWinter athlete ambassador team. Winter was looking like a certainty when I opened that package. Ski trips were being booked. I had every intention of spending more time outdoors than indoors this winter. Then everything went wrong. Pneumonia sidelined me for six weeks from early November until mid December. Minneapolis got eight inches of snow the day after I was diagnosed. If you’ve had pneumonia, you know the state I was in. I actually couldn’t get off the couch. Physically couldn’t. By the time I was healthy enough to get outside, the snow was gone. My skis were sad. I was sad.
Then late December came and we got a bit more snow. A brown Christmas turned into a kinda-white New Year. The plans Audra and I had for an escape to Big Sky were trumped by a wedding. Cross-country ski areas around Minneapolis were open, though trails were only groomed at areas that made their own snow. We skied a few times. Nothing to write home or hashtag about. The white ground we had in early January turned brown again and our winter was 40 degrees and windy. A few weak snowstorms dropped an inch at most. Snow never stuck around because it would get too warm. Any snow that didn’t melt turned into mounds of ice. While all of this was happening, I went from working full time to freelancing. The stable income decreased while the happiness increased. Not exactly a bad thing in my eyes.
Fly fishing trips to southeast Minnesota have been happening. We’ve got just enough snow on the ground now for everything to be white. If you’re a skier like me, it is deceptive. Snow isn’t nearly deep enough to do anything with. Cut a trail and you’ll cut up the bottoms of your skis. Snowmobile trails in central Minnesota have yet to open. If you want to use your $12K sled, you need to find a lake or tear around your yard. On the plus side, I was able to log miles on my road bike last week thanks to dry streets. Even my fat-bike riding friends are unhappy with the lack of snow. These are man-powered machines that were built to ride atop packed snow. All of the popular trails are either frozen mud or slicks of ice.
Winter will come. That much I am sure of. March always brings a big storm or two. The North Shore has a couple feet on the ground and I’m hoping to make the drive north for some fun. In the meantime, my skis are ready and waiting.