Well, we picked
up a half inch of lake effect snow yesterday! Had the big lake been
open, I suspect that a good 6-8" would have come down, possibly more.
Add that to the 6-10" that would have come down Friday and the additional
few inches of snow that would have come down between those two events and
we would be busting the bottomless stuff! Instead we awoke to record
lows across much of the UP. Amasa (approx. 10 miles to the NNE of
Crystal Falls) dropped to -32, Marquette to -29 and the Houghton Co. airport
was at -22. I only dropped to -15, not sure how the airport could
have gotten colder than me, but I guess it did. At least the cold
is keep our snow around, I have been at the same depth for about 5 days
now and it is so settled that I doubt it will settle any further.
The only way it will likely go down from here is with melting and it does
not look like any real melting will occur in the next week to ten days,
at least any significant melting. I am keeping my fingers crossed
for some new snow as we head into the weekend and/or next week, no big
snows, but perhaps a few inches at a time. The big lake has only
increased it's ice cover in the past few days. Here is a
shot of it as of about 3:30 pm this afternoon. The white or milky
white is all ice cover. The darker shades is where there is a little
more water prevalent. The black across western Lake MI is all water
and the white in the east is mostly lake effect clouds, except to the north
of Traverse City, which is mostly ice. I was actually amazed that
we even got any lake snow yesterday. There was even a small convergence
band that moved across and produced a little burst of heavy snow.
Figures, we go through all of Dec, Jan and half of Feb without optimal
atmospheric conditions for lake effect snow and then the lake freezes nearly
completely and we get two nearly optimal atmospheric setups for lake snow
in 4 days! Talk about rubbing salt in a wound!
So I guess I now know
what it feels like to live in northern MN or northern WI and pray for system
snow, not just cold. It has been weird to forecast, I look out into
the future and see these arctic air masses forecasted and my initial thought
is: "That should bring a few inches of snow", but then I remember no more
LES and I have to change my prognosis for snow. I guess it has made
the forecast very easy, system snow is a pretty easy thing to forecast
for, at least when compared to LES. So I guess I will not have to
worry about the forecast challenge of LES until next October, sure would
not mind having the challenge of a major system snow to have to deal with!
Enough belly aching, I guess.
I really do not have
a whole lot to share with you this evening. No tales of adventurous
trips with the hounds or friends. The dogs and I have been going
out into the woods to take our skis and also walking in the neighborhood
when time does not permit a ski. I have been taking some rides on
the sled. Saturday I had an all day KSE ride which was fun.
Managed to find a bit of untracked snow, but with no real fresh snow in
about 2 weeks, most of the off trail stuff is all tracked up. If
the bush gets any worse, I may have to start riding the groomed trails
to find the flattest trail! Actually, most of the bush trails I ride
are still flat, but no more untracked snow. It's amazing how I can
get so used to riding in untracked snow that when we do not get any fresh
snow in a few weeks, it seems weird to be riding in tracked snow.
I did not take any pictures on Saturday's ride, in fact, I don't think
I even brought a camera with me. I have not been on the sled since
that ride, so no further chances to take some riding shots.
Before I started in
on the journal, I hopped in the truck and drove up to the trail by me to
take some shots and report on it's conditions. Obviously this is
just a snap shot of the whole trail system up here. I have not seen
things elsewhere since late last week, but here is the shot of trail
number 3 looking north and here is the shot
looking south. Not too bad. From the looks of the guest
shots coming in, many others found some nice trail conditions in the past
few weeks. Of course, I am sure that all was not peachy up here for
every second of the past few weeks, but it does appear that things are
getting groomed with more ambition and attention to detail. On Sunday
I was in Dan's Polaris getting some parts and there was a person in there
awaiting parts or something. He struck up a conversation with an
employee of Dan's, asking/complaining about the trails. Seems he
found some bad stuff. Of course all the places he named when talking
about the bumps were very busy places in our trail system and it was a
weekend, so only so much can be done. I really don't know what the
answer is to solving the problem. I suppose twice as many trails
and at least twice as many groomers would be a great start, but the DNR
does not seem to be chomping at the bit to accommodate that and the local
tourism council does not have the resources to put such a plan in motion,
so I guess we are stuck with the current setup for now. It really
seems strange to me that the powers that be cannot recognize that additional
resources need to be given to the areas that get the most traffic.
I am not totally sure how it works as far as how the money for trails and
grooming equipment/labor is distributed, but it does not seem like this
area and areas like Munising and Paradise get more resources than anywhere
I do know the DNR will reimburse our area groomers for every mile they
groom, but I guess what I am getting at is that they are not recognizing
that the Keweenaw and some of the other places that get swamped with sledders
need more equipment and possibly more trails to handle the volume.
Don't really know who could bring this to their attention, but kind of
sounds like a job for the Michigan Snowmobiles Association.
Well, I guess I have
reached the end of my thoughts and comments for another evening.
I think I will sign off so that I can go and build a fire and get ready
to talk with Nora. So until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
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which helps to make johndee.com
I realize that
I may sound a whole lot like a spoiled brat and may not get much sympathy
from folks living outside of the lake effect belts of the Midwest, but
I miss the snow! 4" in 7 days? I sure hope we do not keep up
that pace for the rest of the winter! I am grateful for the snow
we have and if the colder than average pattern were to persist, then I
could keep riding well into April, I guess I just get used to being able
to find some bottomless powder every few days. After all, that is
one of the big reasons I made the move up here. Sure the area has
it's other special features, but bottomless powder from Christmas through
mid March ranks pretty close to the top of the list, if not the top.
I did have some hopes with Thursday's satellite imagery indicating the
north shore of Superior was wide open again. Some strong west winds
for a day or two and we could have taken care of a lot of the ice that
was out there. Those west winds would have caused upwelling to occur
on the north and west shores of the lake and bring slightly warmer water
to the surface. The strong winds would have also caused wave action
to break up much of the ice on the lake and cause it to dissipate some.
The west winds would have also helped to push a lot of the ice over to
the eastern end of the lake, opening up the west end, which is where we
get the lions share of LES from. Of course all winter we have had
tons of strong west winds and just when I want it, we get light east winds!
So I guess it is all relative, here I sit with 2 1/2 to 4 feet of snow
just outside my window, something like 170" for the season so far, but
I am bumming that our lake snow machine has been turned down to idle.
I do have hopes that the current pattern we are in will continue into March
and April, that will insure the snow stays and also as the storm track
moves north as we head into spring, the storms hitting the southern and
central Midwest will likely start to hit us, so system snow could add to
the pack this spring. March was a whopper of a month for snow last
year and I would not complain one bit if we get a repeat this year.
Speaking of bottomless
powder, that was a picture taken Wednesday afternoon on a KSE ride.
I was able to hook up with the afternoon portion of that ride and get my
feet wet, so to speak. It had been well over a week since my last
ride and felt especially good to be on the sled again. I have often
pondered if I were forced to give up skiing or riding, which would I choose
and I am not sure of my answer, but am leaning towards skiing. However,
it is great to strap on the skis and head off into the woods on a slow
and quiet trip through the woods with the hounds. I know that if
giving up skiing meant that I could not go into the woods except on sled,
I would give up the sled for sure. My times in the woods with the
hounds are way too special to give up and once Nora is here to stay that
specialness will only grow 10 fold. Er... should I say 20 fold?!
