Photos by EM.
Quick, before you miss it, it’s SUMMER in Northern Wisconsin. After weeks upon weeks of cold and rainy weather (which I suppose qualifies as “spring” around these parts), impeccably sunshine has finally arrived for July. Camp Agawak is in full-swing now with sounds of lively campers and the hustle and bustle of adolescence resounding from northern Blue Lake. Plenty of folks have their pontoons afloat and the season of sunset cruises has begun. Despite ice-cold waters (a neighbor claims the lake is 72 degrees but I am doubtful), waterskiers and tubers have wasted no time in making the most out of Blue Lake’s unfrozen glory.
Water Flowing Through Outlet
And while summer is here (hopefully to stay), lake residents will notice some interesting effects of a very wet spring. For the first time in about a decade, water is now flowing out of Blue Lake’s outlet. Water began trickling out of the outlet in early June, and now there is a veritable creek carrying Blue Lake’s overflow to swampy pastures, just like the good ol’ days.
An extended winter and super-short spring has also created a puzzle of what berries are going to be ready when. Northwoods locals are reporting blueberry bushes lacking flowers (a bad sign for a delicious crop, or any crop at all) and strawberries just coming into season (a few weeks later than normal). No word yet on raspberries or my favorite fruit, blackberries. I am inclined to think that a cooler season will make apples extra-delicious this fall.
Despite a topsy-turvy season, wildlife has flocked back to Blue Lake. Eagles have once again returned to the aerie above the red boathouse and a new generation of eaglets are a’squawk in the nest. Back in Blue Lake’s waters, a loon has been cruising around the lake carefully carrying its new baby on its back. Check the southern lake shores around dusk to see an otter swimming to and fro.
Lightning Strikes Again
Blue lake’s outlet isn’t the only outlet that’s seen action this past month. A bolt of lightning from a powerful thunderstorm hit a tree on northwest Blue Lake, decimated a power box from a nearby house, blew out all the house’s outlets and singed the house’s curtains. Amazingly, the house still stands, unburned. In another storm in June, lightning hit close to Blue Lake Pines and wreaked havoc on their internet connection. These two lightning strikes are part of at least four (two on Hacker Drive, one on Blue Lake Pines Road, and one on Blue Lake Point Road) that have electrified Blue Lake over the last three years.
Love is in the Air
Fair weather or foul, Blue Lake has once again proven an excellent place to get hitched. Blue Lake Pines hosted a wedding a few weeks ago, which saw a lucky couple serendipitously take advantage of 12 hours of nice skies amongst days of dreariness for an outdoor wedding picnic catered by Charlie’s Cheese. Best wishes to the new couple!
As summer slips on in dazzling greens and blues, keep these dates in mind:
- July 4th – Pontoon Parade @ 11:00 AM (decorate your boat and meet up near the bridge for a parade around the lake.) Special request: Folks on the western part of Blue Lake are interested in seeing the parade too! Don’t zoom by so fast this year so we can appreciate all the great decorations!
- July 6th – BLPA Picnic @ Yawkey Park in Hazelhurst from 4:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Ice out for most of Blue Lake happened late afternoon on May 8, 2013. Here’s a pictorial timeline:
In case you’re wondering how ready the lake is for open-water activities, as of May 10th, barefoot waterskiiers, loons and kayakers have been spotted on the lake. So if you’re not up here already, hurry on up before it freezes again!
Cold and Snowy:
Seriously, Guys, It’s Snowy:
Big snow is still holding strong and measuring at least a foot deep in some spots on Blue Lake as a respectable early month snowfall continues to provide a nice bed for incoming fronts. Very dense and heavy snow fell on the BLMA early this week, coating every branch in the woods in beautiful white. Slick roads and big trucks proved a big jammer Wednesday, with folks attempting to travel down Agawak Road reporting a lumber-laden truck stuck perpendicular to the road and blocking both lanes of traffic. Snowmobiles, skiers and ice fisherman have been spotted around the lake, with one angler reporting that zero catches but a lot of bait steals. Relatively mild temperatures in the 20s and 30s for most of the week have meant lots of wildlife to see, with plenty of plump squirrels and rabbits creating prairie-dog like burrows in the snow.
Heading into the weekend, temperatures plummeted, into minus belows, with winds blowing strong out of the north. People went cross-country skiing. People cried.
Seeing Snow and Making Ice
A respectable snow storm blew through the Blue Lake last week, dumping a few inches of much-anticipated snow on the area and creating a magical winter wonderland just ahead of the Christmas holiday. Snow plow drivers came out in full force for the first plow of the season, and area business owners breathed sighs of relief that at last the bare grounds of Minocqua gave way to tourist-attracting snow banks. Temperatures dipping into overnight zeroes and morning single-digits delighted fishermen who’ve been eagerly waiting for ice thicknesses to reach workable limits to roll those ice shacks out on the lake.
Canine tracks had been spotted prancing about Blue Lake for well over a week, and folks around Blue Lake have reported seeing ice skaters trying out the lake’s ice condition. This morning, I spotted what appeared to be snowmobile tracks and ice fishing holes on the lake. I walked around the southwestern shore and the ice seemed pretty solid. But no matter the thickness, I am still very wary of the late ice over this season and have also seen evidence of warm springs heavily slushing up areas around the lake.
Has anyone been cross-country skiing on the lake yet?
I’m calling it (even though it’ll most likely mean more fake-outs are on the way)… on December 8th, 2012 Blue Lake officially froze for the season! I think the converging signs on the ice are clear… we’ve got lasting ice cover!
I am always surprised by the designs in the ice which seem to vary so much from season to season, and how every day holds such a different portrait of the lake.
I saw an otter swimming between open water and ice flows two days ago, seemingly as warm and happy as an otter can be. I would have liked to have seen ’em shimmy across the ice sheet and hunker down in his landed burrow but he seemed on a mission… to catch a fish perhaps?
Speaking of fish, ’tis the season to watch for bald eagles on the side of roadways. As lakes freeze over blocking access to gilled delights, eagles search for carrion, most often occurring in the form of roadkill. So eagles will flock to the meat, super-focused on filling their gullets that they do dangerous things like fly into the path of oncoming cars and wobble into the road after a hearty gorging. Be sure to watch for creatures, in addition to snow and ice, when you navigate those winter roads!