2.3.14: The past weekend, and the Apostle Island National Lakeshore

I think one of the reasons I like being so active is because that’s what my life was like growing up. I know nothing more than to move, I do not “sit” well – unless it’s with a book. I grew up in Northern Wisconsin, on a lake five miles outside of town. With the lake in the front yard (which I’ve since learned is technically our “back yard” [I still call BS on that]), and a few acres across the street, I have a lot of memories being outside with my siblings.

Winter. While we always went sledding, played on the ice, and went snowmobiling, we were all swimmers, and swim season was from November to March – so there wasn’t necessarily a lot of outdoor activities, like snowshoeing or cross country skiing. Swimming took up Saturdays, and housecleaning and homework took up Sundays.

Spring. Spring was when the bikes came out, and we would spend weekends biking up and down the road to the county park, racing through the nature trail. I can’t count the number of times we would fly off the trail, straight in to a tree. Thank God we were good children, listened to our parents, and wore our bike helmets.

Summer. Swimming, tubing, water-skiing, laying in the boat, reading books upon books upon books. Sometimes I think we spent more time in the water than out of it. From the time my dad came home from work, until the sun was down and it was almost dark, our dad took us out on the water and pulled us, around and around.

Fall. The air became more crisp, and we were outside, running around and playing football with my dad, going on hikes in the woods, down trails only my dad knew about. In high school, cross country season brought us out to the school forest, to Rock Creek Road, to the Wall in the woods that was a b**** to run up.

There is just so much openness at home. I lost a lot of that by moving to Minneapolis. There is nothing that calls me outside, to throw a frisbee, to go for a hike. It’s a run down the city sidewalk, dodging others who are running with their dogs, with their kids. There are no birds, no breeze, no leaves rustling, no forest white noise to keep you company. There is no moment when you accept that silence, when you are engulfed by the smell of the lake. One can argue that Minneapolis has those things, but even in the summer in Minneapolis, even at 5:30am, it is not the same. I did not know how spoiled I was.

So here I am, in Minneapolis, trying to find things to keep me moving. For 75% of the year, I’m good – I can be outdoors, I can move. I found running, although now I struggle with the city sidewalks, the snow, the ice. I found triathlons, but biking indoors during the winter is not the same. I found swimming, but meets are once a month and I want to race. I found climbing, but don’t get to the climbing gym as often as I would like.

So Dylan and I have taken up snowshoeing. Sort of. My parents bought us snow shoes for Christmas. I’ve wanted them DESPERATELY for the past few years. So far, I’ve used them twice, and he’s used them once. We’ve actually been gone a lot of weekends since Christmas, and haven’t had a lot of time to use them. So this past weekend, we went up to the cabin, and went to the Apostle Island National Lakeshore to visit the sea caves.

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We figured we’d snowshoe out on the lake instead of trying to find a park and a trail, and enjoy the sea caves while we were at it. I mean, seriously, look how awesome of a time these kayakers are having visiting the sea caves in the summer. How could you not want to WALK to them in the winter?

This year is the first time in five years that they are accessible by ice. Dylan and I visited the park on the main shoreline last year, hiked on the shoreline trail because the water was open and you couldn’t walk on the ice. So based on that one previous experience, we figured there might be like….15 cars in the lot. I mean, who was really going to drive to almost the very northern part of Wisconsin, where there is literally nothing but trees and snow? We figured no one.

How wrong we were.

There were three miles worth of cars on the highway to the park, and hundreds, if not thousands of people there. Somehow, we got lucky enough to get in to the park and park near the parking lot. It was totally worth it though. We spent Saturday afternoon, hiking around (sans snowshoes) and exploring the caves. Caves you could only get to in a kayak, sliding through tunnels and caverns created by the ice. There was no need for snowshoes, since the snow around the caves was packed down and rock hard. In a few weeks, we are planning to go up on the North Shore, and snowshoe around Gooseberry Falls. But for now, here’s some pictures we took at the sea caves. Seriously, go there if you can.

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