The Bear, Melting Snow, and Unshackled Legs Agree. Today Was the First Day of Spring.

Today is officially the first day of spring in Duluth. Yesterday I skied one last 10k loop at Korkki Nordic, and though the pack was deep, the 42 degree temperature made for a very soft trail. With warm temps through the weekend this is it.

Today I hung the skis up in the rafters of the garage, and began marathon training. During my run on the Lakewalk I observed my first bear coming out of hibernation. She agreed that today marks a new season as well. She emerged from a culvert running under the railroad tracks, was extremely groggy, and cared little about people watching her from 20 feet away. I was surprised at how plump she still looked. This was a rather large looking bear, and she had a beautiful dark black sheen to her coat (as black as any black lab). I assumed that a bear coming out of hibernation would look a little worse for wear, but this one could have been on a postcard. She was a real beauty, and she clearly enjoyed lolling about in the sun as much as me.

Further on down the Lakewalk I ran in shorts as a strong sun shined on a hot 45 degree day, skinny white legs happily seeing the sun for the first time in 6 months. I got down to Lake Superior, and though the ice pack was reasonably fixed and stable it’s clearly restless with its creaks and groans. What an exhilarating run this was to mark the new season. I felt good from daily skiing, and different muscle groups were glad to be used again. Never before have I experienced the clear end of one season the day before, and enjoyably at that, to be followed by a fantastic transition to the new season the next day. This is how every season (and season of life I might add) should end. The former enjoyed to the fullest and celebrated at its completion, while the new season is met with glee and the expectation of new possibilities and challenges.

It does help that I live in Duluth, Minnesota, which provides outstanding opportunities for outdoor adventure every season of the year. I’m not sure if you heard, but Outside Magazine named Duluth “Best Adventure Hub Runner-Up.” Read the short story for yourself here:

We were number one in North America and were only behind a town in Australia. This was admittedly surprising to me, but when you factor in the year round possibilities, the sheer variety that we take for granted every single day, and the close proximity to prime time adventurous experiences outside on a daily basis, I absolutely agree. Since I’m so jazzed about this, I’ll paste the short story here from their April 2013 magazine:

This hilly, forested, 26-mile-long city on the southern tip of Lake Superior is a magnet for aerobic fiends who train year-round on the city’s 72 miles of Nordic ski trails, the epic Willard Munger paved cycling trail, 81 miles of running and hiking trails, and 30 (and growing) miles of urban mountain-bike trails. At the southern end of town are two brand-new 500-vertical-foot, IMBA-designed downhill flow trails at Spirit Mountain ski resort. Offshore there are three quadrillion gallons of Lake Superior water, shipwrecks, and salmon and trout. Book a lakeside room at Fitger’s Inn (doubles from $135). Two hours north are the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, one of the worst-kept but least-spoiled secrets in the country.

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