January 31- Back to reality here in the Keweenaw today.
Woke up to a dusting of snow and it did not stop coming down all day.
snowed all that hard, but it has begun
to pick up a little in intensity since sunset and I think that we are between
a half an inch and
an inch so far. It has not been
pure lake effect, maybe some lake enhancement. Temps have been far
to warm for pure lake effect
and locations upwind of the lake were
reporting light snow all day as well. However, temps are dropping
and it will become pure lake
effect by later tonight, with us and the
rest of the south shore of Superior seeing snow, when everyone else in
the upper Midwest is
dry. Still not expecting much, maybe
about an additional inch, but still very nice to see it snowing again.
It was really beginning to
feel strange around here, with all that
sun! But if I did have to pick a substitute to snowfall, sunshine
and temps in the 20's is my
This is probably going
to get to be one of my favorite times of the year, as the snow keeps coming,
and gets deeper on the
ground, but yet the amount of sunlight
is also increasing quite noticeably now. We are now dawn before 8
AM and it stays light until
past 6 PM. By the end of the month,
we should be light by about 7:30 AM and dark by about 7 PM. That
will really extend my day,
as I will be able to get some outside
chores done in the evening, rather than having to get it done before it
gets dark at 5.
Speaking of chores,
I bought my very own yooper scooper (snow scoop) today and plan to attack
the back side of the house's
roof sometime soon. A lot of the
houses in the neighborhood got theirs done before this past round of sunny
and mild weather and
are now (or were) completely clear, right
down to the shingles. Of course there is now new snow on them, but
it was weird to see
bare roofs for a change. I had aspirations
of getting my driveway clear of the packed down snow and letting the sun
get it completely
clear, but brushed that idea aside, as
I realized that I should keep snow on it for the snowmobile. I don't
need to be wearing down
the carbides on my own driveway!
If you haven't noticed
by now, I am sort of at a loss for things to write about. Today was
rather uneventful, except for the wonderful
snowflakes which have been falling all
day. It still has a way to go to cover up all the crud exposed in
the cities (Calumet, Houghton,
Hancock and even Lake Linden in spots),
but hopefully tonight's snow will be enough to cover that up. I really
hate when they salt
the roads. I know it is their job
to make the roads as safe as possible, but the salt makes such a mess of
things. Car is encrusted
in road grime, my garage is a mix of slush,
water and stampsand and the roadsides are an ugly gray and black color.
too much of Chicago, where they would
pour 2" of salt on 1" of snow. Your tax dollars at work! Plus,
I personally think it is safer for
me to drive on the snow packed roads than
to try and see through a salt encrusted windshield. Enough of that.
Lets see, what else.
Man, I am really at a loss right now. Guess that I have said enough
for one night. Maybe tomorrow will be
a little more supportive of new and exciting
things to write about. Until then...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 29&30 - Another double
day entry, my apologies, but had a very active day yesterday. Yesterday
was day 3 of sunshine, early morning chill, but then highs in the upper
20's. Took the hounds for a ski on the north shore. It was
a perfect day for that, as the sunshine and lack of winds made for an enjoyable
day on the beach! As I ski along the beach, it is really hard to
imagine the area is so different in the summer. I was barely able
to recall the days this past summer when we all could not wait to get to
the shoreline and feel the refreshing cool breeze off of the big lake.
Now, ice is packed along the shore line 5-10 feet thick and the ice castles
further out at 20-30 feet high. Pack ice is also drifting off shore
for a distance of about a mile or so. The ice even shows up on the
visible satellite imagery.
Got back from the ski
at about noon and then had to zip over to my buddies repair shop in town
to go riding with the Lake Linden crew. There ended up being 12 of
us and the ride was magnificent. Probably the best of my life.
We ended up taking some back roads to a guys house up the valley.
From there we rode through the valley in virgin powder. It was really
cool, as we were going across fields, through woodland and even over creek
beds. All the while floating across about 3 feet of snow. From
there we hooked up on a powerline and rode that for a long time.
At first we were about the only tracks on the line, but as we progressed,
more and more tracks appeared from riders before us. It got harder
and harder to find fresh snow, but that did not bother me as it made for
some easier riding later in the trip. I must say that my riding expertise
is growing day by day and I am really much more confident in my abilities
off trail. Some of the views from the powerline were also quite breath
taking. At one point we were at an angle and at 1500 feet above sea
level had views to the south and east of both where we had been and where
we were headed.
Another highlight of
the trip was a hill climb, where you rode basically straight up (or at
least it seemed like straight up) a 600 foot bluff. The is a little
clearing in the trees about 40 feet wide in which to make the climb.
It took me 2 attempts (I was not the only one who did not make it up the
first time). I was about the 8th one up and by that time, a lot of
ice and even bare ground had been exposed. My new track does not
have studs, so about 3/4ths of the way up I lost traction and momentum
and began the unnerving ride in reverse back down the hill. I was
able to get the machine turned sideways which stopped my backwards slide
and then we got it turned all the way around and I headed back down, pointed
in the right direction. My second attempt was successful, as I made
sure to hit the sides of the groove from the other machines and that kept
my track in snow and gave me the propulsion needed to make it to the top.
It is quite a rush sitting at the bottom of that hill, looking almost straight
up at where you are going. Giving 'er some gas as I hit the slope.
Then, at the mid point of the hill, I am standing on the back of the runners,
leaning over my windshield, riding full throttle and trying to steer the
sled in the brief moments that the skis are actually making contact with
the snow. I was in total amazement of the power of my sled, as the
whole process from top to bottom takes less than 20 seconds. An ear
We followed another
powerline and then hit the trail to Lac La Belle. I was so looking
forward to a filling meal at the Landings, but my group had other ideas.
Next time Sandy! A fill up and candy bar and I found myself heading
up the front side of Mt. Bohemia. This climb was different from the
other, as it was not as steep, but longer and full of twists and turns
and many different pathways to the top. By the time I got to the
hill, a good percentage of the group had already begun their ascent.
I hit the slope and gave it throttle. On my way up, I began to pass
rider after rider who had run into one problem or another. It was
almost like riding through a battlefield, with body's and sleds scattered
in disarray on the side of the mountain, having lost the war against its
steep slopes. I made it about 3/4ths of the way up and hit another
patch of ice and rock. This time there was little that could be done
to combat it, as the trench I was riding in was too wide and too steep
and had too many turns of it's own to be able to rock back and forth and
try and catch fresh snow. Another brief, heart stopping slide backwards
and then the 90 degree turn to stop the slide. I got it turned around
the rest of the way and headed to the bottom for another attempt.
On my way down, I came across about 7 others who had gathered on a flat
portion of the hill off to the side of the clearing we were riding up so
I pulled off to see what was up. The consensus among those guys was
to sit and let the hard core riders try and make their way to the top.
By the time I had conversed with them some, it was dark and I did not feel
like trying to make the ascent in the dark so I took the back side trail
up. I knew this trail very well, as I had hiked it several times
this summer and fall and knew it would be an easy ride to the top.
Once at the top, the view was awesome as the setting sun cast a reddish-purple
hue over the sky and this reflected off the snow on top of Deer Lake and
Lac La Belle 900 feet below us. 3 riders from my group made it to
the top via the front. We sat there for a little bit and then headed
down the front. On the way down, I saw the spot where I lost my battle
to the mountain. It was at the steepest part, about 3/4ths of the
way up. Had I made it past that point, the rest would have been a
piece of cake and Mt. Bohemia would have been mine! Next time.
We then followed the
DNR trail back to home base, with a stop off at the Cliff View for some
needed food. I must say that riding the DNR trails after the day's
ride was almost like driving a car compared to a snowmobile. Everything
is so well marked, and flat and almost unchallenging. Still, it was
loads of fun and actually just what my tired eyes, arms and brain needed.
I got back home at about 11 PM to two very hungry hounds. It always
amazes me how glad they are to see me even when I have been derelict in
my duties to feed them on time. Unconditional love, no hard feelings
what so ever. I have learned much from them about what is important
Today was day 4 of
sunshine. Another crisp morning at about 4 below, but warmed to about
28. Today was the hound's day. Special treats, special food
mixed in with the normal stuff and one walk and one ski. They seem
to have enjoyed their day today as much as I did mine yesterday, as all
I can hear as I type this is some snoring from the bedroom. Sweet
dreams kids. And to my friends out there in the net world, sweet
dreams to you all. Life is very good in the Keweenaw. Even
without so much as a lake effect cloud, let alone snowflake for 4 days!
My only regrets over the past 36 hours was that I did not have the camera
along for yesterday's ride. Sorry. I'm fairly certain that
the boys will get together again and I will be sure to take it along then.
A brief trail report.
Things were not too bad on my ride from Lac La Belle to Lake Linden via
trails 132 and 3 last night. A little bumped up, but I have been
on far worse. The snow quality is also in very good shape, so future
grooming will have very favorable results.
With that I will close.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 28 - Another sunny
and mild day, no surprise, but still special for this time of the year.
I got to talking with some friends yesterday. They live up here but
are not particularly fond of snow. To me that would be like living
in Florida but not liking the humidity. Anyway, they really enjoy
the summer months, with the beaches and woods to go and play in.
It made me think of all the fun times I had up here on the beautiful beaches
last summer and I guess once the snow does melt, I will have something
to look forward to. But I am in no hurry for the snow to melt!
Speaking of snow, I
may have misspoke when I said that there were 49 of the 50 states reporting
snow cover somewhere on their soils this AM. I did not forget about
Hawaii being part of the 50. The 13000 ft+ peaks of Mauna Loa and
Mauna Kea typically have snow on them in the winter, but I do not know
if there is snow on them right now for sure. I went to a web cam
showing the observatory on Mauna Kea and did not see any snow there, but
was a fairly limited view. This peak may be in the precipitation
shadow and may not receive much precipitation. I know that certain
places on the islands are like deserts, while tropical rain forests are
growing on the rainy sides. Anyway I am trying to find out for sure
if there is snow on Mauna Loa or Mauna Kea. I let you know what I
find out. Flash...! I just called Hawaii and found out that there
is no snow on Mauna Loa or Mauna Kea. The person I spoke with gives
air tours and said that it is definitely cold enough, just has been dry
so far. So there you go. 48 states.
We still have snow.
Duh, but with the break in the snowfall action, the road crews have gone
into a different mode. Not sure what to call it, but they are basically
going around and moving the snow to make way for them to be able to plow
it off the roads again and not have to worry about where to put it right
away. In my town that brought out two different pieces of equipment.
The front end loader to clear out the fire hydrants and utility areas and
snow thrower. This was a shot of it going down my street.
This thing is really neat and the guy driving was very talented.
He is able to not only steer the front end loader with the special thrower
unit in front of it, but he is also very careful to move the aim of the
stream of snow out of the thrower around as to not bury any driveways or
sidewalks. I do not have a sidewalk but he made sure to miss my driveway
and on our walk this morning, I did notice that the piles created by this
thing were always in areas which had not been previously cleared.
Went for a ski and
then a ride. No pictures of the ski, but did take a few on my ride.
I rode solo, as my weak attempts to find someone to ride with me were a
failure. I did brave a few lesser know trails, but I have ridden
these before and knew that the worst that could happen was to have a breakdown
and then have to walk out. Following my tracks back out would have
provided me footing and my route never had me more than a couple of miles
from a plowed road, so I was not too worried to be out in the bush alone.
It was very beautiful and a perfect afternoon for the ride. Here
is a shot of one of the trails I was on. There were some tracks underneath
about 6-8" of snow which also allowed me to not have to worry about getting
stuck. Here is another
one further up the trail, a little more cozy here.
shot is of a hunting camp out in the woods. This camp was actually
my inspiration while I worked in the glass and steel cage (office) in Chicago.
