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¡Damn you La Niña! What do I do now?

According to the Duluth News Tribune, and pretty much every other website I’ve seen, it’s gonna be a cold one this winter. My question is… How do I get out and enjoy it without spending any cash? I’ve thought about buying snowshoes or ice skates, but even a good pair of those would set me back. Does anybody know of any nooks or crannies in this area that would make for some enjoyable winter exploring?

40 Comment(s)

  1. At the very least, you need a good set of boots and winter clothing. Life costs money. Just buy some skates or skis, the local economy could use your business.

    Ethan | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  2. Craigslist cross country skis.

    Lojasmo | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  3. Good news: the “brutal cold” seems to stop just outside Hermantown.

    The better news: “heaviest snows” hits us!

    Getting the winter gear out now!

    Bret | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  4. I don’t know about snowshoes but a decent pair of skates could probably be acquired for cheap or free with a little looking.

    waferdog | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  5. Play It Again Sports usually has cheap cross country skis. With all the great trails in the area, a pair of cross country skis can make winter quite enjoyable.

    Bret | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  6. I guess I’m asking if anybody knows of any abandoned roads, old rail lines, historic markers, hidden trails, or other points of interest that can be accessed simply by walking?

    Also, does anybody know where I could find some cheap winter gear, other than craigslist or Walmart?

    Codie | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  7. Thanks Bret!!

    Codie | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  8. There are great winter hikes around Lester Park and Hawk Ridge.

    Bret | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  9. I love snowshoeing in Hartley, HawksRidge, Bagley etc right after a big snow. A few days after though there are usually enough packed down trails that I can just follow with regular boots. I would recommend a pair of gaiters to keep snow out of your boots.

    chadp | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  10. Bring it on mother nature!

    Play it Again Sports, Craigslist and the first weekend in November the ski swap at snowflake.

    Also UMD and various other places rent skis.

    The YMCA from time to time offers deals for Sunday skiing.

    I’m sure he’s chomping at the bit to chime in, but I’ll do it for him: Andrew Slade’s books about hiking and skiing the north shore are a good starting point for finding the “where.”

    The state parks are another resource.

    Man I love the winter here in Duluth.

    kerc | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  11. There are some gear swaps around town, check them out. Craigslist sometimes provides killer deals. Also, earlier in the year, hit up the Park Point rummage sale. A pair of metal edged backcountry (cross country) skis could be had for as little as $30. Ebay is another awesome resource if you have enough free time to watch for stuff. In the last year I have picked up a mint condition North Face Gore Tex ski suit for $30, a ~$400 Obermeyer ski suit for $10, leather backcountry ski boots for $75, and a couple other awesome deals. If money is really tight, check out places like Ragstock, Goodwill, MN Surplus some layers and wool will often work just as good as the latest tech gear.

    Check out the Superior Hiking Trail after some fresh snow, it is amazing (esp. at night with a good headlamp).

    Also, just exploring around town in a snowstorm can be a blast.

    ian | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  12. Don’t forget Ebay. And don’t forget Hawk Ridge for winter hiking that you don’t need skis/snoeshoes for

    emmadogs | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  13. Bret, I think the difference between ‘brutally cold’ and ‘very cold’ is only theoretical up here.

    emmadogs | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  14. Repeating what Kerc wrote, I’d also like to endorse “Skiing the North Shore.” Andrew Slade is the master of guidebooks.

    I won’t get into disparaging other writers by name, but some of them really have no knack for giving directions. Either they don’t provide enough information or they just get the details all wrong. Slade has never led me astray.

    Paul Lundgren | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  15. Codie. Dude. Really? I don’t mean to be a “Debbie Downer,” but if just one pair of skates or skis is going to set you back to the point of worrying about it, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your economic paradigm.

    Tomasz | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  16. Shovel snow for your snow shoes! Or XC etc etc.
    Barter is the way! Somebody will make a deal,
    it’s Duluth and everybody has old equipment.
    I hope it just dumps on us this year. The cold
    isn’t what I enjoy but snow is good.

