Outdoor Report: Waiting for winter
The winter waiting game continues across the north this week and not the wait for Ol’ Saint Nick. No, the more immediate wait is for snow and ice, the two drivers of winter sport in this area. A midweek forecast of a snow storm offered up some hope but this report goes to press before the full impact will be known. The latest indicators, though, showed the major snowfalls going to the south of us. If that is the case, we may have gotten a few inches by the time you read this.
Ice is another issue; we need some hard cold for that and we have not had that. Ice, indeed, continues to form although at a slower pace than anyone would like. By this time in December, we would like to report that all lakes have a good, safe cover of ice. That is not the case today; not even close. There are certainly areas of good ice cover; we’ve heard of six inches or more on some lakes. But far more common is thinner ice or ice of inconsistent quality.
A lot of the larger, deeper lakes froze up late and have not had the cold needed to lock up good ice. Other lakes have springs that retard formation of good ice (time and cold will be needed there). And most of the flowages have some current someplace and ice is always thinner over moving water.
Bottom line: Consider all ice suspect and test it with a chisel. Some lakes will have good ice this weekend; others will not. And the one thing you need to keep in mind is that all ice, thick or thin, looks pretty much the same from above.
Skiing and snowmobiling, the Big Two in snow-related winter sports, were on hold as of mid-week. No snow, no go. Sketchy snow in the past weeks faded to patchy crust in the past days, and skiers and riders both have been suffering.
The best case scenario is for a snowfall by the weekend to cover trails and make some grooming possible. Skiers can make it happen on a few inches; machine operators need more. But once again we are going into a December weekend with a “wait and see” attitude and it is getting tiresome.
In short, we are nearing the Christmas week with very thin prospects for good ice on all lakes.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.