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Early Snow has Sports Fans Excited

November 13, 2014

Antigo Daily Journal

Antigo Daily Journal

The storm cleanup largely done—for now—so its time for winter fun to begin.

Antigo’s 10 inches of snowfall Monday and Tuesday have people eager to hit the slopes and the trails, and there are some early season opportunities.

For downhill skiers. Granite Peak at Rib Mountain will open Saturday with a limited number of runs. Snow-making equipment is augmenting the eight inches that fell on the Wausau area.

To the north, Ski Brule at Iron River, Mich. will be open Friday through Sunday, with daily hours starting after Nov. 21.

And for cross-country ski enthusiasts, Minocqua Winter Park will have 10 kilometers of trails packed and tracked for skiing Friday through Sunday for some early-season action. The complex will then close its doors until the end of the month.

Closer to home, sports enthusiasts will have to wait a bit.

The snow came before the ground was frozen and that will hamper efforts to get snowmobile trails in shape anytime soon.

“It’s important to get a good base down,” Eric Rantala, Langlade County’s forest administrator, said. “The clubs will be out working and they are concerned about the lack of frost in the ground, especially through the swamps.”

Rantala added that public lands are heavily used during hunting season.

“Nothing will be happening as far as trail openings until after deer season,” he said, suggesting an early-December date is likely.

Kettlebowl ski hill is also quiet, and will likely remain so until the Christmas holiday.

“It takes a lot of snow,” Gordie Schofield of the Langlade County Ski Club said. “Once you get it all packed down, there’s only an inch or so.”

And with Kettlebowl relying on an all-volunteer corps, its unlikely enough workers could be rustled up before Christmas even if there was adequate snowfall, he added.

“If we should happen to have tremendous amount of snow, we may open for a weekend before Christmas,” Schofield said. “But that’s very unlikely.”

At Jack Lake, caretaker Tom Lazers said he will begin packing the cross-country ski trail next week, but he expects lots of foot traffic through the area through the end of the month as deer hunters hit the woods.

Similar situation exists at Gartzke Flowage and Moccasin Lake.

But real winter enthusiasts aren’t waiting for groomed tracks. Bushwhackers on skis and snowshoes are finding plenty of opportunities to enjoy the woods.

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