First, it was the warm temperatures over the weekend, and now it’s rain with a chance of snow. The trails of Devil’s Lake State Park as you would expect, are ice covered and slippery. Some sections, especially on the bluffs themselves, shouldn’t even be attempted without wearing cleats.
This morning (Monday, Jan 22) a light mist was still coming down when I went out to have a look at the trails. With the fast melt and rain, some sections of trail are snow and ice free, but more often what you see is a deceptively safe looking puddle with extremely slick ice underneath. Trails out on Steinke Basin are lumpy and slick. Trails up the bluffs were busy over the weekend and are now white ice with a layer of water on top such as this shot from the Grottos/Balanced Rock connector trail.
While I recommend staying off the trails when they get like this, I also know better. Yeah, I have a hard time taking my own advice!! So if you have to get out, at the very least you need a good pair of ice cleats. Personally, we’ve had great luck with Yaktrax ICEtrekkers. They certainly aren’t the only brand, but they work well for us although they are a bit pricey at around $40.00 a pair. (And no, we get nothing from Yaktrax for mentioning them!!)
Now here’s something to keep in mind when choosing cleats, you don’t want “overkill” when it comes to trail hiking. You’re not climbing Everest and you don’t need or want big toothy spikes on the bottom of your feet. You’ll simply damage them on the rocks and stone stairs. Small grips such as the Diamond Grips work well. You also want something you can slip on and off easily as conditions around the park change all the time. You’ll find you’ll want cleats to get up some sections of trail, then find other sections are dry and the cleats are more bother than they are worth.
Oh, and what’s it like out on the lake right now? Well, the ice is nearly a foot thick in some areas, but as of this morning, there was about a half inch of water on the surface.
The weather for the next couple of weeks seems to be floating in the 20 to 40 range meaning we can expect some mixed, sloppy and slippery conditions for the foreseeable future.
As always, be careful out there!