What’s there to do in the adventure hub of UMD?

OK, this is getting a little awkward.

Adam Chenoweth is helping me put on a snowshoe, and I can’t quite figure out how the straps go.

The 21-year-old environmental-and-outdoor-education junior has already put on my left snowshoe for me, and is now guiding me how to put the right one on.

It’s all spaghetti to me. Looks like I have a way to go before I get into the swing of UMD recreation.

Because it’s rugged. Make no mistake: This is an outdoor recreation campus.

Do I have to tie your shoes for you, dude? (MPR / Alex Friedrich)

Chenoweth, classmate Taylor Moore and I are stamping around the Bagley Nature Area — 55 acres of forest, pond and open nature owned by the university. That includes a 1.5-mile trail for cross country skiing.

Seriously. On campus.

More than 90 percent of students participate in recreational activities, and with Lake Superior and the woods so close, they have their pick of sports: rock climbing, kayaking, surfing on the lake — the list goes on.

Fish and game aren’t left out. UMD also has a Ducks Unlimited Club, for example, and a Bassmasters of Duluth. Students have been known to fish in the university’s campus trout stream, and UMD even has its own pro bass fisherman in communication student Aaron Teal.

Chenoweth and Moore tell me: Duluth is one of the best “outdoor” cities in the country. Or leave it to Outside magazine, which last year put Duluth second in the world — behind Kununurra, Australia, no less — as an adventure hub.

Just another day in class. (MPR / Alex Friedrich)

It needn’t be hardcore, though. It’s just part of everyday campus life. Chenoweth says the university has several dozen pairs of snowshoes and skis that students and faculty can rent. And many do that on weekends or between classes.

On our way back we run into instructor Danny Frank, who has just returned from teaching a P.E. class in cross-country skiing. He’ll even take some time out on occasion to hit the ski trails between classes.

So what does Duluth have that makes this possible?

“We have consistent snow pack.”