I had a picture similar to this one on my desk at work and would spend
many moments looking at it and saying "One Day... One Day I will live THERE!".
"There" meaning the Keweenaw, not that particular building. Anyway,
the picture I had was taken in the near record setting year of 95/96 and
the snow was about 3 times deeper, but I thought you all would get a kick
out of seeing what my inspiration was that helped me escape to God's Country!
With that being said.
I think I will bid a farewell from God's Country.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 27 - A beautiful day in
the neighborhood. Saw the strangest thing in the sky today.
I quick went to my meteorology textbooks and best I could make out it looks
like it is this thing called the sun. I'll have to do a little more
research to make sure, but so far that looks to be the best bet.
Yes, we had a mostly clear day today, and this morning and overnight.
The clear skies overnight allowed for our coldest morning of the season
so far. A clear, calm night will allow for maximum radiation of the
heat from the day before and then all of that colder, heavier air finds
it's way into the valley. My thermometer read -11 at 8 AM this morning.
Burrrrr. I think on top of the hill at the airport they remained
above zero or maybe just a degree or so below. Made for a really
quick and chilly morning shot of the snow stick and front of the house
for the AL Cam page. We did end up warming to about 22 today, so
that was nice.
With calm winds and
plenty of sunshine, plus temps in the low 20's, I thought that it would
be a perfect day to ski the north shore. I loaded up the hounds,
hopped into the car and made a quick stop at the bank to take care of some
business and on my way back to the car realized I had taken off my skis
from the roof rack and had forgotten to put them back on before we left.
Bummer. We headed back to the house, loaded the skis and went off
into the woods not too far from my house. We took a different trail,
an old logging road where I had ridden my snowmobile about 2 weeks ago.
I was hoping that someone had gone through since then so that we did not
have to break trail in too deep of snow and we were in luck. There
was about 6-8" of new snow down, but a packed surface below that allowed
for some good skiing for me and good footing for the hounds. Here
is a shot of the trail so you all can get a better vision of what we
The weird thing about
going off into the bush like that is the snow cover is deceiving.
From the looks of it, you would guess than maybe a foot is down, yet go
off the packed trail and a good sized lab will disappear and a 6'2" human
will sink up to their waist. Take our words for it! I took
shot to help illustrate the snow. Off on the left is Burt trying
to get back on trail. He is actually in the process of leaping and
landing on his front legs. To the left of him is a stump with 2 1/2-3
feet of snow on top of it.
I did not do any serious
riding today (yet anyway). After my ski, I went and got gas and then
zipped around the trails around here. I can say that they are both
in very good to excellent shape and very quiet. Not another sled
to be found in all of my riding this afternoon. Normally I will see
at least a few other sleds, even during the week, but not today.
I know it is the calm before the storm, weekend starts tomorrow.
I am going out riding
tonight with a friend and then hope to ride tomorrow afternoon as well.
The new track will take some getting use to. No studs so I slide
around a little more. I also have a heated shield now, so no more
fogging! Some locals think that it makes you look like a tourist,
but I could care less. First of all, I don't see what is wrong with
being a tourist, everyone is at one point in their life or another.
Plus, I would rather look like a tourist and ride like a local than look
like a local and not be able to see where I am going! It is really
great to not have to worry about that fogging problem, drove me nuts!
Well, guess that will
do it for now. Talk to you tomorrow!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 26 - Well, as promised,
today will basically be a photo essay. I awoke feeling really tired,
unusual, as I got plenty of sleep. I got my morning chores done and
felt like going back to bed. This is one of the luxuries of working
at home, so I took advantage of it. Now don't get me wrong, this
is not something I do often. Normally I am up and going like the
rest of you, but today I felt a little under the weather, so I ended up
climbing back into bed. I slept for another 1 1/2 hours and got up
to do some more work. I felt almost worse as I was really tired and
achy as well. I was really afraid I was coming down with something.
Finished with my regular
duties and was feeling sorry for the hounds being cooped up so I put on
my coat and took them for a walk around the neighborhood. The walk
did me good as I really felt better after it. I took the camera along
on the walk and shot some winter scenes around here.
shot is of the trail near my house. Things are quiet enough up
here that we can actually walk the trails (at least the 122 which is usually
quiet) and not be bothered by all those darn snowmobilers! Ha Ha.
is a shot taken in that same general area back when we had no snow
so you can get a feel for the changes here (Nov 1), and here
is a shot from that same general area when we had just enough snow
for them to start grooming (Dec 22). This
shot is still along the trail, but is overlooking the frozen Traprock
River and the beautiful landscape surrounding it. Strange to think
that just a few months ago the hounds were swimming in that.
Further along the trail,
Baileys decided to do a little "off trail riding" of her own. Here
is a shot of her "digging out". You can really get a feel for
how deep the snow is getting. Earlier, Burt jumped off the trail
and literally disappeared. He was able to climb up some to get his
head above the snow and looked at me with this look on his face that said:
"A little help here?". I was unable to get a picture of that, but
it was really something.
A little later on down
the trail we came to a perfect
spot to show how much snow is down where the wind will not blow it
away. There are some larger trees around the area and smaller trees
and bushes which all help to grab onto the snow. The dogs are on
the trail, which I would say has a good 16-20" base below it and you can
see how much higher the snow is off the packed trail. It is about
a foot over Burt's head which is at least 2 feet off the ground.
I would estimate the snow to be 4-5 feet deep there.
Back into civilization,
I took this shot of
a neighbors car. It is the bump of snow in the left center of the
photo. The snow there is up to the top of the car doors and hood.
Don't think he plans on using it until spring.
Finally back at home
base, I took this shot
of the front of my house. It is about the same shot as you get on
the "front of house" shot on the AL Cam page, but I took this for a reason.
Many of you have sent me nice emails and lately many of them have said
that it looks like it is time to clear off the roof. Well, looks
can be deceiving. You see, there was a big long drift running the
length of my house along the eves. That made it look like there was
more snow on the roof than there really was. There is over a foot
up there, more like two, but this
shot was taken after I broke off that drift. So as you can see,
I still have some time. Plus the snow that is up there now is really
light and fluffy, while the other stuff was frozen, hard pack and weighed
a lot more. One last shot from about a month ago. This
is the front of my house when the snow just began to pile up around
here. Big difference huh?
Guess that about does
it for now. I hope to ride tomorrow, have several possibilities hope
at least one pans out! If so, maybe some pics from the ride.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 25 - It is one of
those nights when it would have been so easy to skip the journal and just
crawl into bed and call it a day. However, I have received so many
nice e-mails from people complimenting me on the site and the journal so
I just could not bring myself to skip a day.
Not much new to report
on. Did get some new snow today, but as anticipated we were on the
short end of the stick. Only about 2" new since daybreak, really
small flakes. This fits in with the forecast, as I would anticipate
another 1-3 tonight and 1-2 tomorrow for our final 3-8, but likely towards
the lower end of that range. 5" new would be my guess.
Speaking of new snow,
and recalling my discussion of how I get jealous when other places are
getting heavier snow than us, it would have been neat to be in the Raleigh/Durham
area this morning to witness the 15" new in 4 hours they got. That
is big time snow no matter where you are! Can't begin to imagine
how it paralyzed that area. They probably have about 3-5 plows for
the whole city.
Got the new/used track
put on my sled. I was all set to go for a ride and by the time I
was about to hop on it, I was too tired, so I just pulled it into the garage
and sat down to write this. Maybe tomorrow, but if not, definitely
Thursday (Snowsnake? Keweenaw? you boys reading this?
I think I can hear Bohemia calling us!)
Also looks like I will
need to get my snow fix in by tomorrow, as we look to head into an unusual
4-5 day snow less period beginning Thursday. Sure the forecast can
change and usually does, but that is the way things look right now.
Don't worry sledders coming to the area, plenty of snow around. The
main thing governing conditions from here on out will be traffic, and I
can tell you, it is pretty dead up here right now. I was not on the
trails, but town was very quiet and never heard a sled go by any of the
times I was outside either.
Well, sorry no new
pics. I promise to get some for you all tomorrow. Sorry this
is so short, but I am bushed and struggling to come up with material, with
my brain so fried. So will close for now and get some sleep.
Talk to you tomorrow.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 24 - Before I get
into my regular routine, I would like to take this time to wish a special
"Hello from the Keweenaw" to a poor soul who missed the annual ride with
the boys because of business. As some of you may have noticed.
I added a dot on my netfriends map for Shanghai China. It was for
a person who sent me an e-mail saying that he had to make a special trip
there and was going to miss his ride. Knowing how much my annual
trip meant to me in the years before I lived here, I could really feel
for him missing out. So Sir... The
Wild Boys say "Hi from the Keweenaw". I hope you can make it
up here soon.
Now back to our regularly
Another day, another
couple of inches of snow! However, I must say, that incredible snowfall
event the other morning had a profound effect on me. I believe.
I watched it snow from about 11 AM on today and then watched as warnings
for lake effect snow were hoisted by the NWS for later tonight through
tomorrow for the promise of up to 8" here through tomorrow and more likely
tomorrow night and into early Wednesday and I am not all giddy! Now
don't get me wrong, I am still very much looking forward to the new snow
and did very much enjoy my ski with the hounds in the big fluffy flakes
which give us 2.5" new this afternoon, but something seems different.
Maybe I am just becoming "seasoned". Or maybe it is just a phase.
I can honestly say that I don't think this area could ever get enough snow
to satisfy my cravings and I doubt that those feelings will ever go away.
I know that I do posses an addiction to snow. I have met another
up here who moved from Chicago just for the snow and he has also said that
he is addicted to snow, so it is possible. I can even be in the midst
of a big dumping here and if I hear it is snowing somewhere else even heavier,
then I will wish I was there! I realize this makes me one strange
individual, but hey, at least I can identify my weirdness!
Was not able to take
a ride today. I found out that I need a new track for my sled.
Technically, I should say that I need to REPLACE the track on my sled,
as I am actually going to put on a "used" track off of a year 2000 sled.
I was torn between going this route or forking out twice as much for a
brand new paddle track. After riding in the deep snow over the weekend
and seeing how those tracks handle the deeper snow, I must admit, I was
very tempted to go the bigger bucks route and get the paddle track.
However, common sense won over (not a very common event with me and my
$$$) and I decided to go the least expensive route. I would have
gotten the other track, but I do know know what the rest of the season
has in store for me a far as repairs, so I decided to play it safe, in
case I need to make future repairs soon. Plus, I can use this dollar
saving event to help justify why I should go out and get a new RMK next
The ski was very nice
as we took the "groomed" trail. That is the trail that the groomer
uses to get from his house to the DNR trail. Was about 2" fresh fluff
on top of the hard packed snow so I could really fly. Plus the hounds
liked it as they did not have to fight their way through chest deep snow.
Temperatures even warmed up to the teens which was nice. Talking
about the temperatures brings up an interesting subject. On my morning
walk I was thinking that this has to be one of the few places in the US
were a southerly wind can actually bring colder air. When I told
people where I was moving to, may of their reactions were "Oh, it's too
cold up there for me!". Now I must admit, northern WI and northern
MN is too cold for my taste, but the Keweenaw is actually not too cold
on the extreme side. Take for example the other morning. We
had a temp of 9 above, Duluth was 11 below, Rhinelander WI was 18 below
and International Falls was 27 below. Even this morning, all those
people in the Chicago area who told me that they could not live here because
of the cold were in the -5 to -15 degree range, while we sat above zero.
