JD' s  Snow Journal
Octobers Journal
Sandy's Mendota Musings
JD's Net Friends
Novembers Journal
George's Eagle Harbor Web
Dan's Wilderness Diary
December 31 -
    What a wonderful day!  Have I mentioned what a fabulous place I have moved to?  Oh Man.  Woke up to a fresh 2" of snow.  everything coated in white and clean as a whistle.  Took the hounds for a walk on the local access trail.  It was still early and only two sleds went by so we were safe.  Still snowing a little, a really enjoyable way to start the day.
    I then went for a ride with a new friend I have made.  He (Paul) and his wife (Ginger) own and operate the Paradise Bar and Grill which is situated about halfway between Hancock and Calumet, just off the trail.  I got to know them through the local snowmobile club and they are great people.  We decided to head out on the local club trail.  It is labeled on the maps up here as a dashed line and called the "Dreamland" trail.  Anyway, it is locally groomed and not too heavily used so we both thought that it would not be too bumpy or too crowded.  We were right in our thoughts as it was not too bad.  A little bumpy in spots, and a few detours had to be made around some blow downs from the big blow Christmas Night, but all in all, a very enjoyable ride.
    As promised, I had Paul take a picture of me. So without further adieu...  Heeerrreeeeesssss Joooohnnny!  So what do you all think???  Am I at all what you had pictured?  Well, now you know.
    Back to the ride. Here is a shot I took when we were on the trail.  As you can see, this trail is not as wide as the "DNR" trails up here.  It is a locally groomed trail and they use a smaller drag which is pulled behind a snowmobile.  It does a good job and this trails is usually in as good or in better shape as the other trails. I will most likely be taking my turns on the groomer this winter, as they have said that they would welcome new blood to help out with the grooming detail.  You just cannot go as fast on these trails, as there are plenty of blind corners. It sounds more dangerous, but because of the slower speed of the riders, I think it is actually safer.  In the heart of the winter, there are places where the snow is literally 2-3 feet deep on all of the trees and other horizontal surfaces and it really seems like a "Dreamland".  Although the trail is actually named after the region it goes through, which is called Dreamland.  And this region gets it's name from the Dreamland Bar and Motel.  This is a very old and historically rich structure.  It is no longer a motel, but still serves food and drinks.  It is also the "home base" for our local club the "Valley Snow Drifters".  Every year the big fund raiser is the Spaghetti Dinner.  The Dreamland hosts the dinner every year.  This years dinner is either at the end of Jan. or beginning of Feb..  I will find out for sure in a about two weeks and let you all know.  If you plan to be up here at that time, please stop in and chow down.  I can even sell you tickets in advance if you like.  Like I said, I will find out the exact date and let everyone know in the near future.
    The trail crosses the Torch Lake Cut (water!) right at the Dreamland.  The ice is safe, as they have already marked the crossing with trees.  We made it across without incident, at about 70 MPH I might add.  The trail then make's way into Dollar Bay.  This is likely the way that most people will actually find the trail.  Just look for it after you pass though Dollar Bay on the north side of town.  After Dollar Bay, Paul went one way to get home and I went another, but we both had fun and plan many future rides together.
    Part two of the great day took place with the hounds at the beach along the north shore.  We had checked things out there yesterday and the ice castles have already formed and there is about 100 yards of hard pack ice from the shore out to the castles.  Now for those of you who don't know what the heck an ice castle is.  They are huge piles of ice and snow which are formed by the waves piling piling up the loose chunks and then those chunks freezing. This picture really does not do them justice, as they look like little piles of snow.  But take my word for it, they are spectacular.  They are actually about 100 yards off the shore and some are about 20-25 feet high.  Just imagine the power of the waves which created them.  Awesome. Bad picture #2 is of the hounds exploring the shore.  They had a blast as they could walk up into the woods and run through them in the fresh snow.  I really think that at one point they felt like they were direct descendants of their original ancestors, the wolf, as they ran through the woods in search of prey.  Of course they did not find anything, but they were grinning ear to ear as they ran along the shore and up into the woods.
    This is a shot of the "beach" looking north towards Five Mile Point and Eagle River.  Again, it is hard to get a true sense of the dramatic changes this landscape goes through between seasons.  Here is a shot I took of the beach back in early November, when we were having a big windstorm.  Maybe you can get a feel for exactly how much ice has been piled up maybe not, but it is about 100 yards wide and about 5-15 feet thick in most spots and out where the castles are up to 25 feet thick.  I recommend a trip to the north shore to see this landscape when you are up here.  Good places to see via snowmobile are in Eagle River and maybe even Eagle Harbor.
    This last shot is of the trail we took to get from the road to the beach.  A very pretty place indeed.  Really neat how the forest just grows right up to the beach and then you have the big lake.  Not much development here yet, but it is coming, as the land is all platted out and marked and they are selling it off.  Progress I suppose.
    Hope everyone had gotten at least a taste of my wonderful last day of the year, decade, century, and millennium!  Wow, kinda cool if you think about it.  Not many people get to go through that kind of changing of the calendars!
    Have a wonderful and safe New Year and talk to you next ................... Naw, I won't say it!
Good night from the Keweenaw!
- JD  -
December 30 -
    I did it.  At long last.  A ride on the sled.  Well, I did ride about two weeks ago when my brother and Uncle came up, but it was snowing so hard and it was just beginning to pile up that it was impossible to report on the trail conditions.  The weather today was a complete opposite of yesterday.  The sun was out all day and it was a very crisp winter day up here.  Not bitterly cold, but crisp.  I did manage to sneak in a ski in the woods with the hounds first.  We went down a logging road and it was very beautiful.  I wish that I had brought the camera for that one, but did not.  Sorry.  There was about 10-13" down, but a crust from yesterday's rain was on top so the dogs would crunch through the crust and then sink up to their chests.  They quickly developed a technique to get them through the deeper snow.  They would actually jump through the snow like a rabbit, with their back legs landing simultaneously and in the same spot where their front paws had already packed down the snow.  It was really funny to watch, but it did work well for them.  After a while, they got tired of this method and just ended up letting me blaze the trail through the snow and followed in my tracks.  They are currently sound asleep and will not move the rest of the night!
    Back to snowmobiling.  I decided to hit the trails for a short ride to see just how beat up they were.  It was about 3:30-4 PM so the trails did have time to get beat up.  The local access trail was great.  Probably groomed this morning, it was holding well, as traffic was minimal on it.  Once I got to the main trail, I turned to head towards Calumet and Laurium and that trail was actually not too bad.  A little rough in spots, but basically you could travel faster than 45 MPH without being in any kind of dangerous situation.  I got mine up to 70 and then backed off.  Before I forget,  here is a picture of the sled.  I can tell that the sled will be fast, as I did get it up to 90 on a back road where I knew there were no driveways where cars could be pulling out and it had about a mile straight away and still had lots of throttle to go.  Hope I can find a place to safely find out how fast it will go.
    The trails got quite bumpy as I got close to Calumet and Laurium.  Basically I think the groomer continued on north rather than south.  Here is a shot I took trying to show the bumps.  The camera did not do them justice.  They were about 6-12" high.  Not the worst I have ever seen, but bad enough to make things rather uncomfortable. This shot is of one of the corners where there was a little dirt mixed in.  Not a lot, but enough so that the snow was not totally white.  I decided to get off the trail, stop in and see my friends at the Paradise Bar and then take the road down to trail 3 and back to Lake Linden.
    All in all, the trails were about what I had expected, seeing as though this is one of the busiest times of the year for sledding.  I did hear that the trails that I had ridden on that were bumpy were actually nice early in the day so the groomers are out, but by the end of the day the trails are beat up.  Catch that little bit of advice I just threw your way?
