Barely a dusting of snow covers the ground here in Grand Forks, but winter seems to have arrived in full force just a couple of hours away.
I made a trek to the getaway in northwest Minnesota over the weekend and was surprised at the amount of snow I encountered. There seems to be a line that begins somewhere west of Karlstad, Minn., and from that point east, the ground was covered with at least 3 inches of snow on the level — that’s just a rough guess; there could be more — everywhere except plowed fields.
Saturday afternoon, friend and frequent fishing partner Brad Durick of Grand Forks and his 5-year-old son, Braden, joined me for an overnight stay. There was nothing particular on the agenda except a big campfire, but with the amount of snow on the ground, I couldn’t resist the temptation to fire up the snowmobile and take it for a spin.
Braden and I made a couple of laps around a snow-covered field, and I had to laugh when we pulled back into the yard, and Braden exclaimed, “That was the best ride of my life!”
This kid obviously is easy to please.
The mercury again has risen back above freezing — at least during the day — but the abrupt cooldown that took place last week has resulted in a drastic change to the countryside, even in areas where snow hasn’t fallen. Wetlands are frozen, ice is forming along the edges of rivers across the region and it won’t be long, at this rate, before anglers begin taking the first tentative steps on the hard water of smaller lakes.
Anglers who are especially brave may have tried walking out in a few places already, though it’s not something I would recommend.
Nature’s calendar is behind schedule compared with last year, when cold temperatures arrived unusually early. Last year, we ventured onto frozen Lake Laretta near Michigan, N.D., before Thanksgiving and found 10 inches of solid ice.
This year, I don’t anticipate getting out on the ice for at least another week, and that’s fine by me.
I’m not a big fan of winter driving, especially when it means traveling icy roads, but I do hope this winter brings more snow than last year. If we’re going to have winter — and that’s inevitable here in the Northland — we might as well have enough snow to enjoy snowmobiling, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, which is one of my favorite forms of winter exercise.
Despite its early arrival, last winter was a disappointment for everything but ice fishing.
This year’s extended fall no doubt was a treat, but I’m ready for winter. About as ready as I can be, at least.