Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
January 30, 2001-
    Well, tonight's entry is sure going to be one for the snowmobilier.  Some of the other KSE guides and I went out for a ride today.  We had plans on scouting some new pathways through the bush, but decided to just go have fun instead, and fun we had.  First I guess I can talk about the weather a bit.  We got the storm that a lot of the Midwest got.  The precip started at about 1 AM this morning and started out as freezing rain.  It came down as freezing rain for about 5 1/2 hours and then at 5:40 it changed to snow and we picked up a quick three inches by about 9 am.  Then we were in and out of snow most of the day, occasionally mixed with some freezing drizzle.  Not much new has fallen since this morning.
    As I headed off to meet the guides, I was riding down the DNR trail for a bit and the wet snow was still sticking to all the trees and I thought that it would be good to take a picture of the trail and frosted trees.  You can't tell from the picture, but the trail was tolerable.  The groomer did not go out.  They do not like to go out when the temps are warm.  I guess they figure it is a waste of time, as the snow will not set up and only gets bumped up soon after the groomer goes through.  I don't really agree with that, but then again, I am not driving the groomer either, so I will just shut up and get back to the ride.
    As mentioned, the ride was to be just for fun.  I was riding with Brian, Dave (one of the guides yet to make it into the journal until today) and Dave's brother Todd.  Dave really knows the woods near his house and that is where we played all afternoon.  We were out there for over three hours and never put more than about 5-6 miles on.  But I am worn out.  I suppose that today's riding would be called Technical Extreme.  Lots of hill climbs and fresh snow making it extreme, but also lots of things to hit, making it technical.  Those things to hit were trees, by the way.  Dave really has a fun time inventing ways to get through the woods and he is good at it.  Here is a shot of him leading us through.  Can you pick a line through the woods ahead of us?  We did continue on from there.  That was actually one of the more open areas we went through.
    It was really neat to be out there doing that kind of riding.  A lot of work, but you really put all of you skills to use.  Plus, there is enough snow out there to have most obstacles buried.  There are a few stumps, but they are fairly visible.  Anyway, here is a shot I took looking ahead to where we were riding.  As I mentioned, there was lots of hill climbing and lots of untracked snow.  That usually means one thing, lots of getting stuck.  Brian is actually standing in a hole in that picture.
    Every once in a while we would break out onto a logging road and man did that seem like it was a wide open field after riding through the trees.  We even stopped just to cool off a bit, it was warm.  Temps were around 30 and with that riding and digging out, you are basically soaking wet with sweat not too long into the ride. Here I am taking a break.
    We came upon a hill that presented us all a challenge.  It was not impossible to get up, but took several tries by each of us.  We all sort of picked a different line and then just went at it until we made it to the top.  Here is Dave after his first attempt.  Here's me making a try for the top.  If you look in the background behind me you can see what the hill looked like, some stumps, blow downs and standing trees and if you use your imagination, a way to the top.  I got stuck very soon after that shot was taken.  Here is Brian attempting to get up his line.  Here is a shot of the hill from a distance, with Brian stuck on the right and Dave stuck on the left and Todd leaning against the tree in the middle of them, deciding either who needed more help or who's sled was easier to get unstuck!
    Eventually we all made it to the top.  I think that it took each of us about 3 tries and Todd just followed one of the trails up.  Here is a shot of Dave blowing through the highmark of his previous attempt.  He made the top on this try.
    So it was a great ride.  It is fun to have to work so hard, but still have lots of fun.  I know my skills were put to the test and I even made strides in getting to the level that Brian, Dave and Al are at.  I doubt that I will ever fully catch up, but then again, I was not born with a snowmobile stuck to my rear end either.  This being only my second full year of serious riding, I am happy where I am at, but not satisfied.  If this looks like fun to you, then you can give KSE a ring and we will take you there to play.
    With a little luck I will have some deep powder shots to show by Thursday.  Right now all indications are for a serious LES event Wednesday night, Thursday and into Friday.  One can only hope!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
January 29, 2001-
    I'm afraid that today's journal will not be filled with stories and pictures of snow.  JW and I did take a ski yesterday, but I forgot the camera so no new pics.  We broke, or should I say re-broke, "our" trail up the valley.  It is amazing how some snow and wind can erase any tracks previously made.  There was not a single sign of our trail after the 6 1/2" of snow and wind we got Friday.  I was able to remember where the trail goes and for the most part we were able to go over the exact same areas.  I was trying to get over the exact same area so that the dogs would have a packed base to walk on and not have to fight through the deeper snow.  For the most part it worked.  Now I just need to get out there and try and keep it open with the snows we have headed our way in the next week.
    It really looks like a snowy period is headed our way beginning tomorrow and continuing through the next week to ten days.  I sure hope so.  We need to get up into the 40's for snow depth!  Keweenaw County has been there, but my max is 30", set back a few days before Christmas!
    So what did I do with my day off?  Well, first I think I need to say that it is not a true day off.  I do forecasting for the commodities markets and they have trading on Sunday nights and so I need to put out a forecast for those people, but I did get to sleep in and not have to worry about anything until Sunday afternoon.  So, besides the ski, this was my project for the day.  JW helped me bring the box in from the truck and we joked about how long it would take.  Her thought was 4-5 hours and mine was an hour, maybe an hour an a half.  After unloading all the pieces, I was worried that she might be closer than me in guessing how long it would take.
    I did not let the mass of parts spread all over the kitchen floor intimidate me and got right to it.  The directions were not the clearest and a few steps needed to be undone and done the right way, but soon I was deep into the process.  Bailey's saw that I was having so much fun and decided she wanted to come and help.  She sure does like to kiss her daddy!
    After a somewhat rough start, things started to come together and I began to get better at deciphering the directions and the grill began to look like a grill.  Here is an action photo!  Here I am with both hands and my mouth busy in the process.  I think JW liked it best when my mouth was busy helping.  Before long I was on the final stages of assembly and the job was done in about an hour and a half.  I even had parts left over!
    JW had to go home and get ready for the Super Bowl part we were going to, but I decided to fire it up and see how she worked!  I made sure to get it far enough away from the house so that if it blew up, it would not take the house along with it.  A few clicks of the igniter and poof, the flames were shooting out of the burners and a burger was grilling and chilling!  It's going to be very nice to be able to just fire that puppy up and not have to sit around and wait for the coals of my webber to get going, especially in the winter.  I suppose I will hang onto the webber just in case I run out of propane or something, but right now my webber is buried under about 2-3 feet of snow and will not be seen until April.
    Today was a busy day, updating 3 guest shots, all the forecast elements, snow cover maps and even some Ask John's.  I did manage to take the hounds for a walk.  It was flirting with the freezing mark all day so skiing was not really part of the program with the possibility of sticky snow.  I did manage to get up and take a pic of the snowmobile trail.  I found the conditions to be somewhere between good and tolerable, not really one or the other, but a blend of the two.  That means that your riding would have had been impacted to some degree, but not enough to be considered too much of an impact.  Some sleds were flying by as we walked up to it, so they were not impacted much, but I bet they were feeling a few of the bumps.  The snow quality was pretty decent too, the snows last Friday really helped keep the quality up through the weekend traffic.  It also looked like the trail had been groomed in the past 24 hours.
    Guess that will do it for now.  I have plans for a fun ride tomorrow and will bring the cam.  Two other guides and I are planning to do some scouting and that always leads to some fun.  I am a bit concerned, as I feel like I am coming down with a cold.  Lots of sleep and lots of liquid and with a little luck I will not have to sit that one out.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
January 27, 2001-
    My apologies for the lack of a journal yesterday, but our tour yesterday really went well, maybe too well.  We ended up in Copper Harbor well after sunset and had dinner.  By the time I got home, I was pretty much comatose and not up for sitting down to do a journal.  Another apology I have is that I only have two pics of the ride.  I guess I was having too much fun to remember, or even stop, to take a picture.  Part of the fun was the fact that it was snowing pretty good the whole ride and 6-8" new must have come down while we were out.  In some areas, we were sinking up to our waists in new snow.  Here is a shot of the whole gang on a rest break.  12 sleds in all.
    Even with that amount of sleds, we made pretty good time and put on a lot of miles for our kind of riding.  Most of the tours will give about 50-60 miles of riding in 8 hours.  Just remember, it's not the quantity that counts, but the quality.  We did have a few moments of stuckness.  One I just had to get a shot of because this guy does not get stuck very often.  It is not because he doesn't try, it is just that he is able to get through just about anything.  Well, about a month an a half ago I posted a pic showing that cat's don't like the water, I am here to say that cat's don't like the mud either.  That shot was actually taken after it took 3 of us 15 minutes to pull it out of the mud.  The sled was stuck up to the lettering on the back of the seat.  And stuck in mud, not just water.  The track would not even spin it was buried so deep.  After we got it out, mud was falling out of the suspension for the next 4-5 miles of the ride.  Anyway, the main thing was that AL GOT STUCK!  HA!  We won't even get into how many times I got stuck, I need to finish this before the weekend is up.  But hey, if you are not getting stuck, you are not having fun.  Right?
