Visions of a white Christmas took a turn in the right direction this week when a midweek storm brought 6 inches or more to the region. Totals vary, but by Wednesday afternoon it was safe to say that the Northwoods of Wisconsin was covered in a good layer of new snow. As a bonus, that snow fell over ground that was frozen hard, guaranteeing that the snow will stick around for a while.
All of this is good news for those who like a white Christmas, but more for those who like to ski, snowshoe and snowmobile through the winter. Their season is now! As of this report, early Thursday, the trails at Northwoods Nordic are ready to go. We expect others to follow.
Snowmobiling is a different story, needing more snow and good lake ice for a full opening of any trails. As with ski trails, this is a moving situation as groomers work to get the new snow packed and trails ready. The best is that we have a good base this weekend and some trails, especially in the northern area, may see some sections open. But watch the news as it develops this weekend.
If the snow set up skiing and snowmobiling, it brought a step back for ice fishing as heavy new snow over marginal ice is a bad combination. As we went into this past week ice conditions were, at best, variable. But the warm weather of a week ago did some major damage and that, combined with steady winds, kept many lakes open. Early this week we had reports of poor ice conditions on many lakes and the snow will do nothing to improve that.
Our typical early season ice caution remains. Consider all ice to be suspect and test ice thickness frequently if you walk out on it. Based on what we’ve been hearing, there are a lot of lakes that are ice covered but still not ready for safe fishing.
The good news is we have snow and that opens up winter recreation for a lot of people. Plus, finally, December with new snow looks like a Wisconsin December should look!
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.