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Winter Wonderland March 31, 2011

Posted by Sree in Minnesota, Run, Skiing, United States.
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If it was the running fever I caught in last summer, it was ski fever this winter. What better place to catch this fever than Minnesota? I ended up here just in time for winter. This winter started with a bang – 8 inches of snow in second week of November and then 25 inches of snow which collapsed the Metrodome roof. And my first chance of watching a NFL game buried in snow. Though I was used to ‘some’ snow and cold back in good old Ohio, Minnesota proved to be a totally different. Be it the amount of snow stacked up on the sidewalks (some nearly 10 foot high) or the bone numbing cold (-30° C) or the whipping blizzards or the quick cleaning of streets in any weather…. Minneapolis is only one of its kind – The coldest city of US.

The trip to North shore of Lake Superior during December showed how beautiful winter can be. Though winter was the best time in India for hiking, I was almost stuck at home in US winters. This winter changed it all. Thanks to initiative of my friends we drove up to North shore and stayed in a cabin overlooking the mighty lake. The frozen waterfalls and majestic vistas revealed what a winter wonderland Minnesota is. Check the pictures on Picasa here.

I was slow to start…as usual. Though I had skied a couple of times in Ohio back in 2005, I again took lessons. The ski resort was just 20 minute drive and had decent Alpine skiing trails. After the first time when I had been with few coworkers, I almost skied alone. But what a fun it was! The pure speed and adrenalin rush was incredible. I almost spent a fortune at REI to get myself insulated from cold arctic winds. From January to March, I was skiing every weekend, sometimes 2 and even 3 times a week! I did make significant progress in controlling the speed, making parallel turns and exploring routes of increasing difficulty level.

Fort Snelling State Park is situated at the Mississippi river’s confluence with the Minnesota river. This place is of great cultural and historic significance to native American Dakota people. Ironically, after the Dakota war of 1862, a concentration camp was set up in this very place which resulted in the death of 130 Dakota people. I had visited this picturesque park just before the winter and then totally forgot about it. In February I visited this park for a class in Cross Country aka Nordic skiing. It was a total body workout! Though there was not the speed of downhill skiing, the views were spectacular. From that day onwards, at least once day of the weekend was dedicated to Cross Country skiing. Moreover, this was cheaper than downhill skiing, thanks to REI rentals.

Now that Spring is on the way and the snow and ice is melting away, I am really having ski withdrawal syndrome. I can’t wait for next winter! From the outdoors perspective, this has been the most beautiful winter I have ever spent in US.