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Man, what a bummer of a season for us winter sports enthusiasts, eh? Winter ‘23/’24 has seemed to deliver disappointment after disappointment. Uncharacteristically warm days followed by February showers (which, unlike April, don’t even bring with them the promise of May flowers) dashed the hopes and dreams of skiers across town…or did they? 

One thing I have always found so uniquely special about Duluthians is their determination to make the best of whatever Mother Nature hands them. A few years ago, I had to cut my Thanksgiving break short to beat a quickly impending “snow-mageddon” that was headed for Duluth. The next morning when I woke up, I couldn’t even open my door to get outside to shovel because of the amount of snow that had fallen overnight and been tossed up in a drift against the door by the heavy winds. Two days later, our street still hadn’t been plowed, school still hadn’t been cancelled and I started wondering what I was going to do. Along with this, some general winter annoyance (a plight I’m sure most Minnesotans have experienced once in their life, from Duluth or not) started to set in. My transplant friends and I, although avid skiers and outdoors people, were lost on what to do with such copious amounts of snow, and with only two-wheel drive cars to work with in terms of transportation, our options were looking bleak. As the sun started to peek out, I braved a glance out the window to check the roads and saw something that I will never forget. While I had hidden out in my warm house with my favorite assortment of comfort movies prepared to hole up until the plows came out, Duluth had come alive. Adults and children alike out playing in the snow, the kids with their sleds and snowmen and adults with cross-country skis and snowshoes using the road as their trails, smiles from ear to ear on every face. Pretty soon, my friends and I were strapping on skis and smiles of our own and joining them for what seemed to be a city-wide snow day. 

While this year has been quite the opposite of that Thanksgiving weekend many moons ago, I have had the pleasure of once again witnessing the same effect. From Spirit Mountain watching friends and families continue to be brought together by activities like skiing and snowboarding, or seeing the same people skiing the same 10k loop at the Grand Avenue Nordic Center day after day just because they’re happy to have the opportunity to get outside, to the scenic route exchanging enthusiastic waves and thumbs up with other riders who were stoked to be able to ride their bike in February, the spirit of the outdoors is palpable in Duluth. Working in the shop has afforded me an opportunity to observe and appreciate the cultivation of such a steadfast outdoor culture in Duluth, and I am so thankful for it. Seeing people come in all winter, still excited about skiing and snowboarding despite conditions, or determined to seize the opportunity to start bike season a little earlier has grown my own passion for each of these activities and my appreciation for whatever Mother Nature throws at us next. 

As we enter shoulder season, this is the mentality I’m taking with me, and I encourage you to do the same.  Whether we’re in for a long spring or still bound for our yearly March snowstorm, I’m excited to see what form my outdoor activity will take and how I will get to engage with the wonderful outdoor community in Duluth.  


If you’re looking for ways to engage with the outdoors, get movin’, or get connected with the community, our new Adventure Center has freshly opened its doors and is accepting rental reservations for all the activities referenced here (and more!) you can check it out online HERE, Or at 8550 Grand Ave, Duluth right across from the Spirit Mountain Grand Avenue Chalet. We would love to introduce you to the joys of these outdoor sports, get you connected with the local outdoor community – or just outfit your next adventure!