    So a great ride was had by all.  I have some war wounds that I am nursing right now, but should be back to 100% soon.  I hope to get out a few times this week and just play.  Maybe find some new routes to take all of you on.  But for now, I will let the main event of the evening commence.  JW has been warming up in the bull-pen and is raring to go.  She thinks that no one wants to hear what she has to say, but I know that nothing is further from the truth.  I am just going to let her at it and give her free reign.  I may regret that, as all my secrets will finally be revealed, or not, but either way.... Here's JW!
    Hey everyone.  This is not my idea.  John is so worn out from all the crazy riding he's done this past week that he's incredibly lazy right now.  His KSE guide stuff has really taken off and so after getting up at 5 a.m. and working all day, he goes out and basically works out for 3-4 hours.  I had my first ride on his snowmobile last weekend and I can't believe how hard they are to drive.  It's a bit of a rough ride on the straight away, but then try to turn one of those things - it was soooo hard to do.  I guess you have to lean a lot.  Well, I'm waiting till they come out with power steering before I go out again.  I think we're going to try to get out for an afternoon sometime soon and I'm looking forward to it, but I don't think it'll get under my skin like it is with John.
     John did muster up enough energy to go shopping this afternoon though - for a gas grill.  I know, I know - it's January, but the ole Weber is under 2 feet of snow and he's been wanting one for a long time.  The guy lives to eat you guys and he he's gonna put the thing in his garage.  His car will probably end up in the driveway.  I'm encouraging him to buy some extra home owners insurance.  That thing'll be fired up every night I guarantee it!  He is totally pumped and if he wasn't so tired and sore, he'd be putting that thing together right now.  But...it's still in his truck, but I'm sure it'll be up and running by tomorrow.  Let's just hope that the neighbors don't hear the swearing and that there's not too many extra parts left over.
      Anyway, I think I'll go.  Needless to say, we aren't going out to cut the rug later.  I'm afraid that he's fallen asleep on me as I type.  But there's a great fire in the fireplace and hopefully a little bit of cuddling in store before he hits the wall.  We're going for a ski tomorrow with Burt and Baileys on our trail (John says it's his trail but I'm staking some claim to it as I've been right there with him many of the trail blazing expeditions) and I'll make sure he takes his camera.  I'll try to get some nice pics of him.  Not sure when we'll get out skiing again but hopefully sometime this week.  It's supposed to be pretty warm and that makes night skiing really fun.  We're heading to a Super Bowl party tomorrow night - hope you all have one to go to as well and have a great night.
Good night from the Keweenaw!
- JD &JW-
January 24, 2001-
    Well, the storm was a dud.  I awoke to about 3" new and it was snowing pretty good and at that point all systems looked go.  The radar was all aglow, the satellite imagery was indicating some decent banding and it looked like we were on track for at least 6-8", maybe more.  Only one problem.  Mother nature had other ideas.  About 7 am the snows tapered off and never got going again.  A total of 3.5".  I was pretty bummed.  The weird thing was that all day yesterday I had this funny feeling that the storm was going to fizzle out.  Of course, I cannot really go with just gut feelings like that for my official forecast, because those gut feelings have proved me wrong sometimes too.  However, it is just strange how I could not shake the feeling that we would not get too much new snow and that is what happened.  Oh well, win some, loose some, I guess.  More snow is on the way soon so I will just look to the future and not dwell on the past.
    Went out on a tour today.  We had a rider who holds the furthest from home title so far.  He lives in Dallas TX and heard about KSE and just had to make the trip.  Well, actually, he lives in Dallas, was coming up to ride the trails in the western UP and heard about KSE and decided to give us a whirl.  I think he had a good time, I know I did, we saw some neat things.
    We dod some riding in the valley first.  That is always fun because where we go there, no one knows about and you can always find fresh snow.  We spent about 15 minutes playing in some powder out at Brian's house while he did a quick tightening of the track on his sled.  Then we headed north up the valley, into Copper City, then over to Allouez and the up to the top of Bumbletown Hill.  Here is a shot from on top of the hill looking at Ahmeek, Mohawk and Fulton.  If you walk around to the other side of the hill, you can look out over Lake Superior.  The area of white along the shoreline is the ice pack which is building along the shore.  It is very unstable and unsafe and will break free and drift away if the winds and currents work out just right.  If you look just along the horizon, just to the left of the tree sticking above the horizon, you will see a sliver of white.  That is actually Isle Royal.  It was more visible to the eye than the camera, but I am glad that the sliver of white was able to be seen with the shot.  It just amazes me that we can see something so far away, and to also think that some of the LES we get actually forms over the lake between the Keweenaw and Isle Royal.  That is not the best "fetch" for us to get lots of lake effect, but we do get it.  Actually, if Isle Royal was not there, I bet our snowfall totals would be about 10-15% higher than they are now.
    I always like to bring the camera along on the tours.  I did not do that with the first two and am sorry.  You folks will just have to come back up and do it again so I can put you in.  Plus I have only been meaning to say hi to the guys from Lake Geneva for a month and have just plain forgot.  Sorry!  Anyway, here is a shot a Texan in the Keweenaw.  1300 miles, he drove, by himself, trailing a sled!  Holy wa!,  and I thought I was nuts about this place!
    From Bumbletown we headed to the north shore to do some riding and then came upon the mouth of the Black River.  If you want to continue up the shoreline, you need to cross the river, so that is just what we did.  Here is a Texan, in the Keweenaw, riding his sled across water.  Here is a meteorologist, living in the Keweenaw, crossing the river.
    A little further up the shoreline you get to the mouth of the Gratiot River.  Here is a shot taken back a few months ago, for the entry dated Nov 5th 2000, before the snow.
    From there we road the bush up to Eagle River.  That was a fun ride, breaking trail in spots and seeing lots of scenery I have not seen in almost a year.  That last shot was looking down where we had already been.  Fun trail.  I want to go back there and take some others I saw and see where they go.
    Once in Eagle River, we stopped to say hi to some of the locals. Then it was up to Eagle Harbor for dinner and then back home.  Another successful trip, all returned safe and sound.  I have two trips in the next two days.  I think that they will be some fun riding too.  Some place I have never been, or at least that is the plan.  We'll see, but I am looking forward to it.  I can say that I seriously doubt that there will be an entry tomorrow, just to save you all the bother of checking in.  I suppose if something really dramatic happens, then I might put up a quick one, but otherwise talk to you Friday or maybe Saturday at the latest.  Who knows, maybe I will even have a "guest" writer in the next entry.  Any guesses who that might be?  I won't name any names, but her initials are "JW".  Hope I did not give it away!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 23, 2001-
    Oops, I just caught yesterday's mistake, I did not have the right date for yesterday's entry.  Oh well, I fixed it and have the correct one for today.  As I type this, I am a bit on pins and needles.  A fairly decent LES event is poised to strike tonight and into tomorrow.  The possibility for up to 12" of snow exists.  That would be just what the doctor ordered!  I tell you what, being a meteorologist does not help any when it comes to worrying if the storm will hit or not.  In fact, in some way's it makes it worse.  I had to run some errands today and everywhere I went, people asked me: "Are we going to get hit?", "Is that storm really coming?".  So I also have the added pressure of trying to bring about a forecast that is correct for the public, not just me.  I'm trying to down play it a bit, because it seems like people can sure get worked up when a Winter Storm Watch/Warning is posted.  We are currently under a watch, but the NWS is just getting ready to update their forecast and I would speculate they will upgrade things to a warning in the next 30-40 minutes.  A few flakes have just started to fly, nothing major at all.  You actually have to look pretty hard to see them, but they are flying.  That is a good sign, as things are really not suppose to get going until later this evening and really be in full gear by tomorrow morning.
    I decided since I was already in Calumet for some of my afternoon business that I may as well take the afternoon ski out along the north shore.  I knew that it would be windy.  It is not too cold right now, only 28, but west winds are blowing at 25, with higher gusts.  My plan was to ski southwest into the wind and then have it at my back on the way back to the car.  The plan worked, as I was able to make about twice as good time on the way back as I did on the way there.
    It was really a fun ski.  The wind made things a bit challenging, but I liked it.  It made me feel like I was actually roughing it a little.  Usually the skis are not all that challenging.  Fun and beautiful, but not always challenging.  Today was different.  Plus it is neat to be at a place where nothing but some deer, coyote and an occasional snow shoe hare or bobcat have been since last fall.  The dogs had a blast running across the hard pack snow and sniffing all the tracks left behind by the animals before us.  I had fun watching them, battling the elements and also admiring mother natures handiwork of drifts and snow sculptures around the boulders and driftwood on the beach.  In a few weeks I will be showing you the man made snow sculptures of Michigan Tech's Winter Carnival, but today you will get to see mother natures work.
    The pictures do not really do the sights I saw true justice.  For one I was a little pressed for time and could not set up the shots as well as I would have liked and also, my talents as a photographer are not as good as I would like them to be.  Anyway, I cam across an area where the wind blowing around a rock had kept things clear near the base of the rock.  I though it was unique to see the smooth rocks of the shoreline exposed and blended in with the drifted snow.
    It is also neat to be in a place that is so vastly different looking in the winter than in the summer.  In the summer, this is my place of refuge to get away from any heat, with the winds blowing off the cool waters of Lake Superior.  In the winter, it is a place of almost arctic solitude.  The "shoreline" is pushed far out into the lake as the waves build the ice castles.  It is also a place fairly sterile to signs of life, except for the trees and the occasional track from an animal of the UP.
