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Monthly Archives: February 2013

A few weeks ago I stopped at Bond Falls on my way back from a ski trip to the U.P..I was hesitant to stop because it was overcast and snowing hard but I was in the area so I drove off the main road over to Bond Falls. It was beautiful with all of the fresh snow and the snow continuing to fall. I didn’t bring my tripod so all of the photographs were freehand shots. This was my first visit to the falls in the winter when the weather was overcast. Normally the bright sunshine breaks through the clouds just about the time I arrive at the falls. The conditions were such that I thought black and white photography would be the best way to show off the falls.

More photos from Bond Falls can be found on my website.

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I recently headed out onto the ice of Lake Menomin to photograph some of the ice Shacks that can be found on the lake. This year there were more ice shacks than normal out on the lake. they ranged from the simple clamshell to those with TV and Heat. Some of them are built from scratch and others are purchased from dealers who sell fancy ice shacks with wheels. these shacks can be hauled out onto the ice but moved to another location or lake with relative ease. You will notice that many of the ice shacks contain an name, address and phone number on the door or window. This is a state requirement so the person can be notified contacted by the DNR.

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Every once in a while I see where people have drawn faces in the sand or snow. Sometimes I see them in other objects as well. Generally I take a photo of them as a break from my normal landscape photography.

My favorite is a face in the sand that I found at the beach in Porcupine Wilderness State Park. I had driven past a picnic table earlier in the day and there was a family with some younger kids having a picnic. When I returned later I happened to see that they had made a face in the sand.

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This past summer I found this face as part of a balloon at the Balloon Rally and Glow in Wausau, Wisconsin.

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Several weeks ago I was at Devil’s Punchbowl near Menomonie, Wisconsin and Noticed that someone had drawn faces in a light dusting of snow on the ice below the ice fall.

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Just about every time we Ski at Swedetown I notice that someone hads drawn a face in the snow that accumulates on the many stumps along the ski trails. This was from a couple of weeks ago.

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Duluth Fireworks from last summer.

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My wife and I were walking along the Duluth Lake Walk when we noticed these binoculars. Ice had filled in the bottom of the unit making it look like someone with a beard.

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This winter for the first time I’ve been able to photograph the Northern Shrike. I’ve glimpsed them several times over the years but have never been able to get a photograph. Last week I happened to be photographing other birds when I noticed a strange bird out by my feeders. It  turned out to be a Northern Shrike. I tried to maneuver my camera around so I could get a photograph but the shrike saw the movement and took off. A little while later it returned and I was able to get a few shots. The day before I just caught a brief glimpse of it taking a Black-capped Chickadee.

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When I drive through Cornucopia, Wisconsin I usually stop at the beach to take photos of the retired fishing boats that are on display. I’ve noticed over the years that the boats are succumbing to the adverse weather along the shore of Lake Superior. They have definitely seen better days.

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This winter I’ve notice an unusual number of ice fishing shacks on Lake Menomin in Menomonie, Wisconsin. I had been thinking for some time that I should get out and take some photographs of the activities. This past weekend there was a fishing contest so there was a little more activity than usual on the lake. In addition, we were scheduled to get a big storm the next day so everyone was trying to get their fishing in before the storm hit.

For those of you who don’t live in the northern climates, ice fishing is a major sport in the winter. Usually in early December the ice on the lakes freezes and once the ice is thick enough to support a fisherman’s weight people head out for the fishing season. When it first starts and the ice is thin fishermen usually fish without a shelter or used a portable canvas shelter. As the ice thickens they move their ice shacks out onto the ice creating large villages out on the lake.

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As I walked out onto the lake the first thing I encountered was the Lions Clunker that is parked out on the ice each winter. The local Lions Club holds a raffle each year with participants  attempting to guess when the car will fall through the ice. On person closest to the day and time wins a prize. People have tried to put salt around the car so the ice would melt quicker. One time someone tried to use dynamite to make the car go down.

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Fish-Lake-Menomin-13-2-_1049Fish-Lake-Menomin-13-2-_1015As I walked among the Fishermen it was clear that fishing was very slow. I only found a few people with fish. One fisherman had some small sunfish and croppies. Another fisherman had a perch but it wasn’t much bigger than the bait fish in the bucket.

Ice-Fishing-Lake-Menomin-13-2-_1016Tip-up-Lake-Menomin-13-2-_1033I can tell you from personal experience on of the great thrills of fishing is waiting for the flag on the tip up to go up. You never know what is going to be on the other end on the line. Hear a couple of fellows are checking their line. The tip up is marked with a cone so others out driving on the ice don’t run over it.

