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Sledding is fun but not the climb to the top

I just have to wonder how long we will have to go without sunshine. Winter, for me, usually seems to start dragging after the new year has made its appearance. Overall, we have had a pretty mild winter and for that I am thankful. I have and will continue to whine when we get snow for many days in a row. It has not been enough snow to make the back ache, just enough to need shoveling.

This is actually a good time to take advantage of these mild temperatures and enjoy some outdoor activities. When my two sons were young, they would always be doing things outdoors, and still do to this day for that matter. I could really relate to their love of the outdoors. That was me, doing the exact same thing when I was their age. When they were small, they would beg to go sliding and like a good dad, I would take them to the hill by what was then called the “dog pound.” Like any person that has done that, you’d enjoy going down the hill, but the walk back up, not so much. After a fun ride down, the boys would scurry back up the hill and wait while dad brought the sleds with him as he trudged up that steep hill.

When I was a kid, I tried it all as far as outdoor activities go. My friends and I would go sledding, ice skating and even skiing, the latter being my least favorite. I had gotten a pair of skis for Christmas one year and I was determined to master, or at least become proficient at, the art of skiing. One Saturday morning, a bunch of us kids walked to the golf course to do a little sledding on the back nine. I also had a toboggan at the time which was really fast. Some of the kids wanted me to bring it along so we could take turns using it. After attempting a few trips down the hill on the skis, I was starting to get the hang of it when on my next trip down the hill the neighbor girl, Lynette, ran over the back of my skis with my toboggan. I stopped rapidly, or should I say my skis did. I continued down the hill minus the skis and didn’t exactly land on my feet. That was my last attempt at mastering a pair of skis.

When my boys weren’t sledding, they were skating at Academy Park. We only lived a block away so it was easily within walking distance. Whenever they wanted to get a rise out of their dad, they would ask for a ride to the park. When I started to yell that they could walk a block – they would then start laughing, knowing that they had gotten me once again.

Skating at the pond was one of my favorite things to do as a kid, especially after I had gotten a new pair of skates for Christmas. Us kids would go to the pond to play boot hockey and those of us that had skates would also play. We would gather enough wood to have a bonfire to warm up by and that was almost more fun for us than the game. These were times when kids made their own fun and being outdoors was a big part of that. This was simple fun that we enjoyed many times over during the course of the winter.

Get out and explore Minnesota state parks and trails in winter!

Enjoy the outdoors all year long! Winter offers a whole new way to play in Minnesota state parks and trails. Snowy trails and sledding hills offer fun activities the whole family can enjoy. Try your hand at fat biking or enjoy the snowmobiling trails. Watch the wildlife as you take a winter hike or snowshoe. Many parks even offer rental gear so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own skis and snowshoes!

Purchase a vehicle permit today and get a year of unlimited visits to all of Minnesota’s state parks and recreation areas.

Tips and tricks

• Weather in Minnesota can change on a dime. Check weather conditions before you head out.

• Check on the snow depth and trail conditions so you know if you should bring your snowshoes.

• Get a sneak peek before you go with a virtual tour.

• Make your perfect winter vacation a reality. Stay overnight and make a weekend of it.

• Winter won’t last forever. Plan ahead with the summer activities guide.

Winter activities

• Camping in winter

• Candlelight events

• Cross-country skiing

• Fat biking

• Frozen waterfalls

• Ice fishing

• Maple syruping

• Off-Highway Vehicles

• Hiking in winter

• Sledding

• Snowmobiling

• Snowshoeing

• Wildlife

• Winter picnics

Questions?

Call 651-296-6157 or 888-MINNDNR (646-6367)

• Email us: info.dnr@state.mn.us

Until next time, I encourage everyone to keep area police officer Arik Matson who was shot and critically injured in your thoughts and prayers. It sounds like he is making progress in his recovery, but still has a long road to recovery ahead of him.

Please take a few moments to also honor those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms  we enjoy today. Also, take a little extra time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who have served and those troops serving today.