JD' s  Snow Journal
October's Journal
January's Journal
Sandy's Mendota Musings
JD's Net Friends
November's Journal
George's Eagle Harbor Web
 Dan's Wilderness Journal
December's Journal
February 29-
    Mother nature tried to do a number on my spirits today, as readings shot into the mid to upper 50's again.  Little did she know that I can't be shaken any more.  Truth is, I have given up on winter, even here in the Keweenaw.  Sure we will likely see more snow.  Maybe even tomorrow, but I seriously doubt that anything serious or long lasting is in the cards.  All the models point to more warm air by the weekend and into all of next week.  The snow cover in my neighborhood took another serious hit today, with the sunshine and warm temps.  I am now down to 6" on the ground, but lots of bare spots are opening up all over the place.
    I decided to take a ski at the location I want to ride tomorrow or Thursday.  Took the camera along as well as my trusty companions.  Lots of pretty snow to show so stay tuned.  On the ride out, I was actually able to open the sun roof and windows and did not even get cold.  It sure felt warmer than the 56 we got to.  Even the Harbor reported temps of 52 today.
    Anyway, we got to the site, strapped on the skis and headed out.  I am going to keep this location a secret for the time being, as I do not want to be run out of town by an angry mob of locals for giving away all the "hidden" spots.  Truth is, this spot is not so hidden, as a fairly major road does go by it.  However, most visitors would not take this road or even know that this spot was there.  It is not marked on the road either.  Only a logging road going off into the woods.  As you can see, there is still a decent cover out there and the snow is very fresh.  I would estimate the snow depth to be about 6-8" on average and it is very hard packed, dense snow.  With the cooler temps tomorrow and Thursday, it will freeze up very nicely.  The trick will be to convince my friend to take off work like he said he would and get out there.  Anybody got the bug and want to come up here with a spot on their trailer, I'll take you there for one last ride of the season!  First come, first serve!  Be advise, we are not talking about 50 miles of trail here.  Although, I think that there are a ton of side trails going off this main one and an entire afternoon could likely be spent riding out there without going over the same spot but once on the way back.
    I really went nuts with the camera today, as it was so beautiful out there.  The hounds were having a great time as well.  It's funny, to look at these pictures, you would think that it was cold out.  But I was skiing with my jacket tied around my waist and was only wearing a rugby shirt (and pants, settle down ladies!).  I did not even need any gloves, and sunglasses were a must as well.  Here is another one of the hounds.  With their winter coats still on, they sure were huffing and puffing, trying to cool off.  The road looked like it may have even been plowed earlier in the season, as there looked to be snow banks on the side of it.  If it was plowed, it was done early in the season, as there was about as much snow on the road as there was in the woods off of the road.  The other thing nice about this road is that it has good drainage, so there were no wet spots or flooded areas.
    We skied out to the Lake, which will remain unnamed for security purposes.  I'll have to remember this spot during the season, as it would be fun to go out to with fresh powder.  Of course anywhere would be fun with fresh powder right about now!  The lake looked fairly solid, but I did not venture out onto it.  The only spot on the whole trail where there was no snow was this bridge crossing.  We stopped here and turned around.  However, not before Burt could sneak in the first swim of the season.  There was open water underneath the bridge.  I was not able to get a shot of him taking his dip.  Actually, I did not even try, as I knew that a black dog swimming in dark water in the shadows would not show up very well. Here is the part of the river that continued on from where he was swimming. This ends up finding its way to the big lake, but I wont even say where, as that might give away too much info.  Lets just say that it dumps into the eastern side of the Keweenaw, somewhere between High Rock Point and Baraga!
    That is it for the pictures.  I really hope that I can get in that one last ride.  As it really looks like time is just about up.  I would guess that even out were I was today will be unrideable by next week if the weather forecast models are right.  If my friend wimps out, he's gonna owe me one big time.  I'm not one for just blowing off work for anything, but he has the kind of job where if he were to call in sick Thursday, his employer would not really be too impacted at all.  The work can get done the next day.  Wish there was a way to put the sled in the trunk of my Honda Accord!
Guess that will do it for tonight.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 28-
    Well, my spirits continue to climb out of the gutter.  I doubt that they will be fully restored for a while, but at least I am eating again!  Just kidding, it dod not get that bad, but wasn't too far away either!  I had a little bit of a scare today.  Awoke to temps of about 20. They held there until about 8, then by 9 is was 30 degrees and by about 10 was 37!  I thought:  "Oh no, here we go again!".  Thankfully, temps topped out at about 37 and then the clouds rolled in and readings dropped back to about 33 and are now at about 30.  Did not really loose any snow today.  And the stuff that is left was rock hard this morning.  It was weird to be walking on it and not sink in a bit!  I kept waiting to have a foot punch through, but never did.
    This afternoon I took the hounds on a ski.  We headed down the #3 trail by my house.  There is a road that I can take and drive right up to the trail.  There was enough snow on the trail to ski, actually enough to ride in most places as well.  A little dirty, but off to the side was fairly clean and made for a pretty good ski.  Here is a shot of the trail.  Many of you might even be able to recognize the spot.  It is about 2 miles north of the main turndown to get into Lake Linden where the signs for the Loading Zone II are at.  You can also see why I still hold out some hope for these trail.  However, some others I saw today are done, unless we get at least 12" new.  Anyway, back to this trail.  Even this one had its bare spots.  Although this is not too bad of a bare spot, as you could still drive around it.
    In the first picture you can see where the trail takes a turn to the left.  It goes up a hill and connects with another set of RR tracks and then follows that set of tracks to Laurium or you can go north and head towards Keweenaw County.  Just beyond the turn to the left you can see some fresher snow.  This is where there is still an old railroad grade, but because some homes have gone in further down it, trail jumps to the the set of tracks higher up.  Once off of the snowmobile trail and into the section which is still a RR grade, but not all tracked off it was almost like being in winter again!  Lots of nice, clean, and almost fresh looking snow!  It still worked out great for the hounds as well, as it had been rode on so it was firm, but still nice and clean.  That is one of the things I like the most about new snow is it's freshness and its ability to make even the dirtiest or drab landscape look dreamlike.  I even liked the look of the big city after a new snow.  At least until the salt and plow trucks and multitude of vehicles turned it into a blackened mess.
    I think that my ski down this trail was the best medicine I have been able to get in the past week or so.  I might have to return to this spot some more before it too is all gone.  I managed to take one more shot while out there.  It is of a ravine, where the melt water was rushing down through.  All summer and fall, these ravines were dry and the hounds and I even climbed down into one and did some exploring.  Today it was filled with the sound of sunning water, as last weeks melted snow continues to find it's way eventually to the canal and then the Big Lake.  I wish the shot had turned out better, because it was a really pretty view down into the ravine, with the trees, snow and water.  Somehow it looks like the horizontal dimension got squished.  I hope you get the idea anyway.
    I'm still holding out hope for one last ride.  I doubt that it will be tomorrow, because it looks like it will be getting pretty warm tomorrow.  Wednesday I have some business to attend to, but with a little luck, I can convince my friend with the trailer to take off from work and head out to where I want to ride.  I took a car drive to the drop off point today and the route I want to take looked just like the good trail did on my ski today.  Could actually turn out to be a very fun ride if we do go.
    There have been sightings of sleds on trailers being hauled north to the tip of the Keweenaw.  I'm sure that those folks are finding snow to ride in, as I have proven it is still here.  Although, the DNR trails I saw today were mostly mud around Mohawk and Calumet.  The Tourism Council says the trails are still open.  That is no lie.  Truth is, you could probably legally drive down most of them on a sled in July if you wanted to as most of them are not closed to motor vehicle traffic at any time.  I have actually driven my car down some of them this past fall.  Hope I am not incriminating myself here, but it is my understanding that unless it is posted or gated, the logging roads are open to the public for recreational use.  So when they say that the trails are still open, they do not lie.  The trick is to find a DNR trail that you would WANT to ride down.  Maybe not impossible, as my first two photos show, but the real riding is off trail now and will likely be for the rest of the year.  Sorry KTC for the truth in advertising statement I just made!
    Well, my sump pump had stopped running, I actually had to zipper up my coat today and wear gloves.  All a step in the right direction.  We are rapidly running out of time.  Even thought the average snowfall for the month of March is 30" or an inch a day, I am not going to hold my breath for an average March.  This has just not been one of those years.  I am mentally preparing myself to do battle with the black flies in May and the first few weeks of June and actually pictured myself cutting my lawn in a daydream today.  Spring is not likely too far off.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 27-
    Today was a touch better for my spirits.  I awoke to snowflakes falling.  The snow kept up for most of the morning and into the early afternoon, although the temps were in the mid 30's so all that fell melted.  I did manage to get out of the house and snap this shot of the front of my house while it was snowing.
    I also managed to strap on the skis and take the hounds for a little jaunt into the bush.  Even though it was still above freezing and the snow was still soft I thought that at least I would be able to walk through the snow on the skis.  I was surprised how much I was actually able to ski, even with the soft snow and warm temps.  The hounds had a harder time making their way in the soft snow.  Still over a foot in most places around here and they sunk up to their chests.  That did not seem to deter them as they were all for a "real" walk, not one of those leashed to dad, go around the neighborhood on the road ones.
    We even were able to ski from my front yard in an attempt to get to the local ski trail up the Traprock Valley.  About a week and a half ago I wrote how I tried to blaze a path through the bush from my house to the trail.  Here is a shot of my old tracks from that expedition.  That was actually the easy part of the trail blazing attempt.  Nice and open and no significant hills or gullies.  This shot shows where things got interesting and where all 4 of my dig outs occurred.  Burt is actually standing where the trail took a slight right turn around the one group of trees and made its way on forward.  I never did get that trail in a shape where I could ski or ride through it without major difficulty.  I am now glad that I did not put forth too much of an effort to do so, as just about the time I would have had it done, the thaw would have hit.  Maybe that will be a project for the fall, to clear a path through so when the snow flies, it will be no problem to get through.