Anyway, that last shot was of Brian and a KSE rider after the rider had
gotten his sled good and stuck. He was standing in the trench his
sled made when it got stuck and I do not believe he was on solid ground
just yet. We had a bit of a thaw yesterday, but it is still plenty
deep. I lost about 4" at my snow stick, but I think that the snow
stick and snow station absorbed the suns rays and melted the snow faster
than in the surrounding areas, because there is now a large depression
in the vicinity of the snow stick and snow station and other locals up
here only lost an inch or two yesterday. It did get cold yesterday
evening and all is well frozen up again.
The KSE tour was loads
of fun, and I am not just saying that! We actually took quite a few
shots on the trip and I have lots of proof, I am not just trying to plug
KSE! Well, enough of the jibber-jabber, does
this look like fun to you? That was Brian flying his Ski Doo
Summit Highmark. Here is one
of the KSE riders and here is Darth
Vader aka John Dee. I don't know how I ended up with an all black
outfit and all black sled, but there will be some color added to the ensemble
very soon. I just received some custom graphics for my sled and helmet
and hope to get them on either Sunday or Monday. Here comes Darth
Vader over the snow drifts. I really was going at the drifts
pretty aggressively and actually catching some air, but for some reason,
Brian was not able to capture it. Be patient, there is a photo that
shows things a little better. Not that there is anything wrong with
taking it easy. When we take a KSE tour out, we would much rather
have the riders dazzle us with their smarts and restraint rather than how
well they can wrap their sled around a hard maple, thankfully nothing of
that sort has ever happened. Here is a KSE
rider showing off his smarts and restraint.
It's getting harder
and harder to find fresh snow out there. With more than a week since
our last meaningful snow, lots of tracks are in the woods. Some from
us and many from others. With Brian spending most of his winters
out in the woods on KSE tours, he is finding more and more places to go.
Sometimes his adventures down the path yet traveled work out and sometimes
they don't. Here we are stopped
while Brian determines which type of yet traveled path this is, it
turned out to be one that worked. We had a little buried creek bed
to get over/around and then it was home free to our intended destination.
Believe it or not, there are also a few fields that were untracked on Wednesday.
Untracked until we
got there that is. That was Brian again and here is a KSE
rider in what appears to be a fairly reclined position. I had
no idea Lazy-Boy made snow mobiles! Hey honey, where's the remote?!
Here is Darth again, catching
a little bit of air, and a
little bit more. Wednesday's ride was also the shake down for
my steering column replacement job, so I decided to test it in
the very way that I kept bending it in the first place. One last
shot of a KSE rider
taking one last pass across the drift.
I actually led my first
KSE tour of the season yesterday afternoon. It got a bit warm, the
powder became more like snowment. I actually got good and stuck just
trying to get going from a stopped position on level ground. The
snow was so wet and heavy that the track just spun and dug and could not
move the sled against the snow. We still had a good time, although
I really wished that the conditions we had on Wednesday would have repeated
themselves yesterday. Powder is a lot more fun that snowment.
While out on the Gay sands I was blessed with a very pretty image of the
suns rays peaking out through some alto cumulus clouds and hoped the camera
would at least capture some of the
beauty of the moment. Glad it did, it is moments that I am so
very grateful to be able to live in such a special place. There are
those moments that the beauty just reaches out and grabs you and it is
unavoidable to miss, yet if you try a little harder, the beauty is always
here, in every square inch of the land, water and sky.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Well, it looks
like I will get to see what it is like to live in northern MN or northern
WI for the rest of this winter. The big news up here (at least for
us weather geeks) is that the Big Lake is almost frozen. Actually,
there is a large pocket of open water in the eastern lake, but much of
the western lake is covered with ice, probably 80% or more covered in ice.
Enough to basically shut off most or all of the LES that it might produce
and also no more insulation from the bitter cold that might drop down.
I was sent a great photo of the ice cover across the lake by a visitor
to the site. It is some type of satellite image that has been color
enhanced to show land,
water and snow/ice. I am not sure if it is a visible satellite
image or some other kind, possibly a radar or super sensitive IR, but at
any rate, the open water on the lake can be clearly made out by the dark
blue, or almost purple color. The thick ice and snow is white and
the thinner ice is the shading in the image that is a combination of the
dark blue and the white. What is also very interesting about that
shot is the large chunks of ice that have broken off the southern shores
of the lake and are drifting north out into the lake, almost like puzzle
pieces that could be put back together along the shore line of the UP.
That shot was taken yesterday at about noon. On Friday and Saturday,
the ice sheet was solid from the tip of the Keweenaw to Munising, so there
was quite a bit of breaking up north of Marquette. Late last week
there was still a lot of open water between the Keweenaw and Minnesota's
North Shore, not the case anymore! There is still the chance that
the ice could break up in time to provide some LES before the cold air
masses that provide the LES stop coming. In reality we only have
about 2-3 weeks left of the true LES season. We can still get it
into April, but by the time the middle of March rolls around, most of our
snows are from system snow, or the moisture brought by the low pressure
itself. This weekend we were able to feel the effects of the ice
on our morning lows. Both Saturday and Sunday we dropped to -22 here
in the valley and on Monday it was a balmy -15. Tonight and early
tomorrow we will miss out on the first LES that would have occurred had
the lake still been open. Actually, it probably would have been a
pretty good event too, maybe the best LES event of the season, a 4-8" snow,
with westerly winds, lots of mid level moisture and a very unstable atmosphere.
Figures! I guess I should be very grateful for the snow we have to
play in and it does look like some more will fall in the next week to ten
days at least. Plus, and this is a big plus, it does not look like
any major thaws are headed our way. We may flirt with the 32 degree
mark Thursday, but otherwise, temps look to be plenty cool. Maybe
we can have a March like we had last year and will not miss the LES at
all, a couple of 12-15 inches and that would do us just fine. Can
you tell I am trying to do my best to be optimistic?!
As an additional bummer,
Nora has returned to the lower peninsula. I guess it is a sure sign
that we really enjoy each others company when we can spend 6 days together,
not get on each others nerves one bit and absolutely hate to say good bye.
The hounds have really taken to her too and missed seeing her when I got
back from taking her to the airport. We had some very nice skis and
a great walk in sunshine, light winds and temps in the 20's yesterday.
It will be great to have her along for all of our adventures starting this
summer. In fact, I have scheduled Baileys for hip replacement surgery
at the end of April. She is really having problems. Getting
up from laying down is hard and she is really sore after out walks and
skis and even tries to put as little pressure on the hip when she is walking.
I have been told the surgery is really great and the only hard part is
keep the dog quiet for the time required to let it heal properly, as the
dog feels no pain after surgery and can and wants to run right away.
It will be great to have two healthy dogs and to be able to take as long
a walk as we want and not have to worry about Baileys being too sore.
As mentioned in the
previous journal, Nora and I also took in Michigan Tech's Winter Carnival
this past weekend. We toured all of the campus and saw most of the
statues. I think there was at least one that we missed, as it was
too far away from campus, but the ones we saw were just amazing and I did
manage to take a few shots, 26 in all I believe. When I was downloading
them and formatting them for the journal, I had gone and resized them to
the small size, then I thought that some of you might like to be able to
see the full sized version, so to make it easy for me, I just downloaded
them all again and saved them with a "b" in the file name. So since
there is a full sized version of each picture, I will not put a link to
them, but you can see them by right clicking on the link for the picture
and choosing "open in a new browser", then going up to the browsers location
window and typing a "b" at the end of the file name. So for example,
the first snow statue picture is of the ROTC's
tank and soldiers. To see the full sized picture, you can just
right click on the link to the picture, choose "open in a new browser".
Then once that browser is open with the picture in it, you can go up to
the address box and type a "b" so that the image would be "feb18-1b.jpg".