    I will be riding tomorrow, and will be heading out early and riding the local club trail, which is almost always in good shape.  I have plans to ride with a friend so if all goes as planned, you all will be able to get your first look at ME!  So tune in tomorrow!
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
December 29 -
    Another one of those "plans are made and plans will change" days for me, as I did not go out riding as expected.  It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the weather went from snow to rain/snow mix to plain old rain this afternoon.  It remain mainly snow up on the hill (Calumet to Copper Harbor), but here in the valley we switched over to rain at about 3 PM and it rained until about 6 PM and then switched over to some heavy snow and then ended at about 6:30.  We are now at 28 and it is 8 PM, what a roller coaster ride!
    I was planning to ride in the Valley today so I would have gotten caught in the rain.  Not much of a problem as all my gear is water proof, but still not much fun to ride in the rain.  In my midday update of AL Cam I made note of how the temperatures were "rising rapidly"  normally this sort of observation is only noted with pressures rising or falling rapidly, but at 11 am we were sitting at about 21 degrees with light to moderate snow falling.  By 2 PM the temperature had risen to 38 degrees and it was still snowing but by 3, it rose to about 40 and switched to rain, like I said above.  Also like I said, it remained snow up on the hills and I have heard that they got about 4-6" all told.  We got about 3-4, but then when it warmed up and rained, that settled to about 2".  Found out that my snow blower does not like slush.  It had the power to throw it, the shoot just kept clogging.  I really got tired of using an ice scraper to clean it out, but the snow on my driveway was so heavy, there was no way I could have shoveled it and not killed myself.  It's all done and I am glad.
    The only picture I have for today is of Burt walking up my driveway.  This will show how much snow we have up here.  The snow is basically up to the top of his back and he is a big boy, about 90 lb. fit and trim.  With the warmer temps and rain, it did settle about an inch from this shot, but the base is a solid 14-16" and deeper in the woods.  With the warming, the snow is really pack able, so if they do groom before it gets cold, the trails will set up very nicely.  However, they usually don't groom in the evenings or at night, usually in the AM.  I may take a ride solo tomorrow.  I will be on-trail, so if I have problem someone will come along.  Even if I don't ride tomorrow, I will take a picture of the sled so everyone can see it.  No big deal, but there have been people asking to see it.
    Well, that about does it for tonight.  What a weird day.  Felt like we had about 3 days weather packed into one day and boy am I tired!
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
December 28 -
    Another wonderful day in God's Country.  Awoke to 4-5" of fresh snow and warm temperatures!  It was about 25 degrees at 6 am this morning.  Thus, the snow was a little heavier, not the wet heavy stuff which would help to add to the base up here, but much heavier than the lake effect which fell the rest of the day.  We did manage to pick up about another 1.5-2" of snow with the light snow which has been falling since early this AM, but it was very light and powdery.  It was just neat to watch it snow all day.  To me there is just something so peaceful about snow falling and to have it occur all day, is such a treat.  Plus it was those big fluffy flakes, not the small grainy ones which have been falling lately.
    Anyway, did not snowmobile today, as it is having some minor fix ups done (rear shock needed to be recharged and some other minor stuff).  Hopefully it will be all ready to go tomorrow.  I do plan to ride with a friend.  He likes to ride the trails and not out in the bush.  I don't mind the trails, but would just as well avoid them as much as possible this week and ride more in the bush.  I feel a compromise is in the works.
    The hounds and I did head out to the beach for a ski.  It was a great day for it, as the big flakes danced down around us and the wind and temperature were not too bad.  The snow is getting deeper and deeper by the day up here.  The official depth at the airport is 13", but in the woods and some other areas more sheltered, there is over 2 feet down.  I am not criticizing the official report, as they are limited to the area where they can measure the depth and it is fairly sheltered, but Sunday's 50-60 MPH winds blew off the top 5-8" from most areas.  Anyway, here is a shot of Baileys in the snow.  She is in a deeper spot, likely a drift, but it is about 2 feet deep here.  The hounds went off on their own for a while, but after about 1/4 mile ended up following me in my tracks and let me break trail the rest of the trip.  Here is a shot looking back at our tracks on the beach.  Because of the low light, the camera did not pick up the tracks nor did it pick out the flakes flying, but trust me, it was a postcard perfect snowscape.  We went off the beach and into the woods along the beach for a short time. Here is a shot of Burt leading the way on the trip back through the woods.  The camera really takes better pictures when there is more light.  I will have to remember that.  Anyway, the snow here was past his chest, which is about 12" off the ground.  The deeper snow sure gave them a work out and they have been sound asleep ever since we got home about 4 hours ago.  They are so cute when they are so tired, they just lay on top of each other and fall sound asleep and then don't move for a long time.
    The drive back is through some very pretty woods.  This shot does not do the scene justice, but I hope you can at least get a feel for how beautiful things are up here.  I feel like I am living in a dream.  I have always fantasized about living in a place where there is tons of undeveloped land and where it snows a lot.  Today's all day snow and the growing depth on the ground was just like a dream.  That's all I can say.  Sorry I cannot be more eloquent with my words or descriptions, but for you snow and outdoor lovers out there I think you can picture the scene.  I think the only thing that makes a day like this even better is to know that the winter is really only starting and we have at least 3, maybe 4, more months of it!  YES!
    Well, all the good clean Keweenaw air I got today has made me a sleepy boy, so I guess I will join the hounds in never-never land.
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
December 27 -
    Back in the saddle, finally.  Sorry about these little interruptions, but family duties call.  Hope everyone's Christmas was excellent.  I had a very good one.  It is great to get back and see the family.  Even though I had just seen all of them at Thanksgiving and two of them up here a few days before.  The trip down was a royal pain, as snow up here made for some whiteout driving to about Mass City.  The light snow from about Portage to Lake Geneva made the roads very slick.  Plus, the idiot who decided to back up while still on the interstate, yes, I mean still on the interstate - not on the shoulder! brought one of those moments where I got to see my life flash before my eyes.  We arrived safe and sound and to some wonderful home cooking.  Well worth everything experienced on the trip down.  They had enough snow to classify it as a "White Christmas", so that was kinda neat and did allow me to keep a reign in on my snow addiction until I got back here.  Trip back was totally uneventful, thank goodness!
    I was expecting to not be able to pull into my driveway upon my arrival due to snow, but later Saturday and into early Sunday, 50-60 MPH winds, with gusts unofficially to 90 MPH, basically blew away anything which was not anchored down, including loose snow.  It was amazing.  I left with about 8" on the snow station and about 8-10" on the ground near the station.  When I returned, there was no snow on the station and only about 2" on the ground near it!  It is in a location that is exposed to the westerly winds, but there was not a whole lot of fresh snow down anywhere else in the area.  I guess one good thing about all that wind was that all the homes are back to ground zero as far as accumulations on the roofs are concerned.  A couple more wind storms like that and no one will have to worry about shoveling off their roofs this year!  About 80% of the roofs up here have now only about 1-2" on them and that is from what fell after the winds yesterday and overnight last night.
    Took a walk up to the trail today just to check things out.  It was in not as bad a shape as I had thought it might be.  There were bumps, but no dirt or anything else showing.  On a 1-10 scale with 10 being the best, I would have rated the one I was on at about a 5-6.  I was expecting a 3-4. Here is a shot of the trail.  We look to be in store for about another 2-5" tonight which will be welcomed as the area is still lacking enough snow to make conditions as nice as most would like.  Plus, things are getting busy.  The trails still did not seem to be too crowded, but I had to run some errands in town and lots of sleds and pickups with trailers and other signs of a fair amount of people up here, so the trails and groomers will be put to the test, and I would imagine things will only get busier as the week progresses.  Most, if not all motels have been booked solid for weeks.  If you do not have reservations up here and want to come, call ahead.  There still may be some beds available, but definitely call ahead.
