The sun brings some heat with it now; late afternoons under cloudless skies can see temperatures rise and put snow at risk. That’s normal for late February and a clear indication that snow and winter will not last forever.
We got a reminder on that last week as a few warm days did some quick damage to snow conditions across the north. We had a good enough base that we came out mostly unscathed but it was a wake-up call for snow sport enthusiasts. Now, as the calendar is about to turn a page and March looms, change is certain. We may have snow for a week or two; we may have it for another month. Come March, nothing is certain.
For this week we’re okay. Snowmobile trails are in fair to good condition with the “fair” being in corners and in areas exposed to the sun. This may change; Thursday’s forecast calls for possible snow. If we get that we’ll breathe easier. If not we will grow a bit uneasy about long-term prospects. For now, it’s decent riding.
A lot of attention in the ski world will be on the Birkebeiner and Korteloppet races in the Cable/Hayward area west of us. There skiers should find very good trail conditions. They’ll need them with a total entry field of all the races exceeding 10,000. Only a year ago the race was cancelled as thaw conditions took the course to dirt. Now the snow is good and skiing should be fine.
Those same conditions should, more or less, be true here as well. A bit of drizzle on Monday should be a minor factor that groomers should take care of. And if we get those few inches of snow on Thursday it’ll be bonus time. But for now we should have some very good skiing.
Ice fishing continues with game fish being legal to the first Sunday in March. Needless to say we’re close to that. The past weekend was a good one with northerns and walleyes both being active. Expect that pattern to hold into this week barring any major change in weather. Ice quality is generally good and fish have been more active. Panfish have been so-so but the time for the best panfish season lies in the next 30 days.
February has been a decent month, all things considered. What will March bring? Well, certainly a move toward springtime. The sun will continue its rise higher and will bring a greater chance for serious thaw. Maple sap will begin to run. The seasons will change. For now, winter holds on but don’t wait to enjoy it; it will not last forever.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.