It’s a good thing that Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in mid-January. For one thing, that made him a Capricorn, a natural leader, a mountain goat climbing the peaks.
It also makes his birthday celebration the perfect long weekend for winter exploring on the North Shore. The snows are as deep as they will be all winter. There is little chance of snow getting so soft you need special waxes to ski. And, nearly four weeks past the winter solstice, days are getting longer. Perfect. The photo above was taken on MLK Day 2013. This is one of the busier weekends during the North Shore winter,with many families traveling north to take advantage of the extra days.
Duluth public schools have not just a three-day weekend this year for the MLK celebration, but a FIVE-day weekend. I hope during that break everyone gets a chance to head up Highway 61 and explore some fun new part of the North Shore. There’s plenty of snow up there and the trails are calling. Plus, there are some classically unique North Shore experiences, from a search for Bigfoot to snowmobile drag racing.
Your MLK weekend daily planner
Kick off your North Shore MLK weekend Friday evening at Gooseberry Falls State Park with the Full Moon Bigfoot Snowshoe. Bring your own snowshoes, or call ahead to reserve some free loaner snowshoes from the park. Who knows what you might find?
Saturday afternoon you’ll have to choose between two very different events. Kids will want to come back to Gooseberry Saturday afternoon, 1:00-2:30 for the SECOND ANNUAL Squirrel Appreciation Day. I am not making this up. Maybe this is the next step for civil rights. Adults might head for Devil Track Lake north of Grand Marais for the Cook County Ridge Riders snowmobile drag races. Races start at noon. Dress warm for the full exposure of a frozen lake.
For Saturday night, make a reservation for a special outing, a log cabin concert at the home of North Shore musician Michael Monroe. Monroe is an amazing solo artist who creates amazing live music with funky instruments and some fancy digital footwork. About once a month, a small group of folks gather at his cabin for music and camaraderie.
Sunday, there are no planned events during the day. I recommend exploring some of the North Shore’s inland ski trails. You’ll need a good map and guide book (like Skiing the North Shore). Check out the Hall and Massie loops, just off Highway 61 by Solbakken Resort. These are two long loops, about six kilometers each. The trailhead is 0.4 miles up Cook County 41. I haven’t skied there for years, but I still remember magical runs through snowy glades. Sunday night at 7:00 there will be a presentation on wolves at Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen.
Monday is the actual MLK Day. It’s good to remember this is more than just another long weekend. If you’re in Duluth, join the annual parade from the Washington Center downtown to the DECC. It’s always really cold and windy, but after this weekend outdoors, you know how to dress for a January parade.
Black Men Ski
Cross country skiing might just be the least diverse of Minnesota’s outdoor pursuits. When the musician Stew recorded this performance of “Black Men Ski”, he sang about downhill skiing and how black men “giggle at the questions their mere presence seems to raise.” In my experience, there are fewer African Americans on the cross country trails than even on the slopes of Spirit or Lutsen Mountain.
Like Martin Luther King Jr, you can climb that mountain. And then you can ski back down again.
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