    I do plan a ride for Wednesday.  The sled is going to get the once over tomorrow just to make sure everything is ship shape.  I already know that the rear shock needs to be recharged and the track needs to be loosened some and a new belt is also in order.  Ahh, the flow of cash out of my hands is already starting.  Anyway, hope to be able to start adding some more pictures from my rides very soon.  I really did not plan to do much riding this week because of the traffic.  With some new snow and quieter times next week, the regular season will hopefully arrive.  Plus, I drove by the ski hill and the folks were skiing down it today, so that will also become a bigger part of my activities up here.
    Looks like that will be all for tonight.
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
December 22 -
    Today would have been a great day for a ride, but I am still recovering from my ride Monday!  Don't worry, I'm ok, and I'm not a wimp.  Had I driven 8 hours to get up here and ride for a couple of days, you can sure bet I would have been out all day.  But seeing as though I will have plenty of days of riding this season, I decided to let the body try and recover a bit.  Plus, I will be heading south tomorrow and needed to begin preparations for that excursion.  I am a little surprised at how sore I was even today, but it is not my back as much as my thighs, from standing up to help combat the bumps.
    I did take the hounds out for an afternoon walk and we did hit the local trail.  On our way out, I found a perfect spot to measure the snow depth.  It is a small clearing which is also sheltered by trees and even has some taller grass and other plants growing in it and these also helped to keep the snow from blowing away in Monday's wind.  This picture of the dogs was taken in that spot.  I cleared the snow away in one area all the way to the ground.  Burt's front paws are standing on that spot and you can see how high the snow comes up to him (mid chest).  Note:  He is a big boy.  I also took a reading as to how far up my leg it went and it was just below my knee cap.  Once home, I broke out the yard stick and found this to be about 18".  Now before you go thinking there is 18" down in the Keweenaw, remember that this was an optimal spot for the snow to accumulate and stay.  Some areas were blown clear by the winds (my snow station location was one) and have only been accumulating snow since Tuesday midday.  The station currently has about 6-7" under it and I will likely return to using it as the AL Cam tomorrow.  I would have to say that the average depth in the woods (where most of the trails run) is about 12-16" and continues to grow by about 3-4" a day as we keep getting snow.  There is a Lake Effect Snow Warning posted for later tonight and into tomorrow, for an additional 12" of snow possible.  This after we get 2-4" earlier tonight.  I am a little skeptical on the 12", as it seems a bit of a wild card, but we'll see.  If it does come, this area would be more than set for the onslaught of riders coming next week.
    For those of you coming next week, I assume that you have been here at that time and are prepared for the busy trails and the conditions that can develop in those situations.  No matter how much snow you have, traffic causes bumps, and the groomers can only do so much at one time.  So there will be rough spots.  For those of you who have not been here when it is busy, don't let me scare you away.  It will most likely be your first trip, or ride, of the season.  There will be enough snow and you will have fun, that is what the sport is about.  Just be warned, conditions will not likely be perfect all the time.  Sniff out those groomers and follow 'em!  Please don't e-mail me asking for groomer schedules.  I do not know them and I am not too sure there is even a set schedule.
    Back to our walk.  We hit the groomed trail and this is the first picture on that trail.  This is more of an access trail between to larger, or main trails, but the groomer came through yesterday AM and it was still holding well.  Of course, there may have only been about 20 machines which came through on it, as it is not one of the more popular routes.  If you want to know where it is, it is the end of trail 122 which intersects trail 3 just to the north of Lake Linden.  I just found out why that trail is not too busy.  Getting the link to the map I read on the chamber's trail report that the south Gay Trail (122) is closed due to logging.  This trail does hook up with the local club trail, the "Dreamland" trail so you can take it from # 3 east towards Gay.  You can then take the Dreamland trail south to Dollar Bay and eventually get back on # 3 to Houghton.  This might be a good bet if things get out of hand next week.  Plus you can visit two of the local watering holes, the Maple Leaf Bar and the Dreamland Bar.  Both neat places, especially the Dreamland.  Lots of history at that place and the owners are really nice.
    This third pic is on that same local access trail.  You can see my shadow.  We have been in and out of snow squalls for the past 2 1/2 days.  At times, it is really coming down and at times the sun is out and at times both are happening at the same time!  I was able to check out the moon tonight between squalls and it did look exceptionally bright.  Kinda neat.  Just to the right of the trail is the Traprock River.  It's not a big thing.  In the summer, the hounds would swim in some of the deeper spots and we could wade through some of the shallower spots.  But this reminds me to tell you that you are best off staying off all the ice up here.  Things just started to freeze before the snow came and the ice on most lakes and especially the CANAL is very thin so don't ruin your day.  You want to ride those places, use a wave runner!
    Enough preaching.  I don't mean to tell anyone how to live their live, I just want them to be able to enjoy it for another day is all.  This last pic is of my webber grill in the back yard.  It also shows how much snow has fallen.  The depth in my back yard is an average of 12-14".
    Well, this will do it for the next 3, maybe 4 nights as I will be away at the folks place for Christmas.  Have a wonderful Christmas everyone!
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
December 21 -
    This is one of those nights I fear will come, with lots to say, but barely the energy to keep my eyes open, let alone sit at the computer for the time it takes to compose the entry.  I doubt I will be able to get to say all that I had planned, so what I leave out tonight I will try and get in tomorrow.
    First I would like to thank all of you who send me the e mail notes saying what a great site I have.  To me it is just a little thing I am having a lot of fun with, but at times I do realize what I am providing and how much it can be appreciated.  It was less than a year ago I was in a situation where I would have been on this site every day looking and dreaming.  I would also like to mention that because of the amount of e mail I am now getting (over 20 a day in most cases) I may not be able to respond to all of them.  However, please, please, please keep em coming!  I promise to READ them all, no matter how many I get!  It is really fun to add new dots to the netfriends map.  Some people are from major cities such as Chicago or the Minneapolis area and others are from what appear (at least on the atlas) to be very small towns scattered about the Midwest.  It is amazing to know that there are so many people finding their way to this site.  This internet thing might actually catch on, EH?!!!
    I had planned this grand trail ride today, but as many things in life go, plans change.  A year back, such a disruption in plans would have upset me, but thanks to the magic of this place and it's people, I have really been able to have fun with all the curve balls life now throws.  Nothing major happened to me or anybody else involved in the trip.  Basically, I got busy and then was really sore (too much riding yesterday, I think).  Also my brother, who was to be my riding partner, went to Copper Harbor and back in the morning and early afternoon, and was tired and sore as well, so we both ended up taking a short nap this afternoon and then he had to return the sled.  So no new photos or exciting trail riding to tell you about, sorry.
    We did get more snow today and it is still coming down.  Most of the day we got light snow, with heavier squalls.  Sometimes the visibility with the heavier squalls would drop to 1/4 mile and it seemed like it would never stop.  Then it would lighten up and almost become sunny.  All in all, I would say that we got an additional 2-3" since daybreak, bringing our storm total to 13-14" so far.  Looks like another 2-3 tonight and again tomorrow.
    Trails were being groomed with the drags for the first time this season today.  My brother said that where they had groomed, the trails were awesome, but rough where they had yet to get to them.  I can attest to both of these, as I rode the rough part yesterday and walked along the groomed part today. By tomorrow, all of the trails should have been given the once over and any new snow will only make things better.  I would say that this area still could use another 6-8" of snow to provide a deeper base for the masses to play on next week.  Based on the forecast, we should get about half of that tonight and tomorrow and a storm early next week could really hit us hard again.  The cold nights will also help to firm up the base down right now.  All in all, things look pretty good, especially since a week ago we had almost no snow on the ground.