This has actually happened a few times this year, where temps around Chicago
were colder than we were here. Gotta love that lake! This does
not work in all of the UP, even right on the shores. Marquette set
a new record low for the day with a -18 this morning. A west wind
in an arctic airmass will do that. Now onto how we can get colder
with a south wind... On days like today, when the winds are light, but
out of the north, east or west, the lake keeps us warmer than the surrounding
areas. Places like northern WI can be as much as 20 to 30 degrees
colder than us. If the winds shift out of the south while those cold
temps are still there, then that cold air makes it's way up into our neck
of the woods. Kinda weird.
Like I said
we are due for more snow tomorrow. It looks to me like a 3-8" snow,
with more tomorrow night and early Wednesday. It has now gotten deep
enough to call it Keweenaw snow. Even the dogs are not being as brave
when they head out into the back yard. After the first few snows,
there were tracks all over the yard. Gradually as the snow got deeper,
the tracks got closer and more confined to the area closest to the back
door where I let them out. They are now down to one main trail, with
two smaller trails which they use. Just about every day now it seems
like when they go out in the morning, they are pushing snow with their
chest, even on their main trail. I do clear a path with the blower
and they use that as well. I was wondering what they would do when
the snow got really deep. I now have my answer. My other question
is what will I do when the snow is higher than the fence which keeps them
in the yard? I have about another foot to go and the 4 foot chain
link fence will be buried. I'll let you know what happens.
Well, sorry I did not
provide more pictures, but not much new to take pictures of. I hope
to make some trips on the sled once the replacement track is in, maybe
even tomorrow, so I hope to be able to provide some new shots of the area.
One last note:
My ISP had problems with their mail server today so if you sent me an email
with a question attached and I did not respond by midday on the 25th, then
it was lost and you need to resend. With that I will close.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 23 - The NWS has
3 different levels for describing snowfall rates, light, moderate and heavy.
I actually am not completely sure what the parameters needed for each are,
but I think it goes something like this: Light - visibility greater
than 1/2-3/8 miles, Moderate - 3/8 to 1/8th of a mile and heavy less than
1/8th of a mile visibility. Early this morning, we invented a new
level, somewhere beyond heavy. I don't know why, but for some reason,
I awoke at about 2:30 in the morning this morning. Maybe because
of my intense love for heavy snow, my sub conscience noticed the heavy
snow falling and alerted my conscience. At any rate I woke up.
In my bedroom, I have a sliding glass door. At night, I can look
out through it and gauge snowfall rates, even with no street lights or
other ambient lighting. There are about three sets of tree lines
visible in the distance and depending on which one is visible, it is either
snowing lightly, moderately or heavy. At 2:30 this morning, when
I awoke and looked out, I could see nothing but a grayish hue. At
first I though that something was wrong with my vision, or that somehow
the door had become completely fogged up, but I could see things in the
room ok, at least as good as you would in the middle of the night with
no lights on. I refocused my sight on what was going on outside and
could not believe my eyes. I could not even see my neighbors house
60 feet away! In an almost panic, I flew out of bed and pressed my
nose against the glass to get a better look at things. It was snowing
like I have never seen it snow before! It came down so hard that
it actually set off the motion detector on the flood lights in the back
yard! When the lights went on, all I could see were these quarter
sized flakes filling the air, swirling around and blocking out anything
out the vision of anything beyond about 50-60 feet. For about 30
minutes this kept up and I could not believe it. I kept wondering
if this was a dream. My rapidly cooling body told me otherwise so
I put on some sweat pants and a sweat shirt to get warm. In those
30 minutes we got about 3 new inches of snow. I have heard of snowfall
rates of 6"/hr occurring before, but never really could imagine what that
would look like. Today I found out. That was so cool, I will
never forget it as long as I live. It tapered off some by about 3,
so I went back to bed and tried to get back to sleep, but it was not easy.
We have since had snow
falling all day. Sometimes light sometimes moderate and even a few
times heavy. I would say that about 3-4" new has fallen since the
morning hours and it is still coming down pretty good. In fact, in
the past 2 hours, the snow has been falling heavier for longer periods
of time that is did all day. I know it will taper off by later this
evening, as the winds become unfavorable, but it looks like a new foot
of snow will have fallen since yesterday at about noon. Beginning
later tomorrow and continuing into Tuesday, it looks like we will do it
all over again. Although it looks like final accumulations with that
event will be in the 3-8" range rather than 10-12" range as winds will
be more out of the north. Even so, that will be just what the Dr.
ordered. I love this place!
Did not do much today,
except take the hounds for a ski and clear the driveway. Here are
some pics from the ski: Here
is Baileys chest deep in the new snow. Here
is Burt. This shot is of the
trail on the way back. So
it this one. It was really interesting to ski and not be able
to see my skis under the snow. Made for a lot of work too!
It is a classic Keweenaw
winter wonderland up here. The snow is 33" deep in my front yard
and the pathway to my front door is beginning to resemble a tunnel.
Did I ever mention that I LOVE THIS PLACE!?
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 22 - Well, my much
anticipated all day ride in the bush lived up to all of the hype and even
surpassed it. I must say that these guys can really ride! Man
O Man. I know that I should not be too hard on myself, as my experience
is somewhat limited. I was able to keep up just fine, but some of
the things they did on their sleds were just amazing. Two of them
had the deep powder sleds, one an RMK 800 and the other an RMK 700.
They guy on the 800 was about the best rider I have ever seen. Even
the locals, including the snowmobile shop owners, all spoke of him and
said his riding abilities were above most up here. He just makes
it looks so effortless.
Riding in deep powder
is very unique, as I'm sure many of you reading this can attest to.
For those of you who have yet to experience this, the basic changes from
packed snow to powder are that your sled is now floating, just like a boat
or better yet, personal water craft. To turn, you lean, the skis
really do little good, as they are usually just riding on top of the snow
and do not have any leverage. Lean to the wrong side and you go that
way. Once you start going the wrong way, it is almost impossible
to shift your body weight in the right direction and most efforts usually
only make things worse.
Like I said, I have
average to slightly above average riding capabilities. I can keep
up with anybody on the trails and in fresh snow I do very well also.
I have ridden in deeper powder, but usually in a field and only had to
travel straight. Any turns in these situations were also accomplished
by backing off the throttle some, allowing the skis to settle into the
snow some and then accomplishing the turn. Yesterday I had a taste
of some deep snow riding and it was a good warm up to today. The
guy I was riding with yesterday is also a very good rider and can really
lay 'er down in the powder, so I was able to watch him and learn.
Today was the real
Riding. Again, most of you reading this probably already know
what I am talking about, but for those of you in the dark on this, what
were doing is riding the clearing underneath a powerline up here.
As you can see from the picture, the clearing is about 50-100 ft wide and
runs the length of the powerline, which is miles and miles. This
line had already been ridden, but most riders had stayed in the middle,
where the tracks were and where it is "safe", so there was plenty of fresh
deep snow to be had on the outside. I did get out there and rode
quite a bit in the deep snow. I only got stuck once, one of those
deals when the terrain suddenly leans the wrong way and you get "sucked
in". Not much you can do in a situation like this, unless you have
a mountain (powder) sled and/or have the abilities to quickly shift your
weight to get the sled turning in the right direction. Note: When
I say shift you weight, I am not talking about sitting and then shifting
you body off to one side of the sled like you do on packed snow.
I can do that just fine. What I am talking about is much different.
Riding in powder like this is done while standing up on the runners.
You do this for many reasons. One, because you are riding at 50-100%
power most of the time and the front of the sled is up high, with the track
digging into the snow, so you would not be able to see if you were sitting.
Two, because the snow is also pouring over the front of the sled and you,
the higher you can get your head to see, the better. Three, because
to turn, you shift your weight and by this I mean you put all of your weight
on the foot on the same side in the direction you want to turn. Your
foot is also at the back of the runners, not up by front. Next you
pull hard on the handle bar on the opposite side of the direction you want
to turn. This causes the sled to lean to the side you want to go
and bingo, you are turning. Now add the snow flying over the top
of you, the uneven terrain and in my case a shield so fogged up you could
ice fish off of it and you are challenged. As was I.
Like I said.
I did pretty good I think. I rode the deep snow as much as anyone
(except Mr. RMK 800, he was in it the whole time!) and I only got stuck
once. When I stepped of the the sled to get it unstuck. I sunk
in to about my lower chest, so it was deep! Looking back on it, I
should have taken a lot more pictures while we were out there, especially
when I got stuck and of Mr. RMK 800 performing his magic. However,
for most of the time I was too busy riding to stop and take pictures.
Maybe next time.
We got off the powerline
onto a closed road and then took this to another closed road and then another
and another and another and then we were in the town of Gay! Like
I said in previous entries, these guys know the bush better than anyone
up here. At times, we were riding on trails that even the deer do
not know about yet. It was nice to get back into civilization though.
Nice to be able to get in out of the elements (snowed all afternoon, 3-4"
new) and warm up. However, not before going out onto the sands for
a little jumping action. Now I was in my element. I have been
out on the sands plenty of times before and know where the perfect jumping
bowl is located. I also am a fairly respectable jumper. The
other 2-3 sleds were off looking for good jumps and I headed right for
"JD's Bowl". I was hoping the others would see and come and play.
They did. All it took was one launch off the rim of the bowl and
they were there flying right along with me. Here
is a shot of "Mr. RMK 800 catching some air. I took the picture
a little too early, as he was just reaching escape velocity and not at
the top of his jump, but you get the idea. Here
is a shot of another guy, no nickname, but also a good rider.
Also a poorly timed pic, but fun to look at just the same.
Inside the Gay bar,
there was talk of new closed roads to a new powerline and then back to
their hometown of Mohawk. The ride to Mohawk sounded like a blast,
but then I knew I would be riding the DNR trails from there back to my
home in Lake Linden. Not a very far ride, but I really was not looking
forward to the possibility of riding about 15-20 miles on weekend moguls
so I decided to break off from the pack and take the back roads I know
from Gay to Lake Linden and call it a day. Wise choice in the end,
as I am still fairly fresh and not too beat up. I could actually
head out and ride if the phone rang right now. If there is the expected
fresh snow tomorrow, I do believe I will head to a couple of fields I know
by my house and practice my turns in the deeper snow.
Now, for all of you
reading this and really wish you could ride these "local" trails, YOU CAN!
The guys I rode with today offer their services as guides and will be happy
to take you out into the bush. You can tell them the type of riding
you want to do and they will custom design a trip to fit your needs.
Be advised, they do not get into the business of guiding people around
on the DNR trails. Like most locals, they do not like to ride them
too much and really only use them to get from one local trail to another
or from a local trail to a bar or gas station. So if you want some
one to show you around on the DNR trails, don't call them. I would
also suggest that people who are not too confident in their abilities to
maybe sit this one out. Like I said, they can custom design the ride
to meet your desires, but this is bush riding and does require at least
average abilities. Most riders I know posses these abilities, but
if you are a beginner, I would not recommend this type of excursion.
How do you schedule
such a trip? E-mail me
and I will put you in touch with them. Their fee is ridiculously
low and you will not find riding like this anywhere else, at least not
on your own. Plus, I plan on riding with them as much as possible,
so who knows, maybe we'll be riding together!
Guess that about does
it for tonight. Can't wait to get out into the powder again.