    On days like today, you do not need the snow sculptures created by the wind to know how windy it can get out there, but on calm days, sights like this will help to prove that this is not a place for those who like life cozy and easy.  Maybe in the summer, but not in the winter.  Here is one more that I hope helps you to feel the chill and purity of the air out there today.  That is one thing that is great about things here in the winter (well besides the tons of snow), the air is almost always crystal clean.  I think that it has a healing effect, not just for the body but for the mind as well.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 22, 2001-
    Thanks to all who have responded with support and appreciation for my work.  I am feeling better about things.  Still not 100%, but better.
    Not a whole lot new to talk about.  Pretty quiet day weather wise.  I hoping it to be the calm before the storm.  Looks like a pretty decent lake effect event is shaping up for later tomorrow into Wednesday.  Not a huge dumping, but still 4-8" or possibly more.  That could provide some fun stuff to play in later this week.  There are tours booked for the rest of the week and I plan to ride Wed, Thur and Fri.  Maybe even some weekend playing with the guys.  They were talking about a really intense place to ride and when those guys start saying it it intense, it is.  Most of the stuff we ride around here they consider pretty much a ride in the woods.  The only problem is it is not right close by so we should really trailer there.  I know I am going to try my best to get us there before the season is up.  But maybe next Sunday we can just go for a local ride, I can take a group photo of the whole group of guides and then some decent action shots.
    One of the things I have been meaning to put on the journal is some of the statistics relating to visit activity.  I now have access to a log file for the site and I actually plan to put up a page that will display the numbers, but for now I will just put them up here.  The log file breaks the time periods down into weeks, months and then total time period.  The first stat I can put up is the total hit counts since November 12, 2000.  That number is 3,439,612.  Yes almost 3 1/2 million.  The hit count for December 2000 was 1.75 million and so far for January it is 888,375.  Now, to be fair about things, "hit" counts are not the best way to show how much traffic a site gets.  It is a good way to make it sound like a site is getting tons of traffic through, but a "hit" count is not actually how many times someone has gone to the site or how many people have gone to a site.  It is how many items have been down loaded from a sites server.  More plainly put, when you go to a page and that page is comprised of, let's say, some text and 3 images.  That page would register 4 "hits"; one for the page (the text and other html elements like tables, background colors, text fonts, text colors, etc.) and 3 for each image.  So some sites have pages with up to 30 images on them.  They are usually small and load really fast and are also usually links or buttons, but still they will still give a single page a hit count of 30 or more.  My site is not quite as aggressive with images/page but still has it's fare share of images, so hit counts are not the best way to determine what the true traffic is.
    The best way to determine what the true traffic is to look at either numbers of visitors or even page requests.  Last year the server I was on gave me a count of the number of individuals coming to the site and it was 4500 per day.  2500 were one time visits/day people and 2000 were multi visit/day people.  I do not have that type of info available to me now, but I do have the number of page requests which will give a very good representation of the traffic to the site.
    The number of page requests since Nov 12, 2000 is 1,304,007.  Or just over 1.3 million.  The number of page requests in the past 7 days has been 115,946.  The average number of page requests per day is 18,617.  So there are more than just a few of you coming to this site.  For that I am really happy.  Really, really, really happy!  It would be nice to have more income generated from it, and that is a total possibility.  But for now, to know that so many people enjoy and make use of the site is important and enough satisfaction for me.
    A breakdown of activity by day shows that Tuesday is the busiest day, followed by Thursday, Monday, Friday, then Sunday and bringing up the rear, Saturday.  Looks like a lot of you are using it to help you plan trips, which is one of the main services I wanted this site to serve.  The busiest time of the day for the site is between 9 am and 1 pm, which makes perfect sense as this is when most of it is updated!  Although it is fairly steady into the afternoon and evening hours too.
    Other info provided to me is what the domain type the visitors internet providers are, and that is a no brainer, with most having .com, then .net and .edu.  Of that, aol is the biggest recognized provider, followed by home.com, but almost 25% are not recognized by my server, or is an "unresolved numerical address".
    Here is some info for the computer programmer fan.  A breakdown of operating systems:
1: 3176869: Windows
  : 1763499:   Windows 98
  :  709755:   Windows 95
  :  541522:   Windows NT
  :  140087:   Windows 2000
  :   15202:   Unknown Windows
  :    3759:   Windows 3.1
  :    2606:   Windows 32-bit
  :     367:   Windows 16-bit
  :      72:   Windows CE
 2:  101062: OS unknown
 3:   81367: Macintosh
  :   80521:   Macintosh PowerPC
  :     832:   Macintosh 68k
  :      14:   Unknown Macintosh
 4:   57963: Unix
  :   27595:   SunOS
  :   13606:   IRIX
  :   10837:   HP-UX
  :    4300:   Linux
  :    1289:   AIX
  :     168:   FreeBSD
  :      98:   Other Unix
  :      62:   NetBSD
  :       5:   BSD/OS
  :       3:   OSF1
 5:   18249: WebTV
 6:     805: OS/2
 7:       1: BeOS
    All the other stuff is things like error codes and other non interesting mumbo jumbo that I will not bore you with, but I hope that you have found this interesting.  I thought it was pretty cool.  I need to put this into an organized format so when I do try and make some sales for advertising, I can blow businesses away with the info.  I think I have the ammo now.  Anyone want to be a sales person for Johndee.com?  I can't pay very well right now, but the commissions would be fantastic!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 21, 2001-
    Well, I just got of the phone with JW.  I am in a crabby, feel sorry for myself mood.  NOT, I REPEAT NOT because I just talked to JW, that was actually very therapeutic for me.  No, I just am just a little burnt out is all.  I will say that it was her idea to tell you all that I am so crabby and out of sorts though.  I have always thought that you all did not want to hear me complain on this journal, but she said that I should, that I should show all sides of me.  I will not get too out of hand and even just typing what I have so far has helped me feel better so who knows maybe by the end of this entry, I will be feeling all better.
    I really don't have anything to complain about, especially weather wise.  More snow overnight and some flakes have been flying all day.  The week ahead looks to bring more snow and by next weekend, things could really get good around here so I guess I am just a little burnt out in the day to day activities.  JW said that when she started checking into the site and reading the journals she thought that it took me just an hour or so to keep the site alive and now that she has spent time with me she cannot believe how much time I spend on it.  It does work out to be 2-4 hours a day on average.  That in addition my regular work.  Plus it is a 7 day a week operation.  I have backed off updating the snow cover maps and some other things on the weekends, but I still feel it important to update the forecasts.  Don't get me wrong, I am not holding any of you responsible, and it is a labor of love, but still I can get a little burned out and today is one of those days.  I guess that I am also not looking forward to a new work week either.
    Switching gears now, off the griping and onto the sharing of the beauty of the Keweenaw, I took the hounds for a walk prior to my down hill ski adventure yesterday.  I really wanted them to be able to run around off leash so I decided to just walk my cross country ski trail.  We have packed the trail down pretty well and I had no problem walking it.  It was really a beautiful day, with a fresh blanket of snow and sunshine to make it all light up.
    My plan was to walk the section of the trail that I have blazed and follow it until it hooked up with the section that another guy has blazed and then follow his trail back to the neighborhood.  Following my trail was not a problem at all, as we did not have enough snow fall to cover it up, although there was a few inches of fluff in the track.  The plan worked and we found our way back to the village.  I then gave the hounds their treats and headed over to the ski hill for some turns.
    This is where JW was to write the rest of the journal, but she had things to do this afternoon, so was unable to do so.  It was a cool day yesterday, cool enough for the snow guns to be going up on the hill.  JW and I skied over to one so that I could get a shot taken next to one.  I have always wanted one of these things.  Even living here, I could go for one, just to pile the snow so deep, I can barely look out my window!
    I then spent the rest of the day trying to keep up with JW.  I keep inventing new reasons to not be able to keep up with her, but am running out.  Looks like I will just have to try harder at keeping up with her!  Yesterday had a few patches of ice on the hill, most likely a result of the thaw last weekend and the cold temps ever since.  Only a small section was icy, but it was also one of the steepest areas on the hill we were skiing.
    I'm getting better and better each time I go out, it is just one of those things that I need more time to do.  I wish I could just take the winter off and play!  Anyway, here is a shot of me doing 1 thing right, 1 thing ok and 1 thing wrong.  Anybody know what those are?  The one thing right is my shoulders square to the fall line, or the slope of the hill.  The one thing I am doing ok is to bend my knees, but they should be bent more.  The one thing I am doing wrong is to be too far back on my skis.  I should be leaning forward more.  That is my main problem, leaning too far back on my skis.
    JW got her first ride on a snowmobile today.  She did really well.  It was not the best of conditions for the first time.  She was in a big open field, with about 6-8" of fresh powder on it.  Hard to turn very well, but it seemed like she had a good time.  Who knows, maybe she'll get the bug and we'll have a new guide soon!
    Well, looks like I am at the end of my writing for today.  The batteries are charging on the camera, otherwise, I would have JW take some shots of me skating tonight.  She is still a bit shy and still does not want her picture posted to the net.  I did take one of her on my sled today.  She did not like it so it got the nix.  Sorry.  We'll get one up soon, maybe.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 19, 2001-
    This will be a short one I promise.  Not that you want me to promise it, but I do not have a bunch to write about and I have to get ready for dinner and a hockey game.  Yep, a hockey game.  Division 1 college hockey that is, highest level in the nation.  Going to go and see tech play someone, I'll have to wait until a future journal to say just who.  I will be fun though, I love hockey.
