I couldn’t wait to go to my beloved Lutsen Resort for this next hike. I got up early because I had a plan: Do a short hike on the Lutsen cross-country ski trail then have blueberry pancakes for breakfast at the lodge. I drove up to the ski hill and parked just past Papa Charlie’s Tavern where the trail starts. You can also hike the Superior Hiking Trail from here, but I had decided on the ski trail. I have to say that the ski trail is quite confusing, so it is probably best to just hike in and go back the same way rather than doing the loop. I did not do this! I have such a long history at Lutsen that I thought I knew where to go. Wrong!
Along this easy hiking trail, I didn’t see any people — only some large hoof prints, which made me think of moose, which then started me thinking about bears.
Lutsen is more than a place
To keep my mind occupied, I daydreamed about all my past trips to Lutsen. I have been going up there for as long as I can remember. Lutsen is where I learned to ski. I took my first skate on double runners on the bay where the main lodge sits. As a family, we skied at Lutsen every winter. Later my parents’ good friend Bruce ran the ski hill, which made going up even more fun! In my teens, my sister and I got to sleep in the girls’ dorm at the lodge and that meant running around late at night with other kids from the dorm.
Years later, we took Kelly to Lutsen as a baby, cross-country skiing with her in a carrier on our backs. When our two boys took up ski-racing, we went to Lutsen even more often. Many weekends we stood there on the hill, freezing in below zero temperatures, waiting for the boys to come down the course. When the boys skied by, we could hardly cheer because our mouths would be frozen!
A good dad
Barry didn’t grow up in a family that went skiing. When we met, he had only skied a couple of times — and one of those times he broke his leg! But I have to give him credit, because he learned to ski when our boys got into racing. He was very involved with their race program, soon becoming a race official and then president of their ski-racing club.
Those years up at Lutsen were some our best as a family — except for the time when our son Pat left his one-day-old retainer on his food tray, and it was thrown into the trash. Barry was a good dad (and a mad one), spending a couple of hours searching for the lost retainer through the garbage outside the lodge kitchen. He never found it. After that, Pat’s dentist glued it into his mouth! (By then, Pat had already lost three retainers.)
Memories and solitude help ease the stress
Here I was hiking the ski trail again — and again, I was lost. I eventually came to an opening where four trails branched off in different directions. Where do I go? Breakfast was long past and my trail mix was gone. So I backtracked and finally found my car. I was gone a long time. In fact, it was past lunchtime, but it was okay because my mind took me to some of the best times of our lives. As I go through all this stress, sometimes I just let my mind think about Lutsen. I imagine the skiing and the pancakes and the fire always lit in the lodge’s huge fireplace. It helps.
Lunch was at The Coho Café along Highway 61 before going on to Carlton Peak near Tofte, the last hike of my trip.