It is addictive.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 21 - Getting a late
start tonight, so I don't know how long this will be. First, it is
official. The big lake effect snows expected with this past system
were a bust. I think that total amounts here at my house were in
the 7-9" range. I'd have to double check, but I think that was about
it. I am sure that other places got more, as Wednesday night I know
of some places that had 5" new when at my house it was only about 1-2"
by that point. I guess to try and cop out I could say that the general
forecast was for 7-14" of snow, but that was only through Thursday, with
more expected Thursday night and Friday. So I will not be afraid
to say it... My forecast was a dud. The one thing I learned
early in my forecasting career is to have thick skin, realize I will never
be correct all the time and move on. Don't dwell on past failures
and don't let them effect future performance. Easier said than done.
We have a new lake effect event headed our way for later tomorrow night
and into Sunday and another for later Monday and into Tuesday. Both
look to be better organized as far as the upper air situation is concerned.
This promises to bring some heavier snow than we just got, even with warmer
temps. However, I find myself thinking of the big dumping forecast
that just failed and have to work at it to shake it off. Enough of
Had probably my best
ride of the season so far today. Lots of neat variety. I hooked
up with a new friend up by my house. We rode the canal south to Houghton/Hancock.
Note, if you don't know where you are going on the canal, stay off.
Especially if you are riding north to Lake Linden, as there is an area
called "The Cuts" and it is notorious for swallowing up snowmobilers.
I guess about every year someone goes through in that area and a few years
back a guy did not survive the experience. There is a safe way through
(me typing this is proof), you just need to know where it is and I am not
about to try and explain it here, just take the trail!
Anyway, from Hancock,
we headed back north towards Calumet on the "upper trail" as the locals
call it. I guess only the visitors to the area call it by it's given
name: "Jack Stevens Trail". Somewhere along the way we went off trail
and into the "bush". Found a really cool spot to do some powder riding
and I discovered I have a lot of practicing to do with this until I become
good at it. I did not get stuck, but turning in powder is a lot different
than on packed snow. Your skis are basically useless. I knew
this already, I just have not been in deep snow like this too much in my
riding career and my skills are thus lacking. To make matters worse,
you start to work so hard that you breathe heavy and in this cold that
leads to a fogged windshield. As far as I am concerned, there is
no worse equipment failure than a fogged windshield. I really like
to have a decent view and it drives me nuts to have to try and see through
the ice on the shield. So, I went out and got a heated shield, but
it will not work with my helmet. Bummer.
I have cleaned the
shield and put some rain-x on it. Hopefully this will allow any ice
or fog formation to be cleared off easily, as I am going on an all day
ride in the bush tomorrow and I'm sure that I will run into the fogging
problem some time during the ride. Plus I will return this shield
and order one which will work with my helmet.
Guess that will do
it for today. Sorry no pictures. I was really shooting myself
that I forgot the camera as some cool powder riding pictures would have
been a result. I will make sure to staple it to my forehead so I
don't forget it for tomorrow's ride.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 20 - A little bit
of everything today. Just when I thought the snow was over, it would
pick up again and really come down for awhile. Then, just when I
thought the heavier snowfall was here to stay, it would taper off.
In reality, I knew that we would be in and out of the snows today, but
it just felt like what I just described today for some odd reason.
We even had a unique situation occur this afternoon, as we had both whiteout
conditions and sunshine at the same time! I have never been in that
before. Visibility was about 1/8 of a mile, but the sun was shinning
through the snow, with no clouds to block it. Really weird.
All told we have received
about 2-3" new here in Lake Linden all day. Much of that came with
one bigger squall at about 1 PM that lasted to about 2 PM. Watching
the last few frames of visible satellite imagery before the sun went down,
the banding was changing from NW to west and looked to be staying that
way. If this plays out, our snow will likely be heavier tonight.
So far all we have received is about 5". The flakes are really small,
kinda like talcum powder snow. That is due to the cold air and dry
air at the surface. Does not allow the flakes to "coalalese"
or stick together to make the bigger flakes, which really pile up.
One good thing about our snow. It is already packed down, so the
typical 8" of lake effect will not settle out to 4" in a day or two in
One of the things which
have spooked me since moving up here are the logging trucks. They
are all over the place up here as logging is a big part of what goes on
in this neck of the woods. Anyway, they stack the logs on the back
of the trucks quite high and most of the trucks have the second trailer
and I am always afraid that a log will go flying off and nail me in my
car. Well, yesterday's news paper did nothing to ease my fear.
Right on the front page was picture of a logging truck which lost control,
spun out, and sent it's load of logs all over the road. Fortunately
no one was injured, but a car did have to swerve into the ditch to avoid
the accident. If that was not enough, on the front of today's paper
another logging truck, another dumped load. Only this one was not
the fault of the truck. A car could not stop as it came to the intersection
with the highway the truck was on and slid into the trucks lane.
The truck had to swerve to avoid crushing the car and in the process lost
it's load. Still, this has not been good for my frame of mind about
those logging trucks. I don't mean to pick on them, they just scare
the heck out of me!
Ahh.... I almost forgot.
I went riding last night. Finally made it north of Calumet too boot!
We rode to the Cliffs which are just to the south of Phoenix. Trails
were in good to excellent condition, especially north of Mohawk.
The cold temps made the snow dust really hard to ride in if you were not
the leader, but still a very fun ride. We actually stuck to the trails
most of the night, with only a few short-cuts here and there. The
condition of the snow is great up here and the only thing which will downgrade
the trail conditions will be traffic, as the snow will be able to withstand
things, but moguls will develop with the weekend traffic.
Looking forward to
Saturday, as I am slated for an all day ride in the bush. Hooking
myself up with some locals who know the bush like no one else up here.
They are said to be able to even get other long-time locals to the point
where they have no clue where they are. I have even arranged for
someone to take care of the hounds in the afternoon and evening as I will
be away. Some heavy snow tonight and tomorrow would make things just
that much better. Although I did get stuck last night and had my
memory refreshed as to how much work it is to get your sled unstuck when
you are up to your waist in powder. I almost had a heart attack!
Well, guess that is
about it for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 19 - In contrast
to yesterday's late update, today's will be an early one. It is currently
5 PM and I am making the entry. I am doing this because I have plans
to ride this evening and will not likely be getting back until late, so
I thought I would get it done early. However, I just found out that
the person I am to ride with has an emergency fix to make on someone's
sled and that throws in the possibility that I may not even ride.
Only time will tell.
Congrats to all my
friends in southern MN, eastern IA and the northern portions of IL who
got some decent snow today! See, this La Nina thing isn't too bad
after all. Ya right! Anyway, we have been in and out of lake
effect snow showers all day, but never really too heavy for too long.
I suppose we have received 1-2" new. It looks like our best chances
for the LES will come tomorrow through tomorrow night and into early Friday.
Places like Ironwood and Hurley, as well as Marquette will see their best
snow tonight. I think the most interesting thing about this whole
deal is that the NWS in Marquette is calling for 7-14" total through tomorrow
with this system, which makes perfect sense to me. However, they
only have us under a snow advisory! Any other place in the Midwest
with a 7-14" accumulation expected in the next 24 hours would have winter
storm warnings posted, the national guard on reserve and top story, team
coverage on the news!
Went for a ski with
the hounds today. We headed to the south shore to ski the beach.
We must have had some northeast winds recently, as there were some mini
ice castles built up on this shore. I say mini, as they were only
about 3-5 feet high not the 20-30 foot ones on the north shore. Here
is a shot of the hounds out exploring them. I let them go out
there, as they would have not been in any trouble had they fallen in, as
the water was only about a foot deep at the edge of the ice and they would
have been able to climb out with my help had they fallen in. Thank
goodness that they have not had any ambition to head out onto the ones
on the north shore. That could prove to be disastrous if they got
into trouble there.
It was an enjoyable
ski. Nice to ski an area without hills for a change. As I said
we were in and out of snow showers all day. With the winds out of
the north, the south shore was out of them more than in. Here
is a shot during one of the larger lulls. There was actually
some blue sky seen. Something I can't even remember seeing in the
past week or so! The shot is looking north towards Gay. The
next squall is actually blocking out the view of Gay and the sands out
there. The squall shows up as the low cloud bank on the horizon.
Well, those were the
only two pictures I took today and I am out of new and exciting things
to talk about for another day. Hopefully I will have some fun stories
to tell about my ride tonight or tomorrow afternoon/early evening in the
journal tomorrow! Stay tuned.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 18 - Well, I really
don't have a whole lot to talk about today. However I know that there
is a lot of people out there who check in everyday to read this, so I don't
want to disappoint by not updating this. We got more snow today.
Most of it came before about 2 PM. All told about another 4".
Just when it looked like we were in for more, it up an quit! A little
bit of dry air and some subsiding air was all that was needed to turn off
the lake effect in the Keweenaw. That's OK, we got about 10" new
in the past two days and that make me happy. Plus, tomorrow looks
like it will be a big day for some folks in the UP. Things look a
little bit questionable for a huge dumping in the Keweenaw, as the winds
will initially be out of the due north. This tends to favor areas
around Marquette and Munising and Luce County more than US, but even here,
we could get more than 8" by Thursday. Plus it will likely be in
the single digits here, while places to our south will be in the -10 to
-20 degree range.
Did not ski, but went
for a walk. We walked through a field and the snow was past my knees
and the hounds basically disappeared. Lots of work to walk through
snow like that. We were even walking in my tracks from (or at least
where I rode) the snowmobile from the other night. Sorry, no pictures.
Things continue to
creep towards the Keweenaw that I came to love in the winter. I have
24" in my front yard and the reporter in Phoenix is reporting 30".
The snow piles in town are getting there, but not quite to the obscene
levels that they normally reach.
I just want to make
one last comment and will end it for tonight. I keep mentioning if
you are here on weekends, to ride early in the morning. Well, for
the trails in the loop from Hancock to Calumet, this may not always provide
you with the best conditions. Here's the scoop with these trails.
The groomer comes out of a location near Lake Linden. The groomer
takes this as his day job and usually heads out in the mid morning.
From the junction of 122 and 3, he either turns north to head up to Laurium/Calumet
or south to go to Hancock. He then makes the full loop back to the
junction of 122 and 3. I believe he does the stretch from Calumet
to Mohawk, but I am not sure. This stretch (Calumet-Mohawk) is also
one of the worst up here. So as you can see, the trails from Calumet
to Hancock will not likely be in too great a shape early in the morning,
as they have not been groomed since either the late afternoon or the late
morning the day before. Not sure what the best plan of attack would
be for this area, maybe just roll the dice. For other areas, "the
early, the better" rule does really work. Hope this helps.
I do plan to ride tomorrow
and hopefully again Thursday so maybe I will have more to report.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
P.S. It is now 6 AM Wednesday.
Sorry I was not able to update the journal last night, but I did manage
to write it. Just finished a little late. I cannot upload it
to the server when someone is downloading it. I tried for 15 minutes
to upload it, but did not have access, and then just had to get to bed
as it was getting late. Sorry
January 17 - I have to laugh
at myself. It is amazing how my spirits revolve around snow.
I suppose it is enhanced this year because this is my first winter living
here and I was so looking forward to a big year. After all, the main
reason why I moved up here was for their winters. The icing on the
cake is the beautiful summers and autumns they have as well. I figure
that in future winters I will not be as emotionally tied to the snowfall
up here. Anyway, the reason why I say all of this is that I awoke
and examined the computer guidance and it did not look too promising for
heavier snows. At one point, it looked like we (and a lot of the
upper Midwest) could be in for a good 3-8" of snow. One change followed
another and with each run of the models, more and more snow was taken out
of the forecast. The way things looked in the models, and in the
current conditions, I thought that we would be lucky to manage an inch.