    I did not take a ride today.  I was to meet up with the full day tour in the afternoon, but one of the sleds on the tour (not the guides) had some mechanical problems and so they cut it short.  That was ok with me, as I got to get caught up on some stuff and also got to partake in the walk that the hounds went on with JW.
    It has been a cold day, with temps around 10 most of the day.  The wind also made for a very honest outdoors walk.  I think that the wind chill was about 20 below or so.  As much as I love the snow, I do not like the really cold air.  That is another bonus about living here, we usually do not see too much in the way of bitterly cold air.  Today was not bitterly cold, but my threshold for comfort it about 15 degrees.  After that it is not bad if the wind is not blowing, but today's wind was too much.  Cut the walk a little short.  We have been in and out of LES flurries and showers all day.  Not much new, about 1/2 inch or so, but still neat to see the flakes fly.
    I did get on my sled long enough to ride it to my friends to get the track tightened.  It was new this season and I felt a slip yesterday, so  we tightened it up a bit.  I also managed to take the trail home from his place so that I could give you a report of what about a mile of the trail near Lake Linden was like.  I can report to you that it was between poor and tolerable.  Now before everyone gets all worried, it is my suspicion that the groomer out of Lake Linden has not been down that yet, YET.  I say yet because I think that he went to do the Lake Linden to Gay trail, as we were on it yesterday and it needed it.  Then I bet he went to Calumet first then was circling down to Hancock before coming back up here.  I could have proved my suspicions by riding the trail another 1/2 mile or so, but did not.  I actually just forgot and jumped off the trail, sorry.
    I can also say that if it were groomed, it would be in good to excellent shape, as the cold temps and quality of the snow would hold up very well.  So areas that have been groomed are likely doing very well, and that is not the "chamber" talking.  Although I must also ad that our tourism council does not usually say things are good unless the groomers say it is.  They get their reports right form the groomers and pass it along.
    Well, I am about out of things to say and have to make myself as presentable as possible for my evening's affairs, so I guess this will do it for today.  I am hoping to put together a scouting trip this weekend with some of the other guides.  We have lots of trips booked in the next 2 1/2 weeks and it would be nice to have lots of places to take all of you that are coming.  Plus it would be fun to do some exploring!  I'll keep you posted.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 18, 2001-
    Don't know how to start this one, so I may as well jump right in.  More snow today.  We got about 2-3" with a frontal passage this morning and the lake effect kicked in about noon or so and has been going pretty good since then.  Looks to be about 3" new since noon and the LES machine might just keep going like it is all night, which might mean another 3-6" by tomorrow am.  Can't complain about that.
    Had a tour today, I joined up with them in the afternoon after my work.  I also was able to sneak in a quick walk around the neighborhood with the dogs before the ride.  It was really nice to be pelted in the face with the snowflakes as I walked.  A little psycho I realize, but I'll take snow just about anyway I can get it.  I really have to work on being more appreciative of it though.  When it comes, I am happy, but am almost always wishing for it to come down harder.  Then when it is coming down really hard, I wish that it would do that for a long time.  It has been snowing hard all day and I should really be happier than I am about it.  The conditions are really pretty good too.  A very solid base and now we have picked up over a foot since temps got cold last Sunday.  Not too shabby.
    Like I say, the hounds and I took a short walk around the hood this afternoon.  Came across an interesting sight.  One of the homes in the neighborhood must have had it's roof warm up during the thaw and that caused the blanket of snow on it to sluff down.  Only it did so at a slow enough pace that the snow sliding off the sides of the roof did not break off.  The result is a curl of snow that almost reaches from the roof's edge to the ground.
    I also decided to walk up to the main snowmobile trail that runs right by the village to see what kind of shape it was in and found it to be in good shape.  With just an average winter from here on out, we should be grooming well into March and likely riding into April.  It would be fun to shoot for the record, but with the first 10 days of January being a dud snow wise, I doubt that the record for the season will be broken this year, but we are already ahead of last years total and a lot of winter still remains.
    So after the walk, I hopped on the sled and headed out to hook up with the tour.  I took the scenic route, which turned out to be a little more scenic that I had planned.  I was following one of the local trails and suddenly found myself breaking my own trail.  I was making excellent time, have lots of fun being the first one down, maybe all year, but also figured that the trail must not hook up with anything or else someone would have gone down it.  My fears were realized, when it came to a dead end and I had to turn around.  Luckily I did not have to manually turn the sled around and could just make a tight U turn.  Got back on the right trail and made it to the bar in Gay to hook up with the tour.  We then made the preverbal stop on the sands to play in the gullies for a few minutes.  Took out the camera to get some more jumping shots, but none of them really turned out too well.  Here is someone from the tour coming off the jump.  Snapped the shot a little too late to catch his air.  Then I got the idea to have the group hit the jump all at once.  Sounded like a good plan, but in reality, the first sled kicked up a big cloud of snow and that blocked out the others.
    A little later down the trail, we stopped for a pit stop and I managed to get a group photo.  A good group of riders.  All from Minnesota.
    Have another tour tomorrow.  I will be hooking up with them in the afternoon again so hopefully some new shots.  Maybe even of some hoods and windshields covered in fresh powder.  Keeping those fingers crossed.
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 16, 2001-
    Winter has returned to the Keweenaw.  Actually it did Sunday night, with snow piling up to about 5".  The cold temps that were most important arrived yesterday evening and today we have been in lake effect snow showers all day.  Only picked up an inch, but still nice to have the flakes flying all day!  All is nice and white again and it is also really nice not to have the Chinese water torture dripping from my roof anymore.  Even the crunch of ice and snow under foot is a wonderful sound.  Although I did not have to wear the deep snow boots for my front of house shot today.  Haven't had to wear them for over a week now, kind of a bummer.  By the way, does that last pic get the "best pic of the year award" or what.  Nice old beaters on the left EH?!  Oh well, you want to know what my life if like up here so that is some reality, my stinky old boots!
    The groomers are out and I would imagine that the trails will be in pretty great shape soon, if they already aren't.  I did cross over the one local trail today and it was in pretty good shape.  Not excellent, but still not too bad.  You can see a few bumps if you follow the lines the skis made on the trail.
    JW and I took to the woods to try and "pank" down some more of my local ski trail.  The other guy who lives in the neighborhood and goes out on snow shoes has been going out as well so we are slowly but surely getting it broken in today.  It was actually almost ideal conditions out there, with the solid base down now, thanks to the thaw last week and the cold temps now.  The snow is still deep though.  Too deep for the hounds to easily get through at times.  I have been accused of spoiling the dogs, but I have to take exception to that.  I mean, just because I carry them through the deeper spots does not mean that I baby them.  Actually that was more of a joke.  I did not carry her far.  About 10 yards and then had to put her back down.  She is fairly large boned as they say.  Of course, Burt was feeling left out, so I carried him too.
    I really love to get out into the bush on my skis.  The sled is lots of fun, but I never get a chance to really look at things.  On skis, you almost have no choice.  You are always looking for ways to get through.  The trail I blaze really goes through some beautiful country and today with the light flakes falling, it was a 9 out of 10 day.  A ten would have been near white out conditions, of course!
    We got to another favorite place of mine so JW snapped a shot of me and the hounds.  We are actually standing on a creek bed.  It is not much of a creek in the summer, more of a slough, but still, there is such a huge difference in the look to this place in the winter it is amazing.  Here is another shot a little further up the "trail", what you just looked at is where the trail goes.
    I had received some questions as to the status of our snow conditions and depth up here.  We really did not loose much snow in the thaw.  It just settled a little further.  However, for those who are disbelievers, here is a shot of me standing in a low spot in the snow.  This spot naturally occurred, I did not do any digging, but it does show how deep it still is out in the woods.
    We took a side track to check out the Traprock River.  There is a horse shoe bend in the river and it is a really neat place to go and take it all in.  With the wide panoramic view, I though that one picture would not do it justice, so I decided to take a panorama of pictures.  I did not have a tripod and I must have one leg shorter than the other because it turned out to be tilted.  Plus the camera did not give each picture the same lighting, so it is not the best panorama I have done, but I hope you enjoy the view of Winter on the Traprock anyway.
    No riding today and none planned for tomorrow, but both Thursday and Friday I look to be heading out so hopefully I will have some fun snowmobile pics to share.  I know one thing is for sure.  When we do get some fresh powder to play in, I an not just going to let it sit around like I did a few weeks ago.  I though that the way December was going, this winter would provide ample deep powder days.  There is still a lot of time for more, at least 6-8 weeks, but this little respite from the big snow days has put a new attitude in me and I will not let future dumps waste away!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 14, 2001-
    Mother nature sure has been messing with my head recently!  I was doing fine with the thaw and lack of snow until about Thursday, then Friday started to get to me and yesterday was really getting me down and by this morning, I was really down.  It is funny how just a few days without snow and temps above freezing can get to me.  Plus, some new guest shots came in that were taken up here just about a week and a half ago when there was tons of fresh powder up here and I just could not believe that things could change so much so fast.  I suppose the biggest problems with this was the fact that this is the middle of January, technically our snowiest and coldest period!  We have actually not lost a lot of snow.  It has become very packed down and, in reality, if (or I better say WHEN) we see more snow, we will have an awesome base for the fresh powder to pile up on.