    Well, as I said, we were trying to get to the trail that was created by some locals which heads up through the valley.  I have spoke of this trail in past journal entries.  Our expedition was cut short when we hit the flood.  Yes folks, that mixture of snow, slush and water in the foreground going from center left to upper right is the snowmobile trail.  It has gotten quite a bit more flooded since yesterday, when this pic was taken.  The route of the local ski trail went through that mess and then through a field which was even more flooded.  Best I can guess is that an ice jam had the smaller creek all backed up, as the river (Traprock River) that the creek dumps into was flowing free and the junction of the two was only about 1/8th of a mile from where the picture was taken.
    We were able to get around the flooded section of the trail and then took the snowmobile trail back to my neighborhood.  I discovered that skiing the snowmobile trail will be the best way to go as I can move along pretty well and the dogs do not sink down either.  Currently the temp is 33 and we should drop to about the low 20's tonight.  That will help to begin to freeze things up.  Most of the week actually looks to provide highs of 34-38, with lows in the low to mid 20's.  That will bring the melting to a crawl.
    I do have plans to throw my sled on a friends trailer Tuesday and try a ride in the woods.  I'm not going if it is raining and I am also worried about running into a flooded area like we encountered on my ski today.  I really do not want to have to try and drag my sled through over a foot of slush.  We'll see what happens.
    Looks like that will do it for another day and night.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 26-
    I am thoroughly worn out.  This has not been an easy week for me.  I know I really should have things checked out upstairs for being such a snow nut, but am too afraid of what they really might say or do if I did go in!  Today was likely a record breaker in a ton of places in the upper Midwest.  I hit 57 degrees, the airport I believe rose to 56 and I saw some places in northern WI and northern lower MI flirting with the 60 degree mark.  My worst fears have come true and that was that this weeks thaw would take things down far enough to make it really hard, if not impossible to ride the trails, but leave enough snow out there to taunt me and make it too hard to walk in with the dogs.  I know that when this stuff freezes, I will be able to walk across it like pavement, but most of my walking will be done in the afternoon and much of the days ahead still look like they will be spent above freezing, with the time periods from about 5 PM to 9 or 10 AM below freezing.  Guess I will just have to cope and make due.  Life sure has it's up's and down's and right now I sure am not up.
    The weather sure has been a topic of local conversation.  Not too many locals complaining about things, as they all can do with an early spring, but they all can never remember this ever happening so early and I have the numbers to back their memories up.
    I did manage to get out and take a walk on the trail by my house and took the camera along.  The trail I walked was the branch of 122 which goes from it's intersection with 3 and heads out towards the Maple Leaf Bar and the intersection with the Dreamland Trail.
I was quite surprised by what is saw and I do not mean pleasantly surprised.  Here is a shot of a swollen creek from all the snow melt.  Normally this is just a few inches deep and is a little meandering creek, or should I say crick.  The pic was take while standing on a bridge that the trail crosses.  This shot is of the hounds pulling me along the trail just after crossing the bridge.  Not too bad here EH?  Travel up another 100 yards or so and you run into this.  That was caused by the backing up of the little creek into a low spot.  The creek is actually about 500 yards away from this location, but had flooded an entire field off to the left and the trail just happen to cross a low spot that helped take some of the water from the field.  I know it looks like the worst of the flooding is to the right, but actually that was just a little puddle.  The main flooding was to the left of this photo.  I just did not have the heart to capture it on film.  Or at least that is the excuse I am sticking to for forgetting to shoot it.  This last shot is of the trail up a little further.  Not too bad again.
    So as you can see, there are spots which are in good shape and spots which are not so good.  Most of the wet spots on that trail will freeze with the upcoming weather.  As I said it looks like daytime highs will still manage to creep above freezing, but much of the time temps will be below freezing, at least early in the week.  IF we did get new snow soon, the trails would be ride able.  Unfortunately, it does not look like that will be the case and new record highs might just be set by the end of next week.
    I have tentative plans to put my sled on a friends trailer and head out into the woods to ride Tuesday.  If in fact I do that.  It might be the last ride of the season.  Who would have thought?
    I also managed to break out the hose and wash my car today.  If someone would have told me a few weeks ago that I would be able to wash my car with no jacket on and even break into a sweat doing so on this day, I might have thought them to be a little loose upstairs.  My sump pump started humming yesterday and all but about an inch of snow is gone from the roof.  I spent the better half of yesterday afternoon shoveling the snow off of my front bushes.  There was about 3 feet of snoment on them and they were beginning to head south.  I had put a snow fence around them, but even that was beginning to give way.  Next year I will have to come up with something better.
    Well, this sure has been a very trying week.  Like I said to the friend I rode with this past Monday, it seems like that ride was a month ago!  I am not kidding.  Seems sad to think that it is over.  Winter came way too late and left way, way too soon.  I feel for all the businesses who were counting on the next few weeks to have snowmobile business.  They can groom up here until the last day of March and usually do in most years.  This has to be a near record for earliest end to the season and one of the shortest.  I guess it is not officially over yet.  The models could be wrong about next week and beyond and it is not out of the question for this area to get hammered in March, but they way things are going this year, I would bet the farm against it happening.  Any takers?
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 25-
    Well, only about another 14-18 hours more and things will begin their drop out of this death zone.  Actually, today was not too bad at all.  Some clouds and easterly winds kept us in the 30's all day.  It is 36 right now and the wind is still out of the southeast.  It would be great to keep the southeast wind or at least some easterly component to the winds through tomorrow AM and then have the cool air come in, that way we would never really warm up.
    I did hike up to the trail with the hounds today and took this shot in the same place that I took the shot on the 23rd.  I guess things could sure be worse, with the warm temps the past 5 days.  There is still about a 6-10" base.  I dug down this time to see how far it went.  Underneath that was about 2 inches of ice.  So with new snow, things in this spot would be ok.  There are people up here riding.  The old 3 PM on Friday hum of 2 cycles started right on time.  Not as frequent as in past Friday's, but still there.  I hope to take a ride tomorrow night or Sunday just in case this is it.  I just don't really want to go alone, not much fun.
    I managed to take one more pic for those of you who miss your snow.  Here is a shot of the woods near the trail.  As you can see, still pretty deep out there.  Probably close to 2 feet.  The next week does not look nearly as bad.  Still above average and many days will hit the mid 30's, with even some upper 30's not out of the question, but by about 5 PM  we will be back below freezing most days and stay below freezing until about 11 AM.  That gives us a lot more staying power.  Fresh snow will really be the key to any improvements of conditions and right now that does not look too good.
    Not much more to say, except thank you to all who have responded to my poll.  For those of you who don't know what I am talking about, go to the forecast text page, it will be explained there.  So far the responses has been about 5 to 1 in favor of people willing to contribute funds to this site.  Although I have a strong feeling that a lot of people not willing to pay are keeping quiet.  I may be wrong, but only about 75-80 responses so far and I know a lot more are visiting.  So if you are reluctant to tell me that you would not contribute funds to visit the site, please do let me know.  Some have apologized and there is no reason to do that.  Your choice is your choice and I totally respect that.  The only thing that will make me mad on this is the people who fail to respond.  This site is set up for it's visitors.  I do get some satisfaction from doing it, but the time it takes to update is a lot of work and something I do for you all, more that me.  Getting a firm handle on the visitors feelings is really important to the future of this site so please RESPOND!  Yea or Nea!  Enough of that.  I will likely explain things more on this topic in the not too distant future, but don't really want to clutter up the journal with it.  The journal is for fun stuff.
    From a still snow covered land...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 24-
    Man, you would think that knowing this thaw was coming would help me to deal with it, but is hasn't!  I can't believe we still have about 36 hours of this stuff to go.  I also can't believe that Monday I was riding and things were not too bad.  Monday seems like a month ago!  So much for a shortened holiday week!
    Today started out like it might provide some good combatants against the snow eating monster.  Thick fog and temps in the mid 30's occurred to about 11:30.  Then in a reversal of things from yesterday, BAM, the sun came out and things heated up and the snow eater was going in full gear.  I have a good way of telling how fast things are melting by checking the pace at which drops are coming off of my roof.  Up to about 11:30, it was a mere trickle.  A few drops here and there, once the sun came out and things warmed to the upper 40's, maybe even 50, the trickle swelled to a constant dripping, darn near a shower!  Good news came at about 3 PM as clouds rolled in and an easterly breeze cooled things back down to the upper 30's and that is where we stand now.
    I feel like I am at war, with some evil force, which comes and goes without warning and of which I have no control over.  All I can do is sit and watch it do it's damage.  Helpless to save any of our precious snow.  As mentioned yesterday, I would not be this distressed if it were a month later when this usually happens, but this is highly unusual, both in severity and duration.  Something which has never happened here this early in the past 40 years.  I checked the weather data records.  Chalk up another one for my first year here!  I really feel like I am one of those poor Chicago Cubs fans who is plagued with the "Wait until next year" disease.  Thankfully, I never allowed myself to catch that disease while living there.  I loved to go to the games, even made a good deal of money off of the poor fans who wanted to be true to their team and bet in their favor.  I was able to see that the Tribune Company does not care if the Cubs win or loose.  They really don't have to.  Wrigley Field and the Cubs are one of the main tourist attractions in Chicago and as long as they have a product to market (Andre, Ryan and now Sammy) they will turn a decent profit even while putting a loosing team on the field.  Hey, Hey!  Holy Cow! and all that stuff.
    But I digress.  It's going to be a close call as to if we can manage a season beyond this thaw.  Really close.  The latest computer guidance indicates that the weather will do everything in it's power to delay the cooler air Saturday.  First it is stalling out the low and now it is making the cold air travel all the way around the low so that we will actually see our cooler air arrive via the southwest Saturday afternoon.  It looks like Nebraska could be cooler than us for most of the day Saturday.  How's that for rubbing it in.
