Where Beauty & Nature intersect

January 2016, Where the woods are still lovely, dark and deep

Cruisin' the Fish Hook RiverWhere the woods are still lovely, dark and deep

As a new year begins, we count our blessings. It’s common for people who live here to tell their friends about their early morning commute: “I saw four white-tailed deer on the Heartland Trail. They just watched the car passing by as they enjoyed a morning walk.” “I heard the coyotes howling last night and I’m glad I live in a place where they’re able to roam.” “I saw a flock of wild turkeys walking through the yard this morning.” “Four bald eagles watched me cross country skiing at Shingobee.” “Did you see the sunrise over the lake this morning?”

Most of us don’t take Mother Nature’s wonders for granted; these encounters surprise and delight us. We’re glad to share them with you any time of the year.

The ice on area lakes is thickening. Some ice houses are out, but caution is still in order. It would be good to check with bait shop owners or neighbors to find out where the ice is safe and the best spots are to snag a fresh catch.

There’s enough snow for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Snowmobilers find hundreds of miles of groomed trails through scenic forests and networked between destinations where there are places to pause for a meal and warm up. Cross-country skiers also can look forward to hit the trails at Soaring Eagle north of Park Rapids, in Itasca State Park and through the Shingobee Recreation Area between Akeley and Walker.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources updates snow and trail conditions in weekly reports posted after 2 p.m. every Thursday at www.dnr.state.mn.us/snow_depth/index.html.

If you time your stay, you can sample one of the following fun winter activities.

Lantern lit skiing/snowshoeing events and naturalist programs are on the winter calendar at Itasca State Park. For details about winter activities in the park, call 218-699-7251 or go to www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/itasca/calendar.html. Every Sunday in January and February, the Itascatur Outdoor Activity Club will host an Open House at the Soaring Eagle Ski Trails from 1 to 4 p.m. The club has ski equipment to introduce you to the great Northwest winter outdoors. Hot cocoa and volunteers will be on hand to help you with the equipment. Soaring Eagle Ski Trails are located 8 miles north of Park Rapids on Highway 71 across from Eagle View Golf Course. Free use of ski equipment; a MN DNR trails pass is required. For more information, go to http://itascatur.org/ski.shtml.

Menahga’s Family Fishing Day on Spirit Lake offers an afternoon of fishing fun Saturday, Jan. 16. There are games and attendance and fishing prizes, too.

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