By John Matonich
Almost time to take the tree down and put the decorations away. This isn’t a bad thing because up here it usually means the weather has been wintery enough to let the games begin. Nope, I don’t mean the Winter Olympics which are on their way, but all the winter outdoor activities that are just about ready to be in full swing.
Our ski hills are open. The snowmobile trails are being groomed as I write, and I have seen a few ice shacks out on the lake. Winter recreation has begun, for sure.
We wait for it all year up here.
I worked at one of our local ski hills a very long time ago and enjoyed getting to meet folks who saved for an entire year to take their family to a resort and ski for a week. The hills around this area are some of the best in the Midwest and attract folks from all over. When I was still in school, skiing was the king outdoor activity, that is until snowmobiles got popular.
Today, depending on snow conditions we may have a couple of thousand snowmobiles in the area at any one time. It isn’t unusual for my bride and I to see 500 machines in a day travel past our place on the ice on the lake. Lake Gogebic is a pretty big ice rink when frozen and can handle a lot of machines zipping back and forth enjoying the day. The trail system in and around the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula is very well done and provides a great opportunity to see the area from a different perspective. I know a number of folks who have traveled around the complete interior of the U.P. and never had to put their machine on a trailer – only at the place the journey began and ended.
When I was a kid, my dad and I liked to hunt snowshoe rabbits this time of year. It usually required us wearing snowshoes which did a lot to help you move around in deep snow but wasn’t a big advantage when it came to the hunt. I spent a lot of time face deep in snow, but no matter how we did on the hunt, it was a great time to be in the woods.
I never had the opportunity to ice fish very much growing up, but I am really hoping to change that this year. Living on a lake that attracts a number of ice fishermen, I think it would be foolish to not saddle up alongside one of my ice shack buddies and see if I can’t get a few pointers. It may cost a couple of 30 packs of Busch Lite, but it would be money well spent and what could be better than a cold beer on a cold day sitting in a warm ice shack waiting for a walleye or two. Looks like Old Man Winter is here and certainly not too soon.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate livin’ amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.
Image credit: lariliikala