    The only thing that has kept my spirits up through the past several days has been the forecast which was promising new snows to arrive by today and then continue just about every day through the upcoming week.  Maybe not any huge dumps of snow, but it is quite possible that by next weekend, this area could have picked up 12-18" new snow.  That may sound like a huge dumping for most areas of the Midwest, but for this area, that is about average, maybe even a touch below for this time of the year.  The forecast seems to be verifying so far, as the snows started at about 2 pm here and it has been coming down pretty good since.  It is still warm, about 32, so it is not accumulating as fast as it might if temps were colder, but it is still great to see the flakes flying and all the dirty snow is becoming white again.
    I have been trying to keep an eye on trail conditions up here, as they have been changing fairly rapidly.  I do not think that they groomed the trails yesterday because it was so warm.  At least the trails done by the Lake Linden groomer.  I cannot speak for the other groomers.  The lack of grooming and warm temps have taken their toll on conditions.  There were 1-2.5 foot moguls on the trail that I looked at this morning.  Still plenty of base, but lots of bumps.  This afternoon, the hounds and I took a walk and on the way, I stopped by the trail crossing to snap a few shots.  Just as I was getting out of the car, a set of 4 sleds drove by and by the time I could get into position to shoot, they were already several hundred yards down the trail.  By their speed, the groomer must have been down since this morning, or that was just an area where the bumps were not as bad, because they were moving!  Anyway, I believe that a picture says a thousand words, so here is 1000 words looking south at the sleds riding away and here is 1000 more looking north.  So as you can see, there is still plenty of snow up here.  I still have about 2 feet on the ground in my yard and there is at least 3 feet down to the north and in the higher elevations.  We just need some cooler temps to allow the grooming to set up the trails.  Plus some new snow to get everything looking nice and fresh.  Those two elements look to be on their way this week for sure and likely beyond.
    The hounds and I decided to head to the north shore this afternoon.  Yes they are part of the decision making process, although I suppose I could ask: "Do you want to go for a WALK on the moon?" and they would agree that it was a good idea, sort of keying in on the "walk" part.  So we headed off to one of my favorite places on the north shore the area between the Calumet and Tamarack Waterworks.  The ice castles have been busy building and there is now about 100 yards of ice piled up 20-30 feet thick along the shore.  I do not venture out onto the castles, as there could be areas where it is not safe, but I do know where the shoreline is and can walk there.  I will even ski there sometimes, but not today.  Here is a shot looking south.
    As I mentioned, I did not bring my skis and I did not have my gaiters on, plus I pulled a fairly strategic muscle in my upper leg area on Friday's ride so I did not want to do much walking in the deep snow, even though it has packed down, so the hounds and I headed back to the road.  It worked out well, as the dogs had fun going off into the wood and smelling all the tracks left by the critters over the past several days.  Lots of deer sign, Burt's favorite.  That also worked out for me, as I did not have to put much effort into the walk, just walk a little, then stop and watch them haul off into the woods to check out what had been through before us.  We were even treated to a heard of deer crossing the road.  Burt actually saw them before me and took off in a full speed pursuit.  I just laugh, as it is like watching a go-cart trying to catch a sports car.  Even if he caught up to one, by chance, he would be more freaked out than them and would likely just want to be friends with them.  He gave it his best shot today, but after about 3 seconds, the deer were out of sight and he gave up.
    On the walk the snow tapered off some, that brought my spirits down a little, but then as we headed back up the hill to Calumet, the snow intensified and by the time we got to the top of the hill, it was really coming down.  It is amazing how much a difference 400-500 feet in elevation can make.  Plus the north shore was down wind of the Keweenaw Spine, the ridge of higher terrain that runs down the middle of the peninsula, so the north shore was in the snow "shadow" this afternoon.  I was wondering what the result would be as we headed back down the hill towards Lake Linden and was pleasantly surprised to find that the snow was not really letting up too much as we headed back down.
    So my spirits are higher, the snow is falling and the week ahead looks pretty good for now.  I am also a bit relieved, as we have some tours booked for later in the week and new snow will make them that much more enjoyable.
Good night from a snowy Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 12, 2001-
    Well, I'm back safe and sound from the Extreme Tour.  Everyone was returned safe and sound, but we did try to get into some serious trouble.  Here is a little sample of one of the attempts.  That was one of the guest riders, no damage on that one.  Here is a shot of Al, one of the guides.  I wanted to introduce him to you all, he's a good guy, a good rider and a good friend of mine.  That shot was a little far away, so I snapped one a little closer.  I think that a good extreme tour just might be to just try and keep up with him.  On or off trail.
    Which is pretty much what we did.  We had a group of three guys from Ohio riding with Al, Brian and I.  Unfortunately I do not have too many more shots of the ride.  One more to be exact.  Two other shots did not turn out and the rest of the time I was either trying to catch some air, bust some snow or just stay on my sled!  The last task I failed only once.  A rather interesting wipeout, and very lucky.  I really had something watching over my sled on that one.  It is not too often you can climb a 30 foot hill, get kicked off right at the top by an over hanging lip of snow, fly off the sled, slide down the hill, watch your sled slide down the hill, on it's side, about 10 feet away, go through a set of trees, then after making it through the trees land back upright and not even have to dig it out.  It flooded from being on it's side, but started after a few pulls.  I still can't believe it made it through the trees.  I could see right where it became upright once again, by where the right ski started to make a track in the snow once again.  That track the ski made was about 5 feet from the trees, so it just made it through and then became upright.
    So I ate a little bit of humble pie today.  We always say: "If you are not getting stuck, you are not having fun", but it is also nice to be able to stay with the sled.  I realize I still have a bit of work to do as far as my technique is concerned, but I am coming along.  It is really only my second year of riding.  Up until last year, I only rode once, maybe twice a year.  It was for a week at a time, but still, there was a year of time in between rides, and getting on the sled at the beginning of each trip was almost like getting on one for the first time.  Plus, my skill really drops off once I get tired and at about the time I wiped, I was pretty tired (excuses, excuses).
    There was another wipe by one of the guest riders right when I was busy sliding down the hill on my back, so I was not able to get a pic of it either.  But again, no damage and a fun story to talk about for years.
    Today was a cloudy, mild day.  We had a dusting of snow in the early am, then it warmed back into the thaw zone, with temps of about 35.  Not much snow loss though.  It is pretty well "panked" down as the locals say, so from here on out it would have to melt to lower the snow cover.  It will make an excellent base for the major dumping we will get from this weekend through March.  I wish!  Actually, it does look like snow will start to fly around here by about Sunday and then be off an on, Keweenaw Style, for maybe the next two weeks.  We need it.  I was on the trail for a very short time, but the ones I was on, could use a firming up and some fresh snow.  Not a disaster, but not what I would say is good conditions either.  They were definately better on my ride south from Phoenix yesterday.
    Our trip took us into the clouds today.  That is not a guarantee with every Extreme Tour, but we will sure as heck try!  It is kind of neat to be in the clear down in the lower elevations and then climb up into the higher elevations and get into the clouds, or fog as the case may be when you are in the clouds, but still standing on the surface of the earth.
    I am ready for snow.  I realize I have to wait one more day and even then, the heaviest snow may pass to our south, but still, to have the cold and flakes falling once again will be nice.  The past week has been a tolerable break.  I am happy for those who seriously needed a break to catch up on moving and removing it, but I think that it is time to start dumping again.  My prediction for this year (just part of a game, I could never be serious about it) was over 300" for the season at Deleware.  311" to be exact.  That is still totally within reach, even with about average snowfall from here on out.  With 171" so far this season, we are over half way there and it is only the beginning of January.  I think we will make it.  Especially with the pattern indicated for the rest of January.  We may just break the 250" mark somtime around the end of January or into early February.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 11, 2001-
    Sorry for the temporary absence!  For those of you who thought the reason why there was no journal for the past 2 nights, was because I was locked in my closet all depressed because of the warmer temps and lack of snow, you were wrong.  I have actually been in fairly good spirits.  Mostly because the forecast looks pretty good.  If the forecast did not look so good, then I would have been all depressed and locked away in my closet, where I could not hurt anyone.  But no, I was just busy.  Tuesday night I went downhill skiing and worked on my style.  Which is getting better and better, by the way.  I do believe I could handle Bohemia at this point.  Not the bumps, but the runs that are groomed anyway, but I will continue to work on my skills at Ripley and hope to get off to Bohemia in the next week or two.
    Then yesterday, I had a busy day and plans for the evening and was not able to sit down and get out a journal.  I did manage to take some pictures of my adventures yesterday afternoon.  It was the warmest day since November 13th, when we hit 38.  Our high yesterday was 36, first time since we climbed above the freezing mark since November 28th.  Lost of sunshine too, so we did loose a little bit of snow cover.  2" to be exact.  Most of it was due to settling of the snow, not melting, as my road still has quite a bit of snow on it.
    Moving on to some of the pics from yesterday's adventures (I think that this entry will not go on much longer, but I do have over a dozen pictures to share), JW and I took a walk in the woods.  It was a perfect day for it, with the mild temps and ample sunshine.  She is STILL too shy to get on the front side of the camera when the shutter snaps, so you all will just have to put up with another picture of the hounds and I.  Of course, the journal was lacking any picks of me for a long time, so I guess we are just making up for lost time.  You could see her shadow in the last pic, and in this one too (her shadow is the one on the left).