    I did break down and cleared off my driveway today.  There were already bare spots opening up and it was becoming a real mess. It did not look like it would become totally clear by itself by the time the cooler air arrived and just in case we do get enough snow that needs to be removed.  I would rather be removing it from an even surface than from a surface with bumps and gullies on it.  Check out the "Front of House Shot" in tomorrow's Al Cam page for the new look.  The road crews have been out doing the same. Many of the roads in my hood are clear of ice or slush.  A few of the more shaded areas still have a 1-2" coating of ice on them, but I would not be able to ride from my house to the trails without crossing over a considerable amount of bare pavement.
    I guess that the only solace I can take in all of this is that I am not alone in my misery.  I don't know why that should make me feel better.  I do not wish misery on anybody.  Even the guy who almost hit me head on about 3 weeks ago!  But visiting some of the snowmobile web sites and going into their discussion boards, I read a lot of messages from folks who have the blues just as bad as me.  At least I can still look out onto 18" of snow and hope it does not go away before we can get more.  With that thought I will close.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 23-
    Day three in the death zone and counting.  Another warm one, as my thermometer read 50 at about 1 PM.  A wind shift did occur soon after that and easterly winds dropped the temp to 42 by 2 PM and we are sitting at 33 and a little band of rain is pushing through at the moment.  The airport got to 44 and Copper Harbor managed a 36.  The big difference in the northern Keweenaw is that with southerly winds, the air travels over the lake.  Even if it is just for 30 miles or so, that is enough to cool things down.  That is a big reason why all the locals will trailer their sleds north of Phoenix to ride in April in almost any year.  We'll see if they can do that this year.
    I did take the hounds on a walk this afternoon and we hiked up to check out the trail.  It is always a little fun to hike up there, because I cannot tell what kind of shape the trail will be in until I am on it, as it is elevated from the direction I hike from.  I was expecting to see something a lot worse that I saw.  Here is a shot of the trail.  It was basically soft to a depth of about 2 inches, but still had plenty of base on it and was not even too bumpy.  I have actually seen this trail in way worse shape, even after a fresh snow.  Keep in mind that not all of the trails up here are like this, but I would imagine that about 90-95% of the miles on the trails up here are like this, with only a few sections in bad shape.  One is to the south of Houghton to about the turn off for Dan's and then the trail from about Calumet to Mohawk also likely showing a lot of bare spots or is in bad shape.  These are area which were thin before the thaw.  All other areas were in about the same shape that the trail by my house was in.  I was talking with a guy who rode in the groomer Sunday and said that they were planning on going out tonight if the temp dropped below 35.  Quite frankly, I do not know what good it would do, as it was not too bumped up, no one is riding it and it is so soft that the grooming would not hold up anyway.  Plus if they use the blades too much, they might tap into some of the decent snow below the soft stuff and mix it in.  That would not be too good to do right now, as we still have some mild temps and another round of rain likely for later Friday and into early Saturday.  The perfect thing to do would be to groom it right before the temps drop and we get some new snow Saturday.  If that happened, things would be really good.  We'll see what happens.
    I got into a bit of a debate with some anti snow friends at the bank today.  All in good fun, but I think I was able to blow huge gaping holes in all of their arguments on why this warm weather is good right now.  One of their arguments was that it was melting the snow.  I asked what good would that be unless all the snow was melted and the ground was able to firm up so we could go out and play in the woods.  They could not come up with an answer.  Then they said well at least the warm temps are nice and I asked why.  Did they dress any different to go out?  No.  Did it let them do anything that they would not have done if it were colder?  No.  Would the cold have had any different impact on them today?  No.  I also had to remind them that no matter what happens to the snow, this region is still going to be in the 30's and low 40's for the next 6-8 weeks because the lake is at about 33 degrees and will modify the air greatly.  Sure we could have a few days where the winds are either too light or out of the south, southwest and bring in some warmer temps, but the true warmth does not start here until about May.  They tried to hang onto their position that this warmth was a good thing, but it was more out of being stubborn rather than on any real reason.
    I explained to them that I too will enjoy the warm weather when it is time for that, but that we may as well have snow when it is suppose to snow so we can all play in it and have fun, then let it melt when it is suppose to and will fully melt, not to return until it is suppose to.  Then let summer provide it's wonders up here.  Summers are lots of fun, lots to do.  38 degrees, rainy weather and snow on the ground which is too deep to walk in and too shallow to play in is not fun.  I left the central Midwest because that is their winter!
    Looking at the longer term forecast models which go out 14 days from today, there are reasons to be hopeful.  But I am not going to get too hopeful, as things can change with the forecast and this has been one of those winters in this neck of the UP where the weather has done lots to keep it from snowing!
    So where did all the cold air go this winter?  That is a good question.  Not Europe.  Not most of western Asia and not even in most of eastern Asia.  Not Canada and not really even Alaska.  One pocket in Siberia was below average for December and January as well as the first few weeks of Feb., but that is it.  All other areas were above average for this time period.  Global Warming?  I'm not going to open up that can of worms believe me.  Let's just hope not.  Cause if it does occur, I would bet my life on it that it will not be something that we can just change our ways and have things return to normal in a few years.  If or when we break it, it will be broke for a long, long time.  But don't sell those skis or sleds just yet.  It is easy to worry about global warming when record highs are occurring.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 22-
    Wow.  That is about as creative a word I can some up with right now to describe the day today.  I had some friends decide to take a drive and stopped by and we stood on my driveway and watched their two black lab puppies play with B & B.  We were outside for more than an hour and I did not have a coat on the whole time and never got cold!  I was thinking to myself "man, did I ever get use to the cold", thinking that the temp was in the low 40's.  Turns out it was 52 out!  No wonder I did not need a coat.  Plus the sun was fairly bright as well.  The high today was 27 degrees above average.  Our average high climbs to 52 by April 27th, over two months away, just to show you how extreme things were today.  It did not get that warm in all areas of the Keweenaw.  The Houghton County Airport recorded a 43 and Copper Harbor only managed to rise to 37.  I did see where Minocqua WI rose to 58 and Eagle River WI rose to 54.  Plus we got down to 20 early this morning and are now below freezing at 30 degrees and it is only 8:30.
    Needless to say I was not all that happy about things, but I also did not pout.  I cannot say the same for some of my friends who I ride with.  I stopped by the garage to shoot the bull with them (the repair garage is sort of our local hang out after work) and a couple of them were in there and were more upset than me at the thaw.  They said they now could understand why I was so distressed a few days ago when I knew it was coming.  They also knew why I was so anxious to ride the past few days.  They all sure did want to know when it would cool off and when or if we would get some new snow.  Unfortunately, I did not have all the best news for them.
    I did a little checking and found that from this point on last year the area got about 6 inches of snow.  Bummer.  Of course there have been years where 70 inches fell in March, but those years were also marked by decent snows in most of the other months.  Double bummer.  We are on track to set a new record for least snowfall in a season.  The hat trick of bummers.  I must put in a qualifier.  Those records go back to 1950.  Prior to that, records were kept, but I am a little skeptical of the numbers.  It is amazing to me that in the years prior to 1950, most of them had less than 200" and many were even under 120".  Something is not right with those numbers.
    Anyway, one bright spot to all of this is that my furnace has been on only about 3 times all day!  Of course, I would rather pay some huge heating bills and be riding through three feet of new snow, but what can you do.
    I also witnessed the luckiest person in the world today.  As I was driving through town, I saw an elderly woman walking down the sidewalk.  All of the sudden, about 10 feet in front of her an avalanche occurred.  An entire roof load of snow broke free and crashed to the sidewalk.  The amount of snow was a ton too.  It covered an area on the roof of about 6 feet wide by about 15 feet long and was about 2-3 feet deep and it broke to the surface as they say in the avalanche biz, meaning, there was not snow remaining on the surface where the avalanche occurred.  It was quite a sight to see really.  The pile of snow on the sidewalk was about 6 feet high and about 10 feet in diameter.  The look on the woman's face was sheer shock, relief and amazement in that order all in the span of about 2 seconds.  I shudder to think of what might have become of her had she been just 10 more feet along in her travels.  Makes you realize just how at the mercy we really are to things that we have no control over.  I suppose the owner of the building was the second luckiest person in the world today.
    With all this occurring, I lost only 2" of snow from my yard and I would attribute this as much to settling as to actual melting.  The road even has snow over most of it, although there are bare spots opening up.  I doubt that the road will remain snow covered for the rest of this week, although today was the last day of sun.  Tomorrow through Friday will be cloudy.  The rains do not look too heavy tomorrow and tomorrow night and cooler air looks to come by Saturday.  The only thing concerning me is the clouds at night keeping temps above freezing.  That can eat snow fast as well, having the overnight temps above freezing.  No use loosing sleep over it.
    No pictures today, sure wish I had the camera with me and ready when that avalanche occurred.  That does remind me.  I received my first donations for the new camera, thanks.  For those of you who missed my little solicitation for funds, I decided to take the advice of some visitors to my site and quit complaining about the quality of the pictures taken by my camera and just ask for some donations to get a new, better one.  So, if you have a couple of bucks burning a hole in your pocket and feel so inclined I would love to be able to provide you all with the best pictures possible.  If not that's cool too.  Just trying to do all I can for my audience without going broke at the same time!
    Well, I believe I have done said all I can for tonight.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 21-
    Today was "one last ride" day.  At least for this week.  I made the most of it, leaving the house at 10 AM and not returning until 6 PM.  Most of that time was spent riding.  I hooked up with some friends from Mohawk and we took the bush to Lac La Belle.  I did manage to bring the camera along and took some shots along the way.  Here is a shot while on the pole line.  The shot was actually taken while at the angle, where the line makes a 90 degree turn.  It is also the highest point on the line so you have great view off in either direction.  Here is another shot from the same spot, looking down the other angle.  The snow under the lines was really tracked up.  Still, it is fun to get out there and ride in an area where which is not groomed.  There are a few spots that you can catch a little air and still have a fairly fresh landing.  But it is amazing how different the riding is out there now compared to my first time down it, when we were basically the first tracks.  It is a challenge to get stuck now, whereas it was a challenge not to get stuck before!