Hit enter and you will get the full sized version. I apologize for
this method, but it saved a lot of work for me, as I did not have to try
and guess which ones most folks would like to see a full sized version
of and also saved me from having to create links for 26 individual shots.
The theme to this years
snow statue contest was "Fairy Tales in Northern Gales". The name
of the ROTC's statue was "Hi Ho Hi Snow, it's off to war we go".
I cannot remember the title for all of the statues, so you will have to
forgive me. Perhaps there is still some information at MI
Tech's website. Anyway, here is the next
statue we came across. It was of Rapunzel in the tower.
Don't know what the title to this one was, but was a really
neat house. Here was The
Three Little Pigs, but instead of the house made of brick, it was an
igloo. I really liked the wolf waiting outside the door. This
next one was a little confusing to me, it was of one of the stories of
time here on earth. Where the builders saying that the story
of Christ's time here on earth a fairy tale? Oh well, at any rate,
it was a neat statue, very well done and sculpted. The tale of Jack
and the beanstalk figured into two statues this year. Here
is the first one, you can get an idea of just how big some of the statues
are by seeing the people standing next to it. That was one true giant!
Here is Goldie Locks
and the Three Bears. I really liked the trees in that one.
Here is one of the largest statues in the competition, the theme was a
child's nightmares. That is one you might want to look at full
sized. There is a child on a bed and to the right is a boogie man
type creature and off to the left is another serpent type creature, you
know, the type that lurked underneath your bed as a kid? We crossed
the street to get a close up view of the statue and the detail in the serpent
was incredible, so I shot a
close up of it. The Tech students are really getting good at
making the details, did you see the ice teeth on the serpent? Here
is another close up of that statue, this time of the facade
of a castle, complete with gargoyles on the corners and a soldier using
a cross bow to try and slay the serpent below.
Crossing back over
the street again, we came across the
best one as far as I am concerned. Not only was it huge, but
the details were magnificent. Now, I know I have gotten in trouble
stating my opinion recently, buy I have to say that Nora and also the judges
felt the same way I did and gave it first place in it's class. That
was a shot taken from a far so that I could capture all of the statue in
one shot. It was of Pinneochio (sorry for butchering the spelling!).
Visible in front is the giant whale, off to the right is a roller coaster,
in the back is a small village (about 3 stories high!) and there was also
a carousel and Gheppeto's workshop. Please bear with me on the spelling,
I was a deprived child and was not exposed to the classic fairy tales much!
This statue had so much going for it, I took a ton of close ups, starting
with the roller
coaster. How do you figure they made the rails? Here is
a close up of the
whale scene. See the ice paddle? Here is one of the gazebo
or merry go round (not too familiar with Pinnechio), plus the facade
of the village. That bell tower was 3 stories high. The tree
in that shot was growing there when they built the statue, you cannot use
anything but ice or snow in the sculpture. Here
is the workshop. Here is a shot looking across
the courtyard, notice the stones made for the courtyards floor?
Here is another of the front of the "Red
Lobster Inn" and the frozen water fountain. The fountain was
built for the carnival. The top of the Red Lobster Inn was really
something, with a bell tower three stories high, complete
with an ice bell as well as a round ice window.
Tell was also featured in the sculptures this year and here is the
second Jack and
the Beanstalk statue and a close
up. I'm not sure what this one was of, but the
lions were really well made. Perhaps it is a future fairy tale...Next
years Super Bowl winners? Sorry, I could not resist! Part of
the lion statue was a forest, here's most
of that statue. We then left the formal boundaries of the campus
and walked up HWY 41 towards downtown Houghton to take in a few more statues
built in the front yards of some of the fraternities and sororities.
Here's a cool pirate
ship or something like that! And here is another
The cities of Houghton
and Hancock also get into the winter festival spirit and build the nations
only snow houses. Here is Houghton's
snow house, Hancock's was finished later this weekend. The building
is made completely of compacted snow, so supports of other materials are
used. They do make a door jam out of wood so that they can secure
the structure when closed, but that is for the door, not support.
Here is a shot of
the inside, it was actually pretty warm inside, at least warmer than
it was outside! Thankfully it was sunny out, because the temps were
struggling to get into the double digits. Not only is Nora beautiful,
but she is tough too, must have a lot of yooper blood still in her.
So we had a pretty
full Saturday, taking in all the statues, then having lunch and then a
ski. We had plans to take in the fireworks Saturday night, but my
"check engine soon" light came on in my Blazer on the way down, so I took
no chances and turned around. Turns out that is it likely nothing
major. I talked to Al about it and he says a stuck sensor or something.
The vehicle runs fine, but I will have Al look at it very soon. I
guess the fireworks were really neat and Mt. Ripley was lit up with a ton
of torch bearing skiers. Missed photo op, next year! Hope you
have all enjoyed this tour of the tech winter carnival. Be sure to
visit their site too, lots more pictures and info there. I fixed
my sled Sunday and will be riding it tomorrow, Thursday and Saturday for
sure. I know that Brian is also chomping at the bit for he and I
to ride and that is my favorite type of trip, so there should soon be some
decent shots of that nature too.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Yep, I'm still
alive a kicking, been a little busy is all. Nora arrived on Wednesday,
so I have been a little pre occupied and to tell you the truth, I think
I should get some kind of bonus points for writing this one right now.
We have had quite the busy day so far, with a morning walk, then some snow
shoveling, then taking in all the snow statues at the winter carnival,
then lunch and then a ski. Right now she is curled up on the couch
next to a nice big fire I just built and as I sit here and type, I can
hear the crackle of the fire. I should really be in there with her,
but felt I better get this one out now, or I will not get one out till
who knows when! I do have lots of pictures to share, actually so
many that I think I will leave the ones of the snow statues for another
entry. I must have taken at least a dozen of the snow statues and
have about 14 to share of other natures. So that will give me a reason
to get to another journal sometime soon.
We had a crisp morning
this morning, maybe the coldest temp since I have moved up here.
My thermometer read 23 below and that was actually after the sun had been
up for about an hour or so, so it may have been even colder. It was
a valley cold though, as the airport up on top of the hill was registering
only -6 this morning. I did notice the other day that Marquette set
a record for the date, with a -22 and I have seen temps on the north side
of Lake Superior in the -25 to -35 degree range pretty regularly.
In fact, Geraldton was reporting a -42 this morning. Now that is
COLD! What is amazing is that I can still head out into the bush
and find creeks that are still running. They may be buried under
a few feet of snow, but they are still running and they are very small,
maybe only a foot or two wide and a few inches deep. It is actually
the fact that they are under all the snow that they are still running.
Speaking of snow, today we have only had a few flurries, not enough to
count as any kind of accumulation yet. If that trend continues, then
this will be only the 2nd day in the past 38 with at least a trace of snow.
The mostly sunny skies have allowed me to take a peak at what the ice situation
on the big lake is like. That is an important thing to keep an eye
on when it comes to forecasting lake effect snow and our temperatures.
Too much ice and no LES. It is getting pretty icy out there, that
is for sure! There is one shield of ice that extends from the Apostle
Islands almost due east to the shoreline near Ontonagon and then extends
up the shoreline to the Keweenaw, extending out off the shoreline about
3-4 miles. There is also ice surrounding Isle Royal, it is pretty
hard to tell how much ice cover is between Isle Royal and the Keweenaw,
but there does seem to be a considerable cover out there. There is
also a solid ice shield extending from the tip of the Keweenaw to just
east of Munising and then an extensive ice shield that covers the northeast
1/3rd of the lake. Needless to say, Lake Superiors LES making potential
has been reduced significantly with this latest round of bitter cold.
