The Driftless

We spent the last days of 2012 at a cabin in the Driftless, the region of south-western Wisconsin, eastern Minnesota, and north-eastern Iowa that borders the Mississippi River and was circumvented by the  wondrous glaciers that carved the rest of the Great Plains.

We were so glad to find Hills approaching mountains in Wisconsin and happy to try out our new snowshoes! Below are some images from our time at the Red Clover Cabin on a farmstead in Soldier’s Grove, WI owned by Annie Coleman.

Happy New Year!














I heard on npr that the December 2011-January 2012 period in Chicago is the warmest in 80 years. And it may pan out to be the Second mildest winter in the US since record-keeping began. In Illinois, January average temps were up 7 degrees, to a balmy 31.5 F (hate to admit that I, too, have found myself regularly remarking on the warmth of this winter compared to my other Chicago experiences, all things being relative). Thus far, I’ve dug out my car ONE time, and have worn my Bean Boots for less than a week. Europe and Eurasia, on the other hand are slammed with record freezing weather, with snow as far south as North Africa. It seems Global Warming patterns are polarizing precip and temps, sending all of 2012 winter across the Atlantic.

Not wishing for anything so drastic, but here in the usually-snow-bound Midwest, we’ve really missed the fun part of having snow. Without the powdery stuff, its been a game of waiting for conditions to be acceptably wintery to use our new MSR Evo 22 snowshoes. In the meantime, we’re headed down to New Orleans this week for our annual “Beat the winter/Cabin Fever Escape,” and I hardly even feel the drag that Chicago winters usually smite me with by this time of the season. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take the trip–I’m so excited that a bit of Louisiana has crept into the title of this post and I might not even come back owing to how awesome NOLA is going to be–but am really wondering if those snowshoes are going to sit unused until next season!

We rented them through REI last winter, and decided that the MSR Evo 22s were a well-priced, lightweight, slim profile shoes accessible to amateurs and liked by veterans as a highly versatile model great for hiking, trekking, backpacking, etc.  If you’re fond of hiking and wilderness landscapes, snowshoeing is a great winter sport activity that requires minimal specialized gear and will get you outside and having fun at a time of year when its otherwise pretty hard to do so casually. (Interested in snowshoeing? Get introduced here).

Plus, snowshoes will come in very handy when we need to hike in over several feet of snow to our super isolated future cabin. I’ll call it an Investment in our Future, albeit one that will provide some fun along the way.

I am so excited to spend more time in the beautiful state of Wisconsin doing just that. Someday. Maybe next winter if global warming doesn’t send all it elsewhere.