    This shot was taken from on top of a bluff.  Directly ahead is the hill climb I talked about in the journal entry January 29 and 30th.  The view from here is also quite dramatic.  From there we hooked up with the trail to Lac La Belle and stopped in for a bite to eat at the Landings Restaurant.  I finally got to chow down on the hot beef sandwich with gravy that I have been wanting to since the snow began to fly.  MMMMM  Good, it was even better than I was imagining.
    Here is a shot of the infamous Mt. Bohemia.  It was taken from the lake, right in front of the Landings.  Of course the picture does not do it justice, as you do not get a true feeling for how high it sticks up relative to the surrounding hills.  The band of white on the left side of the hill is the clearing where you can attempt to ride up it.  Right now it is really iced up so studs or a 2" paddle track would be needed to get to the top via the front.  This shot is also of the mountain and was taken a little further down the lake.  You also get a better view of the clearing.  Next year at this time it is suppose to be a ski hill, so no more playing on it with sleds.
    From Lac La Belle, we took the brand new Deer Lake Trail to Gay.  We had reliable information that it had been groomed yesterday.  That info proved to be correct and we found the trail to be in fairly decent shape.  It was a little bumpy, but certainly tolerable and in better shape that the trail from Calumet to Mohawk was today.  More of a small, washboard feel than moguls.  It was really fun to ride a new trail, and I give that trail a thumbs up.  Congrats to all the folks who made it possible.  With regular grooming it will be an absolute joy to ride.  Lots of turns and probably the most varied types of surroundings that any of the trails go through.  At times you are going through a dense hardwood forest like most of the trails up here do, but at other times the trail goes through areas with only a few trees and at other times it is crossing swampland with no trees.  There is also a lot of side trails off of it.  We did not take any, but many looked tempting!
    From Gay I separated from the two friends I had been riding with as they headed to Mohawk and I was to head to Lake Linden.  I did not have to ride alone, as I hooked up with some other friends in Gay and was able to ride home with them.  It is really neat to go into a bar and know someone there who is riding.  That is about the 3rd of 4th time in a row that that has happened.  I am really beginning to feel like a local.
    I do have plans to ride tomorrow night before the rain hits.  The trails I rode today will all withstand the thaw and rain that is forecasted for this week.  Bases are still close to 2 feet in most spots, with only the area between Calumet and Mohawk thin in spots.  If we do see cooler temps and some new snow after the thaw, they could actually be really nice as the base underneath the new snow will be rock hard and likely fairly smooth.  My main concern will be for the roads in my neighborhood, the well traveled ones are now bare and even my own road is showing some bare spots and will likely be all bare by the end of the week.  I really do not want to have to put new carbides on this season!
    Well, I am going to sign off for tonight.  I owe the hounds a walk before turning in and it is getting late.  From a spring like northwoods...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 20-
    Well, I have fully prepared me for the impending doom (thaw).  It really amazes me how addicted to the snow I am.  Here I am in a place which has seen over 10 feet fall since Thanksgiving, has at least 2 1/2 feet still on the ground and I am bumming that temperatures will rise above the freezing mark for a few days!  I have spent the past 2 days mentally preparing myself for what is to come and I believe I am ready.  Today was a nice day all in all.  Temps in the high 20's and mixed clouds and sun.  Went for a ski with some friends.  We skied an area where dogs are not really welcome so B and B had to stay home.  They sure did not understand why they could not come along as they saw me putting on my ski boots and gaiters.  That usually means that WE are going out for a ski, not just me.  They have come to know what it means when they see me put on my snowmobile bibs and boots.  They both just hang their heads and go into the other room to sleep.  Poor neglected dogs.  Today while skiing, we struck up a conversation on what kind of animal we would like to be if we had the chance.  The answers varied, but once someone said that they would like to be one of my dogs, all the others decided that they would change their vote to that as well.  It actually made me feel very good!  Those two dogs have helped me through some challenging times in the past 3 years and they deserve all the good times they get.
    I did not take the camera along with me, not a whole lot new to show anyway.  We ended up going to McLain State park to ski and then to a persons house who lives along the lake shore.  Today was likely the last day for a ski until things cool, possibly next weekend.  Actually, I could ski in the morning, but have to work, so it looks like we will go back to taking walks.
    This evening, as the sun was setting, I cast a beautiful hue on some Alto Cumulus clouds and I did manage to take a shot, and the shot did manage to turn out fairly good.  This shot was not something that was unique to the area, but I thought you all would enjoy it anyway.  It's too bad that I was not at the lake shore when that was happening, that would have been even more dramatic.
    I hope to be able to ride tomorrow.  There were some plans made, but I have come to not plan on things to play out always as planned.  The majority of the trails will do pretty good through the thaw.  There will be areas which will be hurt, and I think that the area from Houghton to South Range will be cooked unless they figure out a way to get new snow on it.  Plus, all the bush riding spots will hardly even be phased.  What I am most concerned about is the side streets in my neighborhood, as I was hoping to make it through the rest of the season with the carbides that are on my machine.  The last thing I want to do is put new ones on and wear them down with the end of the season riding conditions.  Maybe I can get the plow driver to pull a little off the banks and onto the side of the road, YA RIGHT!
    It must be getting late, I am getting even stupider!  Will sign off for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 19-
    Getting a late start tonight, but thought there was no way I would leave you all hanging again.  I had friends arrive thins morning, they were suppose to arrive last night, but got a late start and the snows in northern IL and southern WI delayed them further, so they just pulled off and stayed the night at a hotel, rather than push it to get here.  They got here about noon and we did not waist too much time saddling up.
    We ended up riding to Lac La Belle, mostly via the bush, but were on the trails from Lake Linden to about Copper City.  I must say that from Lake Linden to Calumet, things were in good shape.  You could then tell when you got on the main trail that everyone takes from Houghton to Copper Harbor, as it was in worse shape.  Not a total disaster, but not too good either.  We then rode the 124 trail towards Gay for a short while and it was in great shape.  Almost did not want to get off of it!  But the bush was calling and we headed out to do some off trail riding.  We did not find a whole lot of untracked snow, but did have an enjoyable time.  The bush was not bumpy and I did manage to find a little fresh snow as well as some excellent jumps to lunch off of.  We got to Lac La Belle and climbed Bohemia (back side).  The view really impressed my friends and then rode down the front side and had a wonderful meat at the Landings.  Saturday is prime rib night and I was not bashful in ordering the king cut.  From there, my friends rode on to the harbor (Copper Harbor) where they were staying overnight.  I actually hooked up with a friend from town that was at Lac La Belle and we rode back to Lake Linden.  It is really fun to be able to go just about anywhere and see someone I know.  It was also nice to have company for the ride home.  My sled has been running fine and I would not be out in the middle of nowhere, but still nice to know that if anything did happen, I would not be stranded alone.
    It took my friends and I about 4 hours to ride to Lac La Belle the challenging way and took my friend and I about an hour to get back the easy way.  I think that I can get back from Lac La Belle faster via sled the easy way than it would take by car!
    All in all, it was a very successful day.  A good ride, no injuries or breakdowns and even the weather was good.  It snowed most of the way up.  Not very heavy, but enough so that you knew it was coming down, and enough to freshen things up.  Taking a look at the latest European Model, it is indicating cooler air to arrive by about Friday of next week.  That would be really nice if it did occur.  While out on my ski today I realized that with the warmer temps, I will not be able to ski, or at least ski as effectively.  Another reason to dread the warmer temps.
    Well, guess that will do it for now.  Sorry no pictures, but I do plan a ride Monday in the bush so maybe then.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 18-
    My apologies for not writing last night, but I just plain forgot until it was too late and my head had hit the pillow.  Not a whole lot went on to talk about.  I did spend the afternoon trying to make a path from my driveway to both the ski and snowmobile trails.  That way I can stay off the roads for both.  Blazing a trail on the skis was fairly easy.  A little more difficult for the hounds, as the snow was totally untracked and very deep.  We did manage to find some areas which had drifted over and were easily 6 feet deep.  Even on my skis, I sunk in to my knees.  Anyway, I did manage to find a way through the woods to get to a point where I could access my driveway.  I decided I would take the sled through  and try and pack down the trail a little better.  Big mistake.  Number one, a sled needs a lot more horizontal room to get through.  On the skis I could just sneak between trees.  On the sled, it was either try and go around them or over them!  Several times, both methods failed and a dig out was required.  Also, with all my skiing lately, I have become very adept at maneuvering.  Taking sharp turns on a snowmobile in deep snow through the woods is not so easy.  Hence more dig outs.  I think that I set some kind of a record, with about 6 dig outs in the space of an hour and a half, while only traveling about 100 yards!  And to think I want more snow!  After all of that effort, I still did not have a trail which was set for the sled.  I can get through just fine on skis and I think that there is enough of a packed down trail to allow the hounds to get through without much trouble, but it will take more effort for the sled.  The trail there now has too many 90 degree turns in it to make for a suitable run for the sled.  I think I will have to scout out a new path and try and blaze it next week.  I have never swatted so much in 15 degree temperatures in my life!  My shirt was literally soaked as were my pants!
    Today was back to school day.  Well in a matter of speaking anyway.  I had contacted a professor at Michigan Tech a few months back to introduce myself and see if we could meet some time just to sit, chew the fat and explore avenues for any possible relationship we could establish.  He invited me to a seminar which was today and then we talked some afterwards.  After parking the car and heading off to the building in which the seminar was to be held, I began to get nervous in the scholarly atmosphere and was reminded just how much I hated school!  I really did.  Not so much the work or actual learning process, but the treadmill I seemed to be on while getting my education.  So much of the work seemed to be in vain.  Take this test to pass this class so you can advance to the next class, all to do it all over again, while never really retaining much from the previous class.  I really have a problem with doing something for nothing.  It does not have to have financial gain or other rich rewards, but I do like to have some sort of payoff for my efforts and you'll have to excuse me, but that piece of paper that I got for my 4 years of toil that says "John Dee has successfully earned a Bachelor's Degree in the School of Science" just did not quite earn me full satisfaction.  I don't even know where the thing is.  I have it somewhere, but would have to look for it pretty hard to find it!
