Snowshoeing in Mahtowa

I went snowshoeing in Mahtowa this weekend.

Snowshoes are a gentle miracle of physics. At first it’s disconcerting to walk alongside a tree or a shrub more than a foot above the ground. I’m not supposed to be up here, and my poles are proof of this, as they press deep into the snow to bite the frozen earth.

But then, I’m probably not supposed to live so far north that sleeping outside could kill me. On the scales of laws of nature I am bending, this is slender.

And this is fun. My host took me past the parts of the woods he calls “Lothlorien” and “The Shire.” The trail moved through patches of land that he named for the species of animals he found there. He wasn’t happy with the porcupine. Maybe no one is. [smile]

The land was filled with stories. And snowshoes meant that those stories could be read throughout the year, not just in the summer.

I don’t know if that’s why he snowshoes, but it is why I liked it, and why I will do it again. I think there are stories in the woods near me too.

Mahtowa as a community, just thirty minutes south of Duluth, is named after Ojibwe words for bear [according to MNHS]. It was established just a decade after the Civil War.

Mahtowa is home to a volunteer-run bookstore, which I hope to visit soon …

… and to TJ’s Wurst Dome. There are stories in there, too, but mostly, this time, there was cranberry bratwurst. Knowing the story of my bratwurst will make me avoid eating it, and I’m looking forward to dinner.

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