If we could actually get some warmer temps and some winds, then the water
deeper down in the lake could mix upward and help to reduce the ice cover.
I have seen the ice cover on the big lake disappear almost as fast as it
pops up, but something tells me that ice is not going anywhere this year.
I guess I will have to stop wishing for cold and start wishing for system
On Tuesday we had our
biggest group of KSE riders yet, with 28 in all. We broke it up into
several groups so that the areas that they rode would not be trampled down
too much and the last person in line still had some powder to play in.
I gave Brian the camera so he could take some shots. Here is the
first shot, looks like they were taking a
little rest. Here is another
shot at the same rest stop. As I have stated in the past, it
is pretty hard to get action shots while out on a ride unless the shot
is setup. So most of the shots are of guys standing around their
sleds at a rest break, such
as this one. Brian did manage to snap a shot of the trail they
were heading down before they headed down it. I guess this is a real
good example of they type
of trail the typical KSE tour uses. Of course, some are more
narrow and some are actually big fields, but that is the typical logging
road we go down. At times there are some scenic
overlooks. That was the group at an overlook to the north of
Calumet, overlooking Sedar Bay and the big lake. Depending on how
hard it is snowing, the view can be very scenic or just a lot of snow in
the air. A typical KSE tour might also include some hill
climbing. Nothing too dramatic, unless that is what you desire.
I was not able to ride
with that tour, my sled was still in dry dock, awaiting the new steering
column. The group was very generous and wanted to take the guides
and I out for dinner after the ride, so I met up with them at the Loading
Zone II and was quickly informed of some of the more important details
of the ride, like how they gained the dubious distinction of being the
group to use the
most duct tape. Seems that they came to a stop and some were
able to stop quicker than others and some rear ending took place.
Here is sled number two with the duct
tape job. It seemed like everyone had a good time, I looked around
at the group of 28 and saw lots of smiles and several different groups
of guys re-telling the highlights of the trip with arms moving around and
voices punctuated with choreographed laughs. I have to admit, that
is the main reason why I go through the hassle of running the scheduling
for KSE. To be able to see the big smiles and know exactly what they
are feeling, that same feeling I had on my first back country ride in the
Keweenaw. I have been accused of getting rich off of KSE and not
that there would be anything wrong with that, but I cannot say that is
true. I am actually taking my first tour next Thursday, a half day
and then will be taking half of a larger group out next Saturday.
The steering column came in and I will put it into the sled tomorrow and
be ready to ride. Nora is here until midday Tuesday, so I will not
be taking any rides until she has left. Actually I do plan to test
the sled Monday and think I will get her to give it a try too. She
had snowmobiled before and enjoyed it, so maybe I will have a real good
reason to get myself a new sled next year, so she can use the Pol-Cat!
came down my street earlier this week. I don't know what it is, but
I am just fascinated by that thing! I think I could sit and watch
it of it's thing for hours. Unfortunately it does not take the operator
long to do my little end of the street. About a minute or two and
he is done and gone, off to take care of another pile of snow on another
street. Feeling a little jealous, I decided to fire up the ariens
and do a little
snow moving of my own! Actually, that was this morning.
Nora and I cleared the drifts and snow off the eves of the roof and I also
cleared some of the snow from the bush protectors. It was about 2
feet deep on them. I know there were at least a few of you that wanted
to see me in action with the new snow thrower, don't know why exactly,
but with Nora up here, I finally was able to accommodate your wishes.
The snow was the perfect consistency to get the ariens to maximize how
far it could toss it. The specs on the sheet for the machine say
that it can throw it about 50 feet and that seemed to be the case this
morning. It is really a lot of fun to be behind that piece of
machinery when it is doing it's thing. I was plowing through snow
about 2 feet deep, it was not hesitating a bit and was tossing it about
45 feet, glad I did not get the wimpy 8 horsepower model and went for the
10 hp one! Here is my
look of satisfaction upon a job completed.
Nora, the hounds and
I have been doing some skiing the past few days. We have been going
out to the school forest and now have a pretty good trail broken through
the woods. We actually have been skiing where the trails were either
packed down by the dozer or by the snowmobile, but the 12-18" of snow since
that activity pretty much buried them and there was about 8-10" of snow
to have to break through. Poor Baileys is really starting to struggle
with her hips. She has two bad ones, but her left is really worse
than her right. I think I may just go ahead and have a new left hip
put in her this spring. They say the recovery from the surgery is
very quick, in fact the worst part about it is trying to keep the dog quiet
while it heals up. I guess they feel almost no pain immediately following
the surgery and want to run because it feels so good. It would be
great to see her be able to get around with no pain once again. Burt
gets around just fine and the two of them would have a blast being able
to run and play chase like they did years ago. Maybe that can be
my excuse to be able to escape the area during our messy time in the spring.
Head south for a week and get the Beez a new hip. Anyway, back to
the school forest, it is really pretty out there and am so glad to finally
be able to share it with Nora. She thought it was equally beautiful
and actually was trailing way behind us, taking her time skiing so that
she could take it all in. She is a great skier, being able to keep
right up with the hounds and I and not having any problems on hills or
sharp turns. I managed to coax her to go off trail a bit and stand
next to a stump, to show how much snow is out there. Lots, eh?
I have a partial day
off on Monday, so I am sure we will be getting in some more skiing.
She did get a blister today, but it is a small one and I think a moles
skin patch will be able to allow her to ski without any pain. If
not, perhaps a walk. For now, the crackle of the fireplace is still
calling and has become too much to ignore further, so I will sign off until
next time. Nice to know I already have lots of shots to share with
you and I am sure I will get some more between now and the next journal.
Also looking forward to getting that sled put back together tomorrow!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Sled is broke! Actually, it is not as bad as it sounds. About
a week ago while I was riding, I went to turn in the powder by tossing
the sled over onto it's side and when I finished the turn and it came back
up right side, the handle bars were still leaning a bit to the left, but
the skis were pointed straight. I was able to give the handle bars
a little jerk to the right and they straightened out. It happened
again the other day, so I knew something was up. Upon closer inspection,
it turns out the steering column, a steel pipe about 3 feet long and about
1/2" in diameter was bending towards the top where it bolts to the handle
bars. Steering is always a nice thing to have while flying through
the woods on a snowmobile, so I figured I better get it fixed. My
chief mechanic Al was busy with jobs he had already scheduled, so I took
upon it myself to try and fix the problem. The old one came out with
a little bit of coaxing, I think it would have almost been easier to take
the engine out, as the steering column goes underneath the engine and then
connects with the rest of the steering linkage, but I was able to get it
out. There are a few sources for used parts up here and it looked
like I had a replacement yesterday evening, but that turned out to have
a different bottom mounting plate than mine used. So I went back
up and got one with the correct mounting plate this afternoon. That
one turned out to be for a right handed linkage setup and mine was left
handed. You'd think that Polaris would not have that many different
steering setups to try and keep costs down, but I guess not. I'm
sure there is a good reason for why they do the things they do, I was just
bummed that I could not come up with a used one because now I was forced
to get a new one and will have to wait for it to come in. So I am
without sled until it comes in. I pray that there is not some kind
of 3 week back order on them or something! I suppose I could put
it back in and use it and just be gentile and not crank on them to throw
the sled over. There is not that much force exerted on them to just
steer the sled normally, so I am not concerned about them breaking under
normal riding conditions. I just do not want to put everything back
in for a few days just take them all out again to put the new on in.
I'll keep you all posted. Actually, this happened at a pretty good
time, as Nora is coming to visit on Wednesday for a week and I would not
be doing any riding while she is here.
