Black's Cliff Resort's Birch Bark Blog

The projects, chores, and life of a family-owned, Northern Wisconsin resort.

Browsing Posts tagged Ice conditions Minocqua


I took these neat pictures of the mist on the lake on the way home last night.  The ice is quickly fading.  We are expecting colder temps and snow through the weekend.  That will delay the lake going out.

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Snow started coming down last night and we have more in the forecast for tonight.  Cliff is looking a little lonely on the lake without ice fishermen keeping him company.  The white float in back of him is an experiment by Troy and Steve.  The buoy is connected to a rope that is connected to the raft anchor.  They did not pull the heavy anchor up last fall.  We shall see if it works in a few weeks

Ice Out Entries for 2016

Here are the entires that came in this year.  The pot is 95 dollars and the winner gets 42.50.

March 27th Tommy Cikowski

March 31 Jimmy Cikowski

April 1 Ruth Grady

April 5 Darling Family

April 6 Fritz and the Carasco Family

April 7th Mike Grady

April 9 Carmela (our only non human golden retriever entry)

April 10th Roberta Cikowski

April 12th Linda Hoadley

April 16th Al Cikowski

Stay tuned to see who wins the pot.

I have a little something for everyone today.  The ice has been slowly creeping across the lake.  I caught this sunrise yesterday (this morning there was a 50 foot section left in the middle but missed a picture of that).  I worked yesterday on the 2013 calendar for the resort and got it done.  This is the featured picture for November on the calendar.  Tomorrow, Wednesday I will be taking orders on the calendar that get made directly at your own Walgreens store.  They are 19.99 each.  I am waiting for tomorrow to see what the coupon is for the calendars to save people more money.  I will announce on the blog tomorrow what the offer is and you can contact me tomorrow to order.  I will also unveil the cover photo for the calendar, one of my favorite pics from 2012

This is a different set of pics I took down at Bear Den of the lake freezing over the same day, Monday but later in the day

Not everyone knows it but my brother in law Bryon is an artist and graphic designer.  He made all the totem poles around the resort including designing and building out gate.  He also designed out previous website.  I his spare time he is an amazing artist and had a show at the Vine downtown last weekend which we got a chance to go to

One of his featured pieces.  Made his nephews blush a little…

This is one of my favorites of Bryon’s.  It is based off a picture his grandma who taught him to paint started but died before finishing.  It is an amazing piece.  Bryon finished it as a tribute to his grandma.  It is one of a few paintings he owns that is not for sale.  I think he has prints of this one for sale though

This one was hard to photograph with my iphone.  I love the colors

A little abstract for me but I know many out there like the abstract.  I believe the one on the right is supposed to be looking in a lake

Of his abstract art this is my favorite piece.  I love the movement of it

This piece is I think part of the permanent collection at the Vine.  Bryon did it a few years ago and the owner of the Vine bought it

This year at the art show, Scott the owner of the Vine added this painting of Bryon’s to the permanent collection at the store.  Another amazing piece

This one has a funny story.  It was displayed at the Great Northern Coffee shop, but to many customers complained that it made them feel depressed.  Greg had Bryon take it out of the shop.  Bryon considered it a compliment as it did what art is supposed to do, make you feel

Another one that makes you feel something

I love Bryon’s art as it is so varied, from the previous 2 pictures to this one, which I like for the subject and all the colors

Bryon was selling prints of his works for 15 dollars, very reasonable.  Orginals are also for sale but for 15 a print was a nice option

His main website if you are interested in his art work is

(For those of you trying to figure out how he is my brother in law with the last name Black and not my brother, when Katie and Bryon got married his last name was Blazkowski.  Katie was going to be a teacher and said she could not teach with a cow, and a ski in her last name.  Bryon nicely made her very happy and changed his last name instead.  Hence he is my Brother In Law)

What a difference a couple of days makes.  Thanksgiving folks were fishing and going out in row boats and today, Saturday we woke up to a lake freezing over

Kaubashine and Shamrock’s dock

This blog is about what is going on at the resort, and a the moment a large frozen chunk of water is what is keeping everyone entertained so you get one more day of pictures of skating across the lake.  This time the wind was whipping the snow across the lake.  Snow berms were starting to form which makes ice skating out in the open off the rink harder.  Can you feel the wind and cold from this picture?  It almost looks like a different planet

Mack was enjoying the fact that he had traction in the snow, we were not enjoying skating through the snow piles

Eventually chicken little got some guts and took off ahead.  We were headed over to where the road meets the lake where we heard Steve was ice fishing and skating

We found Steve with his father inlaw catching Northern

The wind was whipping so much that we tried some para sailing (skating)

One of the tools of every icefisherman

Using the cooler to prop up the pole.  Can’t do this regular fishing

Bobber bobbing away in the hole

Could not ask for a more beautiful day to be out on the lake

Time to start heading back through the snow piles

Good Luck fishing Mike!

