Smell of the river

As my skis slid through the tracks in front of me, I noticed an unexpected sensation fill my entire being, from head to toe.

There I was, thrusting one foot in front of the other in rhythmic harmony with the snowy trail, and I could sense it: spring.

Certainly, I’ve been hopeful for its arrival, particularly with the bitter cold and bountiful snow of the past 6 weeks. But as I pushed my way through 3 Island County Park, several miles north of Bemidji, I found myself further than hope. Prior to yesterday, I had not visited the park in the winter.

The sound of the Turtle River sparked enthusiasm inside. The sight of trickling water warmed me with hope. But the smell of the river made it more than wishful thinking: It was real. Something tangible as I filled my lungs with the discovery. Had I not been there in winter, I would have assigned the smell to the trees, but it was so clear in the frozen landscape around me: the smell of the river brought life to its surrounding.

Off somewhere on the snowshoe trail, a running buddy, Tim, and Riley were making their way around the park. Having brought skis, I found myself apart from them – an unintentional consequence of not knowing how the trail system intertwined with the opportunities at the park. So I made a few loops around the river area, crossing bridges at both ends of the trail loop I had chosen. Somewhere Tim and Riley were making there way around the river, too, but on their own track.

Earlier, Tim and I had set out for a run. My plan had been for a long run, but the events of the week presented obstacles that would make it difficult to log so many miles. Then I had an idea: keep the run shorter, refuel by eating breakfast and hit the snowy trails. After a breakfast of waffles and jalapeno bacon, we drove to the park for an unforgettable loop around the river.

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