On Saturday I was a
guest speaker/skier at the Copper Country Ski Tigers, the local ski team
for kids in the area. Saturday was a snowy, cold and windy day, but
they decided to keep the meet a go. They have thresholds of an air
temp of zero or below or a wind chill of -10 or below and the meet is canceled.
The thresholds were tested, but I think conditions did not go below.
The temps were about 5 and the wind-chill was right at about -10.
Anyway, we skied and I was very impressed by the group of skies I was skiing
with. There was this little girl who could not have been any taller
than my waist and she was just chugging right along, at times it was all
I could do to keep up with her! I don't consider myself a great skier,
but probably better than average. I guess my strengths are actually
my balance and to be able to get up and over the obstacles that I find
while skiing the bush. All those obstacles are removed in the groomed
trails, so my advantage over other skiers is also gone. After about
30 minutes in the cold, I was getting a little chilled but did not complain
a bit and neither did any of the other skiers. They all worded hard
on their drills and when given the chance do do more drills or ski on a
regular ski out and around back to the chalet, they chose to stick to the
drills for a while longer. Eventually the drills ended with a little
relay race and then we all skied back to the chalet for some juice and
warmth. While out on the ski trail we had a little weather question/answer
session, but it seemed like the kids wanted to do more skiing than talking,
so we did not force the issue and just skied mostly.
On Sunday I headed
out to the school forest with the hounds to ski. I thought that there
might not be the best conditions for skiing because of all the activity,
so I actually just wore my snow boots for walking. It turned out
there was plenty of snow to ski on, but the trails were also nice and packed
down, so it was not hard at all to walk along the trails, so we had a nice
and peaceful walk out there. It felt really great to be back out
there, those woods are just really special and I guess all the good times
I have had with the dogs in the past 2 years out there make it an extra
special place for me. The hounds also seemed to be very happy to
be out there. There are some trails that are just wide enough to
get an ATV or snowmobile down and they had been packed down by the snowmobile
groomer and also some ski and snowshoe traffic from the open house.
Those are my favorite trails to walk on because they seem more
intimate. Although I have to say that the trails that were cleared
for the open house were also pretty nice to walk along. The foot+
of snow really did a nice job of covering
things up. If you can sense me choosing my words carefully as
I talk about my experience out there, you are right. Actually, I
do not want to make it seem like I am talking too much to the one side
or other and do not want to open any wounds that are in the process of
healing. What I can say is that it felt really good
to be out there again and much different from the last time I was out there.
I am looking forward to possibly taking a ski out there tomorrow and really
looking forward to taking Nora out there for a ski or two or three or more
while she is visiting. I also want to take her to the ski trails
at Eagle Harbor. I have only been out there in the summer and not
in the winter, so it will be a new experience for me too.
Those two pictures
were all the pictures I have to share. The cameras batteries died
on me while I was on my ski yesterday and with no riding over the weekend,
I do not have any pictures of that nature. Brian were going to go
and play in the snow today and I was going to shoot some more pictures
and video, but with my sled sitting in the garage with parts scattered
all about it I guess that will have to wait for another day. If this
winter keeps up as it has so far, we will have plenty of those days left
in the season. In fact, if this winter turns out as most do up here,
we are only about halfway through our season. We should be able to
ride into the first or second week of April, that is still two months away.
Just another thing I love about this area, we get to ride about a month
longer than most other areas in the Midwest. Sure, by the end of
March, some of you might be chomping at the bit to break the boat out or
play some golf, but our boating and golfing season is only about 15-20
days later than yours. Last year I took my last ride on a Tuesday
and golfed on the following Saturday and could have golfed on the Friday
if I had wanted. We'll see how this spring works out. One thing
I bet will not be repeated is that my last ride of the season will be taken
in temps in the upper 80's while wearing shorts and a T-shirt.
I'm not a big fan of
the heat, but am not a big fan of the bitter cold either. Thankfully
we have not been as cold as other areas. This morning I was at about
10 below zero, while stations to the north of Lake Superior were in the
-30's. Today I think we warmed all the way up to zero, almost light
jacket weather! Actually this cold really hits this area and it's
folks pretty hard. Since the Keweenaw does not usually get this cold,
a lot of folks are like me and do not like it at all. Another bummer
part about the bitter cold is that it is getting too cold to produce the
really good lake effect snows. With the air this cold, it is also
very dry. That dry air makes it harder for the big lake to supply
enough of the moisture needed to get the LES machine really going.
We have had pretty persistent LES going through the cold spell and at times
it does come down pretty good, but if you were wondering if the colder
the better stands for LES, the answer is no. Air temps of about 10-20
at the surface and cold air aloft works just fine! So while I may
be ready for this bitter cold to leave us alone, I am by no means ready
for the snow to stop! I could go for regular snows all the way through
the first week or two of April, then it can all melt in 2 weeks or so and
get ready for the summer fun!
Well, I guess that
about does it for this one. Sort of a quiet time for me, but I'm
sure that I will have lots more to share soon. Nora and I will be
having lots of fun skiing, hiking and even checking out MI Tech's winter
carnival. The snow statue building is starting to reach a break neck
speed and if you want to watch it occur live, you can through MI
Tech's array of live web cams. So until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Most of the
time when I start these journals, I can jump right into them and get rolling,
but for some reason I have been sitting here with writers block for some
time. Of course in stead of just getting on with it and starting
it any old way, I managed to goof around on the internet and waste some
minutes. Well, the minutes almost turned to an hour, then I got hungry,
so I made dinner and now it is about 2 hours after the time I sat down
to start this entry! So much for my early finish tonight! Oh
well, it is a Friday, so I guess I can stay up late in need be, but I was
out a little bit later last night too and that made the morning arrive
very early. My mornings come early enough at 4:45 am, so I really
do not like it when they come even earlier. I guess I cannot really
complain too much, seeing as though I was out socializing with some guys
Brian took on a KSE ride yesterday. I have managed to break away
for the afternoon portions of both Wednesday's and Thursday's KSE rides.
The conditions both days were very nice and the portions of the rides I
was on, we were pretty much breaking trail the whole time. I am hoping
to be able to get out for a part of one of the two rides we have going
on tomorrow. I am scheduled to be a guest skier/speaker at the local
cross country ski clubs meet tomorrow afternoon. It is called the
copper country ski tigers and they have different age classes that run
from about as young as one can be and still be able to strap a pair of
skis to ones feet, all the way to high school age, I believe. The
person who asked me if I could join them graciously has put me with a young
enough group that I will be able to keep up. I was worried that I
might be with the 5-7 year olds and get left behind in the snow dust!
Now, you are probably wondering how can he wish to ride with KSE if he
is going skiing? Well, if it is too cold, then the ski meet will
be canceled. At this point, I seriously doubt that the weather will
cooperate. If the temp is zero or below or the wind chill is -10
or below, then it is canceled. We will be very close to the wind
chill numbers by tomorrow afternoon. So I am in limbo, if it gets canceled,
then I will ride tomorrow and ski with the gang another day. If not,
then I will ski tomorrow and ride another day. Such a complicated
life I live!
On Wednesday ride with
KSE I did bring the good camera and managed to get it to work for part
of the time at least. It really does not like the cold and short
of developing some sort of high-tech and possibly expensive way of keeping
it warm and safe from bouncing around, I will just need to nurse it along.
