Monday, the 22nd of January, 2018, there was a blizzard in Minnesota. Like many natives, I put my common sense in a small box and stored it away until midnight. I knew the forecasters had missed the mark, and the Twin Cities were likely to get walloped. (*That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.*) Consequently, I packed my older snow shoes and my winter play clothes into my backpack, and hauled them to work. Worst case scenario was that I’d take the bus with a backpack full of unused winter gear.
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Looking down from my cell in the sky (some call it “work”) I gleefully begged for a foot of snow in the next 8 hours. Every hour, it got deeper, heavier. Emails and texts started coming in that various businesses and schools were closing for the day. The day had finally arrived, after 15 years of imagining it, I was going to snow shoe to/from work.
The shift ended and I suited up. I very politely waited to put the snow shoes on until I got to the outer lobby. I figured if my wife didn’t let me wear them in the house, I’d probably do well to respect my employer’s building as well.
Once outdoors, I spent the first 15 minutes trying to clean off a lady’s car and get her on the road. Nope, she was stuck in the parking spot. We’d blown past 12 inches and were heading north quickly. Got my warm-up in doing that little task.
I headed down the sidewalk, through the heavy snow. As I moved along, I marveled at all the pretty lights on the cars stalled in traffic. I was passing them, and now began to run into the pedestrians moving to the Minnesota Wild game at the Xcel Energy Center.
As they fought to stay in the narrow goat-paths worn in the snow, I just stepped to the side and kept on cruising through the deep stuff. I got a lot of positive comments on my forethought. The others, the polite ones, said nothing as this lunatic on snow shoes, festooned with a pack larger than most children and a host of blinking lights, moved on past them. It was fun. Pure fun.
Three miles later, after breaking trail through the drifts along West Seventh, it wasn’t quite so much fun. It was a darned hard workout. Especially going over the railroad bridge. Deep snow, and a grade, had me short of breath. I’m in way better shape than a year ago, but it was a challenge after already slogging two miles in the drifts.
When I arrived on my block, I took the alley to the house. I figured I’d grab a shovel, clear the steps, and go inside to change out of my sweaty/cold clothing and put on my polar suit. That changed when I saw the three-foot drift up against the overhead door. It was no better looking into the back yard – it was deep. Really deep.
I fired up the snow blower for the first time in almost 2 years (Been shoveling for the excercise) and began hacking at the snow drifts. They were dense, and hard to cut through.
Three hours later, after blowing snow for more than a few neighbors, I grabbed a shovel and cleaned up the steps and sidewalks. Snow is just frozen water. If you don’t back it away from all the sidewalks, and get it right down to the concrete, the next day’s sunshine will melt it, and turn it into ice. Which is bad. So I did the heavy lifting and cleared it all down to concrete.
Four-and-a-half hours after leaving my desk, I’d completed an epic trek home, shoveled and pushed a snowblower for hours, and made it inside where I put all my nasty gear in the wash, and the shoes on the shoe-dryer.
It was a great day. I was very pleased that I could handle the exertion. Two years ago it would have killed me. Now, after significant weight loss and exercise, it just felt good. A few sore muscles, a lack of potassium in my bloodstream, but a good feeling.
And I got to snow shoe from work to my house after almost fifteen years of planning. I will do it again.
More snow shoe in the near future. The Luminary Loppet was a victory, with a great team of friends.
Now, on to Wisconsin. Lake Superior calls. Time to prove, once again, that I can walk on water.
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