Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Published 6:50 am Friday, December 25, 2009

As I listened to Bing Crosby crooning “White Christmas” on the radio I started wondering if maybe there could be too much of a good thing. When we have snow at Christmas time the kid in me gets that warm tingling feeling that makes me feel a little nostalgic and brings back memories of Christmas past.

This past Sunday I attended the Christmas programs for all of my grandsons. The first was at Lunder Church where the children and some of the adults of this small country church put on a nice Christmas program. It was snowing pretty good that day and the snow coupled with the program and the singing of Christmas carols gave it a true Christmas feeling.

I then headed to Blue Earth for my grandson Dylan’s program. This was at Trinity Lutheran and the pageant, while on a larger scale, and was very entertaining. The falling snow and the sounds of children singing Christmas music that day really brought some warm thoughts of years past.

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The winter weather we’ve had has hardened the ice on the lakes and brought out fish houses by the numbers. The little village on the channel by Frank Hall Park is filling up rapidly and they seem to keep on coming. I haven’t heard any reports of large numbers of fish being caught, mostly just an occasional one. I did hear about some nice walleye being caught somewhere on Fountain Lake but the “true fisherman” didn’t disclose his source.

I am looking forward to doing a little “hard water” fishing this winter but I have to wonder if too many houses in one area can make the fish a little hard to come by. One fisherman who had a house on the channel a couple of years ago said that the only time he really had any luck was after midnight because there wasn’t much traffic on the ice at that time.

I’d like to head up to our cabin for a few days and try some of the lakes in that area. There are so many lakes to choose from that it sure would be fun to try it out. Somehow being on a secluded lake in the winter seems like it would be a good way to bond with nature and just enjoy being outdoors.

As kids when we walked the local slough there would be critter tracks everywhere and that would spur the imagination. Trying to recognize coon, fox and other critter tracks was part of the fun game that we’d play. Just being outdoors on a mild winter day gives you an exhilarating feeling. I don’t especially want to enjoy bonding with nature on a regular basis while shoveling my driveway but taking a walk at a park or on a trail can be a great experience.

If you want to try something a little different head to one of our many State Parks and do a little cross-country skiing or some snow shoeing. This can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors in the winter and get some good exercise at the same time.

With this in mind the Minnesota DNR has issued the following statement regarding groomed trails.

DNR reminds Minnesota State park visitors not to hike or take pets on groomed ski trails

With fresh snow on the ground and crews busy grooming trails for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, the Department of Natural Resources has a few reminders for visitors about winter trail rules.

Once ski trails have been groomed, with or without a set of tracks, remember:

No pets are allowed on the groomed ski trails. Hikers, snowshoers, and pets are welcome on any park trails except those groomed for cross-country skiing.

Hiking and snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in Minnesota State parks, except on the groomed ski trails and trails posted “closed” for the winter. (Groomed trails quickly deteriorate when people and animals leave their footprints on the trails, detracting from the skiing experience.)

All skiers age 16 and older must carry a current, signed Minnesota Ski Pass with them when skiing in Minnesota State parks.

Skis passes can be purchased three ways:

Daily ski passes ($5) are sold at park offices where staff are available.

Self-registration for one-season ($15) and three-season ($40) ski passes is available at all Minnesota state parks except Carley, George H. Crosby-Manitou, Monson Lake, and Schoolcraft.

Ski passes can be purchased using Minnesota’s electronic license system (ELS), available at nearly 1,800 locations around the state.

To find an ELS location near you, visit “http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/licenses/agents.html “or call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

Many Minnesota state parks rent snowshoes ($6/day), and some rent cross-country skis ($10/day). For a list of parks with rental equipment, as well as a list of parks with trails plowed and packed just for hikers, check out the Winter Activities Guide at “http://www.mnstateparks.info”

The DNR thanks park visitors for following these few rules to ensure a great outdoor experience for all users.

Until next time, use caution on the ice and always take a little time to enjoy our great Minnesota outdoors.

Remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers throughout the coming year.