I often bring old reliable along too, that thing does not take as good
a quality picture, but sure can handle the elements. After all, it
did spend all night in the bush last winter when I fell out of my pocket
while I moved a branch off the trail on a ski. A fresh set of batteries
and it was back in business. Anyway, we did set up a few shots using
the Fuji (good cam) Wednesday. I wish that I could just whip out
the cam and snap a quick shot, while barely having to even stop, but instead,
I need to stop, shut off the sled, take my helmet off, got the cam out,
turn it on, hope is starts up, then get ready to shoot the shot and let
the subjects of the shot know they can proceed. So while this shot
of two KSE riders
busting powder along the pole line might look like a quick, impromptu
picture, it was all totally staged. All except for the fact that
no stunt riders were used, the stars of the shot did their own stunts.
The one nice thing about the Fuji compared to old reliable is that is stores
the picture much quicker, so I was able to get a shot of the
riders just after they had passed by me.
We did not spend much
time on the pole line at all. The snow where we were at was actually
pretty good, but that pole line is getting discovered by more and more
folks and you have to get there pretty quickly after a fresh snowfall to
be able to find powder. That is not really an issue for us, as we
know tons of other spots to play and can usually find some fresh snow no
matter what the other spots are like. Brian really has gotten to
know the bush even more than he did when we started KSE, which I actually
thought was not possible, but I love to tag along on his rides, as then
I get to learn some of the new spots. Of course the trick is to try
and remember just how the heck to get to those spots, but I am doing much
better with my "dead reckoning" out in the bush. When I first started
going on rides out there, I would be turned around in a matter of minutes,
now it takes a little longer than that, but I still get turned around!
Al also knows a lot more places to play and it is interesting to see that
both Al and Brian seem to be sort of staking out different areas to learn
and take their groups too. I'm sure that they swap tips on new spots,
but I think it works out great that they don't seem to cross each others
paths all that much. Plus the weather has been helping out with fresh
snow daily. Not a ton, but it does not take much now to cover things
up. There is so much base out there that a 3-4" snow with some wind
will cover all the tracks up.
Yesterday we went to
a spot Brian and I went to back in early January, when it was just starting
to get deep. A few logs were still uncovered by Brian and I had to
goose the sled to lift the skis to get over some of them, but on Wednesday
there was absolutely no sign of anything but snow on the trail. About
3-4 feet of base, with a foot of fresh on top, some 2-3 foot drifts and
a few modest hills to climb were about all we could ever ask for.
We stopped long enough for me to get a shot of Brian coming up the path
we had just busted through. There was still some drifts left and
I was really surprised that he did not but them up! You can tell
that even though he is not busting the drift just off to his left in this
shot, he was busy busting some powder moments before, with both his
nose and his sleds nose "powdered". I have a special treat for you
with a high speed connection, or those of you with lots of patience and
a dial up connection. I actually shot the first snowmobile movie
with the cam. It is of Brian
coming up a small hill in preparation for the last shot. I was
pretty impressed with the quality of the movie, so you can bet there will
be lots more. I tested out viewing the movie on my version of windows
media player and all I got was a black screen with the sound. Using
Quicktime for windows, I was able to see the video too, so that is just
a little tip if your media player does not work. Some of you may
even have to right click on the link to the avi file and choose to save
it locally to your own hard drive and then open the file using what ever
software you use to view avi files. It is a shame that each second
of video uses about 1.3 meg of memory, or I would just shoot a ton of videos
all the time. None the less, you can bet that there will be some
more videos shot, maybe even of yours truly.
In the weather department,
we are on our 29th day in the past 30 with at least a trace of snow to
fall. Today was just a trace, so far anyway. The snow is bearing
down on us as I type and it looks like we could be in for a very cold and
snowy 5-6 days. Actually, by later Monday and into Tuesday of next
week it could be so cold that it will almost be too cold for lake effect
snow to occur. Actually, I am not sure if it is ever too cold to
shut it down completely, but as the air gets colder and colder, it also
usually gets drier and drier and that makes it harder and harder for the
lake to supply enough moisture to cause decent snowflake development.
It will snow, but they will be these really small flakes that take forever
to pile up. Speaking of cold, it was cold in the UP and northern
WI this morning. We actually did not get that cold, thanks to some
clouds, lake effect snow and winds off the lake itself. We managed
to remain above the zero degree mark, but spots in northern WI dropped
into the -25 to -30 degree range and Champion MI to the west of Marquette
hit -31. With the cold coming down for early next week, I would not
be surprised to see a station get to -40. When Champion was -31 we
were +6, almost 40 degrees warmer! Thanks Superior! The cold
is also starting to freeze up Lake Superior. This afternoon, the
clouds finally broke up enough across the southern 1/2 of Superior that
I could see the ice cover and much of the water from the eastern side of
the Keweenaw to north of Marquette was ice or had significant ice cover
and all of Whitefish Bay was frozen. That could trim back the LES
potential for places like Big Bay, Marquette and even Munising a bit, but
not significantly and it would have no impact on our LES potential.
The ice along the north shore of the Keweenaw extends out only a few hundred
yards at the moment. After the coming cold spell, that ice shelf
might extend quite a bit further, but many times it breaks up with some
warmer temps and a southerly wind.
About the only other
info I have to share with you all is the trail system conditions.
I was on them for very small stints in the past 2 days and I was a little
disappointed in their shape. It was not too busy up here this week,
we had some fresh snow every day and it was also cold, about all the conditions
one could ask for to support any grooming that is going on. The grooming
must have been somewhat relaxed this week, as I encountered no "good" trails
and some bad, with most of them "marginal" to "poor". Don't know
why they were not in better shape, but that is what I found. I have
heard some sleds roar by on the trail up above Lake Linden this evening,
so I think the masses have arrived for the weekend. I would think
that with all of the UP in decent shape and even areas of northern WI and
lower MI in decent shape, that would relieve some of the pressure off of
us, we'll see.
So I guess that about
covers it for another evening. I hope to get some more shots and
video for you all this weekend.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
I do not have
a whole lot to write about this evening, but I might be too busy tomorrow
night and Thursday night to get out a journal, so I figured I would at
least spit out a few words tonight so that it does not become days in between
journals. So I sure opened up a can of worms about the activities
in the school forest huh? I was in communication with the school
board president quite a bit yesterday, she is a friend of mine and she
clued me in on some other reasons why the bulldozing was going on and I
have to admit that I made a big mistake by not consulting with the superintendent
about what was going on out there before I went on my little rant Sunday
night. I asked the board president to relay a message to the super
to send me a note explaining further why the dozing was being done, so
that he could defend himself and also set the record straight. I
have yet to get any correspondence from him, but I can tell you that the
board president explained that part of the reason why it was being done
was so that areas of the school forest would be accessible for handicapped
individuals. That is all the reason I need to completely change my
mind about the usefulness of it being done. So I owe Mr. Roberts-
the Superintendent, an apology in which I will do privately by e mail or
phone or snail mail, but I also wanted to publicly apologize to him here
since I had no problems lashing out publicly here at the actions he authorized.
I really do hope that he will correspond with me so that I can share with
you all his plans and intentions for the land. I have been made aware
that he loves the land as much as anyone and considers is as much a treasure
as anyone. I also believe he is more level headed than me, as I was
told he wanted to respond to me Monday morning, but refrained until he
was not so upset. I doubt I would have been so restrained!
So I learned a valuable lesson, and that is to make sure I have all the
facts straight before I go on the attack. I have to admit that I
let my emotions get the better of me and got a little help from some others
that were emotional too. That is no excuse and I am not fishing for
excuses. I made an error and will live with the consequences what
ever they may be (hopefully not too bad!). I was brought up to strongly
respect the truth and that is what you will ALWAYS get from me, sooner
or later anyway, after I get my facts straight! Well, like I say,
lesson learned. I just wish it did not have to come at the expense
of another, like it did. That is what makes it the worst for me and
has been bothering me.
