Anticipation for wild ice grows in Cook County as temperatures decline
Photo by Matthew Baxley

Anticipation for wild ice grows in Cook County as temperatures decline

A few Cook County residents took to the ice in early Nov. to celebrate the onset of winter.

Cook County and other regions across northern Minnesota experienced a short-lived drop in temperatures at the beginning of the month, reaching 17 degrees overnight. The temperatures coincided with the firearm deer season opener, and as many hunters took to their deer stands on Nov. 4, other Cook County residents grabbed their ice skates in pursuit of wild ice.

Barb LaVigne, a well-known ice skating enthusiast, was one of these individuals.

“It’s such an ephemeral thing,” she said. “And it doesn’t happen every year.”

Freezing temperatures paired with the absence of snow accumulation create ideal conditions for skating, with clear ice allowing visibility to the bottom of some area lakes.

“There’s something about just taking advantage of that small window of opportunity,” LaVigne said. “I love being out in those wild places at that time of year when there’s just nobody out there.”

This week, as Thanksgiving festivities arrive, temperatures will reach a low of 17 degrees overnight, according to the National Weather Service. With freezing temperatures in the teens and no snow on the horizon, conditions will align yet again for many eager ice skating enthusiasts.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) advises a minimum ice thickness of four inches for activities such as ice fishing, skating, or any foot-related activities.

Video from Barb LaVigne of early November 2023 ice skating:

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Barb LaVigne about her ice skating experience in early Nov. Audio from the interview is below.