Wednesday, February 19, 2014
COLD FACTS ON ICE SAFETY: A chilling first hand wake up reminder!
|My snowshoe tracks leading from the beaver lodge to my plunge just yards from shore.|
photos by Jonathan Schechter 2/15/2014
Oakland County, Michigan
It happened four days ago. It was a frigidly beautiful day and the third week the temperature had not climbed above the freezing mark. Deep snow added to the drama of the woods and wanderlust fever was running strong and so I set off with my camera to photograph a beaver lodge on the far side of a small lake in a wildland of Oakland County.
Less than 90 minutes after strapping on my snowshoes and walking across the lake to explore the outside of the lodge I had a a bitter cold reminder on my return route across the ice that no ice is guaranteed safe ice.
I was about 10 feet from the far shore - a glacial moraine - when suddenly there was no ice under the snow. I sank to my knees in bitter cold water. I leaned forward, spread my weight and crawled to shore. And of course I turned around to take a photo of my plunge hole.
Without unsettled weather streaming into Oakland County let my experience serve as a reminder that no one can safely judge the strength of ice by its appearance or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on many factors and in this case I failed to notice subtle warning signs there may have been a hidden spring. There was.
Ice that forms over currents or streams or small hillside seeps is always dangerous and the insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process. And as I discovered ice near the shore is often weaker than ice further out.
(But I did get my beaver lodge photo and a cold dash of wild woods ice safety wisdom.)
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Free Fishing Weekend is here: Perfect for kids, no license required!
|photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources|
Winter free fishing weekend has arrived. Children, adults, residents and non-residents alike can
all fish for free without a license in the State of Michigan on Saturday, February 15th and Sunday February 16th. The only stipulation is fishing regulations must be followed and Recreation Passport
is required to enter a Michigan State Park or
State Recreation Area with a vehicle.
This special DNR event occurs twice a year to introduce everyone to the pleasures of fishing.
(The summer free fishing weekend will be June 7th and 8th)
"Michigan is home to many fun and family friendly activities during the cold months and fishing is definitely among the most popular," said DNR director Keith Creagh."Our Winter Free Fishing Weekend is a great time for people to get outdoors and explore the broad range of Pure Michigan fishing opportunities. There is something for everyone -
on your own or with a friend or the family."
Fishing events are scheduled across the State to encourage involvement and many make it easier for children that have never ice fished. Two Oakland County sites with special events are Seven Lakes State Park in Holly Township ( Ice Fishing Derby) and Bald Mountain State Recreation Area in Orion Township has "Into to Ice Fishing" that includes instructions and loan of gear.
For full details on all Free Fishing Weekend events across the state visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing Open the 2014 Official Events Link and look for your county.
Seven Lakes and Bald Mountain even loan ice fishing equipment for this event.
Or be like my young experienced fisher friend Ryan ( below) and find your own lake!
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Groundhogs: Tree-climbing false prophets of winter!
|A tree climbing groundhog, Oakland County, Michigan (late spring 2013) photo J. Schechter|
On Sunday, February 2nd a famous tree-climbing, media-hog of a rodent on the slightly
chubby side with the name of Punxsutawney Phil will be pulled
from his burrow in Pennsylvania
and displayed to cheering crowds and TV cameras and be called
upon to predict the weather.
If Phil casts his shadow legend has it that winter is here to stay for six more weeks.
SECRET FACT: Listen up folks!
Even is there is no shadow spring is a long way away. Groundhogs are still in hibernation
with only four or five heartbeats a minute, a drastic drop from the normal rate of 80-100.
And their body temperature is still hovering just a few degrees above freezing.
Shadow looking on the 2nd? I do not think so!
Any doubt that the groundhog - also known as a woodchuck - is a member of the squirrel family should evaporate with one glance at this young chuck in a tree; a photo I took last spring at the edge of my woods. This well known rodent, also known as a whistle-pig due to its shrill warning call is the largest member of the squirrel family, belonging to the
group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. Many homeowners consider them pests due to their gluttonous habits.
But groundhogs are loved by coyotes, fox and red-tailed hawks---as plump dinner entrees.
Love them or hate them Groundhogs Day is the day nature lovers and city dwellers
take time to salute this creature and celebrate the great winter weather myth~!