So on to other exciting
news from the land of big snows. Yep, we got hit pretty hard over
the past 24 hours. Not as hard as other places in the UP, but the
biggest snow so far. From yesterday at about 9 am until today at
about 6 PM we have picked up about 10-12", maybe a bit more. It has
actually been hard to measure today, with the winds blowing at about 35
mph, but my driveway seems to collect the snow pretty evenly when the winds
blow hard and I cleared 9" from it this morning and there are about 2-3"
on it right now. The banks made by the plow were rather large this
morning, about three feet high, but the snowthrower had no problems getting
through. I am just amazed at that piece of machinery. I have
to be careful to aim the snow low, so that I do not throw it onto my neighbors
driveway! For awhile this winter I thought that my financial expenditure
for it would turn out to be a waste, but I can say that I think it has
already paid for itself this season and it should continue to do so for
the next 10-15 at least. I knew when I bought it this fall that it
would last a long time and pay for itself in the long run, but nothing
like instant gratification!
Today was the first
snow day for the schools up here this season. To be honest, the schools
up here typically do not cancel classes all that often. I think last
year they had 3 snow days, actually one was due to icy roads. Today
was likely due more to the fact that along with the snow we had very strong
winds and that was making travel very difficult, especially in the rural
areas. Rural areas make up about 80% of the bus runs. Plus
the majority of the snow came in a short period of time from about 1 am
to 7 am, right at the time when the person making the call if schools will
be open or not is making their decision. From what I have been told,
the superintendents of each school district rotate duties on making the
call, that way some poor soul is not stuck waking up at 3 am every day
to see of school should be canceled or at least on a delayed start.
The way the weather is up here, you would almost have to wake up every
day, just to make sure. Even if the forecast does not call for much
snow, those weather forecasters have been known to be wrong! Of course
the road crews have been out all day and you would have a hard time telling
we have just picked up almost 12" of snow. Hwy. 41 just south of
Calumet actually had bare pavement this afternoon! The Lake Linden
snow movers have also been doing an excellent job. The banks are
getting pretty big, about 5 feet high now. A few more snows and I
bet the sno-go is seen on my street. I must be weird or something,
but I am still fascinated by that thing and the skill of the operator to
be able to put the snow right where he wants to. Good thing because
it can make a pile about 4 feet high and about 10 feet in diameter in a
matter of seconds. Not the guy you want to make angry!
I have yet to go for
a ride this week. I am hoping to get out both tomorrow and Thursday.
I was tempted to hop on the sled and at least play in some fields through
the fresh powder, but got caught up in other activities and looks like
I will have to wait until tomorrow and/or Thursday. I did drive the
truck to the trail cam to clear it off. It looked like someone had
been there before me, as there was no snow by the lens and there were some
foot prints in the snow in front too. If I were a smart person, I
would have looked at the image before making the trek over there!
The trail by the cam was in OK shape. It looked like it had not been
groomed yet today, but I cannot tell for sure. I have not been saying much
about the trails and the grooming because basically we are at the stage
where we have more than enough snow and it just boils down to traffic and
grooming. As far as grooming goes, they seem to be putting forth
a better effort than was made in past seasons. I can speak first
hand for the groomer than runs the trails from Hancock to just south of
Mohawk and say that it seems to be gone over at least once a day.
The trail from Lake Linden to Gay seems to get it about twice a week and
the trail from Gay to Mohawk once or twice a week. The main trouble
spots continue to be on the main trail in and around Mohawk and also the
section of trail from Houghton to South Range. Those two spots are
the bottle necks in the system and that is the main reason they are always
so bad. I doubt that constant grooming of those areas would help
that much, but I do believe that the section up by Mohawk could get run
over more than it currently is. Just my 2 cents. I have also
gotten more than a handful of notes from folks that the trail from Ontonagon
to White Pine is also really bad. 2-3 foot moguls and some wonder
if it has ever been groomed. I have no clue what is going on down
there, but thought I would at least pass along the information.
I don't even have a
single picture to share with you, which seems almost criminal with the
snow we have just received, but to tell you the honest truth, I have not
had much opportunity to get some good quality snow shots. The hounds
and I went for a ski yesterday in the bush. I am going to stay away
from the school forest until the open house is over. I do not want
to get in the way of any further work they want to get done out there.
Plus, I am a little afraid that I might have angered the dozer operator
too and I am not sure if I can ski faster than that thing! But seriously,
I will be returning to ski there for sure soon. It is still my favorite
spot and the bush has too much snow in it now to try and break trail.
I actually did ok yesterday, but the poor dogs were really having a hard
time with it. Each step they sunk up to their bellies and would have
gone farther if the snow would have allowed. So unless I find a spot
that I can break open with my sled and be sure that no others will be out
there, then I will just stick to the school forest. Today we went
for a walk along the road at the Calumet Waterworks. Very pretty
with all the new snow, but they did not have as much as other areas further
away from the lake. One would think that the heaviest lake snow would
fall right near the shoreline, but in reality it falls a little inland
and especially in the higher elevations, especially on a day like today
when the winds were so strong. More snow is on the way, in fact it
could get interesting around here again this weekend and early next week.
I am at my deepest depth of the season so far, but am pretty confident
that it will get deeper before shallower. With that I will close
Good night from the Keweenaw..
A clarification to the February 2 Journal-
I need to make
a clarification to the journal of February 2. I misspoke when I said
that the bulldozing was done using tax payers money. I received the
following information this morning in a note from the school board president
bulldozing was paid for with money that was given to the school from Walmart.".
My apologies to you the reader and to the school superintendent for getting
that part of the story in error.
Sorry for the
long absence, but I was feeling a burn out coming on with all my activities
so I decided to take a mini vacation from the journal in hopes that my
batteries would be recharged and I would feel some excitement to write
a journal. I believe my few days off worked, because as the day went
on today, I could feel myself looking more and more forward to sitting
down and writing a journal. I even got a full day off from the hustle
and bustle of the site yesterday. We had a KSE ride planned and I
actually scheduled myself as one of the guides and wouldn't you know it,
the ride was a no-show. I think it was as much my fault as anything.
I penciled in the name of the riders and then just assumed that they were
coming. I think I took the reservation at least a month ago and just
forgot the details, like they were not positive they were going to be riding.
There was no deposit, so that is another sign that they were probably not
too serious about riding. Most of the time, if there is no deposit,
we consider the ride a non happening. Every once in a while a reservation
will be made too short notice in order to get a deposit in, and in that
case we will plan on the group showing up. At any rate, Brian and
I waited for about a hour at the gas station (some groups have thought
we are on central time and showed up at 10 am central time not eastern
time) and they did not show. So I went home and checked the messages
and none from the group, so I called Brian on his cell and let him know
it looked to be a no show. Since I had planned to ride from 10 am
until about 5 or 6 pm, I suddenly had all that time to do something else
and I basically decided to not do much at all. I did take the hounds
for a ski at the school forest (more on that later), but for the most part,
I just relaxed, talked to Nora on the phone and did nothing. I have
been running at full speed ever since about the first of December, so it
felt real good to not do anything!
Please do not think
I am complaining about the site and all of it's duties keeping me so busy.
At times it can be a little overwhelming, but for the most part, things
are manageable. Plus, I do get to go out and play from time to time.
