Monday, January 30, 2012

At long last, real skiing

FINALLY...a great day on the ski trails. It took a few good Lake Superior lake-effect snow dumps on the South Shore, but at long last we have decent natural snow within a short drive of Duluth. The Slade/Rauschenfels clan dove in yesterday, and though I nearly skied my legs off, it was totally worth it. It was the first real skiing I've had all winter.

What do I mean, "real" skiing?
  • On natural snow, not manmade snow at a downhill ski area. 
  • Longer, bigger trails that run through the countryside.
  • A real deep classic ski track I can trust to guide me along.
We went to the After Hours Trail in Brule, Wisconsin, about half an hour east of Superior along Highway 2. Online reports had been very positive. Instead of another full day of house-cleaning at home, we packed up our gear and one of the boys and headed out.

Even at 11:00 on a 12-degree Sunday morning, the parking lot was full and overflowing to a nearby field. Skiers were abuzz in the parking lot, greeting each other as if it was Christmas Day all over again. 

The After Hours Trail runs in multiple loops and grids through the Brule River State Forest, just west of the Brule River itself. A few of the trails, like the River Trail above, actually run right alongside the famed spring-fed Brule.

Inside the warming hut at the trailhead, skiers were chattering away with the endorphin rush great conditions and an hour or two on silky ski trails provides. 

Perhaps the most pumped of all of them was our son, who not only skied the 15 kilometers he needed for some ski team letter points, but also had his first "real" cross country ski experience of the winter, moving through real terrain and covering real distance instead of looping around and around the artificial snow they've been on all year. "Real" skiing? Yeah, I think he gets it too.

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