Outdoor enthusiasts emerge from cover to enjoy ... winter

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Sunday, January 22, 2012
— Nancy Cronin could have been speaking for all winter-weather lovers when she summed up the conditions Saturday afternoon at Rockport Park in Janesville.

“I needed it,” said Cronin.

If the weather had been any less perfect, she might not have come out of hibernation for her first cross-country ski of the season, Cronin said.

“After about 10 minutes of this, I thought, ‘Oh, a book on the couch would have been good,’” Cronin said, chuckling. “But it feels great to be out here.”

She certainly wasn’t alone. Singles and couples slid up and down the trails, which officially opened Saturday. The Friends of Rockport Park groomed the trail Friday night using the new snowmobile purchased this year, said Paul Benish, a member of the friends group. Paul and his wife, Pam, hit the trails mid-afternoon Saturday.

Skier descriptions of trail conditions varied anywhere from “beautiful” to “perfect.”

“It’s light and powdery,” said Mary Buelow of Janesville. “Just right in case you fall down.”

Buelow was skiing for the first time in 15 years and was proud to say she had fallen only three times.

Those fluffy conditions won’t last long. The snow on the sunny parts of the trail already was getting wet and heavy in the afternoon, despite the fact that Saturday’s high was 23 degrees at The Gazette building in downtown Janesville.

The National Weather Service in Sullivan predicts freezing drizzle today with a high of 36 degrees. Overnight that drizzle will turn into that perennial favorite, the wintry mix, according to the weather service forecast.

More snow is likely Monday. Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 20s and low 30s on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the weather service.

Skiers were not the only folks to wax poetic about the snow conditions on Saturday. North of Janesville at West Stark Road near County F, dozens of snowmobilers buzzed up and down a marked trail. By mid-afternoon, it was clear the trail had been busy all day. In a few places in the middle of cornfields, a little mud showed through the snow cover.

In the pauses between the snowmobiles, the silence was perfect and the sun was warm. Crows argued in the treetops. An enormous tom turkey strolled out of the woods and, ignoring a caution sign, walked up the snowmobile trail.

Christopher Klund and Slade Hollibush of Janesville stopped to talk to a Gazette reporter and photographer. After only a mile of riding, the two already had cold, red cheeks, despite their helmets and gear.

It was cold, and the snow wasn’t terribly deep. In fact, the Rock County Snowmobile Trail Hotline on Friday described the conditions as “poor to fair.” Regardless, Klund and Hollibush were happy to be out for the first time this season.

“I’ll go as far as my tank will let me,” Klund said.


If you want to take advantage of the snow while it lasts, parks in the city of Janesville and around Rock County offer hiking, skiing, sledding and snowmobiling.

In Janesville, visit ci.janesville.wi.us. Cross-country skis are available from the city’s leisure services department for daily or weekend rentals. Prices run from $6 to $16 plus a $50 deposit. For questions about rentals or trail conditions, call Leisure Services at (608)755-3030.

Around Rock County, look for park locations and trail maps at www.co.rock.wi.us. Call the snowmobile hotline at (608) 757-5458.

The Sundowner’s Snowmobile Club of Edgerton has contact information on its website for every club in Rock County. Visit


Last updated: 7:16 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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