    Walking though the campus I could see the look of helplessness on many of the faces of the students and knew just what they were feeling.  I think that the only thing worse than going back to school against my will would be to have to spend time in the hospital!  I would not mind taking a few classes or even a few seminars to bring me up to speed on some of the latest theories or discoveries in the world of atmospheric science, but to do it all over again...  NO WAY.
    With all that said, I am glad that I went.  I did learn some things and I was an interesting seminar.  It was also refreshing to be in an environment where some pretty technical things were being said.  Nice to put the brain into high gear to try and follow a conversation or discussion!  Who knows, maybe I will even be able to do some teaching of my own there.  The professor did seem interested in having me help out in the intro to meteorology course they offer.  I would love to teach meteorology!  I think that if I could earn a decent living at that, I would make the switch.  Plus, I can guarantee, my class would not be boring.  It would be one of those that there is a waiting list to get into!  Who knows, the possibilities are exciting to think about though.
    Other than that, not a whole lot has happened.  I got to watch my old stomping grounds (Chicago) get hit with snow through the day today.  I do believe that they have now received about twice, if not three times as much snow there for the month as we have!  Strange year, strange year indeed.  I am going to blame it on the North Pacific Intra Decadal Oscillation Index.  That is what the seminar was about.  The speaker did not draw such conclusions, but I am sick and tired of El Nino or La Nina catching the blame for everything!
    Well, guess that will do it for now.  Have fun with your new snow all you folks in S. WI, N. IL and S. MI.  I am jealous.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 16-
    Getting an early start today, as I am going to be riding this evening and will be getting back too late to probably write then.  If it were not for my profound love of snow, I would have thought that today was a beautiful day, with mixed puffy clouds and cobalt blue skies.  But with missing the heart of yesterday's storm and looking at the satellite imagery basically showing the lake effect clouds developing just before the shores of the Keweenaw, I was in a bit of a funk.  Here is a shot of the visible satellite imagery showing how the clouds were developing right before the KP.  The image also shows how the clouds were much more plentiful over the eastern UP, where several inches of snow accumulated today.  This has been par for the course this year.  It has really been a strange year, with the Keweenaw seeing at or less than a lot of other places in the UP.  We sure do have less on the ground, as 28" is down at my house, 18 at the Houghton CO Airport (that is a joke of a measurement if you ask me), but 40 at Marquette and 42 at Champion to the west of Marquette.  We should really be up at about 36-42 right now.  I would have to say that is about the average for this time of the year.  Anyway, I guess that I should be grateful for what we have, as it could be worse (but not much!)
    But I digress...  As promised, I took a ski on the local trail and brought the camera along. Shot one is of a swamp that the trail crosses.  I know it to be a swamp as the hounds and I did explore out that way in the fall and were halted by the swamp. This shot is a little further up the new trail that I found yesterday.  On the left you can see the tracks from yesterday and where we were headed.  I am not sure if this area is a swamp too, but my guess is that is is some kind of a low area which is wet most of the year.  When all this snow melts, things in the low areas stay wet for several months and all the creeks really run up to about the 4th of July, then things settle down some. This picture was actually taken at the opposite end of the field in the previous shot.  We are located in the upper right of that photo.  From this point, we head into the creek bed area which is really my favorite spot of this whole side trail.  It is so peaceful back in there and I just love how the creek is bordered by the pines.  Plus on a windy day like today, it is also nice as we are sheltered from the winds as well. Here is a picture of what I am trying to describe, B & B are in the lead, or "On Point" as I like to call it.  Unfortunately, this part of the trail only goes on for about a quarter mile, it would be neat if it went on for a mile or so.  This is another shot of  the creek bed, but this is where it goes one way and we go another.  I just love how everything is draped with the deep powder.  It is amazing how things like 2-3 feet gullies or stumps are completely covered.  Keep this fact in mind if any of you out there decide to do some off trail riding of your own.  Take it slow if you are not positive that there are no hidden obstacles.  Imagine having to try and drag a 500 lb. sled out this place.  Believe me, you would sink up to your chest in snow.
    Made it back from the ski in time to do some grocery shopping.  I have been so busy and will only be busier in the next few days that this was about the only time I could do it!
    This next part I have been debating for some time now.  In a recent entry, I apologized for the quality of the pictures.  I only have an inexpensive camera and it has a resolution of only 640 x 480.  After writing that entry and apologizing, I got more than a handful of responses that I should just ask my readers for a small donation to come up with funds to get a better camera.  Like I say, I have been struggling with this, as it has never been my intention to have my visitors pay for anything, but since I got several responses from YOU that I should just pass the hat, I guess that it is not too forward of me.  So if you feel so inclined, you may send a donation to me at P.O. Box 46, Lake Linden, MI  49945.  Please include a return address, for if I do not come close to the amount needed (about $300), I will just return the money and hope to get a better camera in the future on my own.  I know that I have at least 3000 different daily visitors to this site, as that is what the log file said back in mid December.  I imagine it could be double that now, as word has sure spread and my netfriends number has doubled since then as well.  Keep in mind that the forecasts will end at the end of March, but I do plan on continuing the journal all year round.  There is the snow melt, waterfalls, summer sunsets, beach shots, wild flowers, wildlife and autumn colors to show, just to name a few!  I would really love to be able to show these in all their glory.
    Ok, now that that is over, I guess I will close for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 14&15-
    Well, my guide services were a success, as I did not bring harm to any of my friends and managed to bring some wide eyes and big smiles.  We did not have nearly the time I would like to have, as they were basically up here for about 18 hours and some of that was spent sleeping, but we did manage to get around a little.  I only took one picture as a lot of the riding was at night.  This shot was taken on top of Whealkate Bluff with the Houghton/Hancock area in the background.  That little black dot to the left of the guy on the left is another guy in the group who did want to climb to the top.
    Before I forget, I must make a mention of the trail conditions up here.  My travels took me from Lake Linden to the Twin Lakes south of Houghton.  The trail between Houghton and South Range has been beat to a pulp.  On the ride down yesterday is was in not too bad of shape, a little snirty, but groomed and fairly flat.  On the way back, it was fairly bumped up an a little more snirty.  Today on the way down it was even more snirty and still had some bumps on it, even though it had been groomed, and on the way back today it was a total mess.  Lots of snirt, bumps and even a few bare spots!  That section will need a lot of new snow to make it even close to good again.  The good news is that it is only bad between Houghton and South Range, actually only from about Houghton to the turn off to Dan's.  The trail from South Range to Twin Lakes was in good shape and allowed me to travel at any speed I desired.  The trails last night (Lake Linden to Calumet to Hancock to Lake Linden) were also in pretty decent shape and the new snow we are getting right now through tomorrow will put them in really decent shape for the holiday weekend.  So I guess my advice to you would be to try and avoid the stretch from South Range to Houghton if you can.  If not, just be prepared and know that things are only like that in that one section.  The Freeda Loop is in great shape as I took it for a short while today as well.
    As I said, I rode as far south as Twin Lakes to meet up with my friends coming up from the south.  That is the furthest south I have been so far this year!  I did meet up with some visitors to the site at the Golden Harp in Twin Lakes.  Hello good folks from Iowa, thanks again for lunch and it was really great to chat with you!
    I made it back in time today to take the hounds for a ski, but did not bring the camera.  I found a new side trail to that local trail and it really went through a neat place so tomorrow I plan to take the camera along an show you all.  Ooh, I can feel the anticipation building!
    Like I said, we are getting some snow.  I really should not complain, as we have about 3-4" new, still snowing and it looks to me like we could get about 3-4" more before it ends tomorrow in the afternoon.  BUT...  Other places around here got hammered.  Northern WI and the southern UP have reported 10-12" as has Marquette.  Marquette could still see another 4-8" fall before it ends.  Man, would it have been great to get 14-20" new!  Still some time, but we are running out of it.  It still snows way more than it rains through most of March, but the cold air outbreaks diminish and thus so does the lake effect.  It would be interesting to see how much of the snow we have received this year was due to the lake.  I would anticipate it to be about 30-35%, maybe a little more.  In an average year about 60-65% of our annual snow is due to the lake.
    Well, I guess that this will do it for tonight.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 13-
    Whew... I think that I would be very happy to not see or eat another spaghetti noodle for another 2-3 months!  I am back from the fund raiser.  6 hours of doing nothing bu cooking noodles.  I made the terrible mistake of grabbing a bowl of spaghetti when I first got there.  Then had to test the noodles for the next 6 hours and by the end was not enjoying the experience at all.  All in all, things went well.  Not the biggest turn out they ever had, but I think that about 500-600 dinners were served.
    I'm sure that most of you did not check in to hear about the spaghetti dinner so I will cut with that stuff and talk about my ride yesterday.  I was not able to take as many pictures as I would have liked to.  When I ride with these guys, there is not a whole lot of stopping we do.  The trip was again most enjoyable.  Maybe not as fun as the last time, but still full of new places to ride and yes, we did find lots of new, untracked powder, which is getting more and more rare, as we have just not had a whole lot of new snow in the past 2 1/2 weeks.  I think that we have received 7" in that time, which is about 30" below average.  Anyway, the first point of interest was a field that had some really great hills and gullies in it.  Perfect for catching a little air.  Here is a shot of one of the guys catching air, and here is another.  This spot will definitely become one of my favorite places to go after some fresh snow.  We had 10 riders in our group and tracked it up pretty good, so I will probably not be going over there until we get at least 6-10" new.  The terrain was perfect though.  A nice ravine dropping about 20 feet, with the perfect slop for climbing and then jumping.  Plus it is really nice to land in several feet of snow.  Makes the landing quite soft.
