SPECIAL TO THE STAR JOURNAL
Plans for a festive week of outdoor activities during the holidays took a turn this week as chilly temperatures dominated the Northwoods. It is difficult to work up a lot of enthusiasm for being out-of-doors when temperatures are cold enough that zero degrees seems warm in comparison. That is what we had this past week and, darn it! More cold temps look to prevail in the upcoming days.
Anytime temperatures drop that far, snowfalls of any consequence do not happen. Air that cold is dry and we simply do not see much in the way of snow during periods of cold weather. That has been the case as we are now two weeks out from the last significant snowfalls. Most of what we have on the ground this week is what is left from a good snow storm a few weeks ago. And the simple truth of it is we do need some more snow.
As it stands as we round the yearly corner toward the New Year, all area trails are showing signs of thin snow. Ski trails are generally in fair to good shape going into the weekend and skiers who brave the cold are having a good enough time. But most trails today are showing some wear and tear and sections that were very good a week ago are now showing some bare spots. Still, skiing is decent, not exceptional but worth going out for.
If ski trails are thin, so are the snowmobile trails. As is the case with ski trails, there is simply not enough snow for groomers to work with and many sections of trail are showing signs of stress. Caution is advised and speeds need to reflect the lack of good snow. Do not cross lakes unless trails are clearly marked and open! Lake ice remains an issue and not all lakes are safe to ride on.
This brings us to ice fishing, where anglers have been dealing with sketchy ice all season. There are certain areas and certain lakes where ice is consistent and safe. There are others where it is not. As with any lakes this season caution remains the primary focus. Don’t assume all ice is safe, even in light of recent cold temperatures. The best we can hope for is that the hard cold will make all lakes reasonably safe in the upcoming weeks but we are behind the pace we’d usually expect by late December.
Ice anglers that have gotten out have reported mixed results with some having very good action on walleyes (mostly in the evening), northerns and panfish. But all in all, activity has been slowed due to concerns on ice quality. People simply are not getting out as much as we’d hoped.
As we head into New Year’s week we are in need of more snow to top off all trails and hoping for good ice to form to allow for more lake access. But given lack of snow south of here, we are in decent shape for trail users to get out and enjoy.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.