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Warmer temps offer more time outdoors

Brad Dokken

GRAND FORKS—The reprieve from cold weather came none too soon for my tastes, and a few days of above-zero temperatures have offered all the motivation I needed to get out of the house.

As I write this late in the week, the mercury has climbed into the mid-20s where I'm headed for the weekend and is set to hit the high 30s. There's nothing specific on the itinerary other than putting a few miles on the sleds, strapping on the snowshoes and tromping through the woods to see what I can see and perhaps even doing a bit of ice fishing.

I packed the fishing gear just in case the opportunity arises, but it may or may not get used; we'll see. Hanging out by a blazing campfire and enjoying the snowy surroundings with a good book and above-zero weather sounds pretty inviting as well.

No agenda is the best agenda as the weekend approaches.

It's funny how priorities change as one gets older. One of the most enjoyable winter excursions in recent memory occurred about five years ago when a few of us rendezvoused at a friend's deer shack in the boonies of northern Minnesota on the border of Itasca and Koochiching counties.

There was nothing specific on the agenda. It was too cold to spend much time outside, but we strapped on the snowshoes for a couple of hours one afternoon and took in the sights of Little American Falls on the Big Fork River, one of the prettiest spots northern Minnesota has to offer.

We hit a designated trout lake for a couple of hours the next day, but it was cold, and the lake, covered by deep snow, was a slushy mess even in the extreme temperatures.

Fortunately, we were on foot and not in a vehicle. Even a snowmobile or other tracked vehicle would have had a tough time in those conditions. We fished a couple of hours—or went through the motions, at least—but the comfort of the shack won out before too long, even though we were fishing in a heated portable.

With age comes wisdom, I guess. Or at least a different perspective on what passes as fun.

Going into the weekend, I had yet to pull a fish through the ice in January, mainly because I've opted not to venture out during the cold weather or had other commitments on the warmer days. Time was I would have felt like I really was missing out on something by going that long without fishing or catching a fish. Time was I would have gone fishing anyway.

These days, not so much. To borrow a line from an old fisherman I know, "I guess I'm just not as mad at the fish as I used to be."

Whatever the weekend agenda holds in store, I'm looking forward to spending some time outside enjoying a few days of warmer weather.

Anything beyond that will be a bonus.

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998.  A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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