Monday evening, July 8th:
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!
The bloody wolf kill by Blue Lake Resort provided good, week-long eating for the eagles. Eagles don’t have teeth to pull off chunks of tough beast meat and can’t peck through solid hides so they come in for the feasting after other creatures have ripped the dense and sometimes frozen carcass to shreds.
Thanks to TC for the awesome photos!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone in the BLMA! The 2011 season of festivities kicked off on December 19th with an out of control afternoon baking dozens of cookies – 32 dozen to be exact – and fighting with a disobedient cookie press. With December 22nd came a rollicking winter solstice party. Lodges were decked in silver. Feasts were devoured. Nuns drummed. Blue Lake creaked. Our lake, in step with area lakes, is having a hard time freezing this year with open water sloshing around Picnic Point and The Tunnel. Flimsy conditions, however, didn’t keep snowmobilers off the lake with one particularly audacious machine spotted zipping around on western ice floes.
VISITORS, SNOWMOBILES AND ATVs
Visitors trickled into town for a relatively quiet Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes (or traditional area fish fry) and for an equally quiet Christmas Day. Blue Lake, and Minocqua in general, were very low key over the holiday weekend. Activity picked up around the 27th with festivarians streaming up north following a fairly good powdering of snow. Far more ATVs seem to motor around Blue Lake this year, outnumbering snowmobiles 3 to 1. Although a snowmobile was seen pulling a snowboarder for an exciting ride, ATVs were spied hauling ice fishing gear to-and-fro, plowing ice rinks and tugging sledders on high-speed whirls.
TAJ MAHAL ICE SHACK
Ice fishermen are enjoying incredible Blue Lake catches this year with early anglers snagging tasty Northern Pikes and two lads in what’s been deemed “The Taj Mahal of Ice Shacks” (a tricked out white camper with sleeping quarters) having excellent luck with walleyes.
SKATING RINKS AND BREAKS
An awesome little John Deere tractor with a huge brush attachment on the front from north Blue Lake created nifty ice rinks around the lake. An ice trail curled around the western shores of Blue Lake to ferry skaters from the north shore to the south shore. A Blue Lake business man / environmental philanthropist sustained a terrible ankle break in a freak skating accident while allegedly either participating in a snowball fight with a dog or stepping on uneven ground or a combination of both, and had to be loaded into a pickup truck, transported into an ambulance, and treated at an area hospital.
Temperatures have remained pleasant throughout the holidays with unseasonably warm temperatures and only one night or so of really biting northern winds. Incidentally, the super cold night shared audience with a merry group of seven feasters plus one Blue Lake blogger who embarked on a progressive dinner hitting up three lake houses in succession by either cross-country skiing, walking or hitching a ride, to enjoy appetizers (stuffed mushrooms and brie cheese), an entree (taco soup and cornbread), and dessert (kahlua brownie and heath trifle). The three houses were all dinner participants, well prepared to host the traveling band and most kind to the unannounced arrival of the blogger. Conversation topics included wild animals and cryptozoology.
WOLF KILL AND A PORCUPINE FEAST
Wild woodland creatures ate well this week with huge lobo-looking tracks surrounding a fresh wolf kill on Blue Lake. The wolf kill, a bloodied, mangled deer met its fate very close to a Blue Lake residence earlier this week. Wolves are on the prowl in the Northwoods with a desirous 300-wolf strong population ballooning to 800 statewide. Although many Blue Lakers have seen tracks pressed into the snow, this blogger has only heard the beasts howling on long, dark winter nights. Enormous mountain lion tracks have also been reportedly sighted across the lake. In less freakish news, a huge porcupine enjoyed the delicious cuts of a leftover deer hunt which also attracted the interest of a pair of dogs. The eagles checked out their old nest, flapping about and perching in their twiggy bowl, though it seems as if their minds remain undecided about staying.
NEW YEARS AND GUNS
Stories of big impending New Years Eve parties are a’glitter around the lake. Santa may have brought someone in the southwestern BLMA a gun for Christmas as rapid gun shots echoed through the woods shortly after Christmas. More gunshots – firecrackers – bonfires to ring in 2012 are expected. Here’s to a bright and prosperous New Year for all!
All the folks who’ve been slogging, or in some cases waterskiing, through the cold, dark and dreary days this past week have finally reaped ever-increasing dividends of a generously awesome Blue Lake. Citizens flocked to their gardens on Saturday as the sun shone in the mild early morning hours and continued to shine right on through the rest of the day. Saturday evening was prime lake-enjoying weather with warm temperatures, placid, mirror-like conditions and an ever-lovely sunset. A campfire or two could been seen on the Blue Lake shores, accompanied by the sounding of Canadian Geese and the responding of many loons.
In fact the fauna of Blue Lake has been extra-frisky these days with seven bald eagles circling the lake last week, presumably courting a mate, two loons creating quite a hullabaloo in the west basin for at least 20 minutes yesterday, and two deer frolicking at sunrise on Sunday morning on the southern shore. Sunday continues to increase in both warmth and beauty as morning canoers treated their dog to a boat ride around the lake and mid-afternoon lakeside conditions neared almost h-o-t.
Snowy-time nature seen around Blue Lake:
Photos by TC, used with permission.
In contrast to the increased boating and water-sport activity on Blue Lake over this lovely Labor Day weekend, the aerie has been a mite quiet as the eagles have decided to take mercy upon their eaglet by continuing to baby it and thus dampen its shrieks. Eagles are spectacular fisher-birds and hopefully they will impart a few lessons on self-reliance onto their eaglet.
Eagle in action, earlier this summer:
Photographs courtesy of SK.