Another decent shot of snow was indicated for later this week, as a big
dump of arctic air was indicated to drop south. It was also indicated
to drop south in such a manner as to provide decent lake effect snow.
Note: bitterly cold air at the surface is not the only ingredient
needed to produce decent lake effect snow. This system too had the
snows gradually removed from it in each concurrent model run, as the cold
air looked to come down in a manner which many of the cold air outbreaks
have some down this year, shallow and sheared, and have produced only minor
lake effect snow (LES) events. So, my spirits were rather low when
I was writing up the forecast this morning.
Well, it started to
snow around here at about 10 AM. Not too heavy at first but a gradual
increase did occur. It kept up into the afternoon and early evening
hours, at times coming down at a moderate to heavy clip. All told,
we have received 5" of the white gold and it is still snowing lightly as
I write this (8:30 PM). My spirits have been lifted. To make
matters better, it looks like a minor lake effect event will shape up for
tomorrow afternoon into the overnight hours. Not a major deal, but
another 1-4" looks to be a fairly good bet right now. Plus, things
are again looking fairly good for later Wednesday and into Thursday.
I have not set my hopes too high for that event, as the models have really
been all over the road as of late, but something to hope comes true.
A quick trail report...
I did manage to get out for a quick spin this evening just before writing
this. The groomer which does the lower loop between Hancock and Calumet
was out. He did the lower trail first, heading south from Lake Linden
to Hancock. I rode that trail first and it was bumped up. Not
terrible, but 4-10" moguls, enough to make you take evasive action.
I figure most of the bumps were there as a result of today's riding as
he likely groomed that stretch late this morning. However, it is
not out of the realm of possibilities that some of the weekend bumps were
not taken completely away from the grooming either. The snow condition
is good to excellent, so another day's grooming and they should be in decent
shape. Traffic is low right now. I also headed north and made
the first tracks across the freshly groomed trail. Things there were
way better, almost excellent. With the fresh snow today and more
expected this week, plus the really cold air by the end of the week, trails
should be in good to excellent shape heading into the weekend. I
might head out tomorrow to see if my predictions come true.
Other than that, not
much new to report. Took a ski on my privately groomed trail (see
entry for Jan 12&13). A fresh 2" down on it and still snowing
pretty good while we were out made for a most enjoyable trip. I am
really surprised at how we can put in a 5-6 mile ski in about an hour and
not even be too worn out by the end of it. I guess these daily trips
out into the woods is getting me (and the hounds) into shape after all!
Plus, I even recovered from the roof clearing fully in less than a day.
Not too bad for a 33 year old man!
Guess that will do
it for now. Hope I have lots of good news to report to you tomorrow.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 16 - Well, I took
another right of passage towards full yooperhood. My roof is now
free of the load of snow it has been bearing for the past several weeks.
But Holy Wa! What a job. I don't think that I have been this
physically exhausted in a long, long time. I had aspirations that
a simple roof rake would do the trick, but the freezes and thaws as well
as the pressure of the snow on top had compressed and hardened the snow
beneath to the point that the rake was basically useless. I came
to this conclusion only after an hour of work had only cleared the drifts
along the eves of the front. My arms were Jell-O from lifting the
rake up and pulling towards me and I thought I was in real trouble.
I really did not want to have to pay someone to clear the roof, I am a
young strong guy with enough time, so I let pride take over and on to phase
This phase consisted
of climbing up on the roof and using my shovel to clear the roof.
However, the shovel I was using was just your standard push shovel.
Great for 1-5" of snow on a flat surface which requires little lifting,
but basically useless against the 2-3 feet of snow cemented to my roof.
It took me about another 30-45 minutes to come to this conclusion and now
not only were my arms tired, but also my back, and legs and I had begun
to work up a healthy sweat in the 10 degree weather. On to phase
Phase three consisted
of tapping into good old yooper ingenuity. The
Snow Scoop. For those of you who have been up here to the UP
in the winter, I'm sure you have seen the local inhabitants moving the
mounds of snow we get up here with these devices. I was not in possession
of one, but all it took was a walk to the neighbors and a ring on the door
bell and I was soon up on the roof with this wonderful, magical, instrument
of snow removal. I know that this thing looks rather unusual, goofy
even, but let me tell you it is a true engineering marvel. Whoever
invented this thing needs to win some kind of an award for genius.
It is really a very efficient mover of snow. The true beauty is it's
simplicity. You just push the scoop into the snow, pull it out and
move it to where ever you want to place the snow. If you need to
go up hill, just push down on the handle and it will ride right up the
hill or embankment. A sudden halt to the forward movement and the
snow is unloaded completely and with ease. For the job I was trying
to get done, there was no better tool to use. In about 60 seconds
I was able to remove more snow than had taken me about 5-10 minutes to
remove with the standard shovel.
Now don't get me wrong,
I still had a roof of 70 feet by 30 feet to do, but at least I was in control
of the situation and making real progress. 2 hours later and I was
done with the roof. Now, one of the problems with clearing off a
roof is that the snow needs to go somewhere. In my case, the majority
of the snow on the front side of the house, went from the roof onto my
driveway or the walkway to my front door! The piles were shoulder
high to me and I am 6'2". On to phase 4.
Phase 4 consisted of
firing up the trusty 8 HP, 2 stage, self propelled, chains on the tires,
snow thrower and letting her do her magic. One problem, the mouth
of the snow thrower is only about 18" high and the piles were about 5 feet
high. So I had to eat away at the edges and then just drive head
on into the pile and let the snow thrower go as far as it could.
I was amazed by the power of this thing. One cylinder, but man can
it go to town. It would literally go all the way into the pile, until
it had completely encased itself in the pile of snow. I then backed
it out and hit the pile again. After about another hour, all the
snow was in its proper place and I had just enough energy to return the
snow scoop and collapse inside.
I knew that clearing
my roof was one of the few, if not only, things I was not going to enjoy
too much about the snowfall up here. I was right. However,
I am heading to the hardware store tomorrow and am going to get my own
snow scoop. Next time I will be ready. No roof rake, no regular
shovel. I'm going right to the snow scoop.
I think I have used
up what remaining energy I had typing out this journal entry, so I will
close for now. I know one boy who is going to sleep like a baby tonight!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 15 - Had a fun filled
day today, with lots of wintertime activities. Took the hounds for
a ski this morning and went riding in the afternoon and early evening.
Again, I did not ride the DNR or "main" trails. I guess I am basically
a local now and stay the heck off of them on weekends. Rode with
a group from the club. It was a fun experience as we were actually
riding with a purpose and that was to "brush" the portion of the club trail
that they are not grooming because it goes "nowhere" as a result of the
South Gay Trail being closed for logging. Brushing basically means
to clear the trail of obstacles. This is usually done in the fall,
but was not done on this trail in the fall since we knew it would not be
groomed. However, a handful of locals use it and there were several
blow downs which made for some unpleasant detours. One of the club
members brought along his chain saw and we cleared the trail of the blow
downs as we rode. So that made for an interesting ride, as there
were several stops to do work. Now I have a neat little trail to
take when I want to ride the woods in that area. All I need to do
is remember where to find it!
The rest of the ride
was through the woods on "local" trails and we ended up at the Gay Bar.
It is neat for me now, as I am making lots of friends up here and I can
walk into a bar and usually see someone I know. Really makes me feel
like I am a local. I did manage to talk to some folks who were up
for the weekend and riding the DNR trails. They reported to me that
they were in good shape yesterday and early today, but by this afternoon
were pretty beat up. That is no surprise and is to be expected.
I apologize for not being able to give a better report on the main trails,
but you can pretty much count on them being a little bumpy by the afternoons
on the weekends. Some places will be more than a little bumpy.
The snow conditions
up here are still very good though and with grooming, the trails will be
in fairly decent shape for the weekdays. New snow does look to arrive
here in the next couple of days and I am eyeballing chances for some heavier
lake effect with the arctic air arriving Wednesday.
I also have to apologize
for not bringing the camera today. I was running late and ran out
of the house without it this afternoon. There was not a whole lot
new to show, but I guess it would have been interesting for some of you
to see us at work clearing the blow downs.
Tomorrow will likely
be a work day, as I can get my normal Sunday work done and keep Monday
free. Plus I had better clear the roof, especially if we are to get
some heavier snow by the end of the week.
My condolences to any
Miami Dolphins fans, Holy Wa! What happened there?
That's all for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 14 - Not a whole
lot to speak about tonight, but I figured it would not be good to put two
multi-day entries in back to back. Woke up to a crisp morning here
in the valley and in much of the Keweenaw to boot. It was about zero
out. Seemed to take forever to take the chill out of the house this
morning. As I was finishing up my morning work, my door bell rang
and it was my neighbor there to tell me that the water service was about
to be shut down because of a broken main. I noticed some slush in
his yard the other day, but thought it was from the rain and little bit
of snow melt we had. Turns out the underground pipe broke and the
slush is from that. It has gotten to the point that his whole parking
area is now an ice skating rink. I quickly made a dash for the shower
to get that in before the water was shut off. The gas company people
came and marked the lines, but the water guys never came, so my poor neighbors
yard continues to slowly flood and freeze. It's not too bad, but
still something no one wants. Best I can figure is that the water
main is too close to the gas main and they need to wait for something before
they start digging. There is a flag marking the gas main right on
top of where the water is coming up from.
Took a nice ski along
the north shore this afternoon. So peaceful and beautiful.
As I skied along, I wondered what the rest of the world was up to.
All the hustle and bustle, competition, wheeling and dealing. Made
me that much more happy that it was just the hounds and I off exploring
the snow in the northwoods. Would not trade it in for anything.
Did not take any new pictures as there are some of that area in past entries
(Dec 31). It is amazing how things change out there with the power
of the lake. My last time out there I talked about and provided some
pictures of the huge ice castles which formed. Some of those huge
ice castles are now gone and large pockets of open water are now occurring
where the solid 8 foot thick layers of ice stood between the castles and
the shoreline. I stick to the shore line as that is where the ski
able snow is, but to see the transformations which the lake causes is really
No riding today, but
do have plans to take some "hidden" trails out in the bush tomorrow with
club members. I'll try and remember the camera to take you all along.
Good news, I found
out today that I have Monday off for the holiday. Strange to think
I might have supplied my clients with stuff and they would not have even
been in their offices Monday!
Well, I'm getting sleepy
so will end it for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 12&13 - The
dual date is not meant to be a cop out, it is meant to mean that I am including
both day's activities into one. Yesterday was one of those non stoppers.
Mostly full of fun stuff, but a little work mixed in to keep me honest.
First I want to clear
up a few things up. In the journal for January 11, I spoke about
riding the back roads up here. I wanted to make it clear that the
majority of the riding was actually done on seasonal roads which are not
plowed. On the roads which were plowed, I was sure to stay in the
unplowed areas whenever possible. Those are the rules of the road
up here. I also want to let everybody know that this is not allowed
in Keweenaw County. For some reason they do not allow this shoulder
riding, which strikes me as odd, as most of that county's roads are much
more rural than Houghton County's. Some day somebody from Keweenaw
County will need to explain that one to me. Anyway, on to my recent
True to form, the hounds
and I took a ski in the woods yesterday. I have found a neat spot
to go. It is actually a path the groomer takes to get from his home
to the trails. It is clearly marked "no snowmobiles" so I know it
is safe. The groomer pulls the drag through there so I have a nice
10 foot wide groomed trail to go on. Plus, it is about 2-3 miles
in length which works out perfect for a round trip workout. Here
is one shot of the trail. As I was going down it I thought, what
a perfect place for the chamber to shoot a commercial for the Keweenaw.