    The road we were walking down is perfect for such an endavor, it is plowed most of the way.  We did reach a part that had not been plowed in about a week and the foot of snow since then had settled into about 7".  A little tougher for walking, but also a good workout.  The road travels mostly through a heavily wooded pine grove, but also breaks out into some swamp land.  Did everyone catch Burtie trying to get back up onto the road after his little off trail adventure.  Like father like son I guess!
    Even with the lack of new snow in the past week to ten days (only about a foot and a half!) and the little thaw we have had over the past day or so, there are still sights to see which will illustrate our heavy December snows.  That was a 55 gallon drum which had a board over the top.
    Walking back was really neat to have the sun in your face, warming it, all the while taking in the views and even the scent of the pine and fir trees.  The road is there mainly to service some camps.  However, we also passed some hunting blinds.  We passed one which I thought was fairly unique.  It made use of four pines naturally occuring next to each other as the for corner posts for the structure and then the builder just filled in the rest and had a little blind.  Yooper bush skills I guess.
    So that was yesterday.  Today we had an afternoon snow tour that I went on.  Here is a shot of the group from Minnesota.  The tour was a little bit of everything.  Not much powder to be had at this stage of the game, most of the untracked snow has settled, but we did manage to break a few fields of snow.
    Of course, there are always unexpected obsticles when traveling in the bush.  Luckily Brian had a saw with him so that we could do a little clearing of the path.  We did find a little hill to do some climbing and jumping on.  Here is a shot of Joe, one of the guides catching some air.  This is him again.  Here is one of the guys from Minnesota.  Sorry I could not identify who it was!  Here is me.
    So we had a little (and I mean little) bit of powder riding, a fair amount of bush riding, also a fair about of extreme riding and last but not least, some scenic views.  All the riders were returned safe and sound, so another successful ride.  I am looking forward to some new snow though.  Things are getting really packed down.  Fun for hill climbing, but not so much fun for trying to find fresh powder to play in.  Tomorrow's another tour so I will be sure to bring you all along.  I think I may just need a soak in a hot tub after tomorrow's.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 8, 2001-
    Not a ton to talk about today, so it will probably be a long one, they usually are when I start out thinking it will be short.  I can talk about the trail conditions a bit, as I was on them for some of my riding today.  Again, I can best describe them as "tolerable".  Meaning, they are not perfect, there are bumps, but the bumps do not make you wish you were somewhere else and you just tolerate them.  There were a few stretches of what I would call "good".  By that I mean that there may be a few bumps, but they do not impact your riding speed or comfort and the only reason to ride slower is to be cautious and considerate of oncoming riders.
    Now I suppose that people are wondering what would I consider excellent.  That is a trail that has no flaws.  They are flat as can be and there is no foreign material on it at all.  We don't have much of a problem with foreign material on our trails, the corners in some of the higher traffic areas can get a little worn, but for the most part our biggest problems are the bumps.  Anyway, the trails do attain what I would call excellent status up here from time to time.  Mostly during the week and after some good snow.  One of the problems facing this area at the moment is that one of the two groomers that start out of Phoenix is broke.  The Lake Linden groomer is fixed and has been running, but for a time, 2 groomers were broke.  That is pretty serious when 2 out of the 3 groomers that do all the trails north of the canal are broke.  That is probably about 175-200 miles of trail.  A groomer running at full speed, 24 hours a day, can only do about 150 miles in a day.  Hopefully the groomer that is out will be back in the game soon.  But it does not seem to be having a serious impact on the trails up here.  I rode on some of the trails most famous for bumps, the Calumet to Mohawk corridor, and that was not too bad.  They could have been better, don't get me wrong, but I was not unhappy to be on them and it does not take much for me to be unhappy on the DNR trails!
    Today I met up with some friends from Chicago.  A rather big group really, with about 12 riders in all.  They were riding from Houghton to Copper Harbor and were hoping I could show them some sights so I met up with them on the way and took them to the top of the cliffs near Phoenix first.  Here is a shot looking north towards Phoenix from on top.  This is the same place I took the panorama shot back this last fall.
    After that, we did some riding in a few off trail areas north of Phoenix and then over towards Eagle Harbor and then we hooked up with the trail near Eagle Harbor and that's I where I said my good byes and headed back south.  On my way through Mohawk, I stopped into the White House Motel to say hi to my friends Chris and Marlo.  I have not seen them since New Years Eve, we all have been so busy.  After a chat with them, it was time to head home.  I was treated to a neat sunset as I left their lot and stopped to snap a shot of Mohawk at dusk.
    A sunset in the Keweenaw in winter is a rare treat and living up here you almost have to stop whatever you are doing and just take it in, for you may not see another one for weeks.  The reason is that we are very cloudy up here in the winter.  Summers are just the opposite.  There is a brilliant sunset just about every night and a trip to the north shore can bring a breathtaking sight as the sun dips below the surface of the big lake.  The odd thing is that I don't believe that I have ever given you all a view of a sunset over Superior in the journal.  Looks like I have a task this summer.
    I am going to have to just grin a bear the next two days, with the lack of snow and warmer temps.  Hopefully I will not get too crabby!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 7, 2001-
    Getting an early start today.  Not that most of you can tell, but it is only 2:30 in the afternoon.  I have some plans for this evening and it is also a school night so I will also be hitting the hay early so I thought that if I were to do one, then I had better get it done now.
    So lets see... In the past two journal entries, I have shown you some Keweenaw snowmobiling and cross country skiing.  What else is there.... Oh yea, downhill skiing.  Finally took to the slopes for real and brought the cam along to capture some of the action.  That was a shot of me and my two friends Steve and Jane.  JW was hiding behind the camera, still a little too camera shy.  I did manage to get the camera out of her hands long enough to snap a shot of her heading down the hill.  It was a great day for skiing, snowed all day and we picked up about 6-7" total.  Here is a shot of Steve heading down the hill.
    Somehow JW got the camera away from me before I could snap any more shots of her and she did manage to get a few action shots of your hero.  Please no comments on my style right now, I am still learning!  Here I am at rest.  You can't tell, but my feet are really happy in those new boots.  I never knew that skiing was suppose to feel comfortable.
    It was a great day, the slopes were not crowded at all, never had to wait in line for a chair to the top.  You can really get in a lot of skiing under conditions like that and after about 2 1/2 hours I had gotten my fill.  My legs were feeling a little heavy and the powder on the slopes was getting a little deep so I decided to call it a day before breaking a leg.  The last run down almost turned into a big wipeout, but somehow I managed to stay upright and did one of those out of control screams down the rest of the hill before regaining control before the base lodge.
    Hopefully in a few more weeks of skiing the runs at Ripley I will be ready to Bohemia.  I think that I could actually make it down right now, but I want to be better prepared so that I will be in full control and enjoy it more.  Ripley actually has some runs that are as impressive as some on Bohemia, but are just shorter.  A person could get to be a pretty good skier just skiing Ripley.  But Bohemia is the Big Dog of the Midwest.  No too far from the west actually, just not the vertical.
    JW and I took a morning ski and put the bridge in.  I wished that I had brought the camera along, as the new snow was frosting all the trees and the sun was peaking out from time to time.  Truly a winter wonderland.  We broke some more trail and are up to about the midway point on the trail.  We both are looking forward to getting back out there and I will remember to bring the camera along the next time.  There might even be a few places to take a panorama so stay tuned.
    I can't speak for the rest of the Midwest, even the rest of the UP, but this little lull in the snow activity has not been too bad up here.  We picked up 7" Wednesday, then about 4" yesterday and 2 overnight and the snow has just picked up again and it is coming down at about an inch an hour right now.  It would be nice to see a few more inches fall today before things end. I will not really like this week, with it's warmer temps and lack of snow, but things are starting to look better in the overall pattern by the time we reach next weekend and then even better the following week.  Seems unfair of me to be so wanting.  We already have received about as much snow this season as we did all last year and it is only the first week of January.  We still have a least 7-9 weeks of real winter left and possible more.
    For those of you thinking that a move up here would give a snow freak their fix, guess again.  I still want more.  However, in a year like this, I am smiling a lot.
Good afternoon from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 5, 2001-
    This journal entry will be a little more laid back and quiet.  Still interesting I hope, but you'll all have to wait for another day or two to get some more shots of the back country riding.  Actually you might have to wait a bit longer than that.  There is an extreme tour booked for next Friday, which I will be on.  I hope to do some scouting this week and maybe we can get some shots of that.  Thanks to all that responded, I am glad you all liked yesterday's recap of things.  It was very fun to make the pictures and I will be sure to get more.  Things can get a whole lot more extreme too.  Some of the hill climbs we go on are real heart stoppers.
    Switching gears, I have said that we are in a bit of a snow lull.  Not a complete absence of snow.  It is snowing right now and has been for most of the day.  Very lightly, but still snowing.  Anyway, we have not picked up any major dumps in over a week.  I said in an earlier journal that it is at these times that people do not sit around and rest, but yet make room for the additional snow that is sure to come.  Such was the case on my street this morning as the snow-go came down.  That is really an impressive piece of machinery.  It can cut an 8 foot wide by 6 feet deep swath through the snow like a hot knife through butter.  They use that machine to cut the banks right back to the curbs and in some cases beyond.  Then the regular plows can just push if off to the side and when the roads begin to close in again, they bring in the snow-go and make more room.  You are left with banks that are like 4-7 foot walls.  Not a problem unless you want to try and get over them.