Ice-Fishing--Lake-Menomin-13-2-_1047Ice-Fishing--Lake-Menomin-13-2-_1044As I was walking along taking photos someone hollered to me that there was a great picture just around the corner. I was anticipating a fisherman with a large catch but it turned out to be a happy group of young people that just wanted their picture taken. I obliged them after they stumbled out of the tent. When I asked them where the fish were they mumbled something about not having a line in the water. As I walked around the tent I saw why they were so happy and what the main activity of the day was.

In order to fish on the ice you need to drill a hole in the ice. Most people use power augers so they can drill a lot of holes quickly. Unfortunately these fellows just had a manual powered auger and it looks like the ice was fairly deep.

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Ice fishing up north is frequently a family affair. When the fish aren’t biting the kids need to be entertained so a sled ride was in order.

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Not everyone can afford a fishing shack. Some folks just head out to the lake with their lawn chairs. Just another day at the beach only they are on ice and the temperature is in the teens.

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This photo of a small lake taken during the fall color season. It was taken near Lac Du Flambeau in Vilas County Wisconsin. It is one of the photos featured on the cover of the 2013 Mid-Wisconsin Bank Calendar.

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I thought all of my windows were in good shape but it turns out I have some failed seals. This is the first time in a number of years that we have had temperatures below zero. As soon as the temperatures reached below zero I noticed significant frost on the window. I’ll wait until spring to get them fixed but in the meantime I’m taking advantage of the problem and doing a little frost photography.

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It’s been a tough winter for cross country skiing. Things looked promising in December when we received 18 inches of snow. The trails were groomed and it looked like it was going to be a great season. Then the weather turned warm and it rained. If we can’t ski around here we normally go up to the U.P. of Michigan. Things were off to a slow start up there as well. They had some nice snow early in the season but was also followed by warm weather and rain. It wasn’t until mid January that the snow really started falling. We decided that this might be a good time to head to the U.P. for some skiing before it rained again or the winter was over.

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Our first stop was ABR Ski Trails in Ironwood Michigan. ABR has the most extensive trail system in the western U.P. While we were purchasing our tickets I notice all of the grooming equipment parked by the chalet. ABR is known for its grooming and sells and tests equipment as well as offering training for other groomers. They seem to have a little of everything.

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We had skied ABR a few weeks earlier but really noticed the difference in the amount of snow on the ground. I was a mostly overcast day but the snow was probably the best we have seen it since we skied the area after a three foot snowfall.

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The next morning was a beautiful day but looked like it was going to be warm. We headed over to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State park to check on conditions. We have skied the Porkies trails several times and usually found them challenging. We typically ski the outer loop and several times have found the trails to be very icy at the lower elevations. Another time there had been strong winds the night before and the trails were littered with debris. As we started out there was a beautiful deep blue ski and not a cloud to be seen.

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A couple of days before the Porkies had received some nice fresh snow and the ranger indicated the groomer was out finishing up grooming the trails. It was starting to get warm and it turned out it reached the mid 30’s by the end of the day.

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The warm weather made for some challenging skiing. Our wax was grabbing even at the start of the day. As we skied the trail we encountered an increasing amount of debris falling from the trees.  Large clumps of heavy wed snow were falling from the trees onto the trail making it difficult to stay in the ski tracks. In addition, large branches were also coming down with the snow. It was a challenge to avoid being hit by falling debris and avoid the large snow clumps on the trail.

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The next day we skied the Swedetown Ski Trails in Calumet, Michigan. Again it was a little warm and the glide was not a good as we would have liked. It was snowing out a bit so there was several inches of fresh snow on the trail. Swedetown always has some of the best snowfall in the U.P.

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Because the winds were supposed to pick up later in the day we decided to ski the trails that were the most open during the morning. After skiing for several hours we took a hot chocolate break at mid day.

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In the afternoon we skied the Back Country Trail. This is our favorite trail to ski. It is packed occasionally and our preference it to ski it with 4-5 inches of fresh snow on it to get more of a back country feel. On this particular day it only had a few inches of fresh snow and another skier had skied part of it. We also encountered an unusual amount of brush at the start of the trail and more debris on the trail than we had on earlier trips.

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While we had some challenging skiing on this trip it was finally great to get out and get some skiing in.

It’s been almost three years since I’ve seen a White-breasted Nuthatch at my bird feeders. This winter they have returned and I’ve been able to get a few photos of them at my feeder. It is always nice to find a different bird at my feeders.

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