Nice deep snow and ALWAYS a freshly groomed trail! HA, HA. Here
is another shot, this time with Burtie in it.
One thing that has
begun to happen is that we are getting snow without the hurricane force
winds. This has allowed the snow to begin to "flock" the trees and
other objects. My first time up here was 10 years ago and I could
not believe how much snow there was on everything. Mailboxes, fences,
posts, even some signs would have 1-2 feet on them, not to mention every
branch on the trees. Well, as stated, the flocking has been able
to get underway and here
is a pic of the trees along the trail.
After the ski, I rode
the sled down to Hancock to meet some new friends to go riding. I
actually met them through the internet and yesterday was our first face
to face. For those of you on TrailConditions.com, they go by the
handle "Keweenaw" and "Snowsnake". Really great guys. Unfortunately
one of the sleds had some strange vibration going on so we cut the ride
short. On the good side, I got to meet them and look forward to future
rides with them as they will challenge my riding skills and know lots of
fun places to go.
The trails were actually
in good to very good shape. Basically no reason why they would keep
your speed down or cause you to be sore from bumping around. An occasional
bump was encountered, but not enough to throw you or make you back off
the throttle. The grooming (I came across the groomer on my way home)
and cold temps have really helped to set up the trails pretty good.
It looks like temps will not get too warm this weekend, at least not above
the mid to upper 20's and some light snow tomorrow night and into early
Saturday will also help keep things in pretty decent shape. It's
a long weekend for some (not me) so they will likely take it on the chin,
but hopefully the races in Eagle River will help to keep our traffic down
Today was a stay home
day. We did sneak in a ski, but then had to take care of all the
stuff I have been putting off all week because of my playing. Got
all of the chores done (last load of wash is in the drier!) and all I have
left to do sometime is clear the roof. This will be my first experience
with this. I bought a roof rake and hope that this will work.
I really do not feel like climbing up on the roof, as my ladder is not
too good and it would make getting up there a challenge. Keep checking
the "front of house shot" on the Al cam page to see if I have gotten to
clearing it off.
That will do it for
now. Have plans to ride the bush Saturday and then maybe Monday in
the new snow that is suppose to come.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 11 - What a difference
a day makes in the weather and my attitude! I am sorry for my whining
yesterday, but I did not move to the snow capital of the Midwest to have
it rain in January! I realize it did not rain everywhere up here,
with the higher elevations staying in snow. We did manage to switch
back to snow in the late PM and I awoke to 2-2.5" of new, wet snow.
It was snowing lightly all morning and then became heavier by about midday.
It has been snowing all afternoon, with periods of heavy snow. We
have likely seen average rates of about .5-1"/hr since about 1 PM, with
about 5-6" new as of this writing (8 PM).
Things did not pan
out with riding partners but I could not let this new snow go to waste
so I saddled up and hit the trails solo. Decided to ride the sides
of the country roads not far from my home. The plows do not get to
them right away so I knew that the 4-5" of fresh would be there waiting
is a shot of the sled on the access trail to the DNR trail by my house.
Not snowing too hard at that moment. I then took the DNR trail to
the local club trail (Dreamland trail). Here
is a shot of the DNR trail while it was snowing a little heavier.
Took the club trail
to a good hopping off point and then rode the shoulders of the back roads
for a while. Here
is a shot of what I got to ride for about 40 miles this afternoon.
I am not going to incriminate myself by saying how fast I got to go at
times, but I did make the mistake of dressing too lightly for the ride.
Burr... that wind can get cold! Especially when you are not working
hard on the sled! Here's
a shot of where I had been.
After having enough
shoulder riding, I decided to get back on the club trail (in a different
spot) and take it home. The twists and turns would allow me to work
harder and warm up, plus the riding in the woods would keep me going slower
and out of the winds. It worked, I warmed right up and was treated
to sights like this.
Now you know one of the reasons why I call this God's Country!
I did manage to brave
the main DNR trail that runs from Hancock to Lake Linden and then Calumet,
just to be able to report on its condition. I realize that conditions
change by the hour up here, especially on weekends, but I know many of
you want to know how they are so you can try and anticipate what kind of
shape they will be in when you arrive. Well, IT STUNK! There
were 6-12" moguls and I was cussing the groomer and promising to give out
his home phone number over the internet when I got home, because I knew
that the trail had not been groomed in over 24 hours. To me that
is inexcusable. Unless of course the groomer is broken, then OK,
I understand. Well, I did not last long on that trail and went home
and put the sled away.
I have taught the hounds
what "I'm going snowmobiling" means. At least to them. It means
"Dad will not be home for a couple of hours, so lets sleep". It has
also become a ritual for me to let them out when I get home and watch them
play in the snow as I put the sled away in the garage. After I put
the sled away, I decided to let them play some more, it was just pouring
down snow and they were having a blast, so I sat down in the snow bank.
In the quiet of the evening, I heard the groomer going by about a half
a mile away on the trail I had just bumped down. Either he got a
late start or had to groom some extra places, but he definitely was finishing
up late. I took back all the nasty things I said about him (plus
I was joking about giving out his home phone number, I know who he is,
but would never be foolish enough to tell the world).
By the way, this reminds
me... There is only one groomer and one groomer operator for the
entire trail system from Mohawk to Hancock. Not that this is a ton
of trail, but a lot for one machine and one driver to handle. To
make matters worse, these are some very popular trails so they have a tendency
to get beat up. So next time you are bouncing down the trail between
Hancock and Mohawk, at least you know why. Not sure what the solution
is to this, short of a whole 'nother groomer and driver.
The snow conditions
up here are now excellent. Grooming will make the trails excellent.
Just remember that things get busy on the weekends. Early riding
is your best bet for freshly groomed trails. The Keweenaw Tourism
Council will probably hate me for this, but if you have an unusually bad
time on the trails, call them and tell them. Don't just complain
though, maybe offer some suggestions or at least tell them that you are
concerned that the grooming practices need to be looked at a little closer
to see if everything that can be done is. If enough people voice
their concerns, then maybe things will be able to be improved. Personally,
I think the grooming should be done from about 4-10 AM. This is when
the trails are the safest and quietest and it would allow a better chance
for the trails to set-up before getting beat up. To my knowledge,
not much grooming is done at this time. I could be wrong, but I have
never heard of them going out at this time. I am not slamming the
groomers themselves. They put in long hours in a lonely cab and I
praise them for their work. I just think that the persons running
things need to do a little re-examination of how things get done.
Well, guess that will
do it for now. Don't let my talk of the trails scare you away, I
just felt like I had to let people know that I realize that they could
probably be better. They are in generally good to excellent shape
during the week and on weekends are usually good early. Come on up,
the snow is getting nice and deep and looks to fall quite regularly through
the next week to ten days, you will have fun!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 10 - One of those
days I would like to trade in if I could. I know that for may of
you reading this, I am preaching to the choir and my complaints are not
really justified, but woke up to some light rain and drizzle at 6 AM.
By 7, it had changed to snow and by 9 it was really coming down.
Big silver dollar flakes that really pile up. I thought "great, were
gonna get dumped on". By 10:30 is was back to mostly rain and stayed
that way for most of the day. Not heavy rain and we did not loose
any snow cover, even the stuff left on my driveway did not melt.
But still, rain is no fun. The dogs and I did not even take a walk.
We refuse to walk in anything but snow from January through March!
It did snow all day up on the hill, as the airport was reporting light
snow all day. I took a trip to Dan's Polaris and it was snowing there
too. It would be great if the groomers get out this evening, as the
temps will drop all night and then lake effect snow tomorrow. Things
will be golden where they groom tonight. I plan on riding tomorrow.
I would like to ride in the bush, but cannot find any who can go at the
moment, and I will not do it alone, so maybe I will just have to stick
to the trails or save my gas and energy for Wednesday and maybe Thursday.
With a little luck
I will have a bunch of new pictures to show you tomorrow. So until
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 9 - Good news, bad
news. The good news is I believe my scare with the flu was just that,
a scare. Although, I did sleep for over 10 hours last night.
The bad news is I don't have anything exciting to talk about. I guess
that is one of the risks one takes when putting out a daily journal.
Every once in a while, nothing exciting happens!
I do want to share
parts of an e-mail which was sent to me by a visitor of my site (with their
permission). I thought that it would be nice for all of you to be
able to read what someone else's experience up here was like. So
without further adieu:
"We drove up in the BEAUTIFUL snow
on Thursday evening from Mpls. It took us 9 hours in the weather but was
well worth the drive. We headed up the Keweenaw on Friday a.m., we had
sled problems and ended up at Al's in Hubbell. I remembered the add from
Dan's Polaris on your web page so, we called and they brought a sled to
Al's and picked mine up and brought it back to Houghton. The guy
that owns Al's was a gem , he was outside in a t -shirt trying to help
us start the sled. Then he ran my Visa card through his bar and wrote
Dan's a check for the rental. The guys a prince !!! We will stop
at his place every time we come up and I will recommend it to all my friends!
Everyone we met in the U.P. seem to be really good people, Reminded me
of the folks I grew up around on the Canadian border of Minnesota. We left the hotel on Sat. a.m.
at 7:00 on #3 to Twin lakes then down #109 to #15 to #159 to Baraga then
# 15 to Chassell then back to #3 What a ride !!!!!
we didn't see another sled until about 9:30 and about 3/4 of the ride we
were the first ones on the trail after the groomer !!!! We were back
to Houghton about 12:30, That was the best ride I've ever had and
I have ridden the U.P. several times. We hit the snow just
right!!! This was an "impromptu" trip but man was it
great, can't wait to comeback !!!" Well, I am glad that
the nasty flu bug running around did not hit here. I did get a flu
shot and do work at home so the odds are in my favor, but ya never know.
New snows look to arrive
tonight and continue into Wednesday, so hopefully I will have lots of new
fun to report. Until then...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 8 - This, I feel,
will be a really short one. Not a whole lot to talk about and I am
feeling a little tired. Hope I am not coming down with that nasty
flu bug. Anyway, we had a sunny day today and temps rose to the low
30's. Did not melt much snow at all, except on the treated roads,
but did settle all the fluff we got over the past several days. I
have moved the snow stick from the snow station to the front yard and will
be using that as part of the AL Cam view. Depth there is down to
19" from 22" this morning.
Did go for a short
ride today. Kept to the local club trail and went early in the day.
Even that was a little beat up until I came across a club member grooming
it and then all was fine. Different story for the DNR trails, as
it was a train wreck from Dollar Bay north. Huge moguls and look
to not have been groomed for over 24 hours. I almost feel like taking
back all the nice things I said about the groomers in Tuesday's journal,
but I don't know the whole story. Plus I did come across the groomer
just south of Lake Linden, headed south. Only problem was, the condition
behind the groomer was not a whole lot better. They basically needed
to double up to take out all the bumps. I suppose I can chalk it
up for a weekend, but in my opinion, more could have been done to keep
it from getting that bad. It is fairly busy up here, but not booked
Well, like I said,
this is a shorty tonight. I feel an early to bed night and hope to
awake feeling all well.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 6&7 - I'm back, sorry.
Yesterday was a very exciting and busy day, as lots of new snow and things
to do kept me from my evening's duties of updating the journal. Yesterday
I awoke to a fresh 3" of snow (even on the snow station!). By about
8 AM, new snows started up. Big flakes and soon we were in near whiteout
conditions. The snow was not lake effect as many of the locals had
thought and as many of the "weather people" up here were saying, but was
actually caused by the cold front itself. I guess with all the lake
effect we get here, it just slips peoples minds that you do need some certain
things to be going on in the atmosphere to make the lake produce snow.
