February 23, 2012
While on one of my get lost rides near Antigo in Langlade County, on Hwy 52, I happened across the Kettlebowl Langlade Ski Club on a bright and fairly warm day for late January. To be honest, Langlade can be a bit, well, ho-hum in the winter so I stopped here to see what this was all about. I am glad I did. It was about a wonderful little ski and snowboarding area especially great for kids and families, and everyone I saw there was having a lot of fun.
I’ll show you a photo gallery of what I saw in a moment.
I should start by saying I have am no skier or snowboarder, so I am always in awe when I see these people, especially the youngsters, zooming down the hills at Mach 5 without any fear. In fairness to the county, I must also remark that it is located in the heart of Wisconsin’s Northwoods, and as the County will tell you, “is where the last glacier deposited terminal moraines, eskers, erratic boulders, silt loam, lakes, rivers and deep forests - a unique geology like no other in the state, making the ‘County of Trails’ a must see destination.” I just need to find my way around more I guess.
The Kettlebowl sits on the Kettle Moraine, a large moraine, or glacial deposit.
The Kettle Moraine is also known as the Kettle Range (red arrow) which extends along Lake Michigan from Walworth County in the south to Kewaunee County in the north.
It was created when the Green Bay Lobe of the Wisconsin Glacier on the west collided with the Lake Michigan Lobe of the glacier on the east, depositing a whole bunch of sediment along the way. To keep the story brief, processes associated with the receding glacier left a number of depressions that range i size from small ponds to large lakes enclosed by valleys. Some of the kettles are filled with water as deep as 200 ft.
I will go way out on a limb here, using this diagram from 1876 with no latitudes or longitudes on it, and spot the Kettlebowl roughly where I placed the red dot, not far from the Wolf River to the east. The graphic is tough to read, but you can see the collision line of the two lobes by the converging arrows along the Kettle Range. It looks to me like the glacier pushed to the west where our Kettlebowl is, and then when it receded, left the bowl.
The Kettlebowl Ski Club area is not filled with water, but is a very nice ski and snowboarding area. Ben and Ruth Mundi ran the Kettlebowl Hill for 40 years.
At one point, tractors were used to pull people up the hill. It now has a new electric system for three of its five rope tows, with the remaining operated by gasoline engines.
Gene McKenna wrote a review of Kettlebowl and said, “For little ones learning to ski, from age about 3 to teens, there can be no better spot on earth. Run by volunteers of the Langlade County Ski Club, it is amazingly affordable.”
I saw plenty of little kids there so Gene is right on the money. He says the hill has a 200 ft. drop and noted what I saw, a lot of parents teaching their kids. As you will see in my photography, it takes a bit to master the rope tow. Once you grab on, that thing yanks you right up that hill. There are several routes to take down the hill, one of which requires a pretty good level of skill and experience. One writer suggested that 80 percent of the terrain is for beginners while 20 percent is for intermediates. He said the trails drop 325 vice 200 ft.
Well, enough talk. Let’s take a look at people having fun at Kettlebowl.
Okay, here we have a little trooper being watched by “mom.” The little one is getting steady on her skis and, ready to grab the turquoise colored rope tow. But first, gotta think this through.
She’s got it and she’s holding on! C’mon “mom,” pay attention. She’s on her way.
Supreme concentration. Careful, don’t bite those lips.
She’s off and running, in total control.
Now here’s your old pro, sun glasses on, one hand on the backside, leaning back, up he goes.
This young lady was having a bit of trouble, so she’s getting a helping hand. This is one of the real highlights of this ski area, lots of people there to help, whether they know you or not. Very uplifting. I saw a lot of kids, all sizes, fall when they grabbed that tow line. She really gives you a tug and you and your legs and skis-snowboard better be ready.
And then down they come. One thing I noticed is no one is using poles to help balance themselves. Shows you what an old guy I am!
Given the position of her snowboard, and the fact she is close to bottom, I guess she is applying her brakes. Look mom, no hands.
I nice place to warm up and relax, at the entrance to the ski area, Jim and Phyllis Suick’s Chalet.
On my way out. What fun.