    Falling asleep at the keyboard, so will close for now.
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
December 20 -
    Can't imagine a better weather scenario for my first day with the sled.  Snowed lightly all night and awoke to 2-3" this morning.  Continued to snow lightly most of the morning.  However, we did have some heavier squalls. Here is a photo I managed to take as one of the squalls was passing through.  Yes, that's my house about 50 feet away!  Visibility would drop to about 50-100 feet with these squalls and we would get about .50-1" with each one.  Had about 5-6 of them and this amounted to 3-4" of additional snow by about 2 PM.  Then it was time for me to hit the trails.  As I have mentioned, my uncle and brother are visiting and they had been out already.  We headed down the road, I gave my machine a little throttle and BOOM!  A backfire, lots of smoke and she didn't want to go anymore.  The engine was still running, but did not want to give enough RPM's to even move the sled.  Did a little on-trail diagnosis and changed the plugs.  I figured they were fouled by the tiny bit of old gas that had run through the machine when I first got it.  My diagnosis was right on and she ran like a dream with the change of plugs.
    The trails were rather, no, REALLY bumpy.  It is to be expected, as they have been getting traffic and not groomed, because there was not enough snow to pull the drags.  We made our way down to Dan's to drop off my uncle's sled.  He has a bad back and had enough riding for this trip.  On they way down, we took this shot of them.  They also took a shot of me, but it did not turn out, I swear.  Something made the image all distorted.  Anyway, maybe tomorrow we will be able to get a shot of me so all you single snowmobile women can see the available, 33 year old, self employed, athletic, likes to go for long walks on beaches (just ask my dogs) and relax in front of the fire (ask dogs again) guy living in God's country!  It's not that there aren't some good looking women up here.  There are actually quite a few, many are already spoken for, but I figured with the number of hit counts that are occurring to this site.  There must be a cute, fun, easy going, snow loving, dog loving, single female who wants to get away from it all and come play in the snow.  All reasonable offers will be considered.
    OK, enough of that silliness, back to the first ride.  We got between Houghton and Dan's (about 3 miles by sled) and hit a total whiteout!  It was coming down like a thunderstorm, only snow.  You could actually watch it pile up.  We made it to Dan's and left my uncle to return the sled and drive his car home.  My brother and I headed out the the Freeda look in hopes of finding fresh snow on it, or some of the side trails branching off of it.  BINGO!!!  A mother load of fresh powder 5-8" deep.  Had a blast running through the woods, with the snow flying over the windshield.  If we were skiing they would call that "snorkel skiing" because in order to breathe, you need a snorkel.  Well, from now on I will refer to that kind of riding as "snorkel sledding".  We snorkel sledded for about an hour on the main trails and branch trails and then decided to head for home.  At times the snow was falling so hard, visibility was about 50 feet!  The fastest we could go in these periods of heavier snow was about 20 MPH.
    The trip home was not quite as bumpy as the fresh snow had evened out the bumps some.  More whiteouts and more snorkel sledding and we finally arrived home.  We currently have some of our wet cloths in the drier.  Are going to run out for a quick bite and then hit the trails again for some more riding tonight.  With the snow we have now, they can for sure hit the trails with the groomers and drags tomorrow.  Almost no one up here right now.  Those two factors could lead to an epic day tomorrow.  Maybe even head to climb Mt. Bohemia and say hi to my good friends at the Lac La Belle resort.  I can almost taste the roast beef sandwich smothered in brown gravy at this moment.  MMMMMMM good!
    Gonna need a belt sander to remove the grin on my face tonight!
    Good night, a very good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
December 19 -
    Not much new to report on.  A rather quiet day, but most likely the calm before the storm, as we stand the chance to get crushed later tomorrow through early Wednesday.  Lake effect, so you are never fully sure until it starts to billow off the lake, but all systems look go.  The only thing worrying me is we are under a winter storm warning, and those things are like the kiss of death as far as I am concerned.
    Still waiting for the sled to arrive.  My uncle too a wrong turn and ended up going down the wrong interstate for a while, but they called and are close.  Snowing lightly now, so a quick shot down the street and into the field looks to be in order.
    Since I am out of new and exciting things for tonight, I will pass along some interesting info that was sent to me via a net friend:

    This year will be the first full moon to occur on the winter solstice, Dec.22, in over 100 years. The winter solstice is commonly called the first day of winter.  Since a full moon on the winter solstice occurred in conjunction with a lunar perigee (point in the moon's orbit that is closest to Earth) the moon will appear about 14%  larger than  it does at apogee (the point in it's elliptical orbit that is  farthest from the Earth).
    Since the Earth is also several million miles closer to the sun at this time of the year than in the summer, sunlight striking the moon is about 7% stronger making it much brighter.  Also, this will be the closest perigee of the Moon of the year since the moon's orbit is constantly deforming.
    If the weather is clear and there is a snow cover  where you live, it is believed that even car headlights will be superfluous.
    On December 21st. 1866 the Lakota Sioux took advantage of this combination of occurrences and staged a devastating retaliatory ambush on soldiers in the Wyoming Territory.
    In laymen's terms it will be a super bright full moon, much more than  the usual AND it hasn't happened this way for 133 years!
    Our ancestors 133 years ago saw this.  Our descendants 133 years from now will see this again. I thought you might find this interesting!  Remember this  will happen December 22, 1999.....

    I doubt we will see it, except possibly through some lake effect clouds and snow, but you never know.  Conditions could be pretty good in some areas of the Midwest.
    Well, guess that does it for now.  Talk to you tomorrow and fill you in on the first ride!
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
December 18 -
    What a day!  truly magnificent.  No new snow, but after a frigid early am (4 degrees), the sun came out and warmed things up.  The southerly winds didn't hurt either!  Had to go to town and get the hounds their food, they are kind of demanding about this having to eat every day thing.  Was able to do ALL my Christmas Shopping in three stores and it only took 45 minutes!  That's one nice thing about moving to a place where you can get cool things locally made, with a local flair to it.  Can't say what I got, as friends and family read this, but I think all will be happy (if the pasty's don't spoil).
    Took the hounds to the beach today, yes, the beach.  I had been waiting for the first decent snow to fall, as I wanted to x-country ski the beach.  The beach I have had in mind is on the south or east side of the peninsula, so it is sheltered from the gales off of the lake.  It does not get quite as much snow, as the lake snow squalls don't always make it that far with their heavier dumps, but there as 4-5" down, enough to let me swish across the beach.
    I was really a perfect day for such an activity, as it was cool enough to keep the snow powdery, yet not too cold to make my face freeze.  Plus the sun was out and this also helped to make the temps very tolerable.  Took the camera along and here is a shot looking south towards Keweenaw Bay and the Huron Mtns.  This shot is is looking north on the return trip.  I was glad there was enough snow to be able to return in the same tracks, as it makes for an easier time of it, just when I need it!  We went about 2 miles down the beach and I can always tell when the dogs are getting tired, because they stop running back and forth and up and down and stay close to my side.  It is their way of telling me; "OK, we're tired, time to turn around.".  By the time we got back, I had two tired puppys.  Here doggie number one, kicking back waiting for me to change my boots, and here is doggie number two.
    There is something about a good exersise in the cold to really flush out all the bad stuff and make you feel refreshed both physically and mentally.  The trip home was really beautiful, with high clouds beginning to float in, a sign that a new storm is not too far off.  The snow piled up on the side of the road and flogged onto the trees like a birthday cake and also the crispness of the winter time northwoods air.  This is a shot of the road on our trip home.  Brings to mind the tune "Walking (or in this case, driving) in a Winter Wonderland".
