This past weekend found me finally venturing north to see family and spend some time enjoying the forests of northern Minnesota. This is the place that I call home and it seems that in recent years I get here far less often than I would like.
After taking my parents out for dinner to celebrate my father's 86th year of life and having a couple of cold ones with some friends on Saturday night I was ready to get into the woods on Sunday. However, I didn't get going as early as I would have liked. You see, when you are visiting with family the family often dictates what you do and when you do it. So this meant coffee and breakfast with everyone on Sunday morning. By the time I rolled out of the trailhead parking lot it was 10 a.m.
I was greeted with a wonderful sun-filled day and to my surprise, nearly perfect riding conditions. The temps approached 28 F at the start of my ride and near the end it was around 34 F. Despite the warm temps I found the snow on the trails and forest roads to be quite firm.
I had no plans for how far I was going to ride or where exactly my ride would take me, but I had enough food and water to stay out for an entire day.
I always come north to seek some peace. To escape the stress of the job and a life lived in the city. A place where I can get away from all the noise of traffic, construction, rude people, and whatever other pleasantries the city has to offer. It doesn't take long for me to feel at ease and more relaxed. This phenomenon generally occurs once I am north of Hinckley, MN.
Once I was in the woods on my bike and moving forward, I felt as if I had found myself once again. I forgot all the things that I had come hear to get away from and settled in to a nice rhythmic pace on the bike. I did encounter slush and water on the first lake crossing. With the snow cover and warm temperatures this isn't too unusual. Fortunately for me much of it had re-frozen.I rode mainly forest roads, both maintained and unmaintained (which are used primarily by snow sleds) and found both to be in great shape. After a couple of hours of riding I stopped for some hot chocolate, a snack, and a chance to soak up the sun for awhile. Then of course I continued on and took in all the beauty this place has to offer.
I've said this before, but a person can come up here and ride forever on what seems to be an endless abundance of forest roads, fire trails, and snowmobile trails. Without the Pugsley I stayed off the snowmobile trails for this trip. Next time however, I have a whole new world of biking to explore. Although I prefer to stay away from the exhaust belching machines in the world of snow biking I guess they are a necessary evil.My legs felt good and I felt as if I could ride forever. After 4.5 hours on the bike I realized that the "North Country" never disappoints. I didn't see this wolf, but it's tracks made me wonder...For now at least everything was fine in this little part of the world and in my own mind. I came seeking something and I believe I found it even if for a very brief period of time.
I once again had some harmony and balance in my life and I know that I will continue to come north and seek that which makes me feel whole and at peace in this world.