Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 84
Winter weather fizzled out on Christmas, then drizzled out on New Year’s, so it was kind of a washout holiday week with lots of clouds and not much snow. It was good X-country skiing for a couple days, then that also got washed out with a crust on the snow; now that makes it extremely fast on the hills for most skiers. If you fall, there isn’t much cushion except frozen ground. I’ve been trucking around checking traps and getting a few beavers and otters. I’ve taken a few beavers where they had flooded the trails. With the on and off cold nights, the ice on most lakes is very hairy to walk on. You could have trolled on Limekiln Lake off the boat launch for about four days and it still isn’t safe there. I saw where one party tried to go out on the ice, but didn’t get much further than six feet… and wet feet to boot.
I took a little swim in one of the beaver ponds as I stepped on a sideways stick under the water and went down on my right side into the spring run. It was only six inches of water with a foot deep of mud below and a little nippy to say the least. I was back up quickly, but filled one boot and saved getting my camera and wallet wet. It was a cool mile walk to the truck and a hot shower at home felt rather good. I told Karen I smelled just like the pond mud for two days, but it eventually wore off.
There were a few ice fishermen out on Fourth Lake over the weekend, but I didn’t go out and visit with them, as you probably wouldn’t want to stand too close to the next person out on that skinny ice.
An elderly lady drove right off the boat ramp on the Vermont side of the Champlain Bridge. She was out onto the ice until her car went through and she drowned. I don’t know how she got out that far without going through right off the ramp. So check ice conditions before getting on any lake or pond. There were a couple snowmobiles that went through a beaver pond near a trail in Lewis County and two adults and three children were rescued by passing snowmobilers.
I know we have been penned up with the COVID-19 virus all around us, but don’t be stupid and forget when you are out and about that there are others using the snowmobile, downhill and x-country trail systems in the area. I know that most of the new snowmobiles will go 100 MPH out of the box, but that’s made for races and not out on the trails. Your car will also go 100 MPH, but you don’t do that out on the highways, or I hope you don’t.
A bald eagle has taken up residence here and visits most every day, as I catch it on my trail camera, even when I’m not here. My Cardinal and White Throated Sparrow have moved on during some of the breaks in the weather, but a few Evening Grosbeaks keep stopping by for a snack. I did have four Common Redpolls stop by for a few days and then they moved on. Out on my hikes in the woods it is almost silent with bird calls. A Raven now and then will be upset with me being out there, and in my two- mile hike yesterday, I saw one Black-Capped Chickadee and flushed two Ruffed Grouse.
The duck count for NYS will be next weekend and we plan on doing Lake Champlain on Saturday, with five teams along the western shoreline. Even though it’s been so mild so far this winter, it usually hits zero with a strong wind blowing on duck count day, so we’ll see how that goes. Most of the lake is still open, but that could change this week. I know there are still some ducks in the Inlet Channel, which I catch there every year. A few years back, locals were feeding almost two hundred ducks in the channel.
There has been an otter feeding in the open water of Fifth Lake and right by the road seems to be the best fishing. I’ve also seen a family of otters fishing through a hole in the ice on one of the beaver ponds I pass in my travels.
With the COVID-19 virus still hovering all around us please wear your mask and avoid social gatherings. The highly contagious strain has been detected in Saratoga Springs and that’s only a two-hour car ride away. If you get a chance to get the vaccine shots, take it, as it may save your life and it’s the only way this will be finally controlled. I can still remember lining up to get the polio vaccine in the cafeteria of the Ballston Spa High School in ninth grade. I saw a couple students pass out that day and I had never seen that before. They were alright, just simply scared to get the shots, I guess. The summer before, we were playing with some friends down the road and their dad had polio and he was in a wheelchair. Not knowing if he could spread the disease, my dad whipped our butts and told us we couldn’t go to that home again. This virus is more deadly than that, so treat it that way as it can kill you.
The new President is just about in office, but that’s another story. See ya,