Passing by one of Mike’s tip ups.  Steve had a path worn from their fishing hole to the tip up for him to check

One of my favorite pics of the day with the wind whipping across the lake

Time to head back home, ankles are sore and I have had enough of negotiating through snow piles.  Kids were half a lake ahead of me watching mom  make it back carefully before they started their hockey game, surprised mom just wanted to sit and watch this time

On our way to the Lakeland vs. DC Everest basketball game in Wausau last night, I quickly pulled over so Troy could grab my Iphone and snap these pictures of an icefisherman at sunset on Lower Kaubashine.  It was absolutely beautiful.  Earlier in the day I did not have the camera or my Iphone when driving past and there was a turkey out on the lake pecking around.  Strange sight!

Ohh and did I mention both JV and Varsity won.  DC Everest is ranked 10th in the state of Wisconsin and WE WON!!!  It was quite a night for Basketball fans in Minocqua and well worth the drive to Wausau on a Tuesday night

We have snow and ice and sights like this is why to head up north this winter.  Can’t get this view at home.  I may just have to take up icefishing….  nope think I will stick to ice skating.  The skating should still be awesome this next week

Now on to Troy’s favorite Christmas cookie.  Russian Tea Cakes.  I have to keep these on hand at all times or it just does not feel like Christmas.  He recommends them with a glass of milk.  I prefer a more chocolate but these are pretty darn good for a non chocolate cookie

We double the recipe so here is the doubled version

2 cups butter (don’t you dare use margarine, it is 4 sticks of the good stuff)

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla

4 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup nuts

More powdered sugar to roll them in

Soften the butter, I usually put 2 sticks at a time in the microwave for 30 seconds and then do the 2nd sticks separate.  Mix BUTTER, powdered sugar and vanilla together.  Once they are combined and creamy put aside.  In separate bowl mix flour, salt and nuts.  Add this bowl to the BUTTER mixture and mix together.  Dough should now be ready to make into balls.  There are no eggs in this recipe so feel guilt free to eat some dough at this point, not quite the same as chocolate chip cookie dough but fills the same need.  Roll cookies into balls.  These cookies do not rise so make them the size you want and you can fill a cookie sheet up with quite a few of them.  Bake until set but NOT BROWN.  I usually lift them a little off the pan and see if the bottoms are slightly brown and I call them done.  They are supposed to cook for 10 – 12 minutes at 400 if you feel like following the directions

After they cool slightly roll them in powdered sugar.  When you get done rolling start with the first cookie and reroll them again.  This is a great job for kids! and the reason I have 3 of them

Enjoy and be Merry! and for goodness sake throw out that icky margarine please for a New Years resolution.

Keeping with the cookie theme and the Black Family obsession with all things that have to do with bodily functions and septics tomorrow’s cookie is the infamous Black Family Turd Cookies another staple of our Christmas traditions.  Troy would like it pointed out that he is a Gibson and his family and his mother have a much more polite name for this cookie rather than Turd Cookie, but I like that name to much since that is what my mom called them.  What will out boys call them?

I finally decided it was time to test the ice out.  We wait for this day every year where the ice is just thick enough to skate on and there is no snow.  I have spent more money than I would like to admit for these awesome skates that I pull out whenever a day like this happens and savor it in my memory banks against the price for the blades and skate boots, but they are so worth it when flying across a frozen lake

Nervously heading down the shoreline with my camera figuring that the insurance company will cover my cannon camera if I go through with the good camera and Iphone…. but really it looks safe…..

Making it out to the snag to find frozen animal prints

Funny to be skating over the snag

Heading around the corner by Eagles Nest

Kids following along with hockey sticks.  If mom has made it safely through it must be ok

Great views as the lake pings and pongs under my feet.  My mind tells me it is atleast 6 inches think, but my ears hear the ping and pongs.  Hey guys stick to the shoreline!

Then you come upon ice that looks like this……  it is perfectly safe…. but it sure gives you pause especially with 2 kids following and the cannon camera….  where is chicken little???  He headed for the hills as soon as he saw us heading to the lake with skates

One sure sign that all is safe, is the ice fishermen at the point.  They confirmed it was 6 inches.  They did not have an auger, but a chisel that they slammed into the ice to prove it to me…..  More pings and pongs and I went skating back to shore quickly

Heading back towards the resort.  what is that we see in the distance, 2 figures that agree on a couple of things and one is their dislike of ice

skating back to investigate

skating in the sunset AWESOME!

