Noticed - after the last post went up - that none of my links even showed up. Aargh!!! Not sure what the issue is, and not willing to spend hours figuring it out. Sorry about the missing links.
So, Saturday last I was hanging out in balmy 60+ degrees. Headed north as the forecast called for rain mixed with snow on Sunday and I did not want to drive three hours in that. Arrived Saturday night to fog hanging on the ridgeline in Duluth and temps in the 30's. Brrr!!
The next day I decided I needed to get outside and hike for a bit to stretch my legs after the race. Nothing like a little April snow to encourage me out the door. The flakes were big, fat and very hard to catch on camera, but this was the scene on the the SHT above my house:
I used my need for a walk to accomplish an annual spring task: maintenance report for "my" section of the SHT. This year I took a camera along and used it to document any problems areas - and cool stuff I saw. Like:
An alder broken over the trail - right near a creek crossing (may be hard to see, click on the picture to enlarge).
Wide muddy area at the base of some steps.
Broken off "sign" tree.
Sumac leaves just budding out.
Snow melting on a winter weed
My house (and the access trail to the SHT) are at about the mid-way point of this section. Because of the location, I ended up walking some sections of the trail multiple times, which was fine by me. I ended at Twin Ponds and was surprised to see a hooded merganser out on the pond. He was being 'followed' by at least three hens. I decided to climb down to the pond to see if I could get a picture of these diving ducks. I walked the shore line of the pond, attempting to get closer to where the mergansers were swimming, but they seemed to know what I was up to and would always manage to be on the opposite side of the pond then I was. Here is my best attempt at a photograph:
Maybe if you click on it to enlarge the photo and squint real hard you can see the merganser through the snow?
But, I did make an interesting discovery on the edges of the pond (while getting my feet wet):
Marsh marigolds!! Just starting to emerge. One naturalist I know calls them "55 mph flowers" as you can identify them while whizzing by on the highway.
Despite the snow, spring is arriving in northern Minnesota.
The rest of the week was pretty uneventful. Tuesday I ran errands between Job A and Job B - literally. Left the first job, ran towards the second job, stopping at the post office to get some stamps and then 'running' into a friend I have not seen in months a half mile or so later. After a quick chat it was off to work.
Wednesday I decided to check out the trails in the Piedmont Area. I headed out on the section of SHT that runs through there (very hilly part of town) then hopped over to the snowmobile trail/multi-use trail to connect up with the ski trail. I know of a patch of bloodroot on this trail and wanted to see if it was up yet. No luck! From there I got on to the mountain bike/multi-use trail that also runs through this area. Boy are those fun! I ended up looping around for 65 minutes, climbing some of my favorite rock outcrops in the process and scaring a couple of mallards off a vernal pond. By the time I got myself back to the snowmobile and out to the road where I had parked my car I was tired. Ran in my new trail shoes (I know - when will I learn not to run long in a new pair of shoes?). Not sure what I think of them. My right ankle(sprained this winter during soccer) was crackling like a bowl of rice krispies for most of the run. Was it the shoes or the first time on single-track in a few months? No matter - found myself with a silly grin on my face half of the time from the sheer joy of being out there playing in the woods.
Thursday is 'Run to Work Day'. I discovered how tired I was from yesterday's run this morning. Then it occurred to me - hey, I am planning on running 16 miles tomorrow. What am I thinking?!? I normally do not run 4 days in a row. Oh well, can take three days off after that and get back to my normal schedule. Ended up also running errands this morning - I had not brought the right combination of food to work the previous day and needed to hit the local Walgreens for some juice for my cereal (yeah, I know this is weird - all started when I had to be dairy free 18 years ago, think of it as naturally sweetened fruit loops ;-> ).
Tomorrow I am on vacation and will head to New Auburn. The plan is to meet up with another aid station volunteer to run the section of the Ice Age Trail that the Chippewa Moraine 50k will be on. Saturday will be spent at Aid Station #4 cheering on (and fueling) all of the runners. Looking forward to seeing some of you there.
In addition to the usual aid station volunteer items (folding chairs, assortment of clothes, lunch) I will have along my knitting. I usually have a pair of socks on the needles to work on between waves of runners. But may bring along the lace scarf as the deadline to finish that is less than a week away. Hoping the weather forecast is better than it has sounded or my hands will be too cold to manipulate the needles.
Have a great weekend and good luck to all the runners at the Chippewa Moraine 50k!!!