    From there it was into the bush and I do mean the bush.  One of the guys riding with us had a hunting camp about 10 miles away and we decided that a trip to the camp was a good idea.  Only problem is there was really no road or trail going there so we made our own.  At times we were going down an old logging road, but at other times, we were just making our own path through the woods.  At times having to work around or over blow downs.  That type of riding sure does become a workout, with all the hairpin turns and other maneuvers you have to make.  Here is a shot that I was able to take while we were awaiting the lead sled to maneuver a blow down.  We were successful at finding the camp and then worked our way to one of the local watering holes to get some food and refreshments.  From there I had to break from the group as I think that something I ate or drank did not agree with me and the thought of being out in the woods in the cold and dark did not sit well, with me and my stomach.  I did not miss out on much as after I left the group, they took the same ride ride I had been on Friday, up to Gay and back.  I have several more rides planned for this week and I might, just might break the 2000 mile mark in another week or so.  That seems surprising, as it does not seem that I have done that much riding.  It also does not seem like we have received that much snow, but 10 feet has fallen so far this year.  Basically in the past 2 months, as it really did not begin to snow until about a week before Christmas.
    Needless to say, my skills have increased to the point where I would say that there is no situation which I could not handle that others could.  Not bragging, just that I have been able to go anywhere and do anything that the others have done and now even find myself doing things that others in our group will not do or go where they will not go.  There is still riders in the group that are way better than me, but they have been riding for the past 20 years like I have been in the past 2 months, so I won't be too hard on myself.
    Tomorrow I become the guide, as I have friends arriving from down south.  Thus, I may not update things tomorrow, but we'll see.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 12-
    Is this dedication or what.  Here it is 10 AM and I have already updated the forecast and AL Cam pages of the site, cooked breakfast and taken the hounds for a short morning walk.  In the next 2 hours, I will be going to the post office, bank and then a short ski with the hounds.  At noon I head off for a ride.  I am fairly certain that the ride will last until the wee hours of the night so I thought I would update the journal now.
    Went for a ride last night.  Took the back roads and trails up to Gay and then over to the Drift Inn in Copper City and then back home.  The trails were in OK shape.  You could tell which areas had been groomed in the morning and which had been groomed a little later in the day.  The good news is that the snow in most places was of the type which will hold a grooming so things should not get overly bad this weekend.  That is good, as I have friends coming Monday to ride for a day or so and I keep telling them how great it is here during the week and did not want to disappoint them.
    We do look to get a couple of inches later tonight through tomorrow so that will help some as well.  I really do not have a lot new to share today, seeing as though I just wrote something about 12 hours ago.  I can say that the new Deer Lake Trail between Gay and Lac La Belle is officially open!  The Keweenaw Tourism Council says that it is receiving limited grooming by the local club.  I have no idea what that means, as to the best of my knowledge there is no local club up that way.  The closest club is the one I belong to and there was no mention of us grooming it at the meeting last Wednesday.  I did hear from some friends that they had heard that the trail was in not too bad a shape, so maybe it is being groomed.  I might be up that way today or Monday so if I find my way onto the trail, I will let everyone know what is up.
    The ride today will be with the same group which I had the "Ride of My Life" two weeks ago, so I am trying to not get too psyched up for it.  The leader said that he thinks we will take a different route than the last time to try and find fresh snow.  I hope this is true.  There is still plenty of untracked snow out there, you just have to find it.  I will take the camera along on this ride so tomorrow I should be able to show you all the trip.
Busy day, so will close for now.
Good day from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 10&11-
    Sorry for the absence yesterday, but entertainment duties called and I was unable to get to the journal.  I did however get out yesterday to run my newly found, favorite ski trail almost right out my front door.  It has really become a joy to be able to open the garage door, click into the skis and head out into the wilderness.  Not that the 5-10 minute drive to the other spots was that bad, but every little bit helps!  Plus, I managed to get my fanny into the store to buy a 9 volt battery for the camera and it is back to life.  I did take the camera along on the ski yesterday and most of this report will be focused around those pictures.  Once again, I must apologize for the lack of quality that my $76 camera takes, but I hope you at least get the idea of how beautiful things are just a block away from my house.
    It did manage to start snowing yesterday at about 11 AM and has kept up at one pace or another ever since.  About 1-2" new since then, just enough freshen things up, including the main DNR trail 3 by my house.  It always amazes me what 2-3" of fresh snow and some grooming can do to the trail.  I took a look at it this afternoon and it was flat as a pancake.  Won't likely last too long this weekend, but at least we are not heading into the weekend with poor conditions.  Actually, it looks to get very cold tonight -5 to -20 depending how far away from the lake you are and that will really help to stiffen up the trail.  Plus we could get a little fresh later tomorrow and into Sunday morning so I guess things could be a lot worse!
    Back to the ski. This first pic is taken as we just start out.  Like I said, the trail is about 1 block away as the crow flies, but being an earth bound human, I have to weave my way around about 4 blocks in my neighborhood to get to it.  Today I checked out the feasibility of possibly blazing a trail through the woods to get to trail, but it looks like I would need to go through neighbors yards and I'd just as soon not have to worry about asking for permission and all that jazz.  As you can see from the pic, the trail really just sort of weaves it's way through the bushes and is not part of any kind of official trail and I bet in the summer it is all filled in with weeds and smaller bushes which would make a journey much more difficult if not impossible.
    Here is a shot of the trail as it crosses a swamp.  Another nice thing about winter travel in the back woods of the Keweenaw.  You can cross areas like this with the greatest of ease.  I have been out here in the summer and would never even dream of venturing through it, as it was filled with cat tails and other swamp dwelling plants.  Not to mention the bugs.  This pic really begins to show the cameras inability's to represent the depth of field and pure openness of the area.  Off to either side of this view are hills which rise about 300-600 feet.  Not massive mountains, but it sure does create a valley.  Just off to the right about 200-300 feet is the Traprock River.  Again, not a huge river by any means, but it is basically what carved out this valley over the past 100 million years or so.  Reducing the view also was the SNOW!  Yes, this picture was taken when the visibility was about 1 mile, I just love to ski in the snow!
    Well, what would the first day back with the camera in working order be without a shot of the hounds.  They were unusually camera shy yesterday and it was all I could do just to get them to pose here.
    This last shot is of one of the sights we saw just to the side of the trail.  Again, the camera does not do it much justice at all, as the mix of shades and colors of the hardwoods, conifers and snow was really worthy of a painting.  Nothing overly dramatic, but still, just plain and simple northwoods beauty.  Nothing that man could create in a million years, but yet nature has found a way to re create it in less than 100.  The Traprock Valley was extensively clear cut and farmed back in the areas mining hey days.  Slowly one by one, the farmsteads have become abandoned and the native vegetation has begun to reclaim the landscape.  Once where there were vast stretches of cultivated fields, there are stands of mixed hardwoods and conifers commingled and the open fields are slowly, but surely filling in.  Coming from a place where there were vast fields of row upon row of corn and soybeans are being replaced by row upon row of houses.  It is really neat to be able to witness first hand how mother nature can reclaim that which was taken away from her years ago.  The other thing that the camera could not illustrate was the pure silence of the spot.  Nothing but the crunch of my skis through the snow, my huffing and puffing to try and catch my breath and the wind singing through the trees.  Today, we took the same route, but our peace and quiet was punctuated by the roar of 2 cycle engines.  You can almost set your watch to it.  3-4 PM every Friday.  The masses have arrived!  Welcome all.  Ride safely, have fun and try not to hit a rider on an XLT Special wearing a Skidoo-Yellow Northface jacket!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 9-
    The snow gods must be reading this journal, because we got some new snow overnight last night.  Not a lot, about an inch an a half.  It was also a pretty wet and heavy snowfall, there might have even been some rain mixed in at the end.  Temperatures then dropped and by daybreak, the snow had become a freeze dried crust.  It was enough to freshen up things and the roads (except the main highways) are again snow packed.  We had light snow and flurries all day to boot.  Not much additional snow, about a half an inch or so.  Look to get another 1-3" by this time tomorrow so maybe that will be enough to allow the snow on the trails to be fresh enough so that it will hold a grooming.
    Had a nice discovery today.  I found a little cross country ski trail right near my house.  It is about 2 blocks away as the crow flies but about 5 blocks by foot.  I actually could ski from my driveway to the trail head.  The trail itself was really fun to ski on, as it just basically works its way through clearings and across meadows in the Traprock Valley.  We took it as far north as it goes and then it branches to the left (west) or right (east).  Tomorrow we will see where the east branch takes us.  It was about 3 miles to the branch, so we skied about 6 miles today.  The hounds are really worn out as I lost the trail for a while and we were breaking our own.  That is not much of a problem, as the 8 ft long skis support me fairly well and I can skim across the snow.  For the dogs it is a different story.  There is nothing to keep their paws from sinking and they basically sink up to their chest.  It's really is a lot of work for them to get through, even following in my track.  I did manage to pick up the trail after about 500 yards of breaking our own, but by that time the hounds were really huffing and puffing.
    Then, as we skied along the trail, every once an a while they would find a sink hole and boom, they would be up to their chest again.  I really liked that trail and I believe it is now my favorite one.  It is really fun to just sort of bushwhack our way through things.  In spots, you really would not be able to get through in the summer, even just walking, as the bushes are too thick.  There were even some swamps that we crossed.  To be out there in the quiet world of nature was really wonderful.  Now I just need to find a way to get there without having to ski down the roads to get to the trail head.
    I was not able to take any pictures as I was too lazy to get to the store to get a new battery.  I think that is all that is wrong with it, as it turns on and then whacks out.
    Well, I need to sign off for now and head off the snowmobile club meeting.  Remember, if you are up here this Sunday, head over to the Dreamland Bar between noon and 6 PM for our Spaghetti Dinner!  See you there!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 8-
    I can guarantee that this will likely be one of the shortest entries to date.  I am really at a loss for new and exciting news.  This feature of my site is back to being "JD's LACK of Snow Journal".  Another day for the sunglasses to come out and the shovel to remain in the garage.  The forecast does not look way too promising either.  We do look to get a little snow, but the main events over the next 2-4 days look to occur to our south.
    I did manage to hike up to the trail and have a look at it and it was not in very good shape.  Not a total disaster, but for a Tuesday, not too good.  A few sleds ride by and were bouncing along.  The snow condition on the trail was not too good either.  Basically sugar snow and will not hold a grooming too well.  It reminds me of things about the first week of January, when the base was ok, but was sugar snow.  I thought that it would take about 4-6" of new snow to bring them back and actually took only about 2-3".  So I would think that we are in a similar setup.  After about 2-3" and grooming, they should be in pretty decent shape.  I guess that I should be grateful, I know of may other places in the Midwest who don't even have a base down anymore.  They have snow on the ground, but the trails are basically a mix of snow and dirt of just dirt.
