It seems as of late that my compass has only one direction..."North". I kind of like that. While many of my friends were longing for and traveling to much warmer climes, I chose to do the opposite and seek more snow. I found it in the form of a snow storm while driving up on Friday. It was in the form of quick blast of 2-4 inches of wet snow which made driving from Cloquet to Eveleth quite treacherous. The drive home on Monday provided me with 40 mph winds, horizontal freezing rain, slush, and ice. After the hell week that is grades, report cards, and conferences I drove north last Friday afternoon. With literally no workouts for almost a week I was anxious to get out into the woods for some good hiking. I even managed to squeeze in two seven mile runs on top of the 7 mile hike on Saturday and nearly 9.5 miles on Sunday. It doesn't sound like much, but when you factor in a foot plus of soft slushy snow it makes for a pretty damn good quad burn.After a nice forest road run, Saturday found me heading up into what I like to call "The Cathedral". Walking into this pine forest makes me feel like I am walking into a cathedral. It has a quiet beauty that is unmatched. The trail is a little known gem and the locals and those of us who grew up there like to keep it that way. I know that it is a place I can go to and not worry about running into too many people.The hikes this weekend provided me with plenty of time to think and release all the stress that had built up over the previous few weeks of school. While my amigos were logging in precious road miles and enjoying 60 degree temps...I was quietly meditating in the woods. Or as my older brother Mike tells people in town..."Vito is out gathering nuts." I'm kind of known as a "Tree Hugger" and I like it.The sound of running water led me off the trail and down a steep hill to the river. I had to do some bushwhacking, but it was worth it.Most of the afternoon the only sounds I could hear were chickadees, melt water dripping off of the pines, and my feet in the snow along with my own breathing. No traffic, planes, people...It was absolutely heaven.Sunday proved to much the same, but with sunshine. I started the day with a seven mile run in town followed by a good northwoods breakfast. The temps were in the forties, but the wind was blowing rather hard, however the forest provided good shelter. I traveled light...no snow shoes or hiking poles . In hind sight, the poles would have been nice, but I was happy to go without the snow shoes. In my pack I carried water, venison jerky, trail-mix, some cheese, and an extra layer of clothing.The weekend definitely left me smiling. Mom and Dad's home cooked Italian dinners were a blessing. Along with...evenings visiting with Mom and Dad, watching some of the NCAA Tournament games, going downtown to visit with friends over a couple of cold beers, and even taking in the local indoor bocce tournament. Did I miss getting out on the bike????? Not one damn bit! Oh I did think about it but, sometimes getting away and gathering nuts is a far better medicine.