UP FRONT ENCORE
The cure for too much winter is to get out in it by
this winter’s ice and cold will be a distant memory. But for the time being, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em in a number of events aimed at helping people to appreciate winter’s wonders rather than bemoan them.
Go fishing Yes, you read that right. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has dedicated Feb. 15 and 16 as Winter Free Fishing Weekend. On those two days, residents and non-residents can fish without a license (though all other fishing regulations still apply). “Michigan is home to many fun and family-friendly outdoor activities during the colder months, and fishing is definitely among the most popular,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. If you’re up to a drive, several communities in the Lower Peninsula have organized activities for the weekend. Closest to Southwest Michigan is Bath’s Ice Fishing Derby in Clinton County. A full list of these activities can be found at www.michigan.gov/freefishing. But you don’t need an event to go out fishing; fishing in winter can be as simple as grabbing a rod and donning winter gear. If you do plan to venture out on a frozen lake, however, make sure to check beforehand with local authorities regarding the safety of the ice.
Partake in polar paddling If you’d rather be in the water than on top of it, then maybe Lee’s Adventure Sports’ winter float trips for kayaking enthusiasts are for you. On Feb. 23, paddlers can take a 7.5-mile float down the Kalamazoo River beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Fort Custer Recreation Area. Participants are responsible for getting their equipment (boats, paddles, etc.) to the put-in spot at 5163 Fort Custer Drive, in Augusta. Once the boats are handed over to the kayak tender, participants drive their vehicles to the take-out point in Galesburg City Park, 200 E. Michigan Ave., where a shuttle will bring them back to the put-in location. There is no charge for those who bring their own equipment – contact Lee’s to if you need to rent — but it is suggested that paddlers bring a familiarity with cold water paddling, a dry or wet suit and a change of clothes in a dry bag. If you miss this month’s paddle, another one on the Paw Paw River is scheduled for March 23. To sign up or for more information, call Lee’s at (269) 381-7700 or visit www.leesadventuresports.com/ PolarBearPaddle.aspx. 10 | Encore FEBRUARY 2014
There will come a time, perhaps in the first week of August, when
Participants in the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program work on making a snow shelter.
Become an outdoors-woman Think of it as winter camp for women. The DNR’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman winter program Feb. 28 to March 2 in Big Bay, in the Upper Peninsula, will teach even the most winter-wary woman how to have fun in the snow. The program, which is in its 13th year, helps women improve their outdoor skills through more than a dozen indoor and outdoor activities, including cross-country skiing, dog sledding, ice fishing, fly tying, wilderness first aid and wood burning. The view’s not bad either. The program takes place at Bay Cliff Health Camp, overlooking Lake Superior approximately 30 miles north of Marquette. Participants are housed in a dorm-style facility with amenities such as a sauna and hiking trails. Don’t hesitate, however. The program fills quickly. The $180 registration fee includes all food and lodging as well as most equipment and supplies.. Information and registration materials are available at www.michigan.gov/bow.
Nuzzle up with nature If solid ground is more your thing, strap on a pair of snowshoes and see nature in a new way. Lee’s Adventure Sports offers a free Snowshoe Nature Hike at 2 p.m. Feb. 8 at Schrier Park, 850 W. Osterhout, in Portage. Dan Keto, lead interpretive naturalist for the Kalamazoo Nature Center, leads the hike, dispensing animal track identification tips, among other information. If you are new to snowshoeing, some demo pairs will be available to try on a first-come, first-served basis. The hike will occur even if there isn’t snow cover, so hiking boots are recommended just in case. The next day, Feb. 9, the Kalamazoo Nature Center offers its Winter Wild Navigation program from 2 to 3 p.m. Participants will strap on snowshoes and learn winter navigation basics, including using a compass or GPS unit. You can bring snowshoes or borrow a pair at the center. The program is free to KNC members and included with regular KNC admission for others.
Southwest Michigan's Magazine celebrating the great things, people and places found in our corner of the Mitten.