Boy, last day of May and based on
our weather, you would never know it. We have been struggling to rise out of
the 40's both today and yesterday and most of the past week was also cool. I
am not complaining by any means as I would rather have to put on a light
jacket than suffer through excessive heat. Plus the dogs do much better when
it is cooler and it does allow us more flexibility on where we can go for
our adventures. When it is hot we have to stick to the beach. The other
upside to the cooler temps is that the bugs have been kept to a slower pace.
There are still some of what I call black flies (midges to be more correct),
but they really are not too bad. In fact we stuck to the woods today and
yesterday for our walks and were hardly even bothered by them. Had to swat a
few today, but we were in a spot where we would have been swarmed by them in
a more usual year.
It also looks like it will
stay cool for the next week or so and that will start to take us into the
period where the midges start to die off. Usually they start to die off
during the second week of June and by the 4th of July, they are not much of
a factor. I suppose another reason why the bugs have not been so bad is that
we have been very dry. I say that with rain bearing down on us as I type.
However, in the past 4 weeks we have barely picked up a drop of rain. Our
grass started to green with the melting of the snow and the arrival of
spring, but has started to brown back into dormancy. I plan to see how much
rain we get with this event and if there is any more in the near term, but
may start watering so that the grass can at least do it's normal spring
Even with the dry and cold weather we have been having, the
forest is filling in nicely. That is probably my most favorite part of
living in the woods up here in the summer is that the woods do get so green
and beautiful and the cabin becomes even more secluded. I think that once
the snow has melted, but the trees are still bare and perhaps late autumn
(after the leaves have fallen) are my least favorite times. Although with
the promise of snow and sometimes more than a promise- a reality, the late
autumn period is a lot easier to take.
It seems like this spring has been a good one for the
ticks though. Up until this spring, I think I have picked only two ticks off
me the entire time I have lived here and none of them had attached
themselves to me either. So far this spring I have picked 3 off me and again
none have attached themselves to me. We have picked a few off the pups too,
but they are on stuff to protect them from ticks so we do not worry too much
about checking them after every romp in the woods. I suppose all the cool
weather we have had is what is making their world more productive.
It's been a quiet week. Al and I have even decided to not
play in the golf league this season. It was starting to get to be just
another thing to have to do and was even getting in the way of
things I wanted to do sometimes, so I know I was happy to be at home this
past Thursday, rather than out on the golf course. I suppose I will get out
and play once or twice before the baby arrives, but it will be nice to not
have that commitment every week this summer.
Up until yesterday I did not even have a single picture
to share with you all, but Nora, the pups and I did take a nice hike up to
the top of Mt Baldy and it was a perfect day to be up there and take it all
in. A few weeks ago we went to the mouth of the Montreal. It is one of my
favorite places up here. I would have to say that the top of Mt Baldy is
either my first or tied for my most favorite spot up here. I suppose one
reason is that we are typically the only ones up there because it is not an
easy place to get to- requiring a 2-3 mile hike in and all up hill and then
the same hike out, but downhill. Plus the view that you get from the top is
really second to none.
The hike starts out as a gentle uphill walk on an old
logging road that becomes a two track. Here is a shot of the
pups running ahead of us on the two track. The hike then starts to get a
little more challenging as the terrain starts to get steeper and the ground
more rocky. About 3/4ths of the way in, you encounter the first
"bald". It is an area where the growing environment is so harsh
that only a few types of plants grow there and the trees are very stunted.
For those of you that have been on top of Brockway Mountain, it is one of
these "balds" as well. Here is a shot that Nora took of me
on the first bald. It is lower and has more vegetation on it that the
top of Baldy and Brockway have. Here is a shot of Nora
and the pups on the lower bald.
There is a little saddle in between the first and second
balds and the vegetation gets pretty well grown in between the two, but as
you start to climb up the hill of the second bald, the vegetation starts to
thin out and by the time you are at the top, it is truly void of any trees
and about the only thing growing are some juniper cedar and a few other
plants that hang onto the rocky ground. Here is a shot of Nora
and the pups on top of Mt Baldy. We were not bothered by a single midge
the entire time we were up there, which was almost a miracle!
