What We Do...
by Gwen Foor
"What exactly do you do up there in the middle of winter anyway?"
I perused the query posed by my Southern-born companion with some hesitation,
feeling a bit defensive of my home-turf, yearning for its familiarity and
comfort, yet not wanting to seem ungrateful for the Southern hospitality
I had been so graciously awarded over the last few weeks.
We had just returned from a backpacking trip on one of the barrier islands
off the coast of Georgia where mud, intense heat and an infinite number
of biting gnats, ticks and mosquitoes, along with hair-leveling humidity
had driven me to the edge of insanity. As I slumped like a slug onto the
ferry that would return us to the mainland and reconsidered the question
It wasn't Calgon that took me away, so to speak, but the crisp, clear recollections
of a Northern Michigan winter sparkling in the morning sun. Each breath
frosty white. Fleecy pillows of snow pushing pine boughs low to the frozen
ground. Tracks telling stories along the trail and the soft shushhh...shushhh...shushhh
of skis gliding over fresh powder.
What do we do? Why, we surround ourselves with creature comforts, of course!
Things like icepicks, 4-wheel drive vehicles, good snow tires, felt-lined
boots, a sturdy thermos of hot chocolate, an extensive fleece wardrobe and,
of course, a good pair of cross country skis! Nothing beats the winter blahs
like cross country skiing. Not only is it affordable (downright free if
you don't mind breaking your own trail), but it's one of the best cardiovascular
workouts around--something the whole family can enjoy together. There's
no better way to enjoy the solitude and beauty of Michigan winters without
burning fossil fuels, inhaling exhaust fumes or standing in line for tow-ropes
or theater tickets.
Whether you ski out your back door or carry a copy of Mike Terrell's
guide to Northern Michigan's Best Cross Country Ski Trails in your
glovebox, you don't want to miss the 26K of upgraded, groomed trails at
Sugar Loaf Mountain Resort in Cedar, Michigan. One of the many prime cross
country skiing spots in Northern Michigan, Sugar Loaf is located just 22
mi. northeast of Traverse City off County Road 651. In addition to their
downhill slopes, the resort hosts novice, intermediate and expert cross
country trails that wind their way around the mountain. The trails pass
through a variety of habitats including open meadows, orchards and hardwood
forests. John Capper designed the trail system in the mid-80's, taking full
advantage of breathtaking views of Lake Michigan, the Manitou Islands, Lime
Lake and Little Traverse Lake.
Information boards in Sugar Loaf's rental shop and at the Ski School desk
provide daily updates on trail conditions as well as suggested tours and
group activities. Fuzz Foster, Sugarloaf's XC ski director, confidently
pegs the course as "one of the best cross country skiing trail systems
around". Foster also hosts evening sing-alongs around the bonfire,
making an extra effort to warm skiers hearts as well as fingers and toes.
For those who are new to the sport, Sugarloaf will be hosting the Spring
Ski Fest/Gourmet Fare Trailside Day on Sunday, March 10. Sponsored by Ski
Industries of America and coordinated by the Northern Michigan Nordic Ski
Council, participants will receive reduced fee trail passes, rental discounts,
a mandatory group lesson for $5 and trailside gourmet munchies. For more
information call NMNSC at 616-271-6314 or visit their web site (see related
So, if you're like my Southern friend, wondering what on earth there is
to do up here in Michigan's winter woods, jump into a pair of XC ski boots,
snap on a pair of skis and hit the woods. You can ski at your leisure in
beautiful surroundings, deepen your appreciation of the winter woods and
never have to worry about crowds, critters or conversation. Just you and
the shushhh...shushhh...shushhh....of your skis.
mail to nmj
NMJ Land - NMJ Views -
NMJ Community - NMJ Living
NMJ Home Page
webdesign by leelanau communications
northern michigan journal advertisers