Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam

Dec 27-
    No, your eyes do not deceive you, there has been a back to back journal writing!  This will be a very short one as my main purpose for writing was to show you the conditions of the trails this afternoon.  Before I get onto that, I must first wish my good buddy Burt a Happy 10th Birthday!  Here is The Birthday Boy enjoying his Birthday Meal.  Took him all of 15 seconds to wolf down a big plate of spaghetti!
    No onto my trail tour this afternoon.  I did not ride on them as I wanted to cover as much ground as possible.  I can also say that I did not go south of Lake Linden.  Burt, Nora and I basically started out in Lake Linden and traveled as far north as Phoenix where we took a nice walk and then came home.  I can say that most of the trails I saw were all in about the same shape, meaning they all were snow covered and all had a lot of sugar snow on them.  There were also moguls on all the trails I looked at with their size about 6-10", maybe a bit more in spots.  However, I can say that the trails could not have been too bad because when we came to the spot where the trail crosses the Phoenix Farm Road, we were heading down the road, let three sleds pass in front, we stopped for about 5 seconds to take the picture and then got down to 41 to head south to Lake Linden.  As we passed the Vansville Bar about a mile and a half south of the Phoenix Farm road, we saw the three sleds pull into the Vansville Bar's parking lot- they beat us down there and we were traveling about 50-55 on the Hwy.
    This first shot is of trail number 3 back behind my house where it intersects Normand Road.  You cannot see the bumps in the trail there, but they were there.  I can add that it was a heavily overcast day and I have had to retouch the photos a bit, mainly a brightness and contrast issue and taking a little blue out of them, but have not done anything to try and make the trails look any better than they were.  That is the last thing I wanted to do.  My intention here is to only show what I saw and let you all decide for yourselves.
    Anyway, the next picture was taken just south of Mohawk in an area that is traditionally pretty rough.  The snow here was decidedly dirtier and there were also 6-10" bumps on the trail.  Looks like one of the last sleds through before I took the picture had Simmons Flexi Skis on!  This next shot was taken where the trail crosses Hwy 41 just south of Phoenix.  Was able to catch a few sleds riding down the trail at this trail crossing as well.
    We took our walk up at the top of the Phoenix Farm Road and then headed back down where we snapped this next shot looking down the trail to the north where it crosses the Phoenix Farm Road.  It was starting to get a little darker out at that point, but I think you can at least see the condition of the snow on the trail.  I can add that there was considerably more snow from the north end of Calumet, through places like Kearsarge, Allouez, Ahmeek, Mohawk and up towards Phoenix than I have here in Lake Linden.  The last shot was taken where the trail crosses Hwy 41 at the Northgate Motel just north of Calumet.  It was getting pretty dark by then, but the camera's flash seemed to help the camera capture things pretty well.  The grouping of lights down the trail was actually the groomer.  I did not plan that at all- seriously.  We just happened to be at the same spot at the same time. The groomer was heading towards us.
    I can add that there was considerably more traffic today than yesterday.  Nora said that the towns of Houghton and Hancock were pretty busy with sleds and I saw quite a few at the Loading Zone II and the White House Inn as well as the Vansville and Cliff View. So they are up here and riding and like I said yesterday it will not be a question of having enough snow, but rather what kind of condition the snow is in.  I suppose you might run into a thin spot or two.  One are that comes to mind is between Houghton and South Range where there is only one trail to support each and every sled that wants to arrive in the area from the south.  I have been down that and experienced very little snow on the trail for about a mile or two while the rest of the trail system had plenty.
    I am not going to comment on the lakes up here as none of the trails use the lakes and it is my tradition to say that no ice is ever safe, there is just some ice where the risk is small enough to be acceptable.  Right now I have no idea of the status of any of the lakes up here, so best to stay off.
