The best way to truly experience the North Shore in all its wild winter glory is by snowshoe. Strap on a pair of snowshoes and head into the hills. It's slower than skiing, and it's truly a silent sport.
Before I discovered the glories of North Shore cross country ski trails, I spent my winter days exploring the area on snowshoes. I'd take a compass bearing to a distant ridgeline and tramp through the deep snow and brush to reach that landmark and feel like I was the first person there in a century. Now the Superior Hiking Trail runs to many of those ridgelines.
Once I went along with my neighbor, who had been laid off by Reserve Mining, and helped him check his trap lines, which were helping him feed his family through times.
The snow lies deep on the North Shore this winter, and on Friday more snow was falling. I drove into the campground at Cascade River State Park and headed up the trail to Lookout Mountain. The trail lead right by this old wooden bench that I remembered from my hike there a year ago. It's falling apart even more now than it was in 2009.
From atop Lookout Mountain, the view stretches north up the Cascade River valley. Except when it's obscured by falling snow.
I loved getting back on snowshoes. Snowshoeing is taking off in popularity in the last few years. The new park manager at Cascade, Kate Flitsch, told me that she's seeing more snowshoers now than skiers. Until this week, I'd forgotten the magic of traipsing at my own speed through the snowy woods. I could stop whenever I wanted to listen and look around. I saw more wildlife than I ever do skiing.
So watch for some more posts about snowshoeing on the shore. I'll write about snowshoe adventures at Judge Magney State Park and at Sugarloaf Cove. Maybe I'll see you out on the slow and silent trail!