WWW Chicago outdoors: Frozen tracks and butts

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At some point, you have to give in and just go with the frozen assets and slide into Wild Weekend Wanderings around Chicago outdoors.


I am really disappointed in myself. By the looks of it this morning, the retirees in town made the first tracks down the bank, to the town pond, then drilled the first holes for ice fishing, probably on New Year’s Day or Eve.

I take a certain amount of perverse pride those years when I beat them to being first. Oh, well, more power to them. Wait until next year.

At least I am proud of myself and my kids. In weather like this, it is easy to hole up inside, especially over the holidays.

We’ve done our share of that. But we’ve also trekked out to go sledding several days at different places.

Our original grand plan one day this week was to sled at the wonderful hill at by Plum Creek Nature Center, technically I guess it is Goodenow Grove, a Will County forest preserve district site near Beecher.

Instead, we tried a new spot one day along a steep bank off a ramp to I-57. It was slicker than a mother. My daughter couldn’t wait and didn’t realize how fast the track was and ended up doing an Evel Knievel over a ditch. Well, almost an Evel Knievel, she crashed into the far bank and fell back into the ditch, soaking her butt on the first try. To her credit, she warmed up a bit and came back out.

Over the years, I think our favorite sledding hill remains one from years ago when we lived on the North Side and would go up Mount Trashmore in Evanston.

In honor of fighting the battle against what Richard Louv labeled nature deficit disorder in his Last Child in the Woods, we lead with good old-fashioned sledding advice.

SLEDDING: Mount Trashmore is good. The Montrose hill is good. For more organized ideas, click here for Cook County; click here for DuPage County; click here for Lake County.

CAMPING/PICNIC RESERVATIONS: This the big weekend for picnic/camping reservations. . . . For Will County, it begins today. Click here. . . . For Cook County, it begins Monday. Unlike the old days, many of the permits can be handled online. . . . For DuPage County, they begin Monday. Click here for details. . . . For the 2010 reservations for many of the IDNR’s most popular campsites, cabins, group campsites, and picnic shelters may be made by mail beginning Monday. In-person or over the phone begins Feb. 1.

ICE FISHING: Ice fishing is well underway across the entire area and it looks like it is setting up for a long stretch of safe ice. I hate saying this, but even some of the harbor ice in Chicago should be safe by the weekend.

LATE-WINTER DEER HUNTING: The new first split of the late-winter, antlerless deer hunting season started Thursday and runs through Sunday. Click here for details. I am curious how the brutal cold will impact harvest.

PERSONAL PICKS: I will try to get in some ice fishing this weekend, not sure if I will try the harbors or just the town pond. . . . Otherwise, I think the kids and I will try sledding the hill by Plum Grove. . . . I do not have a late-winter deer hunting permit, so that’s out. . . . Maybe my neighbor and I will get energetic again and try to kick out some rabbits from fencerows, but I doubt it. Only another week or so for that up here.

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