I love to explore. I live to explore. Growing up in northern Michigan, I spent my entire childhood exploring the steep hills, beach-maple forests, and old fields in search of new adventures. The outdoors was, and still is, my playground from sun up to sun down. Especially during winter, when familiar sights take on a whole new perspective under lengthening shadows and a blanket of fresh fallen snow.
Snowshoeing is a natural choice for winter exploration. Not limited to footpaths or groomed trails, snowshoeing can take me anywhere – up steep hillsides, across frozen lakes, and into the quiet solitude of the North Country. It’s hard to pick a favorite trip out of countless years spent snowshoeing along the North Country Trail in Michigan, the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania, to the lakes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. But one of my favorite snowshoeing trips occurred just after I graduated from college.
Not sure what to do with dual degrees in biology and piano performance, I decided to move back home to Petoskey and work for the Little Traverse Conservancy. While at the Conservancy, I helped implement a snowshoeing program for children and adults and spent many hours each day exploring winter landscapes. On a particularly chilly, -9 degree morning, I led a group of hardy 5th graders on a snowshoe hike through one of our area nature preserves. We stumbled across an amazing sight in an old growth forest, an active fox den with steam arising from the depths of the den. The heat from the fox inside met with the cold air above and formed an elaborate ice crystal structure around the entire den. With the sun shining bright overhead, the ice crystals were large and intricate; I’ve yet set to see anything that rivals the sight of the den on that crisp, clear morning.
Years later, I’m now working as the Conservation Stewardship Director for the Minnesota Land Trust, where I have the privilege of exploring beautifully diverse landscapes from the North Shore of Lake Superior to the Mississippi Blufflands to the edge of the prairie in central Minnesota. With Lucy, my 4-year old golden retriever, I’m looking forward to exploring new sights by snowshoe this winter. First on my list is the Superior Hiking Trail as soon as the snow flies.