    No pictures as the camera is acting up.  I hope all it needs is a new battery, as I really don't want the hassle of having to get it fixed.  Stay tuned.
    Well, like I said, this is a short one.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 7-
    And the snow drought continues...  Well, maybe not a drought, but we have not received more than 2" in a single 24 hours period for 13 days now.  The forecast models are still all over the road, but the one theme in them all of them is for at least a couple of inches of new snow by the end of the week or the beginning of next week so we'll see.
    I did not make it down to see the snow statues from the Winter Carnival, but I did go their web site and "borrowed" some of their pictures.  I hope that they do not mind me posting them here.  The only reason I copied them is so that if they take their site down, my readers will still be able to view them.  If you want to go to their site, here is a link.  I cannot promise how long it will be active.  For those of you who don't want to go to the side, here's some shots of some of the statues, so you can get a better idea of what the hard working college students are up to.  Honestly, I have no idea how most of them found the time to do these.  Tech is a big engineering school and I had to walk with the engineers step for step my first two years at Purdue and did not have much time to do anything but study and eat and sleep.  Anyway, here is the Delta Sigma Phi entry.  It was called "Space Colonization Unifies Nation" and one first prize in its class.  Second Place was won by the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and was called "A Chilling Interpretation of our Final Revelation".  I guess before we go on, I need to tell you all one thing, the theme for this years carnival was "Icy Predictions of Future Conditions".  That will help to make sense of the unique titles and themes to the statues.  Third place in the fraternity division was won by Phi Kappa Tau, and was entitled "Future Family Choice in Ice Children's Voices".  In the Sorority division, Alpha Gamma Delta won first place with this entry.  It was titled "Endangered Spec-ICE No Longer Exist".  The Alpha Xi Zeta entry won third place with that statue titled "Nature's Conservation for Future Generations".
    So there you go.  If you plan on coming up next year to partake in all the fun of Winter Carnival, better book the rooms soon, they are already booking for next year.  I have no idea of the dates for next year.  The one thing I missed was the fireworks display.  Next year I will go for sure.  It would have been neat to be able to ride my snowmobile down and watch them from that.
    Well, this may have seemed like a short journal entry, but for me it was a lot of work to download the images, create the links to them and get the titles correct, so I will sign off for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 6-
    First let me start out by saying that once again my internet provider's e-mail server is all screwed up.  I seem to be able to get messages fine, but the ones I send get trapped and not sent out, but I get no notification that they have not yet gone out.  So for those of you possibly waiting for a response from me on something, please hang in there.  The messages will get to you soon, I hope.  With all the problems with my e-mail lately, I would love to switch providers, but I have a high speed cable modem through these guys and they are the only ones up here with that type of service and the high speed is awesome.
    Anyway, today was pretty much a complete opposite of yesterday, as I managed to get lots accomplished, including my first ride since Saturday of a week ago.  I knew there was a reason why I don't like to ride the DNR trails on weekends, today I was reminded of why.  An idiot and I kissed skis and it was totally his fault.  I was heading towards the Range Snow Mobile Club near Houghton and was on the local access trail that goes to Dan's Polaris and then to the club.  The owners of Dan's groom that trail, so it was nice an smooth.  Anyway, The trail is not real wide and has enough turns in it, so I was cruising along at about 30 MPH and came to a turn and slowed down some more, when out of nowhere, some pinhead on a red Yamaha comes flying over a hill and on a direct collision course with me.  I hit my breaks and he did too.  He was so much on my side of the trail that he ended up passing to my right and our right skis kissed.  He ended up off the trail on the wrong side and in the ditch.  I stopped just to let him know I saw him go into the ditch and then rode away.  I know I probably should have helped him out of the ditch, but with my blood boiling as much as it was, it was probably safer I did not go over there, cause I would have likely torn his head off.  What a but head.  The saddest part about that whole thing was he probably thought that is was not luck which kept us from a head on, but was his skills as a driver, so he will not likely slow down.  Too bad.  That guy is going to hurt himself and maybe someone else some day, I can almost guarantee it.
    The races were fun.  It is not a big event.  They have them every other weekend and it is just a chance for the locals to get together and legally drag race against each other in a controlled atmosphere.  There are purses to win and entry fees, so that adds a little to the want to win, but for the most part, guys all know each other and are just there to have a good time.  I took some shots, but they did not turn out all that well.  Here is one at the starting line, just as they hit the throttle.  That's my buddy on the Cat on the far side.  They also had a modified class, which is fun to watch, cause these sleds are basically a motor, skis, a track and the control devices, like a break, throttle and handlebars.  They sure do scoot though, as there is not much weight to them.  Here is a shot of them heading down the track, sorry there is not much to see, I really should have taken a still of one of them while not racing, but as usual forgot.
    My trips to and from Lake Linden and the club had me ride a little bit of trail, but not much.  I actually opted to take the canal between Lake Linden and Houghton.  A little longer, but much quicker.  The trails between Houghton and South Range were bumpy and in need of some fresh snow, as things were a little dirty.  Not really dirty, but enough that you could make out the difference between the snow in the woods and the snow on the trails.  All in all, not any worse than I would have expected in that area on a Sunday afternoon.
    A word of caution.  If you plan to ride the canal from Houghton to Lake Linden, you had better know where "The Cuts" are and how to get through them.  If not, I can almost guarantee you will get wet and maybe worse.  Almost every time I ride through there, I see either open water, or patches of ice with no snow on them which means that the ice is very new and not safe.  I guess that spot takes someone almost every year.  If you know where to ride, you are fine and it is not hard either.  But you really need to know.  I know this is not the first time I have put out this word of caution and it will not likely be the last.  I do not want to talk about riding the canal in this area and leave out that warning.
    Well, it looks like I have come to the end of another day.  Tomorrow's Munday (the "u" was on purpose) and I am really getting burnt out trying to forecast thunderstorms in Brazil and Argentina (my real job calls for that at the moment).  Some surprise flare ups midweek last week brought my batting average down from 1.000, I really hate when that happens.  Takes some of the fun out of forecasting!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 5-
    Today had to be one of my most unproductive ever!  I did manage to get in two walks with the hounds, but that was about it.  Looking around at all the mess in my house only made me even more reluctant to get too it.  It is not a total pit, but with friends coming to visit in the next week or so, I do need to clean up a bit.
    On one of the walks we made it up to survey the trail which was in such bad shape yesterday and it had been groomed.  I do not know if it had been done late yesterday or early today, but it was in better shape.  Not what I would classify as good or even fair, but not catastrophic like it was yesterday.  One thing is for sure, we will need new snow soon to keep the snow on the trails in groom able condition.  The forecast does look promising for at least a little new snow over the next 3-5 days, with the potential for more further down the road.
    I know I am looking forward to it.  In the past 1 week and a half, we have received less than 4".  That is a serious drought for this neck of the woods.  Looking around, you would never guess than we have received over 100" for the year.  The piles are just not that big, or else I am getting use to looking at them!  What we have on the ground is quite compacted down and will not likely compact much more, but I doubt we will exceed the 40" mark on the ground this year.  Talking to one of my neighbors, he said just a few years ago they got 30" in 24 hours in a storm in March.  I looked into the history books and found the storm.  March 23-24, 1996.  23" officially reported at the airport, but knowing how things get measured there, I would not be surprised that 30" fell in other areas.  Of course, 1996 was also the year that 360" fell in many places in the Keweenaw so I am not going to hold my breath for a 30" snow this March!
    Well, I plan to head down to the races tomorrow and the range snow mobile club.  If I do, I will try and make sure to bring the camera along to show you the goings on.  Not a whole lot more to say, so rather than going off on one of my tangents, I think I will just hand it up for the night.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
February 4 -
    Ahh, the end of a week.  Always nice to be able to sleep in a little.  Although I do have to get up and update this site on Saturday and Sunday so my weekend is not totally free from a workload.  I may see about taking Sunday off from forecasting, especially if there is not much to talk about in the forecast.  Right now there does not look to be much, but deep in my gut I have a feeling that will change.  These gut feelings usually come true.  I don't know why, maybe they actually derive themselves deep in the recesses of my sub conscience and somewhere in my sub conscience the forecasting data has been analyzed and a forecast is formulated.  Who knows.
    Once again, the snow mobile stayed in the garage.  One again, it was mainly of my doing.  I have heard of so many of my friends sleds breaking down that I have decided to really limit the riding I do alone.  If I do ride alone, I will most likely stick to the DNR trails that way if something does happen someone will come along.  It was a good choice to stay off the DNR trails today.  I always wondered what the main trail by my house would look like without daily grooming and today I found out.  Holy Wa!  The hounds and I took a walk up to the trail, there were moguls the size of Volkswagens out there!  Biggest ones I have ever seen in my life.  In one spot, it was rubbed to the ground, at least 2 feet deep.  How do I know that the trail did not get groomed today?  I heard that the groomer out of Lake Linden was going to take a run on the as-yet, still-closed Deer Lake trail from Gay to Lac La Belle.  They did bring the drag along with them so it has been groomed, but I have not heard if it is officially opened yet.  I will let you know when I hear something official.