    This afternoon, I decided to start to break the local ski trail up into the Traprock Valley.  The first order of business was to clear a path through the bank so that the hounds and I could get through.  That way I can ski right from my driveway and do not have to worry about ever having to put the dogs on a leash.
    I'm pretty excited to get this trail broken in.  The snow has set up pretty nicely and it is no problem for me to get through, but it is a bit of a challenge for the dogs to get through, following in my tracks as I have gone through only once.  The little trail I make goes through some very diverse landscape.  It starts out in a pine grove, then make's it's way through a meadow and then over a creek, through some woods another meadow and then more woods and so on and so on.  Every once in a while when breaking trail you come across a few obstaclesthat need fixing.
    The trail also crosses the snowmobile trail and just as we were getting close to it, I heard the low roar of the groomer.  I believe it was the Lake Linden groomer, which if true, is very good news, as that means that that it is fixed.  I tried to take a picture of it through the trees, but it did not show up.  However, I did get a shot of the trail just to prove it had been through.  I then saw it down by Ripley when I was downhill skiing this evening, so I bet it was the Lake Linden groomer and was making it's usual lap from Lake Linden to Calumet to Hancock and then back to Lake Linden.
    Back to the ski...My main objective was to check the creek crossing about a half mile away.  The trail has to cross a creek and the creek never freezes because the water is running too fast.  In addition to the open water, the banks on either side of the creek are about 2-3 feet high and even if the creek did freeze, there would be the problem of having to deal with the banks.  The creek also breaks off into several different branches.  However, there is one spot that you can pass with having to only make one crossing.  Another local in the neighborhood snow shoes out there and last year he built a foot bridge across the creek.  I bumped into him last week and he said that he would make another one out of some saplings.  That was the main objective today, to see if the bridge was in.
    We got to the creek, did not see much sigh of him being there, but were was a place to cross, so maybe he did get the bridge built.  We crossed over it and then decided to turn around as the dogs were really huffing and puffing through the deep snow.  The way back was not as bad for them as we were going on a somewhat packed trail  Future trips will get better and better for them and in a short time we will have the 3-4 mile round trip all packed down.  It will be nice to have that trail done, giving me the option to be able to take a ski right from my front door.
    Tomorrow I will hope to have some pictures of my downhill ski adventures.  I went tonight with the new boots and all is well.  It actually felt weird to have boots that did not hurt to wear.  I did ok for my first real time in 3 years.  I am not ready for Bohemia yet, but will be soon.  I hope to get over to Ripley a few times a week, even if it is just for an hour or so to work on my turns.  Ah, the life in the land of snow.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 4, 2001-
    Well, if I can get through this journal without passing out, I will be doing pretty good.  Finally got to take the bush ride and a ride it was.  There was just two of us, Brian, one of the guides of KSE and I.  In a way, having just two makes it more fun, but it also makes it more work.  I did learn one thing, I don't know anything about the backwoods up here.  I thought I was getting to know some routes and do know some, but man, did I get turned around on some of our trips deep into the bush today.  One of the problems with knowing only a few places to play off trail is that they get tracked up and you need some good dumps to make them really fun again.  At least as far as I am concerned.  I am happiest having powder fly over the windshield and don't like to have to settle for anything less.  I really should live in the mountains I guess, but this place supplies those conditions quite a bit as well.  From the sounds of it, more here this year than in the mountains.  Most of my riding places are tracked up, not just by me but by others riding them.  I was amazed at how much fresh snow we were able to find out there today.  I think a person could spend the whole day out in the bush just between Gay and Lake Linden and never cross your tracks more than once with the guides in our group.
    At times today we were riding some trails that some of the guy's had taken earlier this week.  There was about 6-7" of fresh snow on top of their tracks which was nice, but again, that snow over the windshield was calling.  Here is a of Brian with our sleds during a break.  If you haven't caught on to the theme of this journal entry, it is going to be a shameless plug for the guide service that my friends and I have set up called Keweenaw Snow Expeditions or KSE.  So far the bookings have been pretty good, better than I think a lot of us thought.  But there are also quite a few dates still available.  Especially weekends.  So if you are coming up and want to do a little off trail riding (a very good thing to do on weekends when the DNR trails get all bumped up) give us a ring.  I would also like to point out that most of the riding is not tough and does not really require a rider with expert abilities.  If you can follow in someone's tracks, you can ride on the scenic and backwoods tours.  The extreme ones are really only for those who want to work their you-know-what's off.  I will have some pics of what one might encounter on an extreme ride in a little bit, but for now, this is what the average trail through the bush looks like on a KSE tour.
    One thing that always amazes me is that I loose sight of how much snow is down when riding.  When out in the woods like that, it seems like only about 12-15" is down, until you happen along something which shows how much snow you are riding on.  An example is this camp.  The windows of this camp are not low, they are about 3 feet off the ground.  Plus someone could walk up to the camp and put their hand on the roof, which also was the standard 10 feet or so off the ground.  Here is another shot of the sleds.  A little snow on my hood in that shot, we're getting there!
    I was a bit turned around where that last pic was taken, but I also knew we were close to one of my favorite places to ride, the pole line.  Up until a few days ago, the snow was really too deep to be out there, but thanks to a break in the heavier snow and some warmer temps (20's), the snow has begun to settle and sleds have made it through.  However, there is still plenty of snow out there and it was flying right over the windshield!  Here's a shot of the sleds at rest after some Keweenaw Powder Riding.
    The next several shots will illustrate more of what an extreme ride is about.  Some jumping, some more jumping.  Some getting stuck.  More jumping, and getting stuck. Some awesome views.  Did I mention that you can sometimes get stuck?  That one was so good, it deserved a second pic.  And a third.
    Now before I scare everyone off, that type of riding will only be found on the extreme tours.  Plus, you don't have to get into situations like we did today if you don't want to.  There are safer places to ride while out on the pole line.  But as we like to say:  "If you're not gettin'  stuck, you're not having fun!".  And I had a lot of fun on this one!  I could have pulled it out had I taped it, but the power pole might have caused a rather sudden deceleration.  That is not fun.
    By the way, in that last pic, I have one leg on the surface of the snow and the other is straight down into a hole in the snow.  It was unbelievably deep out there.  Brian told me that last week when they were out there, all three were on mountains sleds and when they stopped, the snow was up to the windshields.  I believe it, with over 130" of snow in December and a ton of it good old Keweenaw fluff, I can see how the sleds would sink in that far.  There is already more snow out there now than when I rode out there in January and February of last year.
    So now you all can see what some of the riding with KSE is all about.  I do stress that the pole line pictures were not representative of what the rides are like unless that is what the group is looking for.  Getting stuck is lots of fun, digging out sleds is not so much fun so a rider will not be put into that situation unless they are comfortable with it.  All tours are custom designed to accommodate the group, not the guide.  You do not need to be an expert rider, but a novice might not have too much fun either.  So if you are planning to come up here and do not look forward to possibly bumping around on the DNR trails on the weekend, then give us a try.  Just don't ride 200 miles the day before.  It is more enjoyable when you are fresh.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 3, 2001-
    Whew, it feels like the Keweenaw again.  Awoke to 2.5" of snow at 5 am and then picked up another 1.5 by 8 am and another 3" since then for a total of 7 since midnight last night.  12:25 to be exact.  That is the time the snow started at the airport.  25 minutes too late to keep our streak going.  Now for those of you who check the historical weather section, you may be confused because I said 4" came down yesterday.  Well, the time period that makes up the "day" for that feature is actually from about 8 am to 8 am.  I had a hard time trying to keep track of the 24 hour snow from midnight to midnight so I made my "day" 8 am to 8 am for that feature.  I figured as long as it all gets counted is what is most important for record keeping sake anyway.
    Is was really great to pick up more than was expected (even though my forecast did not verify perfectly) and have it snow all day like I was getting use to.  We even had a little wind so all the fields that were tracked up are pretty much filled in.  I am really looking forward to the ride tomorrow afternoon.  I went down to my buddies shop to see if my new track needed tightening and they were talking about a ride they took last evening.  I swear I did not need to be wearing a coat soon after they started talking, I was so pumped up.  The neat thing is that these guys do not embellish, so I know that what they say is true.  I really can't wait!  Plus I am set for an extreme ride Friday of next week and the other guide and I are planning up a great trip.  There is even the possibility of a powder ride the day before so I could be doing a lot of riding in the next week or so!
    But today was a ski day.  Cross country ski that is.  I did not feel like driving too far so after picking up the mail, the hounds and I just took to the Lake Linden Meadows (sands).  Right off the bat I was put into a good mood by a pleasant scene of a creek (don't know it's name, or if it even has one!) spilling into the Torch Lake.  I really think that the mixture of flowing water and deep snow is so beautiful.  The creeks actually run harder in the winter than in the fall, as the snow melts a little when it first hits the ground and fills them back up a bit.  But spring is the big rush as far as the creeks are concerned.  Best waterfall season too.
