Winter Walks

“The only people who live north in the winter are people who have never lived south.”
Winter Walks
Photography by Mary McKSchmidt

“The only people who live north in the winter are people who have never lived south,” my husband tells the world when gale force winds sweep across the lake, snow stinging the eyes of anyone walking the beach.

That, of course, would be me.

Occasionally, he joins me as I explore a world barely visible through the sheets of white hiding a path I know by heart. The lake, I have learned, always dances in harmony with the wind. Most winter days, it moves slowly, rocking to a melancholy rhythm as if it, too, is chilled by the wintry air.

But when winds whip across its surface, the lake responds as if in anger. Fueled by its massive size and depth, its rage boils into frothing waves, splintering the ice and hurling chunks on land. The smaller pieces shatter; the larger ones remain, slowly morphing into an icy mountain mirroring, in size, the dunes to the east.

My path weaves blindly between the walls of white.

A rogue wave forces its way under the ice mountain, blasting a hole through the top. The mountain shudders and a sheet of thin ice cracks, breaking the snowy silence.

When pressed, I struggle to name my favorite season. For me, the excitement lies in transition: the hushed green blanket of the Dutchman’s breeches spreading across wrinkled layers of leaves; the first bits of human chatter emerging from shuttered cottages near our home; my mother’s favorite shades of gold and orange splashing the dense foliage overhead; the first snowflake to touch my tongue. Nature’s transitions spark restlessness within me, an awareness my time on earth is limited.

And so I wander, camera slung around my neck, searching for treasures.

I am never disappointed.

Powdered Pathways

Beyond Michigan’s miles of frost-fringed shorelines, an array of wooded trails invite traversing winter by foot. Learn more about these Lower Peninsula parks offering designated Nordic ski trails or cross-country skiing as a primary activity at

Warner Creek Pathway
Forbush Corner – East and West Trail System
Hartwick Pines SP Ski/Bike Trail
Mason Tract Pathway
Driggers Memorial Forest
Mt. McSauba Recreation Area
Spring Brook Pathway
Susan Creek Nature Preserve
Young State Park
Birchwood Farms
Petoskey State Park
Wildwood Hills Pathway
Grand Traverse
Lost Lake Pathway
Buttles Road Pathway
Independence Oaks County Park
Otsego Aspen Park Ski Trails
Pine Baron Pathway

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