One of those is cold air near the surface. Well, yesterday AM the
temperature was RISING as the snow began to fall and hit close to 30.
Not nearly cold enough for lake effect. Anyway, we got a quick 3-4"
of snow in 2 hours with the frontal band of snow. For some picks,
here. The snows then tapered off to mainly light snow and flurries,
but looking at the satellite in the late morning and early afternoon I
saw the lake effect clouds building to the west of the Keweenaw.
The only problem was I had never really seen this type of banding occur
before. There was not really any banding to the clouds at all, but
rather one big white blob from about the Arrowhead of MN to just west of
the Keweenaw. With this part of the lake in a dead zone for radar,
I was in the dark as to what this mysterious white blob would bring.
My hunch was heavy snow, but I did not want to get my hopes up too much.
Anyway, I had some
errands to run, one of which was at the bank. The tellers at the
bank have come to know me and my profession and always inquire as to what
future weather events we have coming. I told them that I wasn't quite
sure, as I had never seen that type of lake effect cloud banding occur,
but what ever it was providing would be here in about an hour and would
last for at least 3 hours, but most likely through the evening and possibly
After leaving the bank
it was time to hit the woods with the hounds for a ski. I was also
planning to go riding with a friend so I was already in extra good spirits,
as I knew we would be riding on "local" trails and in at least 6" of new
snow. While out on our ski, the mystery clouds hit and on came some
very heavy snow. Not the heaviest I have ever seen in my life, but
the visibility did drop to 1/8th of a mile at times. The only down
side to snowfall that heavy is I know it usually will not last too long.
There are only a few places on earth where it will snow that hard for an
extended (hours) period of time. This is one, but even here it is
rather rare. For those of you who are wondering where in the US this
is more common, try the eastern end of Lake Ontario, specifically the Tug
Hill Plateau or some of the mountainous regions out west, specifically
the Little Cottonwood Canyon outside of Salt Lake City and an area to the
north of Jackson WY where Grand Targhee Ski area is. These areas
all are prone to some massive snow events. Anyway, back to the Keweenaw,
January 6th! Just when I though it could not snow any harder, it
did! I actually had taken my video camera along to document the fun
we would have in the woods and it was great because I was able to capture
on tape the snowfall. At one point, it was snowing so hard, you would
literally breathe in snow and it was accumulating on my eyelashes so much
I had to brush them off just to see! I was in all my glory!
And I have it all on tape to enjoy time and time again.
We were in and out
of heavy snow the rest of the afternoon and when I got back home from the
ski I quickly hopped on the sled and ran down to fill it up with gas for
the evening's ride. As I was gassing it up, I had to keep my hand
over the mouth of the tank to keep snow from falling into the tank, another
indication on how hard it was snowing.
The ride is really
a story in itself. I know I will leave out a lot, but I hope I can
hit the major points. We started down trail 122 headed towards the
Dreamland trail. From there we hopped off onto some side roads, and
logging roads and other "local" trails. One trail kept getting more
and more narrow until there was basically not more trail at all.
We were like a couple of deer making our way through the woods, breaking
our own trail. A ton of fun, but a ton of work. A little too
much gas and you bury your track and have a lot of digging to do.
Too little gas and you bog down and a lot of digging to do. All this
while dodging trees, blow downs and low hanging limbs, shifting your weight
to make the turns work in the deep snow. I was beginning to wonder
if my friend really knew were he was going as we had been off any kind
of trail (even footpath) for some time. We broke out onto a plowed
road which I recognized as the Gay-Lake Linden road. Rode the shoulder
of this for a short spell and then back into the woods. From there
hooked up with the snowmobile trail from Mohawk to Gay and rode to the
"Gay" Bar for dinner and beverages. All this time, the snow continued
to fall at a moderate clip.
After the bar we headed
back out into the snow and it seemed to be coming down hard again.
At least a fresh inch was down on the sleds and we were in the bar less
than 1 hour. From there out onto the sands to run the lake south.
That was a total trip. I have been out on the Gay Sands many times
before, but never in conditions like that. You could only see about
50-100 feet, there was enough snow down so that it was deeper than the
bumper and coming over the front of the sled the whole time. At times,
the whole world would go black as I hit a deeper spot and the headlight
was completely blocked. A really wild thing if you have never had
it happen. We rode cautiously, as there are a number of pieces of
driftwood out there which will end a trip very quickly. I let him
lead most of the way, but was sure to cut my own swath through the powder.
From there it was a mix of back roads, side roads and main roads back into
the woods for a while and then we came across some hills. Well, who
can pass up some hill climbs with a foot of fresh powder down. We
had a total blast climbing these hills. In some spots the snow had
to have been 3 feet deep because you would either drop into this deeper
snow and totally disappear or break through it and completely disappear
as well. After running every hill and running out of fresh powder
to cut, we headed to the Maple Leaf Bar for some more refreshments.
My partners shield
on his helmet had broken sometime between Gay and the Maple Leaf so after
the Maple Leaf he said he wanted to head to his shop (he is a local mechanic)
and replace it. We got his shield fixed, but it was now closing in
on the witching hour and I knew I would be waking up in less than 6 hours
so I said it was fine to call it a night and that is what we did.
Of course, I was high as a kite from the ride when I got home, so the hounds
and I rolled around and wrestled in the 8-12" of new snow on my driveway
for a while and then went to sleep with a big grin on my face. This
morning came far too early, but did reveal that about 4" of new snow had
come down since midnight. This I knew to be true as I had checked
the snow station before going to bed and the wind had kept if free of snow.
I awoke to find 4" on top of it. All told I would have to say we
got between 12-16" of new snow, but it is really hard to tell, since I
did not measure in the same place all the time and did not allow it to
properly settle before measuring. It is safe to say that 12" new
fell though. Things are really beginning to look like the Keweenaw
in winter that I have come to know over the past 9 years. The snow
piles are not quite as mind boggling as they usually are, but I need to
remind myself that it is only the first week of January. A few more
dumps like yesterday's and I will need to clear off the roof. Some
locals have already done that, but I think I will try and get away with
the minimum of doing that.
Not much new to talk
about today, except that we continued in and out of snow, sometimes moderate
in intensity through about 2 pm and then things shut down with the wind
shift. Snowing again as I type, with the little clipper, but what's
and inch or two? Did get in the daily ski with the hounds and I am
ready for bed. I do plan to head out to do a little riding tomorrow.
Will be sticking to the Club Trail, and hitting it early as I want to avoid
traffic and the moguls it brings. Maybe bring the camera along for
a little photo journalism.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 5 - I'm sorry, but
I have to start out this entry on a sad note. A good friend of mine
and owner of Dan's Polaris lost his home to a fire today. Thankfully,
no one was injured, but the place he called home for the past 30 years
is no longer. I only bring this up as I'm sure there are many readers
who have gone into Dan's Polaris for one reason or another and many who
have talked to Jack. For those of you who are spiritual in nature,
I'm sure he and his wife would appreciate a prayer or two. I must
also add that his home is in a different town than his shop/showroom and
thus his business will not be impacted. I had kinda a downer of a
day for different, and what now seems silly, reasons. Sure puts things
On a brighter
note, I have just received word that all the trail signs for the new Deer
Lake Trail, between Lac La Belle and Gay are up! I suppose that this
would make it fairly official that it is open. I am not sure of the
grooming going on, but at least you can find your way along the trail now.
This will help to ease a lot of the traffic between Mohawk and Phoenix
and I can't wait to take it!
Did not do any
riding today. Saving my energy for what I hope will be a fun ride
with a new friend tomorrow evening. The hounds and I did ski along
the north shore. Went all the way from the Tamarack Water Works to
the Calumet Water Works. For those of you who are in the dark on
this, it is a distance of about 2.5-3 miles each way, so it was a healthy
trek. Some very light snow began to fall on the way back which was
a nice sight.
Speaking of snow, we
just had a quick burst of snow in the past 2 hours and picked up about
2-3". It was really coming down there for a while. It was interesting
to note that the airport observations never even reported moderate snow.
I suppose it is possible that they did not see the same snow I saw here,
but we are only about 7 miles apart as the crow flies (or snow flys) and
I am here to tell you that it is impossible to get 3" of snow in 2 hours
and not have at least moderate snow fall. I am not criticizing the
folks reporting the observations up there, but I tell you what...
If you hear that moderate to heavy snow is falling at the Houghton County
Airport or Hancock MI, you know it is really coming down up here.
For years I sat in Chicago and looked at the observations reported here.
I remember one time, light snow was reported for about 12-15 hours straight
and in that time period 13" of new snow also was reported. Again,
an impossible feat by the guidelines used to designate snowfall rates.
It is also interesting to note that Marquette is currently reporting moderate
snow with 1 mile visibility. I was always told that to have moderate
snow, vis had to be less than 5/8ths of a mile. Oh well, its snowing
'n da UP, EH?
I also wanted to make
a comment on the trail report that the Keweenaw Tourism Council makes everyday.
The folks there have been reporting conditions as "fair", with limited
grooming for at least the past 2 days. I realize that words like
"fair", "good", "poor" and "excellent" are purely objective, but I am here
to tell you that I will not lie or say things are better than they are
up here. It is my goal to provide as much useful info as I can about
conditions here and let you all decide if you want to come. I would
have to say that a "fair" rating might be a little too harsh, as I rated
my ride yesterday as fair to good and as mentioned, I am picky. Also
I rode during one of the least favorable times, late in the afternoon,
on some of the most heavily used trails. I am willing to bet that
the person reporting the trail conditions for the KTC was not out riding
them. But again, she/he is only doing their job as good as they can
and is most likely only passing along what was told to them by groomers.
But here again, I guess if they ever say the trails are good to excellent
then you can rest assured they are!
One last bit of information.
About a week ago I mentioned that the club I belong to has an annual fund
raising event, a spaghetti dinner held at the Dreamland Bar. The
club also maintains the local Dreamland Trail. I now know the date,
it is February 13. Tickets were $5 last year for adults and $2.50
for children under 12 and I was told they will be the same this year.
I can't think of a better Valentines Day present for that special one in
your life than a romantic spaghetti dinner at the Dreamland! But
seriously, if you are going to be here that weekend, we welcome all.
You can e-mail me if you want
to get tickets in advance or just want to make a contribution to the club.
My snail mail address (if you want to go this route) is: John Dee,
PO Box 46, Lake Linden, MI 49945. I will make sure you are
taken care of. You can also just show up and pay at the door.
Where else can you chow down for $5 and get to rub elbows and be made to
feel like a local? EH? That's all for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 4 - Ok, just about
everybody else in the Midwest got some decent snow, and I am truly happy
for them. But I am ready for some fresh up here. I just did
some quick checking of things out there and some decent snows are coming
off of southern Lake Michigan. The snow with this band is even making
it as far to the south of DAYTON OH!. All we saw today was about
1/2 inch and then mixed clouds and sun. What gives? Actually
I know what gives, but will not get into the details here. Basically,
the upper air features with each cold event we have had have not been suitable
for any decent lake effect development here. This Thursday's event
shows some signs of maybe providing the ingredients to bring us some decent
lake effect, but we'll see.
The rest of tonight's
journal will be dedicated to my afternoon trail ride. I only took
two pictures, but hopefully I will be able to explain things good enough
to give everybody a decent idea on how things are up here.
The trail conditions
right from my house were actually excellent. Before I go on, I must
say that I am fairly critical of conditions. When I say they are
excellent, that means absolutely no moguls, fairly packed snow, but loose
enough to give you good cornering. Plus there cannot be any foreign
material on the trail (dirt, leaves, etc.). Good allows for some
foreign material, but not enough to really make a difference and little
in the way of moguls, at least not enough to effect riding speed or comfort.