    For those of you checking in hoping to get a trail report.  Sorry, I did hike up to the main trail with the dogs this morning.  It was about as you would expect for the early season.  Packed down, with some bumps.  Not wash board, as there is not enough snow to create those yet, but not perfectly groomed as there is not enough snow for that either.  They are set up perfect for when more snow comes.  I would say another 8" and the groomers will be able to pull the drags.  Based on the latest computer guidance, I would say we could be in for way more than that later Monday through Tuesday!
    From a white and wonderful Keweenaw-  Good night.
- JD  -
December 17 -
    Not much new to report on.  I have officially started the count down.  T-45 hours and my sled should be in the garage, or should I say - floating through the fields near my house!  Snowed very lightly most of the day, but we did have a complete shut down in the falling flakes by about 3pm so that would make about 65 hours of continuous snowfall ended.  We ended up with about 14" total for that period, although it was very light and fluffy towards the end and this stuff settles fast.  Depth on the ground is about 10" and still settling a bit.  I think that because we average 240" a year up here, most folks think that we just get hammered by big storm after big storm.  Well, we do get our fair share of big storms, but much of the snow comes in 2-6" intervals a day.  It just almost never stops snowing.  It would be interesting to see just what the percentage of hours snow is reported to be falling up here from December 1 through mid March, but I would suspect it is close to 65-75%, which is phenomenal if you think about it.  The other thing that is nice, is that most of that snow is 6-7% moisture content, which is that really fluffy kind.  Not too hard to move around, except for the fact that where it gets moved to piles up fast.  Another thing that is great about our climate here is that it rarely gets bitterly cold (below 10 degrees).  Sure we have days that it remains below 10  for a high and nights that drop off to the 10 below range, but they also are not as common as our neighbors to the north, west and even south.  The same mechanism (the big lake) that brings us the snow also helps to moderate the temps. Plus it keeps us cooler in the summer!  Really quite nice.
    I took a walk in the same place as yesterday, so no new pics.  The groomers have been out around here and I hear they were out in a lot of other areas yesterday and today.  They are going out without drags to pack down the existing snow so that we have a decent base for when the next new snow arrives.  I would imagine that all we need is another 8" to a foot or so and the drags will be out as well.  For those of you unfamiliar with the areas trail system, NO trails cross water, so we do not have to wait for lakes to freeze to have all the trails ride able.  There are some low areas which are wet, but they should be freezing up in this weather nicely.  I know the wet spots on the trail I walk along are just about all froze up and should be by tomorrow AM.  The only trail crossing water is the one that uses the lift bridge between Houghton and Hancock.  Last night the canal was still open as far as I could see.  It might be in the process of freezing up, but my advice is to stay off it for quite a while.  Lots of current and nasty spots to get into trouble on there if you don't know where to go.  For now, suck it up and just use the bridge.  Usually by mid January, the canal is ok to ride straight across, but I am not recommending this either, as there can still be slush and places to make you trip one you wish you could do over.
    Guess that will do it for now.  Talk to you tomorrow.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
- December 16 -
    As I look out the window at the flakes gently floating down onto the fresh blanket of snow which has been getting deeper and deeper every few hours, I can only thank the powers that be which have allowed me to end up in such a paradise.  It has been snowing for close to 48 hours straight now.  At times not really more than a flurry, but still flakes falling.  Our total on the ground is now close to 12", maybe even past that a little  Right now we are in the showery, ending phase of the event, with snow falling very lightly most of the time and occasional heavier bursts of snow.  At times you can even see the moon quite clearly through the snow.  I had to drive south to Hancock this evening.  Normally a 10 minute drive.  On the way down, I encountered a snow burst of biblical proportions.  Had to slow down to about 5 MPH and even at that speed, it was next to impossible to see.  I would have stopped, but figured that would cause someone to rear end me for sure.  Went through a small town (Mason) and could not even see the houses that line the road not more than 100 ft away!  That's what I call zero vis!  The squall passed and things returned to a more normal visibility of 1 mile or more and I was able to speed up to 50 MPH.  What fun!
    Today was also the first snow blower day.  I know I will have tons of them living here, but it was a momentous "first time" event for me.  Really happy with the machine, went through the 20" pile of snow pushed up by the plow like a hot knife through butter.  Did not even hesitate.  Had so much fun, even went over to the neighbors to do her drive so that she did not have to dig out just to pull in after a hard day's work.  I realize I started a precedence here, but it took me less than 5 minutes to do her drive, and she's pretty cute too!
    Of course what would a day be without a walk with the hounds.  But first we had to run a few errands.  One of these took me up to Calumet and it's sister city, Laurium.  Here is a picture of the scene this afternoon in Laurium.  Moderate snow falling, with vis down to about .5 mile.  This one is of the hounds heading on a small access trail to the larger access trail.  Here we are on the larger access trail, and this last one is yet another shot of the larger access trail.  A snowmobile had been down the trail not too long before us, as there was not much fresh snow over it's tracks.  Made for easy walking.  Wish I was the one making the tracks!  Sunday night it WILL be me!
    On our morning walk, I really felt that I had arrived in the Keweenaw.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my spring, summer and autumn months up here.  We had tons of fun and I will enjoy them even more in the years to come, but the true reason I moved here was for their winters.  Walking in the snow, with the muffled sounds of the activities in the neighborhood, I suddenly was struck with the feeling that I had arrived in the place I had grown familiar with in my previous 9 years of winter visits!  Felt really good.
    The Keweenaw is a winter wonderland, time to play!  Thank God, Thank God, Thank God!!!
- JD  -
- December 15 -
    A nice step in the right direction today as I awoke to 2" on the ground, snowed all day.  Temperatures were in the 32-34 degree range, so that which fell onto my shoveled driveway melted, other areas picked up another inch and then after sunset, it began to accumulate on everything again and we just went through a burst of snow for 2 hours which brought an additional 2".  So the count for today is 5" new and still coming.  The heavier lake effect will likely start about midnight and continue through about 6-8 pm tomorrow before tapering off to light snow or flurries for Friday and Saturday.  At this point, it looks like we should get an additional 8-12" of lake effect from later tonight through tomorrow.  The NWS-Marquette office is really conservative with this lake effect episode, with 2-4 tonight and 1-3 tomorrow.  It scares me as we should not be this far apart.  I have read their forecast discussion and why they are calling for the smaller amounts.  I have to say I cannot disagree with one of their reasons, but do have a problem with another.  Only time will tell.
    Took the hounds out onto the snowmobile trail for a hike.  It will likely be the last time we are on it as it will likely become too busy to safely walk down and it is really for snowmobiling and not walking in the winter.  Took the camera along.  This replacement takes better pictures.  Still not as good as the ones which cost $300-400, but for $76 I am satisfied. Here is a shot of my house during the day.  Note the nicely shoveled driveway.  Tomorrow might be a snow blower day!  Here is one shot of the hounds on the snowmobile trail.  We started out on a section where someone had rode their sled on so it was nicely packed down.  We got to a section where the snow was fresh and it was a lot of work to walk through, especially up hill.  Here is another one of the trail.  Here is one last shot of the trail, just in case you have not had enough.
    Interesting to see the different snow removal schemes being revealed.  Most folks who plow out their drive start out by plowing the whole side or front yard, pushing the snow to the far corner of the lot.  Visitors here right now would think this is silly, but come late Feb. or into March, the snow is stacked up all the way from where it is being pushed now right up to the driveway.  In the really big snow years, even these techniques fall short and the snow needs to be hauled away.
    Well, think I will close for now, as I would like to update the seasonal outlook as promised.  Maybe tomorrow will get to be a day when I get to update AL Cam more than once.  That would be great!
