The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Hardy snowshoers brave cold for Hygge Hike


January 28, 2019

Steve Newman/Daily Globe

Snowshoers prepare to take to the trails Saturday afternoon in Montreal as part of the Hygge Snowshoe Hike through the Montreal ski trails.


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MONTREAL, Wis. - In spite of the cold temperatures of the weekend, a full support crew and a few strong souls ventured out on a sunny but cold Saturday afternoon to snowshoe the trails around Montreal for the first Hygge (pronounced HOO-ga) hike. The word "Hygge" is a Danish word that describes "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being," the New Yorker reports. This is the idea behind the event, a fun time to exercise and enjoy the company of others. The hike was sponsored by the Hurley Chamber of Commerce, Iron County UW-Extension and area volunteers. Proceeds from the event benefitted the Penokee Rangers, a small volunteer group that maintains the trail system around Montreal.

The hike started at the trailhead behind Rose Wreath, and continued 1.5 miles through the woods around Montreal on well-groomed trails cared for by the Rangers. Ken Saari was driving the shuttle from the Montreal City Hall to the area where the hike would start. He and other volunteers met at the city hall building where the group had provided soup and hot drinks. In addition to the shuttle, there were volunteers at the trailhead keeping a campfire going, along with a larger fire out along the trail for participants to warm themselves.

According to Neil Martinko, a group from the Hurley Chamber originated the idea and worked with area groups to get the event going. UW-Extension brought sets of snowshoes to the event for those who needed to borrow a pair. The Penokee Rangers is responsible for trail grooming in the area, and is seeking resources to continue to do the work as needed. The trails are strictly for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, along with walking and mountain biking during the spring, summer and fall months.

The groomer, a John Deere Gator outfitted with tracks that runs a groomer track behind it, is manned by veterans Charlie Zinsmaster and Duane (Redrod) Gulan. Gulan climbed aboard the groomer to deliver firewood to the stations where there were warming fires and made sure the trails were ready. He explained that he has been helping maintain and groom the trails for the last 10 years, but that Zinsmaster has been doing the job for many more years. Gulan moved back to the area after many years of working in the Twin Cities and loves being back in the area. He said that he cross-country skis regularly on the trail and that he and Charlie groom the trails on an "as-needed" basis. "We let the storm to blow through, then Charlie calls me and asks 'What do you think?' and then we go out and groom the trails as a pastime." According to Gulan, the users of the trail like it for skiing and snowshoeing because "it's flat," and is a lower level of difficulty with hills.

Like the Penokee Rangers, the trail is possible because the landowners of the area volunteer to let the trail run through their acreage. Gerry Nasi, a Montreal resident, allows the trail to go through his land, along with 4-5 others in the area. The hope of the group is for their Montreal trails to be tied in with other trail efforts in the area to give more people the opportunity to use the well-maintained trails.


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