The view from the top is a spectacular 360 degree
panorama of the northern end of the Keweenaw. To the north is Lake Bailey,
Grand Marais and Agate Harbors, to the east is Lake Upson and Brockway
Mountain as well as the higher terrain of the Keweenaw Spine. To the
east-southeast you can see the top of Mount Houghton and Bohemia. All of
this I captured in my
own panoramic photo. Here is a close up of Agate
Harbor with Lake Bailey in the foreground. Here is Mt
Houghton and here is Mt
Bohemia. To the south is more higher ground of the Keweenaw Spine,
including Mt Horace Greely (home of the old Air Force early warning Radar
Base), the Buffalo Hills and Praiseville Hill. Then to the northwest is the harbor
and hamlet of Eagle Harbor. I zoomed in on the village of Eagle Harbor
and the lighthouse to be even more specific. The camera had to look through
so much air at different density that the shot came out looking more
like a painting than a photo. It was so quiet up there that we could
actually hear the waves breaking on the shoreline more than mile away. Way
off in the distance I could make out a
point that looked to have two reefs protecting it from the waves rolling
in from the lake. I actually had to get a map out and do a little figuring
to come up with what the point is and I came up with the eastern end of
Great Sand Bay.
After spending about 20 minutes at the top, we started
the hike back down and it was nice to be going down hill. Most of the way
was spent in an incline that eased your travel, but was not so steep that it
burns your upper leg muscles. It had been a while since we were last up
there. In fact Nora and I could not come up with the exact year, but believe
it was the autumn of 2003 as both Burt and Baileys were with us and the
autumn of 2004 we were busy getting married.
Other than that, the week has been spent cutting some
firewood (my winter supply finally ran out on Thursday) and taking the pups
for a walk in the woods or on the beach. On Thursday we walked a stretch of
beach that I had never been down before. Always such a fun thing for me to
be in a place I have never been before. Even if it is like other areas I
have been to up here. You just never know what is going to be around the
next bend or over the next hill. Kind of like life I suppose.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
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Happy Memorial Day Weekend
Everyone! So far it looks like the weather has been pretty good for most of
you. It has been nice so far up here. We even had a Saturday without snow!
Temps have been in the 60's and lost of sun, my perfect summertime weather.
It was kind of a crazy week for weather though. No snow, but a real roller
coaster ride in the temp department. Our high on Monday was around 70, on
Tuesday it was 44, on Wednesday it was 90 on Thursday it was back down into
the 40's. The high on Thursday was a new record for the day, but more
amazingly, we started the day at 33 degrees at 12:01 in the morning. That
was only 4 degrees from the record, so we almost set a new record low and
new record high on the same day! I don't have the time to go through all the
data for the airport up here, but I would have to guess that the 57 degree
warm up in 15 hours Wednesday was a record as well. It is pretty hard to
warm things that much in that amount of time and a 57 degree temperature
drop in 15 hours is pretty hard, but not as hard. I think I would compare a
57 degree warm up in 15 hours with 4 feet of snow falling in 24 hours. It
can happen, but is very rare.
So things then decided to settle down in the temp department by
Friday and have been fairly stable since. As mentioned, lots of sun too.
Although we could use some rain. It has been pretty dry up here and with the
snow all gone, the woods are a tinder box. The very warm temps on Wednesday
were accompanied by low humidity, sunshine and strong winds. Those are the
perfect ingredients to bring about a forest fire and two pretty big ones
broke out on Wednesday. One west and a little south of Marquette and the
other north of L'Anse. Both have been contained and are pretty much out, but
the one towards Marquette did burn quiet a few homes and camps. The woods
are greening up, but we could use some rain to help the process along and it
looks like we could get some by around Tuesday. Not that I like the rain all
that much, but I cannot even remember the last time we had a wet summer.
Last summer was dry, the summer before was also dry because I was trying to
get our lawn established and had to water every day. The summer before was
also dry because we were building the cabin and had it rained only twice the
whole time the outside was unfinished (June through August). I do not know
what the summer of 05 was like, but like I say, I cannot remember the last
wet summer we had up here.
The temperatures were about the only thing that was
exciting up here this week. I really do not have much to write about and if
it were not for the pups we would only have one pic to share with you and
really no other stories.
As I mentioned in the past journal, the pups took their
first real swim a week ago and are like old pros now. No question they are
labs, that's for sure! The trick now is to try and keep them out of the
water! I also mentioned how they were afraid of the waves on Lake Superior,
but that fear went by the way side this week as we went to the beach on
Wednesday and it was waves
be damned! Granted they were not huge waves, but enough to make them be
afraid in the past. Now the waves are just another thing to have fun with by
jumping over them or crashing
into them. Both Millie and Huck had fun fetching sticks that I tossed
into the water and at the beach we were at had no
shortage of sticks to throw.
Yesterday Nora and I took them for a walk and happened
upon a pond. They did not need any coaxing to jump in and go for a swim,
although we did toss a stick out there for them and they crashed
into the water after it. With only one stick to fetch, they shared
the duties of bringing it back and even came
out of the water with reckless abandon. There really is very little that
these two do with little enthusiasm. I suppose that is probably true about
most puppies, but these two seem to have a little extra enthusiasm, which is
good because I was probably getting to be a bit of a stick in the mud.
Sometimes only one dog will go out and retrieve the
stick, but that usually means the other is just lying in wait, like
Millie is here. Then as the one with the stick nears the shore, it is ambush
time and then usually some massive
wrestling match ensues. After a while things quiet down and they politely
await the next toss of the stick.
On the way back to the car yesterday, they decided to do some
more wrestling and ended up in a mud puddle on the side of the road and
Millie started looking more and more like
a black lab, rather than a yellow lab. That brought about the first
"garden hose bath" when we got home, but neither of them seemed to
mind it that much and that evening after they had dried off, we had two
clean and good smelling pups. They managed to stay clean through the morning
and so I decided to try and keep them clean by taking them to Lake
Superior for our afternoon adventure today. They get wet and sandy, but
the water is clean and when they dry, the sand comes off, so they
essentially stayed clean.
They sure are good dogs though. They are also getting
big. Huck is closing in on 50 pounds and Millie 45. A bag of dog food is
lasting around 10 days, although they are not the 45 pound bags that used to
last Burt and Baileys 3 weeks. We are still doing lots of walking, putting
on at least 4 and sometimes 7-8 miles a day. That is good for me too. It's
fun to watch them walk. Millie seems to almost float across the ground like
a butterfly. Huck floats too, but more like a battleship! He is one solid
dog and really starting to get blocky in his facial features too, which is
something that Nora and I both like in a lab.
I guess the only other news to share with you is that the
Laurium Glacier melted yesterday and there was only one guess for that date.
I have e mailed the winner and we'll get the shirt off to him as soon as he
gets me his color and size choice. Guess that about covers it for this one!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Boy, it is hard to
believe that May is over half done and next weekend will be Memorial Day
weekend already. I realize that Memorial Day weekend is early this year, but
still, seems hard to believe the month will be drawing to a close in not too
long. This week was definitely back loaded as far as activity went. Not too
much to talk about for the first half of the week, but then the second half
was somewhat action packed. About the only item of note early in the week
was that Nora and I finished burying the wire for the in-ground fencing
system for the dogs. It was quite the task too. In all, over 800 feet of
wire was put in the ground and I tell you what, I know Keweenaw means
"place of crossing" or "portage" in the local Native
American dialect, but I think it could just as easily mean "lots of
rocks in ground"! I am very thankful to have the wire in the ground and
tested the system and all works. Now all we need to do is start training the
pups on how it works.
On Tuesday evening when we finished putting the wire in
the ground, I placed the little marker flags in the ground over the wire
like you are suppose to, to help show the dogs where the fence is and to
help them stay away. On Wednesday morning, the dogs were out and I was on
the phone with a client, doing a recording for them. I did not have the
fence on or the collars on the dogs, so they saw the flags and thought they
looked like something of interest. I don't know which dog did it first, but
soon both were going along and meticulously pulling every flag up and
putting them in their mouths. If they dropped some, they would stop and pick
them up. At one point I think they both had at least a dozen of the flags in
their mouths. All I could do was watch and try and keep from laughing out
loud as I did my recording. I failed and just ended up breaking out in
laughter during the recording. It is not the first time they have made me
break out in laughter while doing the recording, so I think the client is
getting used to their antics. Anyway, I left the flags out for now, but I
guess the good news is that they can see the flags and once the fence is on
and the collars on them, they will learn what the white flags really mean.
They sure are good pups though. Huck has started to
become a little more vocal, but is learning that barking is not allowed
inside the house. He's not fully there yet, but learning. Otherwise, I
really cannot pick anything out that needs correction with them. They just
keep getting better and better behaved and pretty much just sack out when I
have to be working, which is what they are doing right now.
The weather has been an issue this week. It was pretty
quiet early in the week and temps were in the 60's, which was nice. Then on
Thursday we had very strong winds blow. Gusts were to 50 mph+ at times. The
pups and I went down to the big lake and while it may not look it in this
shot, things were really blowing down there. So strong it was hard to
breathe at times. Friday turned nice again, but for the second Saturday in a
row, we had snow. No real accumulation beyond a wet coating, but still a
fairly steady snow all day. In addition to the snow we also had very windy
conditions again yesterday. Then like last Sunday, today is also quite nice
out, with sunny skies and temps in the mid 50's.
On Friday, we made a quick trip to town and decided to
take the long way home and while cruising down one of the backwoods roads up
here, we came across this
little guy (or girl) along the side of the road. The pups were with us
and were interested in it, but we tried our best to tell them that was not
something they would want to play with!
Yesterday I thought it might be fun to go with Nora and
the pups to the mouth of the Montreal River. It is one of my favorite spots
up here and even though the weather was not so great for a long hike in the
woods, I knew the winds would be out of the wrong direction to slam that
coastline and at least the snowflakes would keep the bugs away. So we piled
into the Blazer and headed
up Hwy 41 through the snow to the trail head to the mouth of the
Montreal. Before we got to the trailhead, we came to this pretty view
of the road and rugged coastline of the tip of the Keweenaw.
As I mentioned, the winds were really blowing yesterday.
In fact, I think they were blowing harder yesterday than on Thursday and
with the snowflakes flying, it really seemed more like a November day than
mid May day. The strong winds even caused two
Lakes Freighters to huddle up in the shelter of Bete Gris Bay. You know
the lake has to be pretty ugly for them to do that. Several years ago, I saw
half a dozen hunkered down in the shelter of the bay and one of them was a
container ship and I could see where the rough waters had ripped several of
the containers off the front of the ship. The containers had to have been at
least 20 feet above the surface of the water. While hiking back we even
heard one of the ships blast it's horn for about 10 seconds. A pretty eerie
sound, especially since it was during one of the heavier snow squalls and we
could not see either ship.
For most of our hike out to the river, we were sheltered
from the winds and it was not too bad of a hike. However, once at the river
itself, there is little shelter from the trees and the winds were howling.
Plus the lake was really throwing
some big waves into the coastline. Here is a shot of the
coastline looking up towards Fish Cove. Here is a shot in the other
direction, towards Lac La Belle and the
Bear Bluffs (FSV).
The hike out to the river is not an easy one. The trail
is very rugged and there are trees down across the trail every few hundred
feet or so. There are even a few spots where the trail has washed out and
you have to walk across the roots that are still there, while hanging onto a
few trees to keep yourself from falling off a 20-30 foot cliff into the big
lake. I was very impressed at how well Huck and Millie did with the walk and
all the hard work is worth it. You do get some pretty views of some sea
isles along the way and I believe there is even a sea cave or two along
the way, but you cannot see them from the footpath. The main reward is
getting to the mouth of the Montreal itself. The river is very beautiful and
there is a set of
falls right where the river spills into the lake.
Once there, the
pups and I wasted no time worrying Nora by walking along the slippery
rocks near the river. One false step and we would have been thrown into the
frigid 33 degree water, with hypothermia setting in in just a matter of a
few minutes, all the while fighting a life and death battle with the rivers
current and razor sharp rocks beneath the boiling river rapids. Ok, maybe
that was a little over done, I am just practicing to be a narrator for The
Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel and just wanted to slip that in
there. Here is another shot of the Bear Bluffs, but this time with some
snow draping them in a milky shadow.
There is a second set of falls about a half mile upstream
from the mouth and we decided it was such a nice day, we would continue
hiking up to them. If the trail along the coastline to the rivers mouth is
rugged, the trail up to the upper falls could be considered non existent. At
least after the first 1/4 mile or so. In fact at times you have to stop and
look to see exactly which path through the bush will be the easiest way
through. The land is pretty
unspoiled, which to me is part of it's beauty. You also get some very
nice views of the
river as it meanders through the woods. After picking our way through
the bush, we finally arrived at the
upper falls and sat for a while and enjoyed it's beauty. We eventually
started our way back and on the way back, found a
little patch of snow still hanging on in the woods. Getting back to the
Blazer, it felt good to sit for a while and both dogs fell asleep quickly.
Once home, the situation did not change, Millie found a spot on the bed and
Huck curled up with
his bunny and slept off the long walk.
If yesterday was November up here, then today really was
May 17th. Crystal clear blue skies and temps in the upper 50's. As tired as
we all were after yesterday's walk, I was surprised that I was not sore
today. Nora said she was not sore either and while the pups cannot speak to
us in words, their actions this morning showed me that they were not too
tired or sore, so we took to the woods again today for a
nice walk in much nicer weather. Our walk today took us past a series of
beaver dams. They
were all pretty old, with no recent activity, but still holding water very
well and that lead to the big excitement of the day. The
pups first real swim. At times a snorkel would have come in handy, but
they always bobbed back to the surface and we have two swimming pups! Huck
really loved it as he went in all the way several more times. It was
exciting to see them swim and I am really happy that they both did it all on
their own and did not need any coaxing.
Not much else going on. Thursday was my 10th year
anniversary of moving up here. Lots of memories that are still crystal clear
of that very important day in my life. I always thought that when I got to
10 years up here, I would feel like I had been here just about all my life.
It does not quite feel like that yet, but the days of living in the big city
do seem like a very distant memory.
The last item to cover is the Laurium Glacier. It is still
hanging in there and looks to have about another week left with average
weather. As it gets closer to melting we will start checking in on it twice
a day. Should not be long now though.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Happy Mothers Day!
Weird to think that if all goes as planned, this will be the last Mothers
Day that I can get by without making a big deal for Nora. For what it's
worth, the pups and I did get her a card and if she wants, I plan to cook
supper, but next year should be a bigger deal for us. Exciting to think
It's been a fairly quiet week up here, so I am not sure
how long winded I will be today, but I do have some material and ten pics to
share with you. So it will not be that short. I guess the first order of
business can be the weather. We have had a little bit of everything in the
past week. Some spring, some summer, some winter and some weather that has
felt like autumn. We were in the autumn like weather early in the week, with
overcast skies, a high in the low 50's and that nice dry air. The pups and I
took a walk in the woods and it just seemed more like an October day than a
May day. Then Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we rose into the low 70's, so
there was summer. Then yesterday we had snow that fell from the sky just
about all day. It never accumulated to more than a dusting, but still, the
flakes were flying. Today is sunny and temps are once again running in the
50's, but with the sunshine it has felt more like spring. I feel sorry for
the kids that tried to get in some ball games outside yesterday because it
was just cold and nasty for that. Then we have today which is very nice to
On Wednesday with temps in the low 70's, I decided to
take the pups to the beach. The wind was not blowing very hard, so I figured
I might be able to get them to take their first real swim in the big lake.
We got down there and had the place to ourselves. Even the bugs have not
come out for the season yet. So I let them off their leashes and let them frolic
on the beach. They seemed more interested to check out a creek that was
flowing into the big lake, so we headed over there and they had no problems exploring
the waters of the creek. There were some pretty big sand banks along the
creek. Some of them were 10-15 feet tall and almost straight down. That did
not phase them and they had fun doing otter
slides down the banks into the creek, then climbed back up and did it
again. Pretty hilarious to watch.
After playing at the creek for a while, I coaxed them
over to the big lake and tossed a stick into the water to see if I could get
them to go for a swim and fetch the stick. The waves on the lake were little
6" babies, but that was enough to keep them from going into the water.
They would get right up to the waters edge and when a wave came on shore, they
would back off like the water was boiling oil. They are just not too
sure about what those waves are just yet. That water is way too cold for me
to be dipping my feet into, so I think the next beach day I will bring my
boots and wade out there and show them they have nothing to fear. Their
uncle Burt would have been happy to show them how to fetch a stick in the
water! After the beach, we got home and Millie laid in the sun, while Huck
found a nice shady spot to lay in.
One of the big events for me this week was the annual
spring ATV ride. I was introduced to this event 3 years ago and have made it
a point to go every year since and hope to be able to par take in it for
years to come. It is a similar type ride as our snowmobile rides. We ride
mainly off the main trails and try and find as much trouble as we can. There
are some really big mud and water holes on Dave's property this time of the
year and we always head to them to see who can get stuck the worst. The
previous two years we had groups of around 6 or so, but this year the group
swelled to 16. For a snowmobile ride that would be too many, but for ATV's
that is not a problem. It almost seems like the more the merrier when it
comes to an ATV ride.
As mentioned, it was more like winter yesterday than
spring, with temps in the low to mid 30's and snowflakes falling most of the
day. Quite honestly, for the type of riding we do, I would rather have that
kind of a day than one with temps in the 70's and sunshine. We do so much
playing in the mud and water that we all wear water proof gear and it would
get pretty hot in that gear with the sun and warm temps. So while it was
cold, we were able to dress for it and I know I stayed pretty comfortable,
right up to the very end and then I did get chilled in the last hour of
riding as the sun set and we lost that little bit of warming from the sun
behind the overcast skies.
As I drove down to Dave's place yesterday morning I had
that nasty feeling that I was forgetting something. Before I got too far
away, I did a mental check list of the things that were most critical for my
ride like helmet, gloves, food, drink. I had all of those, so figured what I
had forgotten was not critical to me riding and I was right. It was a fresh
battery for the camera. I was able to take that last pic and then two more
and then the battery went dead. Too bad because we sure did get into some
nasty spots. At any rate. Here is a shot of Nick
playing in one of the water holes and here is Matt
(on the right) and I believe Jeremy at another.
We all got stuck several times and there were a few spots
where at least 6-8 of the bikes needed to be winched across the mud holes.
One of the holes caused two of the bikes to have the tires come off the
rims. As the ride was finishing up, my bike developed an electrical gremlin.
It stalled twice and the electric start would not work. Starting up a 700 cc
4 stroke engine is a lot harder than starting up a 700 or even 800 cc
snowmobile engine, but thankfully the engine was warm, so it did turn over
and did start right up. I will have to see if I can figure out what caused
the problem and if I cannot find it, take the bike into the repair shop. I
did spend 2 hours this morning cleaning it up and it is all nice and bright
and shiny again. Seems like once a year is too long to go for such a fun
event and maybe I will have to organize an autumn ride. Things may not be as
messy, but I am sure we can still find some trouble to get into.
Today Nora and her aunt took a drive to Baraga and
Chassell for some Mothers Day fun, so the pups and I stayed home to man the
fort. It was a beautiful day for a walk, so we took to the woods. The woods
are still pretty bare, although the
buds are starting to burst and in about 2 weeks we should have a pretty
full forest canopy.
Initially we were walking down a trail that gets some
foot traffic and there was a car parked in the lot, so I kept the dogs on
their leashes. Then we found a little side road to go down and I have never
even been down it, so I figured that we would not encounter anyone else, so
I took them off their leashes. They are really getting good on their
leashes. They almost never fight and even understand if they go around an obstacle
to the wrong side, they need to go back around so that the leash does not
get caught up on what ever sits between them and Nora or I. They also
understand that when we take them off their leash, it means they can run and
play at will and they have no
problems doing that. They are also very good about sticking close to me
when off leash. Just like Burt and Baileys did, they never go more than
about 100 feet ahead of us or about 30-40 feet off to the side. They do
spend a lot of time running back and forth and it took some doing, but I was
able to get an action shot of them in
the coming phase. We are putting 4-6 miles a day on in our two walks. It
does seem to wear them out a bit and I know Nora and I are getting into
better shape as well. When we started, 2 miles was a bit of work and now a 6
mile day is nothing.