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
- December 14 -
    A very interesting day to sit and watch mother nature go through her transitions.  Overnight, clear skies and low level moisture led to dense fog in the valley.  I do not know how widespread the fog was elsewhere in the Keweenaw, but we had it thick here.  Temps got down to 19 degrees this morning.  Now most would think that water freezes at 32 so why did the fog not freeze?  Well, it has to to with a thing called saturation vapor pressure.  Quite complicated thermodynamics, so I will not get into it here.  But trust me, water vapor does not always freeze at 32, in fact it rarely does.  What does happen is that as the water vapor touches an object which is below freezing; car, tree, fence - It freezes on contact, and tada!  Hoar frost!  We had quite a display of hoar frost this morning.  Up to 1/2 inch thick on things.  The frost did not discriminate and coated everything.  The fog burned off quickly just after sunset so I was treated to a mystical land coated in a layer of thick frost, with the sunlight glistening through and off of all the miniature ice crystals.  Pretty neat show mother nature put on for my morning breakfast!
    The second act took place by midday and continued into the afternoon hours.  The same low level moisture responsible for the fog created some fair weather cumulus clouds.  These clouds are the puffy ones which fill about 30-70% of the sky and never grow to a level high enough to even look like they will create precipitation.  This act continued, but the flow of low level moisture intensified and the clouds filled in and by about 3 in the afternoon, we were completely overcast.  A good sign, as it means that things are coming together to produce precipitation.
    The third act actually started in KY and TN yesterday and I have had to follow it via remote sensing (satellite & radar) overnight and into the midday.  This act was comprised of a "vort max" (an upper air disturbance or energy, providing lift) and a deep feed of moisture off the Gulf and Atlantic.  Anyway, this feature decided to do it's own little thing and track to the due north, instead of track to the east/northeast like all the computer models predicted.  The result today was for an area of convective snow to develop over southern and central MI and then into east central WI.  Convective snow is also too complicated to explain fully here, but it is a real bug to try and forecast for.  Also very cool to be in, as the flakes are usually very big and it snows quite hard for a period.  It was interesting to read the NWS forecasters discussions between each other to try and handle this situation.  I was afforded the luxury to sit back and enjoy their trials and tribulations.
    The final act to all of this has been to watch that area of energy and the precipitation it created continue to defy most of the computer guidance, and meteorological logic and track to the north, even northwest.  The models seem to have picked up on this renegade area of vorticity's intentions and have now plotted its track into the UP later tonight and into tomorrow.  This looks to give our snow potential tomorrow a shot in the arm.  Good news indeed!
    Our lake effect potential also has been increased due partly to this one area of vorticity and that is good news as well.  Other than that, not much has happened.  The hounds and I took our daily afternoon walk in the woods and there was still all the snow in the woods that there was two days ago.  This was surprising, as in town, about half had melted in the past 2 days.  After today, we might not see the ground for another 3-4 months.  I'll tell you what, I won't miss it!
    Good night from the Keweenaw
    P.S. For those of you who want to know.  The sled I bought was a 1994 Polaris Indy XLT Special.
- JD  -
- December 13 -
    The melt goes on.  Still snow remaining in the areas out of the direct sunlight, but sunlight we had and temps rose into the upper 30's here in Lake Linden and I would imagine got to at least the mid 30's elsewhere.  With the clear nights we are dropping off to the low 20's by sunrise and then it takes it until about noon to reach the point where any real melting commences.  Then, by about 3:30 the sun is low enough so that most areas are in the shade and it cools back down and the melting stops.  Tomorrow looks to be the last chance to melt anything for at least a week, maybe more.  So that is encouraging.  It's not like I did not know the melting was coming, but it is never easy to watch it go, as I'm sure all of the snow lovers out there can identify with.
    Days like today don't seem too warm to me and for Chicago, in mid December, they would not have been.  However, the average daily high temperature has been dropping about a degree every two to three days since mid October and our average high is now 25 degrees.  So even though we only warmed to 35-40 degrees we were still about 10-15 degrees warmer than average.  Comparable to a 90 degree day in late July or early August!
    I have a new reason to be additionally anxious about getting snow soon.  I just bought a used snowmobile today.  It will arrive Sunday from the Chicago area via my brother and uncle who are driving up to come play.  Maybe that is why we haven't gotten any ride able snow yet, as the good Lord knows how more nuts I would be going if we had the snow and I was without a machine.  To tell the truth, there was always a few sleds I could have pulled the trigger on had we gotten ride able snow, but I wanted to hold out and see if the type I really wanted to get came along.  It did, and I will be happy.
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
- December 12 -
    Did not mean to skip yesterday, but my ability to update my site was down and it was out of my hands.  Not much excitement since the snow Friday early AM.  I am currently undergoing a dry run for when I am snowbound and cannot drive my car.  It broke on my way home from the post office.  A couple of good things about living in a small town;  One, there is almost always a local garage which does good work at reasonable prices and two;  The garage is usually very accessible.  In my case, both were true.  The shop was closed as the mechanic was out hunting (black powder deer season), but I was able to speak with his wife and she said he will be able to get to it first thing Monday.  I already know what is wrong and should not be too expensive.  I am just glad that it did not happen when the hounds and I were off exploring somewhere far from home.  That could have been a real pain.
    The snow did not melt at all yesterday and only a little bit today. We did get to about 40 degrees and the sun was bright by the afternoon, but the low sun angle really inhibits any melting.  Went for a walk down the snowmobile trail and there was very little melting which occurred out in the woods there.  There were some snowmobile tracks on the trail, as well as several tire tracks form autos and ATV's.  Not enough to ride or ski on anymore, but it was fun walking down that trail with snow on it, as it has been one which we walked on a lot this summer and fall.
    The forecast looks promising by later Wednesday through the weekend for some snow.  If this year had not been the "year of disappointments" thus far, I would think that is was a sure bet we were in for some decent snows.  However, I have seen to many snow events indicated by the models, only to fizzle out as the actual event draws near.  We are really coming close to this lack of snow having a serious economic impact up here, I pray the snow comes.  There are a lot of very good people's welfare depending on it.
    Talk to you all tomorrow-
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
- December 10 -
    When I woke up this morning, looked out at the blanket of white we picked up (by surprise), all I could think of was my dream the other night!  Really weird.  I guess logic would explain it by saying that my sub conscience mind saw something in the computer guidance which made it think snow would fall when my conscience mind was thinking no snow.  Anyway, really weird, but I hope I have some more of those dreams!
    I took my Christmas picture today.  I wanted to take it when we had a bunch (more than a foot) on the ground and maybe even when it was in the process of dumping (usually not hard to do this time of the year up here), but this year the pickens have been slim.  So with time running out and snow on the ground, it was photo time.
    We got about 2" here and 3-4" in other places of the Keweenaw.  Only the northern tip escaped the snows and ended up with a trace to 1/2".  It was enough snow to finally slow down the rabbit that has been teasing the hounds in my yard.  They got it this morning.  Did not harm it (except for maybe it's heart!), just held it down and gave it a thorough sniffing!  I got over to them and let it run away.  Glad they did not harm it.  I don't want them running around spilling blood all over the place!
    We went for a cross country ski adventure today.  We went out the good old Freeda loop and that was an excellent call.  4-5" of fresh new snow.  Several different tracks were all ready on it, car, atv, snowmobile, human and dog, but I managed to find fresh snow off to the side to break my tracks on.  I did not go as far as I had planned, as I was suddenly using muscles which did not get that large of a work out.  I have actually walked farther than I skied today, but that's OK, as I will get those skiing muscles in shape and be going for nice long jaunts into the snow.  The hounds had a blast.  I am not sure who loves the snow more me or them.  They go absolutely ballistic when there is snow on the ground.  Boy are they in for a pleasant surprise for the next 4 months!
