Once in awhile, while skiing, one can encounter a neighbor. Roger Buchholz of Harmony enjoys a nice day cross-country skiing on the trail as well.  RALPH BEASTROM/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
Once in awhile, while skiing, one can encounter a neighbor. Roger Buchholz of Harmony enjoys a nice day cross-country skiing on the trail as well. RALPH BEASTROM/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
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The biking season came to an end much too early for me this last fall. It seemed like cold weather was upon us and we were headed for an early winter. Since this was the case, I soon started thinking, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow."

Well, we certainly had snow early but not enough for good cross-country skiing. While I was able to get some practice skiing in locally, in Harmony, the Harmony-Preston Valley and Root River Trails didn't have enough snow for grooming.

Then I got the Winter Trails Report from Explore Minnesota that our trails have been groomed after the first six-inch snowfall. The DNR did groom the trail all the way to Harmony but there was not enough snow to set tracks. I was optimistic that our Harmony skiers would be able to ski right out of Harmony, which hasn't been possible for many years because of too much drifting in the exposed areas. Traditional cross-country skiing on a flat surface is somewhat difficult for some of us skiers; a little too slick.

Then came the warning about the Polar Vortex. My wife decided to visit a friend in Florida but I decided to stay home and embrace the winter. OK, maybe I wasn't really invited to go along but it seemed like the right thing to say!

The winds came and the drifts again settled in on the east/west segments of the trail near Harmony eliminating future grooming to Harmony by the DNR. However, the trail below the hills remained OK for skiing. This drifting does provide some spectacular snow sculptures to look at.

The valley is pretty much protected from the winds and one can ski comfortably even when the temps are below zero.

Soon the area received more snow, one or two inches at a time, which did allow us to get out there and enjoy this winter sport. Skiing the Harmony-Preston Trail along Camp Creek is beautiful and tranquil. One of the days after the deep freeze, the Hoar Frost beautifully decorated the trail.

There are plenty of signs of wild life in the snow and it is great to see deer crossing the trail and a pair of eagles flying overhead. As the snow accumulated, the scenery just kept getting better. When you stop on the trail in the woods and just listen to the silence, running creek and wildlife, it is truly refreshing.

In the past week, we received about six inches of snow and tracks have been set and cross-country skiing is great and more people are getting out to ski the trail. Sometimes we don't see our neighbors much in the wintertime but I did meet my neighbor, Roger Buchholz, out on the trail a few days ago.

I also got to enjoy the candlelight ski and chili cook-off at the Preston Trailhead. The weather was great; skiing was good and the chili tasty; the next candlelight ski is in Whalan, this Saturday, Feb. 1.

The bottom line is, winter in Minnesota is going to be cold and snowy. Whether you enjoy cross-country skiing (like I do), snowshoeing, ice skating, downhill skiing, snowmobiling or just walking, get out and embrace the Minnesota winte