Ely, MN Chamber Of Commerce
I am sliding along behind my dog, Psycho Mantis. She’s trotting through 3 inches of powder and my weight’s drag on the skijoring rope is slowing her down while I work each mitten through the straps on my ski poles. Finally, I yank my hat down more firmly over my ears and pull my neck warmer up over my chin. “Thanks, Mantis. Now we can go.” I alternate between classic strides and double poling behind her. This is our first venture out onto Burntside Lake this season. Snowmobilers, snowshoers, and skiers have been braving the ice for several weeks now, giving me confidence that we won’t break through today.
Tracks lace the ice along the shoreline and I have to pay attention as Mantis chooses first a snowshoe track, then a snowmobile track, then back to snowshoe track as her trail. Sometimes she ignores them all and blazes her own way through the powder again. When she drops her nose to a set of deer prints that jump up into a jumble of boulders, I slide forward quickly to call her attention to a new direction. There is no quick release on my skijoring set up and I don’t want to do an uphill slalom on this shoreline.
The wind is sharp. I pull my hand out of my mitten to warm my cheeks a couple of times. Still, this is a good place to be. There are only a few hours left to this short winter day. Sunlight leaps off of the snow out in the channel and casts red light under the red pines at the end of an island. Small bays are blue with shadow but when we scoot out into a larger bay we find light glinting off of windblown ice. Without Mantis’ power, skiing this distance would have been a good work out for me and turning around an easy decision. Now I must gauge whether to turn back on other commitments.
Mantis circles me while I hesitate and I have to untangle us before I turn around. “Come on, girl. We have a lot of winter still ahead of us. We’ll be back.”