        Sorry no pictures today.  Camera died.  But not to worry, I was able to exchange it for a brand new one and the price had even dropped since I bought the first one, so I got some loot back!  Cha-Ching!  I will try and get out and get some photos tomorrow to show the snow we got.
    Well, things are looking up.  We have snow covering the ground.  Not much more on the way in the next 4-5 days, but the extended period for the end of next week and into next weekend looks quite promising for a good old fashion lake effect dumping.  Keep those fingers crossed.
    Bye, Bye from a wintery Keweenaw.
- JD  -
- December 9 -
    Uh oh.  I slipped, no entry yesterday.  It's not that I forgot, I just ran out of time.  We had our snowmobile meeting/Christmas Dinner yesterday evening and by the time I got home it was bed time.  I guess it was all for the better, as I am still at a loss to come up with much to say.  Kind of in a holding pattern I guess.  We continue to enjoy walking in the woods due to the lack of snow, but the local population is really beginning to sit up and take notice of the situation.  Cancellations could begin to materialize if the snow does not come soon.  For those of you who have plans for up here in the next couple of weeks and are worried.  Keep this in mind... Last year there was no snow on the ground up to December 17th.  On the 18th, 4" was reported on the ground at the airport, three days later 14" and 3 more days later 29".  So in less than a week, almost 2 1/2 feet was added to the ground and continued to pile up.  Over 80" fell from the 17th through the end of the month!  I'm ready for that!
    The ground is still frozen and so are the puddles and small ponds.  A trip to Houghton revealed the canal was frozen to the west of town.  Still open water near the bridge though.  No major warm ups are seen so I guess that any water will continue to become frozen, which is good.  None of the trails cross water, but lots of folks like to shoot the canal rather than take the bridge.  The sooner we freeze up that canal before piling on the snow, the better.
    I can't think of much else to say, except that we are all ready and waiting for the "white gold".  The record low for December is 10.9"  I really do not want to break any more minimum records this year!  Last night I had a dream that I woke up in the morning and looked out to see snow falling at a good clip.  It was not suppose to be falling.  I take that as a good omen.  Back in 1994/95  I kept having dreams that I was up here and there was no snow.  That year when we came up here, there was only 12" on the ground in the middle of January and conditions were really bad, as they were the only place in the whole Midwest (including other parts of the UP) that had snow.  Maybe there is something to this dream stuff.
    Well, guess I'll go and hit the hay and hope to dream of having to shovel off my roof every week or something!
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
- December 7 -
    Ok, now I'm up a creek.  I still have nothing new to talk about and I gave up all of my little historical weather tidbits. So.... Well..... UMMM.......Oh, we had rather uneventful weather today!  Cold, well at least seasonal.  Highs the past several days have been in the low 30's and lows in the low 20's.  Things are beginning to freeze.  The ground is rock hard and most of the puddles are now frozen solid, even at 3 in the afternoon.  No major warm ups coming soon so things look to be progressing well (for November 7th!).  It looks like we'll see some real snow later Thursday and into Friday.  Not enough to groom the trails, but enough to scoot across a field or through the woods on for a while.  We might even have our first multi-update AL cam day!  Yes folks, there might be enough difference in the snow cover between the morning and the late afternoon to make more than one update to the AL cam.  Keep those fingers crossed!
    Short but sweet, have a good one.
    So long from the Keweenaw!
- JD  -
- December 6 -
    Well, I have been sitting in front of the computer for several minutes now, trying to think of something interesting to say and I am at a loss.  Today provided lots of clouds for most of the day.  Temperatures were in the low 30's and if there was any snow on the ground, we would not have lost it!  How's that for positive thinking?!  Took the hounds to the beach and had a marvelous time.  For pictures, visit the journal entry dated November 8th.
    I know what I can talk about... I mentioned yesterday that I did a little look back at the historical snow cover data for the Airport up here.  Through the course of my study, it was interesting to note that there were three distinct patterns which occurred as far as snow depth was concerned.  The most popular pattern consisted of low snow depths (generally 1-6") from the first of the month to about the 15th to 20th.  Then the snow depth increased rather dramatically to the 1-2 foot depth in just a couple of days and remained at that depth or got deeper through the rest of the month.  This pattern occurred in about 60-70% of the years.  Another pattern which was apparent was one in which the snow depth started out in the 1-6" range and never really went much beyond that for the entire month.  Depth did then increase dramatically in the first few days of January.  This pattern seemed to occur about 10-15% of the time.  The final pattern which emerged was one in which a deep snow pack (1-2 feet) was established by the first of the month.  This pack then remained or was basically added to through the rest of the month.  Again, this pattern seemed to occur about 10-15% of the time.
    What does all this mean?  Well, I guess it means that in most years, the deeper snow really does not come until about the middle of the month.  This would seem to make sense to me as this is about the same time that the Midwest sees it's first real arctic air outbreak.  I also noted that as a rule of thumb, whatever snow is on the ground by December 1st is usually only added to.  In only about 2-5% of the years did a significant loss in the snow depth occur beyond December 1.
    So there you go.  More free knowledge!
    I guess that about drains my noggin of anything interesting to write about for tonight, so before I say something really stupid, I will sign off for tonight.
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
- December 5 -
    A truly magnificent day today.  Snowed lightly all day.  We didn't get any more than a dusting, but old mother nature provided a subtle reminder that lake effect snow is still possible and that this area is the king.  We had lake effect snows, all day, with just marginal conditions and were one of few areas that had it.  I'm not greedy, I would love to see all areas get lots of snow, it's just nice when we are getting it here.
    Took a good long hike up an old railroad grade which runs from Lake Linden up the hill to Laurium/Calumet.  It will make a good secret playground this winter for ski, snowshoe and machine.  I did bring the camera along and managed to take some shots. This first shot is of the trail itself.  Of course, the hounds were too busy exploring to pose for me!
    The next two shots are of some of the sights along the way.  The photos do not do it justice and I am afraid my talents for expressing what I see are even worse, I wish that everyone readings this could have been along to see things.  It was classic Keweenaw bush, lots and lots of hardwoods - maple, birch, a few ash, oak and aspen.  The occasional grouping of pines and of course the mountain ash lining the trail down low.  Puddles left over from last week's rains were in the process of freezing solid and a grainy dusting of snow covered the ground, attempting to paint the different colors and textures in a monochromatic white.
    This shot is of one of the swamps in the region.  Some of them are man made and some are natural.  The natural ones are usually depressions or leftovers from beaver activity.  They seem to remain intact better than the man made ones.  This one seemed to be a combination of a depression and the man made grading for the railroad.  It was half frozen, it will likely freeze solid this week, as temperatures at night will be in the low 20's and highs will be in the low to mid 30's.  Getting closer to the norms!  One last thing.  For those snowmobiliers out there who see the swamps and head out onto them to fly in some fluff... be careful, most of the swamps have stumps sticking up about 2-3 feet.  Some of them likely are only just covered by the snow and would end a trip really quickly if you were to encounter one.  Have fun, but be careful!
    I will close with this little tidbit.  I did a little studying of the snow depths recorded over the past 50 years at the Houghton County Airport.  I know that the depths measured here are generally smaller than which is on the ground in many other areas up here, but the data is extensive and I know the measuring techniques have been consistent over the years.  I was looking for the maximum depth and the smallest maximum depth for the years.  The all time maximum is 57" recorded on March 6, 1953.  The lowest maximum for any year is 29".  Recorded on March 7, 1964.  Interestingly enough, the total snow accumulations for those years was 153.80 and 185.10 respectively.  That is not a typo, the maximum depth was recorded in a year which received only 154".  I was expecting the maximum depth to occur in a year which came close to setting the snowfall record.  Learn something new every day!
    Well, class dismissed, your homework is to go out and make the next 24 hours enjoyable for you and all you share your time with.