Well, it looks like I have come to the end of the road
for this one. A good thing because I am getting tuckered out from all the
hard play yesterday and today.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
I am willing to bet
that as some of you went to check this journal entry, the first thing you
were wondering was if I was able to take my May ride. As the week wore on
and the rains fell, temps remained above freezing 24 hours a day and the
snow melted, I was really beginning to wonder myself. The snow loss around
our house was really big. All the snow in the woods melted by around
Wednesday and even the piles of snow from the roof and snow thrower were
shrinking quickly. None the less, I know that the area I was planning to
ride in gets a lot more snow then we do and there was still quite a bit down
the week before, so on Thursday the pups and I hopped into Old Blue to head
up there to see how much snow was still around.
It is really amazing how terrain can make such a big
difference around here, because as I was driving up Hwy 41 towards the turn
off for the higher terrain, there really was no more snow on the ground
there than we had at the cabin. Mainly patches in the shaded areas. However,
once I got off the highway and started up the road to the higher ground, the
snowcover started becoming more and more prevalent. Then in the last 200
feet or so of elevation (mile to half mile of driving), the snow cover
really popped and just about everywhere I looked was still white. We stopped
at the spot where I had planned to off load and I snapped a shot of the
snow. The temps were warming as we went through the day on Thursday and
so was the humidity and that caused quite a bit of fog to form where the
snow was, but there was enough snow to ride.
So I got home and made some plans to ride. One factor as
to when I would go was going to be the weather. As much as I wanted to ride
in May, I also did not want to force the issue and ride in the rain and it
looked like Saturday morning it might rain or snow a bit (which it did for
about 30-45 minutes) and Friday afternoon looked dry. So I decided on riding
Friday afternoon. Friday morning, Dave called me. He wanted to make sure I
knew about the ATV ride coming up on May 9th and as we talked I asked him
what he was doing in the afternoon as I was planning to take one last ride.
I told him about the snow still up in the higher ground up this way and it
did not take too much coercing to get him to join me. He needed to wait
until the evening to ride, but with it staying light past 9 pm this time of
the year, that was not a problem. He stopped by the cabin at a little before
6 and we then headed up to the higher ground to snowmobile.
I have to admit that even though I had measured
8-12" of snow Thursday afternoon, I was still a little worried that
there would be enough for us to ride on Friday evening. It did rain quite a
bit Thursday afternoon and evening and the temps did not drop below
freezing, so snow loss did occur between my Thursday visit and the Friday
ride time. My fears were put to rest when we arrived at the drop off point
and I could see Dave was pleasantly surprised to see so much snow still
hanging around up there. We did not waste any time getting ready to ride and
within a few minutes of backing the trucks up to the snow we were unloaded
and all ready to ride.
It was a beautiful
evening to ride, with the sun out and no wind and just the two of us
heading through the woods on one last snowmobile adventure for the
I have to say also that I did not want the ride to be a
short little hop down a few hundred yards of snow. To me that is not a real
ride, it is just a weak excuse to run the sled. So I was a little worried
how much snow we would find and was happy to find mile after mile of snow
covered paths to go down. All told Dave and I rode for 3 hours and put on
about 25-30 miles. Some of my winter rides have been shorter than that, so I
can claim that it was a legitimate ride. Many of the miles were spent on a
new path too. It was not like we rode up and down the same path 20 times for
3 hours. We had a mix of large logging roads like the previous two pics
were. Some smaller
logging roads and even some genuine
The only problems with the ride were that in the case of that last bush whacking
shot. Objects that are covered up by 4-5 feet of snow in the winter become obstacles
to have to go around. Sometimes the obstacles are not as clearly visible and
pop up to bite you, as was the case with Dave on this
one. The log actually got sucked into his tunnel and stopped him on a
dime. I did not see it happen, but did see Dave laying in the snow for a bit
after hitting his knee on the back of the hood and his back on the end of
the A arms. But that was the only mishap we had in the 3 hours and we can
have more than that in less time in the winter, so all told it was a pretty
uneventful ride from the standpoint of bad things.
We also passed through a few spots where the snow was
deep enough and in an area big enough to try some carving. So Dave
gave it a whirl
first and then I
carved some turns. Of course what would a spring ride be without some
water skipping. We found a large enough puddle to make that worth the effort
as well. Here is Dave
heading out across the water and Dave
coming back towards me. Here
I am heading out and me
coming back. I did not want to get too adventuresome with my water
skipping as I have not gotten that sled set up for that, there are still
some cracks and holes in the belly pan and front suspension wells that need
to be filled with silicone before I start going across large bodies of
water, but that one was small enough that you could wheelie across the whole
thing and keep the front end dry if you wanted to.