One of those play times happened on Wednesday. I hooked up with Bill
and Mike and we had a ton of fun finding some fresh snow to go and mess
up. One of the best things about being a local and getting time to
explore things up here is the fact that I get to learn about a lot of the
off the beaten paths. There are a few spots that I can go to and
usually find untracked snow, no matter what other places are like.
By Wednesday, it had been several days since the region had any serious
snow. One of those days being a weekend day with the others weekdays,
plenty of time to have folks get out and hit the more popular places.
It was pretty apparent that folks had found the more common areas to ride
"off trail", lots of tracks and not a whole lot of fresh snow. However,
we kept pressing on and went deeper and deeper and deeper into the woods
and soon we lost sign of all tracks and were breaking trail in 3
feet of virgin snow. I suppose it is possible that someone had
been down there so far this winter. I talked to Al after my ride
out there and he claimed to have been in there a few times this season,
but there are also lots of places to go one you are in the area we were
in, so it is possible that no one had been back on the same path we were
on yet this season. Even if they had, there was no sign of them back
there. I have to admit that it took all the discipline in me to stop
and take that last shot. Carving through that powder on the logging
roads is about my favorite thing to do and the last thing I really wanted
to do was to stop. But I did, and the only problem is that I stopped
on a gentile slope and when it came time to resume the ride, I
got stuck! Not the worst of stucks, but actually kind or an embarrassing
one! Getting stuck on steep hill in 3 feet of powder is almost a
badge of courage, but getting stuck on an almost a flat logging trail is
a badge I'd just as soon not wear. Oh well, life goes on, we got
the sled out of the hole it created and soon we were on our way again.
After about an hour of playing in that area we decided to start heading
back. A few more stucks and then we eventually got back to the more
heavily traveled bush roads and then eventually back to the valley and
I have not been on
the sled since. Well, except to ride to the gas station in Lake Linden
and back. I was tempted to take a quick ride on the trails yesterday,
but as mentioned, I came down with a case of the lazy's and just took it
easy most of the day. I did take the hounds for a ski out at the
school forest yesterday afternoon. It was a very nice afternoon for
a ski. Temps about 30 degrees, little wind and a filtered sunshine
through some clouds. As we drove up the road that leads to the cabin
and parking lot, I noticed a bulldozer on the side of the road and also
noticed that it had made the path through the snow to the cabin wider,
actually wider than the road itself. I thought that sort of strange,
as the cabin is used in the winter by some school kids and the occasional
visitor such as myself, but is certainly not a busy spot, so making the
path through the snow wider seemed to be a waste of time. We headed
down the ski path and about halfway through I noticed that other areas
had been bulldozed. Areas that were once intimate little paths through
the woods were now bulldozed
wide enough to drive a semi truck through. I was very disappointed
and equally confused as to why that bulldozing was going on. I seriously
doubted that they were planning on doing any logging out there. I
was told the whole purpose of the school forest is to preserve the land
as it is, so that it can serve as an outdoor classroom for the students
of the Keweenaw to enjoy and study. But something was definitely
up out there. The bulldozer had knocked
down at least 10-20 trees and torn up the ground in spots and made
a general mess of
things out there. I almost felt a bit of a panic set in that
someone had lost their sanity and decided to go nuts with a bulldozer out
there! I was almost tempted use my cell phone to call someone to
let them know what was going on out there. I really did not know
who to call, I figured this was not an emergency, so 911 was certainly
not an option. I did not know the number of the school district and
it would not have mattered if I did, as it was a Saturday. So I decided
to just continue on and see if I could find out what was going on.
I did manage to get the scoop on what was going on and I have to admit,
there is a reason, but to me a very stupid one and also very wasteful one.
It turns out that the school forest is hosting some kind of an open house/celebration
next weekend and the bulldozing was being done so that they could pull
a wagon with people around in it through the woods! The superintendent
had authorized the bulldozing and in fact it was his idea, so I had been
told. For those of you who know me, or have been following my journals
for the past few years, you know I am one that is not afraid to speak my
mind. I have grown wiser with age and realize that sometimes it is
just best to hold my tongue, but in this case I feel I need to state how
utterly stupid it was that the woods were bulldozed so that a wagon could
be pulled through them! I seriously doubt that the superintendent
will read this, but I sure hope that the persons living in the school district
do and pass along what a stupid thing he authorized. Not only did
the dozer make a mess of some pretty woods, but at a time when school districts
in the state are facing massive budget cuts, I'm, fairly certain that the
money spent to do this could have been used more wisely. There are
roads out there that are already wide enough for the wagon to make it through
and they could have been plowed enough to allow the wagon to make it through.
Or better yet, why not just run the snowmobile through the trails enough
to pack them down so that people can WALK through the woods. Would
it kill these kids and their parents to actually WALK or ski a mile or
so and enjoy the woods!? Plus, I really don't see how much enjoyment
will be had by the folks in the wagon as they pass through a forest that
has just been bulldozed.
I just pray that no
further bulldozing goes on out there. I am not a tree hugger, I understand
that as a human I am a consumer. So harvesting the trees and other
living things on this planet is for our common good and survival.
However, I also believe that it is important to set a least a little land
aside so that it can be left to it's own destiny. Not only for aesthetics
but also to monitor and study and learn from. I really thought that
was the purpose of the school forest and was very disappointed by what
went on out there. At first I figured I should not complain about
what happened and should just be grateful that I am allowed to into the
school forest, but then it was brought to my attention that the land belongs
to the school district and as a tax payer, I have as much say about what
it should be used for as anyone else in the district. So I am going
to compose a letter to the superintendent and send it off tomorrow to let
him know how I feel. I figure as a tax payer, in a way, he works
for me, so he is inclined to listen to me. If you are a tax payer
in our district and are not happy about what you have just read, then feel
free to contact him as well. I am not going to give out his e mail
address, but here is the website
for the LL-H school district and you can find some contact info there.
I will now step off my soapbox!
In the weather department,
we have had 25 days in a row of at least a trace of snow, but are about
5 hours away from that string ending. Thursday and Friday were close
calls, with just a trace of snow falling and up until about yesterday at
4 pm, it looked like we would get skunked for that day, but the flakes
started to fly and it actually came down pretty good for about 2-3 hours
and we ended up with just over 2" new at my house. It was a pretty
snow, with the flakes sticking to everything and also enough snow to cover
all the old and dirty snow up. Temps have been rising into the upper
20's and even some low 30's and that has caused the roads to become wet
and messy. My truck is a mess too and my garage is full of melting/melted
snow. Temps look to drop this week and into next and it looks like
new snow is on the way. The "slippery" storm that has been a real
bugger to forecast for now looks to hit us. Not a direct hit, but
the way things look right now, we will be on the northern fringes of the
system snow and could see about 3-8" with that, then some lake effect snow
in it's wake and all told, we could top the 12" mark with new snow by Wednesday.
That will be just what the Dr. ordered as our snow was starting to get
old. I suppose I am sounding a little spoiled, with two feet on the
ground in my yard and over 3 feet down in other areas nearby and wanting
more just because my snow is "old". But...I did move here because
this place gets fresh snow almost daily in the wintertime and to go almost
a week with just a few inches of new snow is somewhat unusual. I
cannot report first hand on conditions, as I have not been on the trails
in over 2 weeks, but I have spoken with several groups of riders and they
seemed to agree that the trails were not a disaster, but were busy and
the traffic was taking it's tolls in the form of moguls. So it is
the same old song and dance, the snow is pretty good, but we are busy.
If you are coming up, my best advice is to just try and get in the frame
of mind that things will not be perfect, but it beats sitting in the office!
I do plan to ride a few times this week and I may even get on a trail for
a bit. Until then...
Good night from the Keweenaw..