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
- December 4 -
    Cloudy, foggy, damp and cool.  That describes the past 10 hours up here today!  These types of days seem to subtract about an hour's worth of daylight from the day, as it takes about 30 minutes longer for things to become light in the morning due to the thick overcast and fog.  Plus it gets dark about 30 minutes earlier for the same reasons.  A cold front is about an hour away and things will clear up some once it passes.  We could get even get a flurry or two, as a very marginal lake effect set up develops, but not looking for any accumulating snow.
    Took a nice long walk up in the woods today.  We took the same general route as in the journal entry for Nov 11.  Up along the western ridge line of the Traprock Valley.  Of course you would never have even known we were along the ridge line, as the visibility has been about 1/2 mile all day, but it was kind of neat to walk in the bush in that type of weather.  Everything takes on a new perspective, with the gray backdrop.  We stumbled across some old relics of the mining era as we neared Calumet/Laurium.  No roof on the 3 story building and some of the walls knocked down.  This would have made a cool picture, the ruins silhouetted against the gray sky.  But I forgot to bring the camera.  Actually I thought the weather would not provide much to see.  I'll know better next time.
    It is amazing how even on a day like this, this place is absolutely beautiful.  The pure beauty of the hills and valleys, with all the trees, creeks, rock outcroppings and meadows.  I really hope it is able to retain its current state, while still allowing for development and growth.  There have been several meetings in the area regarding just that topic.  I missed the latest one, but was able to attend previous ones.  It seems like most of the others in the area share my same feelings that this place is truly special and needs to have some sort of a plan for growth so we can avoid some of the problems other areas around the country have.  Nice to see people in the area taking such an interest in things.  Even though all parties do not agree on all issues, at least there is concern and an awareness to what is happening up here.  I think that the ones who are for unrestricted development up here should be forced to stay away for 1-2 weeks.  Upon returning, they all would be able see how special this place is and might have a different opinion on things.  It only took me about about 24-36 hours of being away to miss this place's beauty!
    Well enough of that.  Looks like an excellent night to stay in, build a nice big fire and take in some good reading.
    Talk to you all tomorrow.  Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
- December 3 -
    I fear tonight's entry will also be a short one, as there is not much to report on.  I have received several e-mails telling be to "hang in there" and "keep my spirits up".  I appreciate the concern, I did not realize I was giving the impression that my spirits were low.  I will admit I have been anxious for the snow to come for real, but it was not really getting me down, except for today.  I do not know why, but for some reason, about midday, I just felt really depressed about the snow season thus far.  I did some surfing to catch some web cams out in Colorado in the middle of a snow storm.  That was the wrong thing to do, only made things worse, as the sights of trees and other objects coated with 6-12" of fresh snow really made me miss it that much more!  I bopped over to one of my favorite reading spots, the general discussion board on trailconditions.com and there were several threads (discussions) going on about how the weather in the Midwest is bringing us snowlovers down.  I have to admit, that was my medicine.  It was hilarious to read some of the things these other frustrated people were writing.  I got several good laughs and felt much better.
    The day here turned out to be quite beautiful, lots of sunshine and temps in the 43-44 degree range.  That is about 14-15 degrees above the average high for the day.  I am not going to lie and say that this is one of those days that I will wish I had in the middle of February when we are buried in snow, because, I won't.  If we are buried by snow, I am positive I will be happy with the snow and would never want it to be in the 40's and sunny.  That does not take anything away from this day and what it provided me TODAY.
    The hounds and I took a hike up into the woods by my house and the trails were much drier.  It was a very pleasant walk, as the weather and it being a Friday afternoon combined forces to wash away any anxiety that was still running through my system.  I had one of those truly blessed moments when you are about as happy as you can get to be alive and in the current place and time you are in.  Almost felt like I was floating through the woods, rather than walking.
    So for all of you who are worried I am in some sort of agony for the lack of snow, do not be concerned.  I am excited for it to come, but also am able to make the best of what is dealt to me.  The hounds and I will continue to take special pleasure in walking the woods while we still can.  And will then rejoice when there is too much snow to continue to walk in the woods.
    From a brown, but yet still beautiful Keweenaw - Good Night.
- JD  -
- December 2 -
    Not much exciting to talk about.  Cloudy, cool, no snow, but another wonderful day here in the Keweenaw!  I'm going to make this short and sweet, because I have a ton of e-mails to respond to.  Lots of new net friends!
    I decided to head off to the higher elevations and see if we could walk where there might still be some snow.  We were in luck.  Did not have to travel far, only to South Range and we encountered snow on the ground.  Not a lot, but about an inch in most spots in the woods.  It was really fun to walk in the woods with snow on the ground.  Did I mention that my hounds like the snow as much as I do?  Well, they do and they had a blast running up and down the trial in the snow.  We were out for about an hour and a half and I walk fast so I bet we put on about 6-7 miles on the trail.  With them running back and forth, they easily doubled that.  Right now Bailey's is sound asleep at my feet and Burt is in the other room, also sound asleep.  They are both snoring away, making me jealous as I am sleepy myself!
    Here are a few shots of our walk.  We went down the Freeda Loop starting out in South Range and heading out towards Freeda, got about as far as Obenhoff Lake. Picture uno, Picture Dos.  Not a whole lot of snow, but only another 12-18" is needed and we will be in business!
    From a sleepy Keweenaw, good night!
- JD  -
- December 1 -
    BON HIVER ! (Good winter)
    I realize that astronomical winter does not begin until the winter solstice on December 22nd this year, but for us weather guys, December 1st is the start of meteorological and climatological winter so Bon Hiver!
    Felt more like spring than winter today, as the little snowpack we had melted through the day.  It hung on pretty tough given the temps reached the upper 30's to near 40.  However, clouds did keep the sun from eating it too fast.  There is still some snow in the woods, but most open areas around my house are bare.
    Not much exciting to talk about except the fact that we were able to return to the woods.  That was very enjoyable and we will make the most of it while we can.  It looks like we will be able to walk the woods through the next week or so, based on the current forecast.  This time, I will not be too sad when we cannot walk in them, as it will mean there is enough snow for the trails to be ridable!
    Pretty messy out there, with the snow melting upon a fairly frozen ground.  Lots of 1/2" deep mud!  I'll put up with it, small price to pay to be amongst the tall maples, birch, oak, pine and fir trees!  Did not see any wildlife, they must still be in hiding.  Don't really know how that is that they know to hide during the season, as the only ones who get shot at are shot and die, and the other ones don't know anything is even going on!  Oh well, I'm not a hunter and will not even pretend to know all the stuff about the woods and nature that those folks know.
    Not much snow on the horizon, but not much rain either.  I think that is what I will like a lot about this place.  Once we get to Dec 1st, most of the storms produce snow and what ever is on the ground usually stays and is only added to.  There are a few exceptions and the way this season has been going, could be one of the exceptions, but our average high is now 30 degrees and monitoring snow depth data over the past 10 years and studying the history going back into the 50's shows that as a rule of thumb, Dec 1 is when it starts to stay.  Yesterday I mentioned something about the 6.4 degree temperature departure which occurred at the Houghton County Airport.  Today I read where Marquette smashed the old record for November with an average temp of 7.7 degrees above average.  That was 2.6 degrees warmer than the old record set in 1963 for that location.  I don't know what the record for Houghton was, but I believe we had to have come close to breaking it or even did break it.  One good thing, I guess, is that Lake Superior had that much more heat energy pumped into it, so when the cold finally does come, it will be that much more able to crank out the snow.  That is a fact, not just some kind of wild dream of mine.  One of the factors why lakes Erie and Ontario produce bigger early season snows is that they are warmer than Superior at that time of the year.
    Anyway, I believe I will close for now, kind of a busy day for my real weather duties and I am tired.
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -