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TWO HARBORS, Minn.—The shadowy forms ghost through the forest almost like a procession of deer. They travel in single-file, rolling through a dense snowfall coming down in flakes the size of Wheaties. The only sounds are the squeak of nubby tires on the fresh snow. A cadre of fat-bikers, riding their balloon-tired cycles, are out for a Sunday afternoon tour of the groomed trails of the Lake County Demonstration Forest north of Two Harbors, Minn. "This is one of my favorite places to ride," says Josh Kowaleski of Duluth, Minn.
DULUTH, Minn. — Kandi Geary was just getting ready to leave Kohl's department store in Duluth. A woman and her young daughter were just entering the store. Duluth's Geary, 60, described what happened next. "I was at the bench inside the store," Geary said. "I was putting my hat and mittens on to go outside." This occurred just before Christmas. Geary recently shared her story in a phone interview. Geary said the woman entering the store with her daughter mentioned in passing, "I love your hat." That didn't surprise Geary, she said.
GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — The sun hadn't yet crested the horizon on Tuesday, Jan. 9, when Greg Clusiau and Lorin LeMire began perforating the frozen surface of the lake with fishing holes. "We'll see what's down there before we set up," said Clusiau, who calls Keewatin, Minn., home.
This will sound crazy, I know. But maybe I am not alone. Sometimes, when I'm out with one of my friends — biking or hunting or paddling or running — I find myself thinking about what I would say about them at their funerals.
GRAND MARAIS, Minn. — Paul Sundberg knows what kind of photos his followers appreciate most. He shoots excellent photos of loons feeding their chicks, moonrises over Split Rock Lighthouse, ore boats lit up on summer nights and wolf pups at a rendezvous site. But the Grand Marais photographer says it's another kind of photo that tops all the rest. "My best sellers are the Lake Superior storms," said Sundberg, 68.
The morning's first grudging light had just begun to slip over the land as our train of anglers ventured forth. Four of us, well-Thinsulated and wearing ice cleats for purchase, trundled onto the surface of Fish Lake seeking crappie dinners. We knew the ice was good where we were headed, to the little island maybe a half-mile away. Some among us had been there a few days earlier. A skim of snow covered much of the lake, but where it had blown the ice clean, we inspected the cracks. Yep. We could see the ice was a good 6 or 8 inches thick.
A 12-mile segment of the Norpine Trail System on the North Shore will be open to fat-bikers as well as cross-country skiers this winter. The designated ski trail, groomed for both classic and skate skiing, will be open to fat bikes on a trial basis this winter, according to Norpine Trail Association officials. The out-and-back trail segment open to bikers is from the Ski Hill Road at Lutsen to near Cascade Lodge. Fat-bikers will be permitted to ride on the wider portion of the trails groomed for skate-skiing under appropriate conditions.
The snowies have come again. Snowy owls, denizens of the high Arctic with more than 4-foot wingspans, are showing up in large numbers across Minnesota and other Great Lakes states this winter. Many also have been seen along the New England coast. Such an unpredictable invasion is called an "irruption" by birdwatchers. As of Wednesday, Dec. 13, an estimated 173 snowy owls had been observed in 57 of Wisconsin's 72 counties, said Ryan Brady, a conservation biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in Ashland.
DULUTH — Earlier this week, Bob Rogers and friends delivered 403 bikes that 403 lucky kids will find waiting for them on Christmas morning. This is the ninth year that Duluth's Rogers has held his annual bike drive. And 403 is the most bikes that Bob's Bike Drive has ever delivered. They've gone to the Salvation Army in Duluth, to the Superior Fire Department, the Ashland Fire Department and the Hibbing Fire Department, among other places, for distribution to families. Over the nine years of the bike drive, about 1,800 kids have received Bob's bikes.
MADISON, Minn. — I have come west again, to kill a pheasant. Maybe several pheasants, should our fortune be so good. Gone now, the too-warm early-season days of October. Gone, too, the massive tracts of standing corn where the birds had too much room to hide. This is the early December hunt. The corn is harvested. Three of us have come, as we have for more than 30 years, to hole up in the red farmhouse. That's three dog lives for some of us, four for others.