    Don't know why they decided to use the groomer out of Lake Linden, that is one heck of a trip for him to make.  As a result, the trails between Calumet and Hancock and Hancock and Lake Linden were a total wreck.  Sad part about it is even if they do get groomed tonight or tomorrow, there will still be bumps on it for sure.  No groomer built can flatten those moguls out in one pass.  Plus it is the weekend, so lots of people will be exposed to those conditions as they are two main trails in the area and all those people will only make matters worse.  Now this is just my humble and sometimes foolish opinion, but it seems to me that they pulled the wrong groomer off it's duties to make this trip on the DL trail, and/or picked the wrong time of the week to do it as well.  This area is already fighting an image problem with the conditions of the trails on weekends and this only made things worse.  Oh well, what can you do?  I suppose one day there will be more organization to how things get done around here instead of this "anything goes" deal.  If not, the first good snow year in the rest of the Midwest and this place will be a Ghost Town and then everybody will be standing around, scratching their heads and saying "What happened?  Where is everybody?", and then things will get changed.  Don't get me wrong, it is not really the fault of the groomers themselves.  The guy out of Lake Linden goes everyday, maybe not at the best time, but does get out everyday.  That's a lot of dedication and hard work.  I'm sure the other groomers work just as hard.  And basically the current system works fine during the week.  The trails are in great shape then.  It's just weekends that the current system fails.  Unfortunately, that is when this place is the busiest and when a lot of people get the wrong idea that the trails up here are always beat up and never groomed.
    Plus, I don't mean to take anything away from the new DL trail.  New trails are a much needed commodity up here and that one was a long time coming.  A lot of hard work went into making it a reality I'm sure.  I look forward to taking it myself, once I hear it is being groomed regularly and is officially open.
    Well enough of that.  Keep in mind things are not a total wreck up here on weekends.  I rode about 50 miles of DNR trails last  Saturday evening and they were quite passable.  Not perfectly smooth by any means, but rideable, and even after a greasy burger, two bags of chips and some bubbly beverages, this heartburn sensitive boy was just fine.
    I went to a web site today which gave conditions for northeast WI.  It was written by someone who got out and rode them almost every day.  I had hoped that this journal would be somewhat like that, but many factors have put a crimp in how much I have got out this season.  There is still lots of time ahead.  The season officially still has 2 more months to it and from what I hear, late February and all of March is some of the best riding up here.  I will try and get out more to report on the DNR trails, but use this as a rule of thumb:  Weekdays are great up here.  No B.S.  Unless a groomer breaks or something, the trails all get groomed every day and with the lower traffic load, hold up really well.  You will not be disappointed if you come on a weekday.  I have yet to meet someone or hear about someone who did not think that our trails during the week can't be beat.  On weekends, it is busy.  Not rush hour on the expressway busy, but because we do have a lot of snow and some of the best scenery in the Midwest, along with a decent trail system, a lot of people come here on weekends.  Some trails take it harder than others.  As another rule of thumb, conditions from Mohawk north are usually better.  I can not ever remember a time when I was riding up there on bad trail conditions, including weekends.  But I'm not going to sugar coat things either.  Some of the trails do get pretty brutal, especially the closer you get to Houghton and Hancock, so be prepared and make your plans accordingly.
    With that, you can bow your heads, the sermon is over!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 3 -
    Thanks to all who sent me a note and said they did not mind me going off on a tangent in yesterday's journal, and thanks to those who even supplied a little words of wisdom of their own, much appreciated.  I promise, I will not go there today, although I am at a loss for things to say tonight.  We did get more snow today.  Basically snowed all day, very lightly and less than an inch accumulated.  It was warm too!  We got to about 30 here in the Valley.
    I did not go for a ride today, but that was self imposed, as I needed to run some errands.  I really need to get down to view and take some pictures of the snow sculptures.  It is Winter Carnival week up here and they finished up with all the snow sculptures.  To say they are sculptures is a little inadequate as far as I am concerned.  They require all the artistic abilities of a sculpture, but some of them are 2 stories high and are bigger than a house!  An incredible amount of work goes into creating them.  Maybe tomorrow I will take a drive down and shoot some photos of them.  If not then surely early next week.
    Don't know when my next ride will be.  Maybe Sunday, as they are having some races down at the Range Sno Club and a friend will be down there racing  There are some rumors floating around of another ride next weekend, so that could be interesting.  I sure will be ready if it does play out.
    Before I forget.  Anybody up here on Sunday Feb. 13th, our club will be holding it's major fund raiser, a spaghetti dinner, at the Dreamland Bar from 12 until 6.  This is the main fund raiser and keeps the club financially afloat.  Our club is also the one who maintains the Dreamland Trails so those of you who have gone on those and had a good time, you know the money goes to good purposes.  I think that tickets are $5, you can get them at the door or even order ahead from me.  Anybody who is not going to be up here that day, but want to send a donation, that's cool too.
    Well, I am quite starved for new and exciting tails to tell, sorry.  Keep checking back, one of these days, I will have lots of new pictures and stories!  I promise.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 2 -
    "Plans are made... Plans change".  That is getting to be the theme for my riding this season.  I thought that at this moment, I would be zipping down the trails, enjoying the fresh snow that is falling right now, but alas, it was not to be.  My riding partner for tonight called me to tell me that he was too exhausted from his 200 mile ride yesterday and needed to make some repairs to his machine so he had to cancel.  I could have gone out alone, but did not really feel to comfortable doing so at night so elected to crank up the fireplace and stay home.
    Is I said, we are getting some snow right now.  Not a lot, much of it was wasted in the form of "virga" (precipitation which evaporates before reaching the ground).  Actually had bouts of virga all day and then at about 3:30 boom, it was snowing.  The virga had finally moistened the lower levels of the atmosphere enough to allow the flakes to reach the surface.  In about an hour we got an inch and it has tapered off to light snow right now.  Still nice to freshen up things around here.
    Took a day off from skiing and decided to rest the body.  I might even repeat this resting process tomorrow, as I think that my arms really needed it the most.  They were a little fatigued from Saturday's ride and then skiing Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  The hounds did not seem to mind a walk around the neighborhood instead of an excursion into the woods, they just seem to make the most of it.  Watching them enjoy themselves it got me to thinking how we humans always seem to be looking for more to make us happy.  I know in this journal I sound like I am living a life of total bliss.  I must admit, I am happier with my life than I have ever been and have much to be happy for.  But just like everyone else in our species, I have moments of sadness or anxiety that generally revolve around some sort of "missing element" in my life (more money, a female companion, new car, more snow!).  They are usually few and far between, but none the less do occur.  I combat these moments by using my own little therapeutic message that I came up with and have shared with some of my friends and that is:  You basically have two options in life - You can either be happy or not.  I know that might sound simplistic, but it is still the truth.  No matter where any one of us is in our lives, we can either be happy or not, it's our choice.
    I usually do a lot of my thinking on my walks.  Seeing the dogs having a fun time and walking on the roads caused me to come up with another little saying, and it goes like this:  There are no roads to happiness, happiness is the road.  As a really weird coincidence, a good friend of mine sent me an e mail with a inspirational message that had some very similar wording to it.  Some unique forces working in this universe of ours!
    Well, I realize that this entry is not what most of you were expecting and if any of you were disappointed I am sorry that I did not have any unique tails to tell from the Keweenaw, maybe tomorrow.  I do hope that maybe my little bit of inspirational thoughts had a positive effect on some of you.  Many have sent me notes saying I am living their dreams.  I do realize that, as I am living out my dream.  I am looking forward being able to share my dream with someone special.  For now, I will enjoy sharing my dream life with all of you (don't worry, I will not stop sharing it when I meet that special girl!).
    I did manage to hike up to see what kind of condition the main trail was in by my house and it was not too bad.  It had not been groomed since yesterday and there were some bumps on it, but I would call them swells, rather than moguls, as they were far a part and only about 2-4" high.  I suppose that at 60 MPH they might seem a little closer together than when walking at 3 MPH, but still very manageable I would assume.  Tomorrow holds the promise of another possible ride, so who knows?  Until then...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
February 1 -
    Can't remember exactly how the saying goes, but I think that it is something like this: "The right tools make for easy work".  Climbed up on the roof to clear the other side this afternoon and after 45 minutes, it was all done.  A far cry from the 4+ hours the other side took with the wrong "tools".  I think that I might even have come up with ways to improve upon the current design of the snow scoop (yooper scooper).  I am always thinking on ways to simplify and improve the performance of my tasks.  I think it comes from my dad who is great at inventing little ways of doing things.  As a kid, I was always amazed at the devices he was able to conjure up or the things that he built.  As an adult, my amazement's have not stopped.  At the youthful age of 70, he still is designing things and finding out ways to get the mission accomplished with swifter and easier abilities.  I will look into improving my scooper and let you know if I succeed.
    Not much else exciting happened today.  Mother nature eased me off the snow gently.  The day dawned with light, but steady snow falling.  As the day progressed, the snows became even lighter and more sporadic and by sunset, it was clear.  If the clear skies hold overnight, we are in for a cold one tomorrow AM.
    It has been almost a week since we had what I would call "measurable snow", even though we did get an inch through the course of the evening before and all day yesterday.  I guess that my transformation into a Yooper is taking hold, as an inch of snow does not even seem to be measurable snow anymore!  I must admit, I am getting a little stir crazy for the next real snow to arrive.  This current pattern we are in is not a whole lot of fun.  To make matters worse, I anxiously download the most recent run of computer models every morning, only to see the pattern essentially repeated day after day after day for the future.  Not exactly a pick me upper!  I know that all things change and this pattern too will pass.  It is just getting to me, especially as the winter was so late in arriving here this year.  I just need to be a little more grateful for what I have is all.  110"+ for the season thus far is not too shabby.  Most places in the Midwest would dream (or freak) at having that much fall all season.  This January did produce fairly close to average snowfall and we are only about 45-65" behind the average for this time of the year so I guess things are not really too bad.
    The trails are in good shape.  I did not ride, but took a walk up to #3 and it was in good shape.  Some sleds rode by as we were up there and they were not bouncing around at all.  I have a ride planned for tomorrow evening.  The promise of decent trails is good news as I believe we will be sticking to the DNR trails for the most part.  It will actually be a nice change of pace from all the bush riding I have done lately.  Although, given the choice, I will still choose the bush.  Speaking of that, I do believe that I have developed an addiction to riding the bush.  Ever since my ride last Saturday, I have felt a burning desire to get out there and do it again.  I have talked to some of the other riders and unfortunately, they do not share in my feelings.  Oh well, looks like I will have to try and get in touch with some other bush riders soon!
    Well, I think that will about do it for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -