Long stretch of warm weather creates a mixed bag outdoors
One would not be out of line to expect that this time in January we’d be coming off a run of sub-zero temperatures and bitter cold day in and day out. Instead a 10 day January thaw settled in and wore down any semblance of a normal month. January thaws are not uncommon; one that lasts as long as this one did, are.
So it is that we enter the last weekend of January with the outdoor scene in flux after days of above freezing highs and too many nights that did not dip below freezing.
Where does this leave us? To start with, we’re in a state of some uncertainty on conditions as we move into the weekend and the week to come. If there is good news to be found it is that we had a good base of snow and for the most part it remains intact after the thaw. The days of hard thaw were mostly cloudy and so exposed areas of snow did not get beaten down as much as they would have under days of sun.
Be that as it may anyone who enjoys snow sports will find altered conditions this weekend compared to 10 days ago. Snowmobile trails are reported to be in good shape overall, a tribute to judicious grooming as well as the good base that we started with. Some areas near roads will be icy and some lakes will have slushy areas away from main trails, a good reason as always to stay on trails. The forecast is not promising for snow but it is for cooler temperatures that will firm up the base and provide decent riding in the short term.
Skiers are up in the air right now as the heavy thaw consolidated trails and in all likelihood loaded them up with more moisture. Now the cold will freeze it all and it’s up to groomers to see what they can do with what they have to work with. As of this report (early Thursday) we are still waiting for word on conditions on the multiple trails in the area as groomers can now get out after days of inactivity due to warm weather.
What we expect for the weekend on most XC trails will be crusty conditions, probably better suited for skate skiing vs. classic. But that may change as groomers work over the trails and the best we can recommend is to check with ski shops on social media for current conditions. They will be changeable in the next days.
Ice fishing remains a mixed bag. The thaw left slush on many lakes in the area that is only now starting to freeze up, making travel an issue for many anglers. This weekend should (and we repeat “should”) freeze a lot of the slush but one never knows until after a few days what will be good and what will remain sketchy. Overall mixed bags with northern pike being pretty active this week even as walleyes are fair at best. Panfish angling is also mixed in what remains a pretty so-so ice season
The Outdoor Report is prepared by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.