January 21, 2020

Cure cabin fever with outdoor winter activities - Daily Leader Extra : Top Stories

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Cure cabin fever with outdoor winter activities

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Posted: Friday, January 10, 2020 3:25 pm

Snow, cold and the ubiquitous ice are enough to keep folks huddled indoors at this time of year. However, the resulting cabin fever may not be an ideal alternative.

District Park Manager John Bame offers a different solution. Embrace the opportunities that winter offers -- snowshoeing, cross country skiing and ice fishing.

"Seeing frosty trees, picturesque scenes...things just seem clean," he said. "To me, it's mentally relaxing and eliminates the cabin fever that people get. And, if the wind isn't blowing, there's a lot of nice days to get outside."

Right now, ice fishing is in full force, according to Bame.

"We do maintain lake access at Lake Herman State Park, Walker's Point, Johnson Point, and east and west Brant Lake," he said.

However, the best fishing being reported at this point is on Diamond Lake, a mile or two west of SD-19 in Minnehaha County, where anglers are getting perch. Closer to Madison, a few people are getting walleye out of Lake Madison, but that appears to be weather related, according to Bame.

"Ice fishing is a fun outdoor recreational opportunity. With just a few items, anyone can start ice fishing. Ice auger and couple fishing poles and you are set," he said.

Bame recommends caution on the ice. Right now it's about nine inches thick, which makes it safe for foot and ATV traffic.

"I wouldn't recommend any vehicle traffic on it at this time," he said.

He also cautions that ice is not of uniform thickness. Ice heaves can weaken ice by creating both gaps and ridges. When fishing on an unfamiliar lake, Bame recommends asking about conditions and watching to see where others go.

"I don't go out on the ice until I see someone else on the ice," he said.

For those who like cross country skiing, Lake Herman has four miles of trail that are groomed following each snow event. This provides an easy trail for skiers.

"Blazing a trail is the hardest part of cross country skiing," Bame said.

However, snowshoeing is the winter activity he will be promoting in coming weeks. He will be offering Snowshoe Basics at The Community Center on Jan. 16 and at Lake Herman State Park on Jan. 19.

On Jan. 16, he will be offering a 30-minute introduction for children at 3:45 p.m. and an hour-long introduction for adults at 5:15 p.m. On Jan. 19, the introduction will be offered at 2 p.m. at the entrance to Lake Herman State Park.

Bame said that once people try snowshoes, they enjoy the experience.

"It gives you the opportunity to get outside and not limit yourself to places where the snow is shoveled. It gives you the opportunity to go on the trail less traveled," Bame said.

For a number of years, Lake Herman State Park has had snowshoes for people to check out at no cost. This year, Lake Herman is partnering with The Community Center to make snowshoes more readily available to people in the Madison area. Now, they can check out snowshoes at The Community Center whenever the facility is open, in addition to checking them out at Lake Herman during regular business hours.

One of the allures of snowshoeing is the freedom offered.

"With snowshoes, you can walk around the cattail sloughs and see wildlife a little better," Bame said.

While Lake Herman doesn't have any snowmobile trails, he did note that trails are groomed in the area for those who prefer that kind of outdoor activity.

Bame will speak about outdoor recreational activities in South Dakota at the Madison Public Library at 7 p.m. on Jan. 23. During this presentation, he will review winter programs and summer events, as well as snowshoeing.

For those looking forward to summer, reservations for summer camping open on Feb. 1. Park stickers for 2020 are currently available, not only at Lake Herman State Park but also at One-Stop and Classic Corner. The cost has increased to $36.

However, park stickers for 2019 are good through the free camping weekend in May.

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