The weather continues a roller coaster ride: Temps early this weekend will be moderate before an ugly plunge on Monday. This winter is not one for the faint hearted. Starting in November’s deer season and continuing now into the new year, this winter is for real.
The implications of the bitter cold are evident; on the good side, lakes are frozen hard and low-lying swamps are firm enough to support snowmobiles. On the downside, it is difficult for many to get very enthused about being outside when temps are on the down side of zero.
The challenge of dealing with the cold is a significant one in any winter, more so this time around as we continue to get more and more sub-zero temperatures. Add some wind to below zero temps and you have genuine concerns. While dealing with those temperatures would take more time than we have here, a few pointers might help.
Exposed skin: cover it. Face masks, balaclavas, scarves all help. We use a product called Dermatone, a petroleum-based skin cream to help protect exposed cheeks and noses while skiing. The key is to use a non-water based cream as any moisture in a cream will freeze. Hats, neck gaiters and earmuffs help a lot and adding more thin layers of clothing is essential. Skiers need to pick trails that are sheltered from the wind. And keep in mind that the cold snow is very dry and abrasive; skis do not glide well on that snow and it’s far more effort to make the move.
Ice anglers have the advantage being able to take portable shelters (or use semi-permanent ones) as well as heaters. For that they are fortunate. But good gloves and boots are essential.
Snowmobilers need the same extra layers that skiers do, topped off by a thick outer parka and pants. And all outdoor recreationalists should be cautious. It’s best to leave word with others on where you’ll be, how long you expect to be out, and to carry a cell phone in case you need help.
The New Year brings hard snow and cold temps. We could use some more snow to freshen trails but good snowfall rarely comes in the cold, dry weather. Ski and snowmobile trails are holding up well and good grooming makes things so much better.
Fishing has been good but limited by cold weather. We’ve seen fluctuations in fish activity; good one day, poor the next. That is not unusual and is often a factor of weather changes and weather fronts. Overall, walleyes have been so-so with panfish good to very good at times. Again though, it has been inconsistent.
There is no reason to expect the cold to lift; January usually is the cold month. That leaves people with two choices; stay inside and avoid the cold, or dress for it and get out and enjoy the snow. That choice is yours.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.