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Winter came to a sudden halt in northern Wisconsin at the Blue Hills Trail

28 Feb

The roller coaster winter of 2016-17 came to a very early end during the last two weeks of February. Preceded by fluctuating cycles of cold/warm temperatures and snow/rain precipitation, this winter included three major warm rain events that took their toll on the cross country ski trails. When considering the overall snow total was very low, it’s amazing that the skiing was often very good during December-January-February.

Our last day of serious grooming was February 19 when conditions were still bordering on excellent despite a very thin base. Skiers were giddy with excitement after enjoying the fun skate skiing conditions over the previous several days. The next day it rained 1″ and along with several days of warm temperatures, this destroyed the thin base on the trails.

A 2.5″ damp snowfall on February 24 (the day prior to the Birkie) allowed one last attempt at grooming – but there wasn’t enough residual base to make the attempted grooming worthwhile. Up in Hayward, the Birkie was canceled and switched to a short foot race. Here at the Blue Hills Trail, we enjoyed some residual skiing on rock skis, then switched to use of the snowshoe trails to enjoy the little bit of winter that hung around.

This was the earliest end to winter that we recall since our organization started in 1987. We hope next winter repays us with snow and persistent cold, good skiing and snowshoeing.

Recent comments from the logbook in the warming house are included in the picture gallery that follows. Find comments from Wisconsin (Cameron, Holmen, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Ladysmith, Madison, Milwaukee, Prairie Farm, Rice Lake), Michigan (Marquette), Minnesota (Duluth) …

How to view images: To see larger versions of the thumbnail photos, view each picture individually by clicking on the thumbnail; or you can “show as slideshow” by clicking the link above the images. To move quickly through the slideshow click the photos themselves. For either option, if you want to save the image for yourself, simply right click the full size image to obtain the original; higher quality images are available by contacting our website.  To avoid copyright infringement, reprints must credit the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc.


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