The sun was starting to set and both Dave and I seemed to
have our fill of riding, so we headed back to the trucks and got
the sleds loaded and headed home. All told a very successful ride-
especially for the date. We rode even further than I thought we would be
able to and in good snow. Got in some final carves for the season and even
did a bit of water skipping. Had it been in early to mid April, it would
have been just another spring ride and probably nothing that would stay in
the memory bank for too long. However, because of the date, I think it will
be one of those rides that sticks with me for years to come- like the ride
Matt, Brian and I had years ago in 85 degree weather (in shorts and
t-shirts), or the ride in the 6 foot dumping in early April 2 years ago.
Plus I can now say I have ridden in 7 of the 12 months up here, which is
kind of cool. Perhaps an October ride next season? We've had the snow, I
have just never gone. My thanks to Rt 12 Rental for getting me a set of
handlebars and grips so quickly so I could use the M on that May ride!
Back to the regular events of the past week. Nora and I decided
to try and take the pups for a walk in the woods on Tuesday. Much of the
snow around our place had melted, so Tuesday evening we headed out into the
woods with Huck and Millie leading the way. Right off the bat we encountered
some patches of snow
that needed to be navigated around, but they were not insurmountable
obstacles and were not very numerous. Puddles
proved to be a bit of a challenge, but again did not cause us to stop and
turn around. We even passed Burt's
Pond and it brought back some fine memories of good old Uncle Burt and
all the fun times we had hiking out to that pond to let him have a swim.
I have some more pics from our Thursday adventure up to
check out the snow in the higher terrain. On the way back, I noticed that
the snow melt and heavy rain we had occur in the previous day or two had
really swollen the creeks and streams, so I decided to take a little detour
and check out the Eagle River Falls. Needless to say with all the water
flowing down that river, the
falls were quite impressive. In fact, I have only seen them with more
water going over them once. That was in 2001 when we got around 4" of
rain in a 24 hour period combined with snow melt. Here is a
pic from that event.
Underneath the bridge for the vehicle traffic there was a
big nest with some baby birds in it. I could not tell for sure, but it
looked like ravens. Out on the lake I spotted my
first lakes freighter for the season. I am sure several have passed by
already, but that was the first one I have seen this season.
After some clouds and a bit of light rain and snow mixed
yesterday mid to late morning, the skies cleared and it turned out to be a
pretty nice day. So Nora and I decided to take the pups for a walk at the
beach. They have been doing very well on their walks and I even let them go
off leash on Friday, so I figured we could do the same at the beach. They
are really funny when they know they are off leash as they can sense that it
is a different situation from when they are on the leashes and they just run
and play with reckless abandon. They spent the whole afternoon running
and chasing leaves around that the wind was blowing around on the beach.
The waves were too big that they did not want to venture out into the lake,
but sure enjoyed their afternoon at the beach.
Today Nora and I took to the woods with them and went
down a logging road that I knew they could be off leash and not get into any
trouble on. Once again, they went ballistic and had a blast exploring all
there was to see and sniff. Here
they are in a puddle. Here they are checking
out one of the last patches of snow and here they are running
down the logging road. All told we walked close to 4 miles in the woods
this afternoon and their mileage could have been doubled with all the back
and fourth they did. That on top of a 2 mile walk this morning. We are ALL
getting our exercise these days! It's amazing though, the four miles did not
seem that long with all the entertaining the pups did for us.
They continue to get better and better behaved. We still
have some moments, but that is to be expected with dogs that are only 4
months old. I can say though that they are for sure very smart dogs and
enjoy learning and pleasing us. We sure enjoy making them happy too. With
the snow basically gone and the woods opening up to us, things are going to
start to get really fun for us.
Not much else going on up here. The M has already been
washed up and put on the lift in the shop. I will do some final cleaning up
and some other work to it and then let it have a nice slumber for the next
few months. The ATV is all set to go for the ride next Saturday and I would
imagine that will be one of the highlights to next week's journal. So until
Good night from the Keweenaw..