Fair is a little more broad in scope. In general, it allows for considerable
foreign material, but trails still need to be at least 80-85% snow.
Moguls are present to the effect that they cause you to adjust your riding
style (faster to skip across them or slower to take out the sudden jarring
caused by them). Poor is basically when most people wish they were
somewhere else. The moguls are so big that you have to ride slow
and all the Tums in the world will not settle the acid in your stomach.
Bare ground is showing in some areas, especially corners, and grooming
efforts will not make much of a difference as the snow is "sugar snow",
meaning the individual flakes have been rounded off to be granules of snow,
which will not compact well. I usually will not ride (at least for
long) in fair conditions and really do not ride (unless I have no choice)
in poor conditions.
So with all of that
said, the trails by my house were good to excellent, with the only thing
causing the good levels being a small amount of foreign material.
However it was more remnants of the tall grass and other taller weeds on
the trail and not any dirt. My trip today took me from Lake Linden
north on trail 3 to Laurium/Calumet. Trail 3 was good in most spots,
with a few excellent areas. The good areas had some small moguls,
but were only about 2-3" high and did not have an impact on my riding style.
As I got closer to Calumet, the conditions dropped to fair and even poor
in some spots. Here
is a shot of the trail heading into Calumet. Overall, fair was
the shape, as there were moguls big enough to cause me to adjust my riding
style and a considerable amount of dirt was mixed in. In some of
the corners, bare ground was showing in pockets. These bare spots
(I do mean spots, about 2 feet long and 1 foot wide, not the whole trail)
brought about the poor rating. At the north end of Calumet, I hooked
up with trail 17 and took it south through Calumet and headed towards Hancock.
I took this route on purpose, as it would take me on the Jack Stevens Trail
(#17 between Calumet and Hancock). This trail has a reputation with
me as being one of the first to get roughed up. The Bill Nichols
(#3 south of Houghton to Mass City) is another which gets beat up, as it
is the only trail up from the south. Anyway, as I got out of the
village limits of Calumet, the trail conditions improved just as dramatically
as they had degraded as it headed into town, and reached fair to good levels
within about 1/4 mile after leaving the village. The only reason
why I keep the fair level in there is at times some of the bumps were almost
big enough to have an impact on my riding style. At this point, I
pulled over and got off the sled to get a better look at the trail condition.
is a shot while at that location. I hate to preach, but notice
I picked a straight away and pulled as far over as I could and kept my
sled running so others could see my lights? Safety folks. Don't
stop on turns, Please? Anyway, the snow condition on the trail was
much better than I had anticipated. On my ride through here Thursday,
the snow was sugar snow and the moguls were 1 foot+ in spots. Not
much new snow fell through the weekend and I can only imagine how many
sleds went through this spot Friday, Saturday and Sunday 5000, 10000?
Anyway, we did get about 3" Sunday am and then a little this morning.
That little bit of snow was enough to create snow which would take a grooming
and hold it fairly well. I would suspect that the groomer was through
there earlier today and it was still holding up fairly well.
As I got close to Hancock,
the trails once again dropped into the fair/poor level, but it is to be
expected as lots of road crossings mixes in the salt and stampsand and
the snow becomes unresponsive to grooming. On my way through Hancock
I took a peak at the canal and it looks like the route across the canal
from the Ramada to the Houghton City Park has been fairly well used.
I am not advocating this, especially if you are unfamiliar with the canal.
It is always safer to use official trail and the bridge, but it looks like
a fair amount of folks were successful in crossing the canal, and no signs
of any failures!
The trail conditions
once again improved to the fair/good level as I headed back up trail 3
towards Dollar Bay and Lake Linden. This trail was a little rougher
than 17 was heading south, but still not too bad. Worst area was
the hill by the Hungarian Falls. Actually dropped to poor here, with
some bare ground showing in a few spots. However, this is a small
area and is almost always a little beat up because of the hill and turns.
The trail improved back to good levels as I got away from the falls area
and headed north to Lake Linden.
Overall I would rate
conditions in fair to good shape. MAJOR CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GROOMERS,
as they have taken the trails from crap this weekend and brought them to
levels about as good as can be right now. With the new snow expected
by later tomorrow through Thursday, and more grooming, they should be able
to reach good to excellent levels just in time to get beat up by the weekend
warriors! Don't worry, I welcome all our weekend visitors as do everybody
else up here. Many of my good friends up here need your business
and 99% of you are really good people and very considerate riders.
The other 1%... you are forgiven! Speaking of other riders, there
were some out on my ride. I came up on a group of 6 and passed about
10 heading in the other direction. Not bad for 40 miles and one hour
of riding on some of the busier trails in the late afternoon.
I hope to head out
tomorrow or Thursday for sure, especially if we get some decent new snow.
Anybody reading this in the Keweenaw e-mail
me and we can do some riding tomorrow PM or possibly Thursday PM (but I
think I already have my riding plans set for Thursday).
Hope this gives everybody
an idea of what conditions are like up here. I have heard that trails
north of Phoenix towards Copper Harbor are even better. We are definitely
in need of new snow. We don't need a ton, but more than 6" would
do wonders. As things stand now, even if we only got 2-4", the conditions
heading into the weekend would be pretty good. After the weekend
might be a different story.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
January 3 - Happy times,
happy times. Many of my net friends in the Midwest must be smiling
now as one dumping hit north east WI and the eastern 1/2 of the UP yesterday
and another is headed into southern WI and northern lower MI as I type.
Kind of exciting to watch these systems develop. It never ceases
to amaze me how the atmosphere comes together to produce these little babies.
I got home from a ski with the hounds and went to the satellite to watch
a "Baroclinic Leaf" develop over eastern IA, northwest IL and southwest
WI. Meteorology lesson for the day: A baroclinic leaf is the forming
of a cloud area which kind of looks like a leaf. The view is from
space, not the ground. The process forming this cloud is the rapid
lifting of the air. This rapid lifting of the air also leads
to the rapid deepening of the surface low pressure. All of this lifting
also leads to the condensation of the moisture in the air and precipitation
basically appears to explode under the baroclinic leaf on the radar loop.
All of this took place late this afternoon and it looks like places in
central and southeast WI as well as into much of northern MI are in for
a good little snowstorm. A category 4 on my
scale. What make's this even cooler is to be able to forecast
it and then watch it happen. It looks like my graphic from this morning
depicting the heaviest snow band will be about 50 miles too far to the
southeast, but not too bad a forecast all things considered.
As I mentioned, the
hounds and I took a ski today. I decided to explore the woods near
my house. There are a couple of "seasonal roads" near by. These
are called seasonal because they are not maintained by the road commission
in the winter, so the snow just piles up on them. I must say, if
you are riding up here and come across one of these signs, it is like finding
a pot of gold most times, as the snow is usually untracked and the riding
is safe as there will be no rivers to cross (at least not without a bridge
over them) and no stumps hiding under the snow, as it is a maintained road
in the summer and fall. I suppose there could be a blow down under
the snow, but you will most likely see this before hitting it.
one is of the hounds heading up the trail. A machine had been
up here about a week ago so the snow was packed down with about 5-8" of
fresh untracked powder on it. Well, almost untracked. A dear
had gone through about 2 days ago, as there were tracks from it with about
3" new covering it. As I have been saying since we got our first
real snow back in the middle of December, there is deeper snow in the woods,
as the winds we have had up here did not blow it all away as it did in
the more urban areas. Here
is a shot showing how much snow is down out in the woods. There
will be a better one coming up.
The trail was perfect
for skiing on, but there is a difference in skiing the woods vs. skiing
the beach. HILLS! The beach is nice and flat (obviously), but
there are not too many other flat areas around here. As most x-country
skiers can attest to, even the smallest hill can become a challenge, both
up and down. Luckily, the hills in this area were not too aggressive,
just enough to keep me honest. The only problem with the trail was
it hooked up with the snowmobile trail too soon. It would have been
perfect to have the trail go about another 1/2 to 1 mile in length.
That way I would have been able to ski a longer distance before having
to turn around. Here
is a shot of where the trail I was on joins the dreamland snowmobile
trail. It is a field, with a view out towards the valley. Again,
the camera really fails to show the true panoramic beauty of the view.
headed back into the woods to head back down our tracks, with Beezy
(Baileys) out on point. As promised, here
is a shot which best shows the depth of the snow in the woods.
The addition of the dogs really helps to show the depth of the snow on
this blow down. Now all of you will know that I don't inflate the
snow amounts in the region.
One thing that I never
grow tired of while out in the woods is the absolute quietness. Or
at least no man made noises. We stopped at this
location and just sat down in the snow as listened to all the noises
of the woods. Not much, mainly the wind through the trees and an
occasional bird call and even what sounded like a woodpecker or some other
kind of bird hammering away in some tree. As we sat there relaxing,
some light snow began to fall. Barely enough to notice, but a fitting
end to a beautiful afternoon in the woods.
I am one lucky boy
to be able to be living out my dream here in Gods country.
Good night from the
January 2 -
NEW YEAR !!!!!!
Sorry, I forgot to write
yesterday. Well, actually I remembered, just as my head was hitting
the pillow! So I decided to take a day off for good behavior.
Had an enjoyable New Years Eve celebration with some new friends.
Had to drive there, so the only "celebrating" was a quick hit on the champagne
bottle after midnight. I was thankful that was all I drank come yesterday
morning, when I awoke all fresh and ready for the new year. I really
We went without snow
for about 36 hours from Friday am until late last night. Saturday
the hounds and I took another ski along the north shore. It was nice
to be able to ski in the tracks I made the day before. We even went
further, with the round trip being about 5-6 miles. No pictures as
it was pretty much a repeat of the day before.
New snow started to
fall about midnight last night and kept up until about 3 pm today.
We only managed about 3" out of the deal, but it will be interesting to
see how much snow places to the south and east of Marquette got, as they
were in moderate to heavy snow for most of the day. I would not be
surprised to hear about 12-18" totals in some places. The only thing
which likely might keep accumulations down is that it was about 30 degrees
in those areas, so the snow was wet and heavy.
The snow helped the
trails out some here. My official trail report is based on what I
rode on Friday. I would call the snow "tired", as it has really lost
its ability to be effectively be groomed. What happens is that with
the heavy holiday traffic and the grooming, the snow is constantly packed
down and then chewed up and then packed down and then chewed up... You
get the idea. What you end up with is snow which has lost its crystalline
form and is basically rounded off mini ice pellets. This does not
groom well, as it never becomes packed down. On my way home Friday,
I encountered the groomer heading in the other direction. As I rode
on the freshly groomed trail, the track and skis slid around on the loose
"tired" snow. This tired snow then develops the dreaded moguls much
sooner than the regular snow. The bright spot to conditions up here
is the fact that we still have a decent depth and all it will take is about
6-8" of new snow on top of the tired snow to end up with snow that will
hold a grooming. We got about 3" of that new snow today. We
will need to get more soon or we will be back to needing 6-8" again.
Some lake effect looks to come to the rescue later tomorrow night and into
Tuesday, with even more snow later Wednesday through Friday, so things
Took the hounds to
the south shore today, as the winds were out of the east, northeast and
I knew that there would be some good waves to admire as I skied along.
The waves were there, but the snow was a little sticky, so the skiing was
not too great. Once again, I did not bring the camera. Sorry.
Well, I hope that everybody
had a wonderful new year. I did and am more than ready for all the
joys and challenges of the coming one. Just hope it can be more joy
Good night from the