    After crossing the bridge over the creek, we passed by the camper park for the Village of Lake Linden.  Looks like plenty of room still available.  We continued our trek up the hill behind the campground and then back down the hill into the meadow.  The look towards the village was also pretty beautiful so I decided to share it with you.  You can tell it was snowing at a fairly respectable clip in these shots, as the visibility was under a mile most of the day.  The airport was not reporting as low a vis, with about 1.25 miles most of the day.  But the sensor at the automated station may have been off, or they just did not get the snow we did today.  Although, it was pretty dark to the west most of the day, so I was actually wondering if they got hit harder.  Word will filter in as to how much places got and we'll see how the different areas did with this event.
    We did a lap around about half the meadow.  I could have done a full one, but was in the comfort of skis, staying above the deep snow.  The hounds were really struggling to get through the deeper snow, even in my tracks.  It is neat to see their paws spread out to help them walk in the snow.  It does help, but they can still sink in pretty good and get quite a workout in the process.  They are both sound asleep right now and it is only 5 PM.  Getting back to the campground we headed to the beach.  A bit cold for a swim and this sign just does not hold the same importance right now as it will in another 6 months.
    The village has also put up an outdoor skating rink this year.  It has been up for several weeks and they even have a warming hut right next to it.  It looked like the snow was cleared off this morning, but the 3" new since then will need to be cleared off for tonight's skaters.  I may have to strap on the SuperTacks and take a few spins around the rink myself.  Man, if this was up back home, it would always have had kids on it.  My friends and I would have killed for a free place to skate that was well maintained, with nets and lights too boot!  Bonus!  Up here it might be a little embarrassing for a hockey player to be out on outdoor ice, I don't know, but it is a much bigger sport up here than it was in Chicago, that is for sure.
    So everything is all nice and clean, fresh, white again.  Just the way I like it.  A quick word on the trails up here.  The weekend obviously took it's toll.  Complicating things right now is the fact that at least one grommer is down.  The groomer out of Lake Linden blew out the rear differential or something like that and is still not running.  There was a groomer running between Lake Linden and Hancock yesterday, so they are out there picking up the slack, but that still causes problems.  I went on 120 miles of DNR trails on Sunday and none of them were bad and all had plenty of snow.  I suppose it is entirely possible that near the cities of Houghton and Hancock the trails have more wear and tear on them, especially since they pick up more road grime on them down there.  However, I doubt that there are any serious problems with the trails, especially since we picked up about 7" of new snow in the past 18 hours.  I don't know if we will even be on a DNR trail tomorrow, but if so, I will be sure to report on them.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 2, 2001-
    Well, I guess I'm just all hype and no substance.  At least for those of you who were checking in to see how my ride went.  I got a call this morning from the guy I was to ride with and he had to cancel to go and shovel off a roof instead.  He was going to make some money so it took precedence over spending it on gas and two cycle.  We are definitely on for Thursday so I guess you will all have to wait until then to see and read about the ride.  I was a little disappointed at first, but then it did free up some time to do more fun stuff.
    JW, the hounds and I got to go for an awesome walk in the woods.  I goofed up and did not bring my camera along and it was a really big goof because it was an absolutely beautiful day for a walk  We had crystal clear blue skies (a very rare event for winter in the Keweenaw) temps in the upper 20's and nothing but the woods, the snow and the clean fresh air to take in.  I love the snow and would not mind if it never stopped all winter, but to trade a day like we had for some snow, was ok by me.  It just does not get any better than it was this afternoon out there.  I just wish that I had the camera to show you all the beautiful path we were walking down while enjoying the beautiful day.
    No snow yet today and this could very well be the day that ends the streak.  It is standing at 30, but we have been skunked so far today.  There is about 3 hours and ten minutes left in the day and snow is about three hours away, so it's gonna be close.  I will not be up to see if the snow arrives, but I will be able to check the airport observations in the morning so well see if it makes it in time.
    Looking at the forecast, there is not a ton of snow indicated and I was getting a little distraught, but then realized that the amount of snow we look to get in the next week to ten days is close to average, maybe a little less, but still close to average.  It is just that we have been cranking along at a record pace up here for the past 3-4 weeks and now an average pace looks like nothing.  Keweenaw County did set a new all time record snowfall for the month of December.  I do not know what the final number was, but I know that before the month was over, the old record of 129.3" had been broken.  So it is just a matter of what the new one is, not if there is a new one.
    I recorded 107" at my house for the month, the result of being lower in elevation and further south than the Delaware station (talked about in yesterday's entry).  I think that this year it is the further south element that has come into play more than the elevation.  We have had a few events where areas from about Mohawk north have been hammered while those of us further south only picked up 6 inches.  Only!  Sheesh, not too many places where you can look at 6" of snow as a minor accumulation!  At any rate, the Keweenaw has been the king so far this season.  King of the UP and king of the Midwest, maybe even king of areas to the east of the Rockies.  Driving up in Keweenaw County yesterday reminded me of driving in the Rockies in the winter.  Snow banks are 6 feet high and the snow on the other side of them is not much less.  Almost dangerous in a car like I was driving, as it is hard to see around and over them to check for traffic.
    The riding up here has also been terrific, partly due to the snow and partly due to the grooming.  For those of you who bumped around on the trails from Hancock to Dollar Bay, Lake Linden and Calumet or Hancock to Calumet to Mohawk on New Years, it was due to a broken groomer, not a reluctance to groom.  It looks like he went out today, because the trail by my house had been groomed and this is where he comes out of.  Plus my riding this weekend was done on mostly good to excellent trails.  I am happy and proud to be able to say that the trails are in good shape.  Usually it is the opposite.  I will still hold to my thinking that they could even be better if groomed overnight and not during the day, but it takes time to bring about change up here.
    Well, looks like I am out of things to say and a little out of steam as well, so I will sign off foe now.  I hope I am not painting myself into a corner with promises of stories and pics from a ride Thursday and pics of where we took our walk today, but they do both deserve pictures and words so I will try my best.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
January 1, 2001-
    Welcome to 2001 everyone!  The year started out on a very good note.  Yesterday, lake effect snow showers and snow squalls started up and have continued all day today.  We got a few inches overnight and then a few more today.  Very light and fluffy snow, but still it was nice to get new snow.  I need to clear my driveway!  The forecast is starting to look a little better than it was as well.  No huge storms, but by the end of the week and into the weekend, some fairly strong clipper systems might help to bring us some fairly decent LES.
    Today, JW and I took a tour of the Keweenaw via car.  I really wanted to show her Mt Bohemia.  She is a great skier and as soon as I get my legs and ability going a little better, we will head up there to ski, but today was a good day to just hop in the car and go for a ride, so that is what we did.  It was a very beautiful drive, especially rounding the turn where you look out over the lake with the Bear Bluffs and Mt. Houghton in the background.
    Mt. Bohemia also looks very beautiful.  Almost more so now that there are a few runs cleared.  I realize that many will choose to differ with my opinion, and that is just fine.  Diversity is the spice of life and I also believe is what makes this country so strong.  For those of you who have not seen it yet, you can decide for yourself.  Here is a shot of the mountain taken from across the street in the parking lot.
    We walked up to the "base lodge" area and then to the bottom of the lift, where I took this shot.  What is amazing about that shot is the distortion done by the camera.  In that shot, it looks like a bunny hill, with no tough runs at all.  What I should really do is to modify the image and stretch it vertically.  Plus it does not show the steepness of the runs.  I have hiked up the hill before the construction started and at times needed to do my climbing hand over foot, crawling up.  That pic just did not show anything like that!
    I put " " around the term base lodge in the previous paragraph because the controversy of the hill and it's development caused construction to be put on hold.  As a result, they were not able to put up any permanent logging buildings, but do have some yurts.  What is a yurt you may ask?  These are yurts.  We did not go inside them, but I bet they are comfortable and there are about 3-4 of them put together to make one large one and it looks like they are enough to supply what is needed for the day skiers.
    They also only have one lift going at the moment.  Another is in the process of getting ready and I think it will be ready in a few weeks.  The lift that is going just became operational Saturday, but they have been shuttling people to the top of the mountain in a snow cat since mid December.  So that is Mount Bohemia.  I am sure that you will be getting at least a few shots from the top of the hill before the winter is over.  I have my new boots and will get a few private lessons from JW and be ready to go.
    The rest of our auto tour today took us through Delaware and I decided to stop and take a shot of the measuring station for Keweenaw County.  It is in a perfect spot, well sheltered, but not in an area that drifts either.  Plus it is not too hard to get to.  A closer examination of the measuring stick looked like about 38" on the ground.  It is weird, as I walked across the snow to get to it, I would never know that there was that much snow down, unless I walked off the path and into the deep snow, sinking up to my waist.  It just looks like there is about a foot or foot and a half down.
    The final stop of the day was at the Eagle River Inn and Fitzgearlds restaurant where JW and I had a great lunch overlooking the big lake.  A hot bowl of soup and an awesome sandwich hit the spot and the only other thing I could have wished for was a chauffeur to drive me home so I could take a nap.  I got us home and then we took a nap.  I stay awake to midnight about once a year!
    It looks like one of the guides and I will be heading off into the bush to do some trail breaking tomorrow.  The snow has settled some and I can't wait to get out and let 'er rip!  I'll be sure to take the camera along and share things with you.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
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