KEVIN GRINDE: Rhythm Of The Trail — A Walk Along The Red Lake River Corridor

Spring teased the Northland last weekend. The seasonal diversion seemed as though it knew the winds from hell would soon attack us from the north.

Rarely do March temperatures rise into the balmy, high 40s. But when they do, cabin fever-crazy Minnesotans head — where else? — outside.

Sunday was the ideal day to take a hike along the East Grand Forks Greenway.

A long walk on the bike trail would have provided enough free medicine to chase away the fever. A walk along the more rugged Red Lake River corridor provided the instant cure.

The flooded ice-covered river had occupied the deer trail I followed only a week prior when the Red Lake had crested.

The path allowed easy access to the surreal frozen wonderland the river had deposited along its banks as far as I could see.

The icy river flowed west underneath a tumult of covered ice. But, on shore, the Red Lake had transformed a 50-yard wide strip into an Arctic landscape.

The river’s retreat had deposited endless rugged hunks and lumps and chunks of ice in many shapes and forms: sculptures, pool table tops and sheets that could have hosted a pond hockey game.

Cottonwoods, willow trunks, limbs and vegetation had trapped many slabs as large as a garage floor and as small as a table top.

Across the river (of course), where the current is always lazy, I could see the phalanx of cottonwoods had arrested suspended slabs as long and wide as driveways.

Most of the shore’s ice I walked on was glued to the ground, but many sheets were left suspended a few inches or feet in the air. Still others were captured as high as my thighs.

I hadn’t crossed a hockey rink in boots in decades, but that’s what walking across the miniature glaciers sort of felt like.

Every once in awhile, the ice cracked beneath my boots. Another step, another crack. Another step and suddenly — woomph! — a swimming pool size slab would drop to the ground. I recalled a little nervously that’s exactly what I felt when I fell through a frozen beaver pond while deer hunting back in the day. Only then, I never touched bottom. On Sunday, the ice and I landed on ground with a thud. The experience was eerily similar, though. After the eighth or ninth time the ice dropped, I couldn’t help but giggle or laugh.

I couldn’t resist dropping to hands and knees to peer beneath the trapped sheets at the ground. One fat grey squirrel sprinted under one ice field. No fear there.

The river’s gift of an other worldly landscape offered the ideal diversion for two hours.

I hiked back realizing I’d just witnessed two seasons at war with winter still on top and spring down below.

Who knows what spring will bring tomorrow?

Stay tuned.







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