    Wes Scott | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  17. If you’re going to spring for only one thing, I’d say skis over skates or snowshoes. Duluth is a fantastic cross country ski town. If you live in Duluth, you’re near a nice trail. I used to hate winter. Then I started skiing. Now, I ski every day there’s snow to ski on and I grieve when it melts. Snowshoeing is fun and it’s great getting into otherwise inaccessible backcountry. Skating is a hoot on the rare occasions that lakes freeze smooth with no snow cover. But skiing is a daily fix of joy.

    bluenewt | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  18. snowshoes, dude. snowshoes.

    and stegers. for real. if you can, spend the dough and pick up a pair. you might be able to find something else, but what you may find in comparison to cost, stegers will save you in weight, and when you are tromping around outside for extended periods of time…say, snowshoeing at Hartley…a heavy pair of pac boots will drag you down.

    zra | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  19. If by Stegers you mean Mukluks, I concur. Warm, dry, light, and just plain awesome. And, yes, let is snow!

    Bret | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  20. yep. mukluks.

    they may be spendy, but they’ll last you for decades if you take care of them.

    zra | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  21. i call snowstorm bar crawl! muster @ carmody when the blizzard hits…

    zra | Oct 20, 2011 | New Comment
  22. As someone who walks all the time (even before I had a dog who demands it), has lived here near 20 years, and who couldn’t afford skis or snowshoes until last year…. you don’t need them if you can’t afford them.

    Stay off the ski trails of course--those people get cranky, but everywhere else people break the trail with snowshoes right after the snowfall. A day later, it’s packed into perfectly bootable trail.

    hbh1 | Oct 21, 2011 | New Comment
  23. And for people to suggest Steger mukluks to someone on a small budget--shame on you. Really. I would *love* to have a pair, but they are pretty impractical for someone who needs boots for more than one thing. You can’t wear them on sidewalks or streets where one would encounter salt--ruins them. Regular boots are just fine for hiking trails in Duluth in winter.

    hbh1 | Oct 21, 2011 | New Comment
  24. Actually, I apologize for using the word “shame,” but I really got irked reading people who disregard or even chide someone for having to deal with a small budget. I’ve lived on a very small income for many years now, and it’s not something to be giving people shit for. There’s no shame in not being able to afford toys (and yes, that’s what skis and snowshoes are) and having to deal with a Duluth winter raw.

    As I said, you can do Duluth winter just fine without those toys. I have hiked Superior hiking trails and other trails in Duluth all winter with just a pair of thick wool socks and hiking boots, and enjoyed every minute of it. Minnesota Surplus downtown has good thick longjohns and mittens and socks and boots. It’s where I got all my gear. All the other things like gaiters and mukluks and skis are still in my future. I don’t miss them really.

    hbh1 | Oct 21, 2011 | New Comment
  25. No one has mentioned Savers. I’ve seen some awesome deals on XC Skis there and they always rotate stock. Don’t get discouraged if you go there and see a pair that’s kinda high in price as the next pair will probably be way low. I don’t know who prices the stuff there or how they choose the prices, but they can be crazy stupid in either direction which is great when it is crazy stupid low!

    Jadiaz | Oct 21, 2011 | New Comment
  26. I don’t think it’s chiding to suggest that buying skis in this town needn’t break anyone’s budget. My wife has a pair of waxless touring skis with modern bindings that she bought for $8 at a garage sale (she left the masking tape price tag on); I had a set of skate skis that came from another garage sale for c. $20. Although it could be a little tougher to find a pair of ski boots that fit you and match the bindings on your garage sale skis, there are plenty of them out there too.

    It’s a matter of priorities though, I suppose--I only bought real winter boots last year, starting winter number eleven here.

    The Big E | Oct 21, 2011 | New Comment
  27. I have to agree with hbh about the lack of a need for snowshoes if you want to get out in winter. Trails get tromped into walkable shape quickly.

    And thanks for reminding winter hikers not to use the ski trails. Hikers punch footprints into the groomed surface and and destroy the grooming. Just one person can do a lot of damage, and regrooming is expensive.