Yep it is chicken little making a cameo appearance on ice

and Yep it is Troy on the ice as well.  Troy follows a much more sane measure of the safeness of the ice, he waits to see a snowmobile go across so he is assured that all is stable.  I think he came down to make sure he did not have to call the rescue squad after us

Loving the ice and the skates!  If you feel the need to get some awesome skates just ask me when you are here where they came from.  They are an actual x country ski boot clipped into a ski binding attached to a blade.  They have been clocked at just slower than the best speed skates.  They are comfortable, warm and have great ankle support and make me never want to put a pair of figure skates on again torturing my toes and cold as ice

We left Troy and headed to the other side of the lake with confidence that the ice was in good shape.  I accidentally pushed a wrong button on my camera and all the shots have a blue tint to them

I took this picture for Rick Stockton as we passed by his favorite summer spot

Creepy cracks in the ice that continue across the lake.  Just skate over them and try to ignore them

Always the creepy dark holes.  Why does ice freeze this way… no idea but just skate by quickly

We ran into more ice fishermen, fisher kids.  I love the pink ice fishing chair.  First ice is supposed to be some of the best to fish on.  At this point the Green Bay Packers were kicking off against the Oakland Raiders and we all agreed that being out on the ice was hard to give up for the game.

Bernie Lueth came down to see what his granddaughters were doing and give some pointers to his son in law

Time to head back and follow the tracks of some animal on ice

Once back, Grant had to demonstrate skating through the melt water from earlier in the day.  The afternoon sun had melted some of the shoreline ice by our swimming area and it was too much of a temptation to not try skating through

There has to be a name for this cross between ice skating and water skiing.  Time to hang up the skates but it was an awesome afternoon and nobody needed rescuing

Came down to the lake this morning to find it frozen over for the first time

Stepping out on the raft sent waves through the ice.  Insert the sounds of groaning and cracking at this point

For now without snow it is a clear view through the ice at the shallows

We had a meeting of a group we are going to call Black’s Cliff Alumni Group.  Those that have chosen to put up their own 4 walls and swinging bed in the Northwoods and move up.  Jim and Nancy are the newest members who are enjoying their retirement in the Northwoods and Al an Roberta are trying to find that just right house for them to move up as well.  We have decided we need to have a Alumni picnic this summer and have them all get together to compare notes on enjoying retirement in the Northwoods.  Nancy would like everyone to know she has finally gotten over her fear of being out after dark when it is sooo dark in the Northwoods!  Jim and Nancy had to go out to eat early so they could be home before dark when they first moved up.

We also had our neighbor Matt Drewery stop in on skis to give us Maple Syrup advice.  He lives back in Muskie Bay where he has 200 trees tapped and has a special maple sugar woodstove with a built in sap pan.  I am in sap pan envy.

Time to head home

Matt would like to report the skiing on Lower Kaubashine some of the best of the year.  He had put all their skis away before the big storm last week but decided to get them back out and enjoy some precious last days of skiing.Thanks for stopping in Matt, next time we see you I hope it is by pontoon boat if the lake ever unthaws

The edges of the lake are not showing signs of retreating….  Maybe by July.  More snow in the forecast as far as the eye can see… grumble…. grumble.. grumble..  this will shut down our tree sap collecting

Cliff showing signs of some melting but it looks like he is still frozen in place

What to do while it there is still snow on the ground… time to clean the office..  never know what you will find.  Katie has been looking 5 years for a folder with the Black Family History written down by Martha Black, Maynard’s sister and guess what I found yesterday!  Yeah!!  Pays to clean the office once in awhile.  Also found a rent payment from someone from 2007 under my desk, I guess they got a present of a free vacation that year

Cliff was not looking to excited when we pulled in the driveway.  If anything he looks slightly depressed at how spring is turning out so far.  Tomorrow we have 13 inches of snow in the forecast.  Will the Northern schools finally call a snow day on Wednesday or atleast cancel track practice?

The edges of the lake were showing some signs of melting but not much

As usual someone else found scratchy ice too much of a temptation to resist a good roll and back scratch.  No quavering so far on heading out on the ice

I think I am ready to see water instead of ice around the docks

There is a lot of ice out there for now.  We saw a truck still out on Lake Katherine on our way into town yesterday

Most of the snow is now gone from the ground

We found our maple sap bags fuller than when we left.  It has been a slow season so far for maple syrup.  We need temps in the 40 – 50’s and nights to go below freezing.  The forecast of the rest of the week is not going to help get it flowing.  13 inches of snow and temps with highs of 33 all week.  I think we are going back to spring break

Coming next…  What was Steve up to while we were gone… and publishing the official ice out list (as soon as I go through 6 days worth of mail)


Temps have dipped and lake effect snow came down yesterday.  We picked up an inch or so of fluffy dry snow





Looks like someone or something has been out on the lake and it might be safe… may have to get the skates out later and find out