Watch for Ice!
The bin of Ice Trekkers available for borrow at Bluefin’s front desk might just be your best friend on a hike these days.
These tough contraptions are to your boots what snow tires are to your car in wintry conditions. They fit over footwear with strips of rubber and bite into snow and ice with metal studs.
If the trails are icy, they can help you get a grip, and not worry so much about staying upright.
You’re not going up frozen waterfalls in these things, but they are a nice level of protection when the going is treacherous, just like snow tires help on slick winter roads.
When should you use these things? Do know that conditions up in the hills can be icier than what you see at the shore. This happens because the lake, which is still warmer than 40-degrees at the surface, will sometimes melt off a light snowfall within a mile or so of shore.
The trail up to Oberg Mountain was slick with ice Saturday, but the ground was almost bare at Bluefin Bay. Similarly, the Temperance River Gorge near the shoreline was still easy hiking with very little ice to worry about. The trails along the lower Cascade River were also ice-free on Sunday, though there were spectacular ice formations along the falls.
The Weather Service calls for winter storms this week and that could be a game-changer for which trails are for sneakers and which are for trekkers. Sometimes it might make sense just to bring them along. The things only weigh a few ounces and fit easily in a pack or jacket pocket. They are simple enough to snap on if conditions call for it. On an icy trail, those ounces of caution are better than a pounding fall.