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