Thursday, February 20, 2020

Another spectacular sunrise and moonset at -11F

Click on photo to see it in entirety

"Just" an hour run yesterday morning. We are in a mini-cold snap here and I had a passing thought about using the treadmill as I layered up. But being outdoors is always worth it! As I ran through the park the waning crescent moon with Jupiter to it's left was visible. I made it a point to summit Rock Knob in time to catch the sunrise and moonset over Lake Superior. Despite the cold I took a few minutes to stop and soak in the beauty before moving on. 

I am not by nature a morning person, but in order to get my workouts in, have dinner at a reasonable hour, and get at least 7 hours of sleep each night I have switched to running(biking) in the mornings vs after work. It often means getting up at 4:30 am in order to be out the door by 5:30 am. Which also means going to bed no later then 9:00 pm (I think my grandkids and I have the same bedtime now!). 

It was hard at first, and often means running at the coldest time of day. But the trade-offs have been worth it! I almost always have the trails to myself, and if it has recently snowed, this means I get to make first human tracks. And see who else is out there sharing the trails with us two-footeds. 

Tuesday morning I followed fox tracks for much of my run; most days there is ample evidence of the rabbits, deer and smammals that inhabit the park. Often I hear Barred owls hooting, and now that the sun is rising earlier I am greeted by the songs of Black-capped chickadees. They have recently been throwing in some "fee-bees*" to their usual "chick-a-dee-dee" routine. It's getting to be that time of year! *fee-bee is the chickadee's version of a pick-up line

Today, as it's my day off,  I am taking a much more leisurely approach to things and waiting for the temperature to get above zero for my run. I took the time to make myself some gluten-free blueberry pancakes using a baking mix I found in a small natural food store in Great Falls, Montana. I am really impressed with Montana Gluten Free - not only their Pancake and Waffle Baking Mix but their commitment to gluten free (and other common allergens!). Cross-contamination with other allergens is unfortunately all too common in many products and can severely limit options for folks when looking to purchase food items. It has meant that I do a lot of cooking and baking from scratch and have learned more about the sources of some common baking items then I thought I would ever need to know. 

So, get out there! Enjoy our remaining winter and the transition to spring. 

Monday, February 10, 2020

Good Morning Duluth!

Click on the photo to see the full image

Sunrise and moonset from Rock Knob in Hartley Park. 

It was a magical fat bike ride on the multi-use trails in Hartley this morning. Snow sparkling in my bike light. Firm trails with just a dusting of fluff. And as the sun came up, frost settled on the trees and shrubs painting them with a lovely coating of sparkling white.

It just doesn't get much better then this!

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For the past few weeks I have heard an occasional Black-capped chickadee singing "fee - bee", a sure sign that spring is on it's way. Though it does take chickadee's a bit of time to get twitter-pated enough to get close to each other for mating....

Monday, December 09, 2019

A Magical Skishoe in Hartley Park

I left work tired and hungry and not really feeling like heading out the door for an hour of exercise. The commute home was slow due to the snow covered ice from last nights/todays storm.

Instead of taking my fat bike out on trails with several inches of fresh powder I decided to use my Altai Hok skis to explore my "backyard".

Simply magical!

I started out weary and by the first 5 minutes I could feel that all fade away. By the time I got to the old beaver pond/cattail swamp I was ready to veer off the trail and explore. And I am SO happy I did!  Last nights mist/rain had coated the plants with a thin layer of ice and they sparkled in the light from my headlamp. It took me much longer to cross the swamp then it should have as I kept stopping to soak in the beauty, revel in the sense of wonder, and snap a few photos.







Once again the Hok skis have proven to be the perfect vehicle to get me to areas I would never have reached otherwise and allow me to immerse myself in the beauty of nature.

And isn't that the whole point of playing outdoors anyway?

Monday, June 17, 2019

Simple meals + running + knitting

It's been a busy spring between work, training and traveling to welcome a new baby to the family.

Often I arrive home late in the evening and want a quick, simple and tasty meal for dinner (and enough leftovers for lunch at work the next day). Recent creations include:

Baked chicken breast with vegetables:
Potatoes, green beans, broccoli, garlic and carrots chopped
I split the veggies and garlic evenly between the two chicken breasts, sprinkled with salt and pepper and about a 1/4 tsp of tumeric, sprayed with avocado oil and drizzled balsamic vinegar over all. Wrapped up the veggies and chicken in the foil and baked at 375 F for 45 minutes. A very filling and tasty meal!
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts - I buy in bulk and keep
them in my  freezer, taking 1 or 2 out to thaw in the morning
Tonight I threw together an asian inspired meal. My first step was to put some brown rice on to cook in the rice cooker (such a convenient way to prep rice!). After a brief break to do some reading I prepped the veggies:
 - 1 carrot sliced on the diagonal
 - 1/2 lb of green beans, cut on the diagonal
 - 1 large clove garlic, minced
 - handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered

I mixed up a sauce with 1/8 cup (or so, I didn't measure to be honest) of coconut aminos (soy-free/wheat free soy sauce/tamari alternative); half of the minced garlic and 1/2 tsp or so of minced ginger and set this aside.

