It's been a mild winter and tons of ice emergencies across lakes in Minnesota in 2023-2024. Usually, we can drive a truck out on the ice this time of year safely, but this season we've seen cars break through in the middle of January.

We had a very mild December with only a couple of cold spells. Now for much of the region, we'll see highs above freezing for the next few days. It's made it a challenge to guess what the varying ice thickness is.

Read Now: What Happens When The Icebreaker Comes Through When You're Fishing

We had planned a weekend getaway to Fortune Bay on Lake Vermilion to do some ice fishing and gambling. When I booked the weekend months ago, I assumed we wouldn't have a problem driving on the lake at this time of year.

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We had a week of very cold temperatures leading up to it, so I hoped that would make some quick ice. It did help, but the snow they got a couple of weeks ago in Northern Minnesota put an insulating blanket on the ice which slowed down the freezing process.

Fortune Bay didn't have their wheelhouses out yet. They had plowed a road but told me it was only about 10-11 inches of ice. I had seen an update from Lake Vermilion Ice Fishing on Facebook that said their plowed roads were about 16-17 inches of ice.

I gave them a call and found out how it works. There's a drop box and the road entrance where you can pay your road fee. It was $20 for the day, and considering how much work they put into the roads I was willing to pay. This was the only way I could see myself safely driving my gear out on the ice. I didn't have a four-wheeler or snowmobile to pull my portable out.

The thing that was a little sketchy to me was that the plowed areas had plenty of ice, but if you went off the road you'd likely breakthrough. There was roughly 8-10 inches of ice under the snowy areas. Yikes.

When we got to our spot we had over 18 inches of ice. When vehicles drove by you could really hear the ice talking. But, I have to hand it to these folks at Lake Vermilion Ice Fishing. They did a great job being proactive and I felt pretty safe the whole time knowing that they had a good idea of the conditions. The only way I'm driving out on the ice this year is if I'm following a guide's advice. It's just too strange of a winter for Northern Minnesota.

We had a good time fishing but didn't catch a whole lot. It was just nice to get out. Some people did pretty well out on the lake!

LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.

Gallery Credit: Sophia Crisafulli

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