    Your friends who ski will praise and bless you for using the hiking trails instead.

    bluenewt | Oct 21, 2011 | New Comment
  28. Earlier today I heard about a volunteer run skate shack in Lincoln Park, where you can grab a pair of skates and go on the ice for free. Things like that are what I am really looking for. I will also be checking out some of the places that you all have suggested.

    I only hope that people don’t confuse my frugality with poor budgeting. $100 here, $200 there, for me, is the difference between paying off my student loans and putting a little extra into savings, versus just paying off the interest on my loans and living paycheck-to-paycheck. I thought a lot more people would relate to this, considering our tough economic times and Duluth’s predominantly service-driven economy.

    Codie | Oct 21, 2011 | New Comment
  29. …which is why I prefaced my advice with “if you can.” I had to save for my gear, and spend wisely and frugally at the same time, as the dough I shell out for gear isn’t always available. It’s taken me 10 years of careful planning and acquiring, piece by piece, what I (feel that I) need to survive long periods of time in the cold.

    in.dog.neato | Oct 21, 2011 | New Comment
  30. Codie, you can skate for free on just about any outdoor rink in town. And there are regular free skating events at the Duluth Heritage Sports Center throughout the year.

    Paul Lundgren | Oct 21, 2011 | New Comment
  31. ahem. Big E’s wife only paid $5 for those skis. Big E’s wife drives a hard bargain at a yard sale.

    Kerc | Oct 21, 2011 | New Comment
  32. Get some snowshoes! You can find inexpensive recreational ones on Amazon. Once you get them all the city parks are great places to explore. The LSHT is great to snowshoe as well. Nothing better than a 10-degree day, bright blue skies and an afternoon exploring on snowshoes.

    Ruthie | Oct 24, 2011 | New Comment
  33. Anywhere off-trail in Hartley, Lester, Piedmont or Jay Cooke SP. A pair cheap nylon snowpants or gaiters is all that’s needed.

    woodtick | Oct 24, 2011 | New Comment
  34. By the way, some folks just can’t wait to get their winter on, like this guy skiing through Itasca State Park last month.

    Paul Lundgren | Oct 24, 2011 | New Comment
  35. Codie (and anyone else looking/in need/on a budget),

    Sign up to be a member of the Duluth-Superior Freecycle group and place a “request” (a ‘WANTED:’ post -- limited to I think 5 requests per/mo) for what you’d like. You may just get them for free, or at a very reduced cost on it’s sister-site Twin Ports Coffee Shop.

    I gave away a pair of x-c skis years ago, which no one would purchase at my garage sale for approx. $5 with poles, boots, bindings. Same with a pair of Downhill Skis, bindings, poles.

    People give away all sorts of items on Freecycle, including coats (all seasons), boots, skates, skis, gloves, and all sorts of other outdoor, sports, indoor, household, school supplies, automotive, baby, computer, food, or other gear/items.

    Name it -- it’s probably been given or received on the site.

    If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

    ruby2sd4y | Oct 28, 2011 | New Comment
  36. oops tag fail

    ruby2sd4y | Oct 28, 2011 | New Comment
  37. Twin Ports Coffee Shoppe

    You need to sign in or make an account -- you can use the same ID you use on Freecycle on TPCS. (both are Yahoo groups)

    ruby2sd4y | Oct 28, 2011 | New Comment
  38. fark!

    ok, acidentally made the TPCS link a Freecycle Link -- thinking I had the copy/paste thing sorted. (I really need to go to bed soon -- long day/week)

    Anyway, HERE is the TPCS link.

    The Freecycle link was fine in my first comment, and actually if you click the “Twin Ports Coffee Shop” link in that first comment in the ‘Sign up’ paragraph it works too, but the tag fail made a mess of the rest of it.

    Sorry for the messy comments. (I meant well -- just tired as…)

    Cheers and I hope you get your gear! (free or really cheap)

    ruby2sd4y | Oct 28, 2011 | New Comment
  39. Very cold and heaviest snows. Well that hasn’t panned out yet.

    Mashtato | Jan 25, 2012 | New Comment
  40. Every year is predicted as the coldest / most snow, &ct.

    adam | Jan 29, 2012 | New Comment

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