TRAIL REPORT: All ski trails open.
Trails were compacted a number of times during the recent snow event and we probably have the best ski snow conditions of
2016. Some areas may have an additional dusting of snow or drifting
since grooming. The classic diagonal ski track has been set. Snow on
portions of trail may still be a soft but very ski-able.
Winter is here, Ski trails are now only open for skiing. All others use
Multi-use trails, watch for signs.
Multi-use trails are open for all uses which include hiking,
snowshoeing, winter biking and ski. Many of the multi-use trails have
been packed and leveled to make travel easier.
The Ida Bay trail system is open for all uses but no machine grooming or
tracking will be done on the trails. Parking area at Ida Bay is not plowed.
SKI FOR FREE coming soon.
At one of the holiday events at Crossroads, we were playing our treasured CD “A Door County Christmas.” My favorite song is Fred Alley’s haunting rendition of the carol “In the Bleak Midwinter “.
“In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan.
Earth was hard as iron,
Water like a stone.”
In Door County, midwinter can be very bleak, and when the soil is frozen the the earth is hard as iron and water is like a stone.
Last week, I wrote that Christmas trees can stay fresh if the tree is able to absorb water. That also is true of live evergreens.
The needles of pine, spruce and fir actually are leaves and because they are evergreen, they continue to function on warm and sunny days. But on warm and sunny winter days, if water evaporates from the needles, the moisture cannot be replaced when the soil is frozen. This leads to a condition called winter browning or winter desiccation (drying out). Needles get brown and brittle, especially on the west and south-facing sides (where sunlight is strongest.)
Unfortunately, young ornamental plantings are more likely to experience winter browning than forest trees, especially if they are exposed to the wind or if they are planted next to light-colored buildings which reflect sunlight and warmth.
Reference material warn that winter browning is more likely in years when a warm fall is followed by sudden drop in temperature in early winter. (Hummm….that sound ominous, but the good news is that this was a wet fall so our trees should be well hydrated.)
And evergreens do survive and even thrive in our area, so they must have adaptations to help them. For example, needles are slender. Because they have small surface areas, moisture loss is kept to a minimum.
Needles also are coated with a waxy substance which retards evaporation. The coating also works as a non-stick coating when, as depicted in the carol, “snow is falling snow on snow.” Because heavy accumulations slip from the needles, evergreen branches are less likely to break.
Amazingly, needles are able to absorb some moisture and even minerals from clouds and fog, but still, winter can be extremely hard on evergreens and it’s not the bleak overcast days that really hurt. It’s those glorious intense-blue sky days which cause winter browning.
No matter how bleak a winter day may be, watching birds can lift the spirits. Crossroads is in the process of developing new bird feeding stations. The ones we have now are temporary as we experiment with placement and styles. But unless it is windy, birds, in surprising numbers and variety, are coming to the new feeding areas around the Collins Learning Center. So on December 17. we will participate in the Annual Christmas Bird Count. While in other years, we have been out in the preserve counting birds, this year Crossroads will host a Feeder Count so participants will observe birds from the warmth of the learning center between 9:00 and 4:30. Drop in for a few minutes or stay as long as you want. The more eyes, the better.
The Monday Movie at 2:00 on December 19 will be Wisconsin Public Television’s “Wisconsin Hometown Stories-Door County.” This stunning documentary already has aired several time on television, but it’s fun to see it on the big screen. The program is free and open to the public.
Crossroads at Big Creek , which includes the Big Creek, The Cove, and the Ida Bay preserves, welcomes visitors of all ages to experience-based programs in science, history, and the environment. The Collins Learning Center, located at 2041 Michigan just east of the roundabout in Sturgeon Bay, is open 2:00-4;00 daily and during scheduled activities. The trails are of our three preserves are always open.
Thursday, December 15
6:30 Volunteer Training Ski –For-Free
Hands-on training will be provided to assist volunteers in outfitting visitors with cross country skis and snowshoes for use on Crossroad’s five mile trail system. Volunteer commitment time is flexible. To register, call Gretchen at 920-493-0090 or Coggin at Crossroads at 746-5895. Sponsored by Friends of Crossroads and Door County Silent Sports. Meet at the Collins Learning Center.
Saturday, December 17 9:00-4:30 Christmas Bird Count
While in other years, we have been out in the preserve counting birds, this year Crossroads will host a Feeder Count, and participants will observe birds from the warmth of the learning center between 9:00 and 4:30. Drop in for a few minutes or stay as long as you want. The more eyes, the better. Meet in the Entry Level of the Collins Learning Center.
Monday, December 19
2:00 Monday Movie: Wisconsin Hometown Stories-Door County
This stunning documentary already has aired several time on television, but it’s fun to see it on the big screen. The program is free and open to the public.