In a cast iron skillet I heated olive oil (1 Tbsp?) till a drop of water spattered, added the remaining minced garlic and the carrots and green beans and sautéed for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. To this I added 1/2 lb ground beef and continued to cook until the beef was browned and crumbled. I tossed in the tomatoes and poured the sauce over all and stirred well, then covered to let the flavors meld.

In the last few minutes of cooking I added 1/4-1/3 cup kimchee chopped and let this heat through.

When done serve over brown rice. Mmmmm - comfort food!

A riff on Japanese style beef and veggies, dinner plus leftovers for lunch
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I just finished up my last big training week before a taper and then Black Hills 50 mile. Thursday I ran 3 hours on the SHT in Duluth starting from the 24th Ave W. trailhead and heading southwest for 1.5 hours before turning around. As usual I got back a bit early so headed down the Lincoln Park trail for a little more practice in descending and climbing. 

Saturday I opted to head up the shore for my 3 hour run and chose a section of the SHT I usually get to just as it is getting dark during the Superior 100. The last two years I have felt pretty nauseated at this point (last year to the point of vomiting) so thought it was time to get some positive memories going before this fall's race. 

I haven't been on this part of the SHT (Co. Rd. 6 to Finland) in a long-time in daylight and it was great to be able to look around and see my surroundings and the great views from the Section 13 cliffs. There is a lot of climbing on technical trail in the first 2 miles! In low areas and near creeks I had an escort of a flight of dragonflies. Very cool!

At one point I encountered a ruffed grouse and her chicks crossing the trail. She was NOT happy with me and fluffed up as big as she could, hissing and flapping her wings and rather insistently escorting me away from the area. I did get to see one little fluff ball grouse chick but there was no opportunity for a photo due to mama grouse's aggressive behavior (they may be little but they are fierce!) plus I didn't want to stress her out anymore then my presence already had. 

I have some strong memories of a large area of mud on this trail and I found it Saturday. It extended for 50+ feet and was knee deep for much of that distance. It had that lovely consistency that allows you to sink a long way but doesn't want to release your feet/legs easily. What a slog!! On my return trip I lost my balance and slowly fell backwards. There was nothing to grab onto and I ended up hip deep in the muck. Since pushing off the bottom wasn't an option (my arms aren't that long) I set about trying to reach a tree root that was near by, and contemplating when the next hiker would be likely to come by in case I couldn't manage a self-rescue. 

extricating my leg
knee deep on a short runner
mid-point of the mud pit
I managed to get myself up and out of the mud pit and was grateful to happen upon a stream a short time later to wash my hands and arm off (brrr!! that water was icy cold!).  Within a half mile the worst of the mud had fallen off my shoes and I felt a lot lighter. But being that wet on a cool day with a breeze off the Lake ensured I kept up a decent pace in order to stay warm. 

As I headed back towards the sketchy boardwalk over the long beaver dam I encountered a moose print. Hmmm... that wasn't there an hour ago. I was a bit cautious when rounding blind corners until I was out of "moose country". 
Moose!
My hand for size comparison (small runner, smallish moose)

Sunday was another 3 hour run, this time on the Voyageur trail from Carlton to Grand Portage and then the SHT into Fond du Lac. Much more runnable bits of trail then the day before, so got to stretch out my legs a bit and up my pace.

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I have a couple of knitting projects on the needles - a onesie for my new grand daughter and a shawl/wrap that I am doing as a knit-a-long with a friend. Unfortunately I have no pictures of either project. Will need to remedy that soon.

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The wildflowers have been amazing this spring and I just have to stop and admire them whenever I am out.

Yellow Lady slippers
Pale Corydalis
Blue-eyed grass
Mertensia
Goldthread
Wild strawberry
Starflower
Jack-in-the-pulpit
Toothwort
Wood anemone 
Baneberry (Doll's eyes) 
Trillium grandiflora
The trillium are starting to fade now and turn a bit pinkish. 

Purple clematis
Large-flower bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora) 
Wild Oats/Sessile Bellwort (Uvularia sessiliflora)

Dewberry/Dwarf raspberry
Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum)

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Rime Ice

A combination of meteorological conditions resulted in rime ice that was 0.5 - 1 inch long above the ridge line here in Duluth. It was magical!

Magnetic mount antenna on my car
I first noticed it when looking out my window at my car, but then when I got into the woods on my run... well, it just proved too enticing and I had to stop and take a few photos:






For more information about rime ice.