    I suppose it is safe to say that with the traffic only getting heavier as the week progresses, the conditions will only stay where they are at or get worse.  There looks to be some new snow and slightly cooler temps headed our way for the Friday and the weekend.  Not a big dumping, but at least something to freshen up the trails and put some snow down on the roads and parking lots.  Many areas where vehicles drive are completely bare, which is the opposite of how things were a week ago and might be after 3-5" of snow.  I hope that this entry has helped some of you decide if you want to come up here or not.  That was it's whole intention.  I by no means wanted to give an opinion one way or another.  Talk to you all soon.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -

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Dec 26-
    Boy, what a difference a few days can make.  It was just a week ago that we were digging out from the streak of 100-150+ inches of snow, with powder up to our you-know-whats.  I go away for a few days and seems like we lost about half of it!  That is not really true, we still have plenty of snow, but it has settled a lot and melted some.  I suppose a lot of you are wondering about the conditions up here.  The first thing I can say is that we have plenty of snow, that will not be your problem if you come to the Keweenaw to ride.  I will say that we have been through some freeze/thaw cycles in the past 4-5 days and that has caused the snow to become like sugar.  That sugar snow does not take a grooming well.  Plus this is traditionally the busiest time of the season, so that will also play a role in the shape of the trails.  Now with that said, the trails that I have seen in the past 12 hours or so have not been in too bad of shape.  Sure they are not perfect, but I would actually not complain too much about riding on them and I an pretty spoiled.  I can also say that it is not too busy up here right now.  Maybe that will change tomorrow- perhaps everyone is on their way up as I type, but in the 30 or so minutes we walked along, or near the trail, I counted less than 10 sleds through.  So at this very moment, things are not too bad up here and here is a picture to prove it. That was taken up by Mohawk in an area that is known to be pretty beat up.
    Now with all of that said, please keep in mind that it will likely get a whole lot busier up here as the week progresses and conditions can change in a very short time, as in hours.  But the one thing that will not change is the fact that we will still have enough snow to ride in up here all week and beyond. It will just be the conditions of the snow on the trails that are the issue, not if there is enough snow. I will try and get out and take more shots in the coming days and get another journal out by about Wednesday or so, just so that those of you planning to head up by the end of the week can make an informed decision.
    Nora, Burt and I headed down to southern WI for Christmas with my family.  Was a nice time and a nice event free trip down and back up.  It was snowing lightly when we left here Friday morning and that changed to a bit of freezing rain once we got into the far southern UP and northern WI, but the roads had been treated and were in good shape.  The temps warmed above freezing as we headed south of Rhinelander and that also took away the concerns for any iced up roadways.  The weather on the way back was pretty good too, some sprinkles around Portage WI and some flurries by Rhinelander, but that was it.  Nothing like the big snows in the UP I have encountered in years past!
    The Christmas celebrations were nice and it was great to see my family.  The last time we saw many of them was last Christmas as we cannot make it down in the summer due to my work constraints and they seem to be content to stay down there in the summer.  I wish we could get down there or they would come up, maybe this summer.
    Before leaving to head south on Friday, Burt and I went up to the property to clear the roof Thursday.  My plan was to heat up the shop with a propane heater and my gas grill and just let the metal roof heat up and gravity do the rest.  While the shop was heating, I went around and raked the snow off the eaves, just to make sure that when the metal roof warmed over the shop, the outside air under the eaves would not hold the snow there and keep the snow from sliding.  As you can see from the shot there was quite a bit of snow up there, probably about 2 1/2  to 3 feet.  After about 2 hours of having the grill and heater going, things were getting pretty toasty in the shop, well at least up in the rafters.  I could not see my breath up there and the air also felt warm on my skin.  I felt the inside of the metal roof and it was fairly warm too.  At least warm enough to have a bit of condensation on it.  I figured it would only be a matter of time before the snow let loose off the roof.  After about another 15 minutes, it seemed like the snow was just too deep and firm to want to let go on it's own, so I got the idea to try and help it a little by slicing off a few sections at a time.
    Now before you jump to conclusions on where this is going, I was smart enough to not go up onto the roof and also smart enough to stay away from the slide area.  What I did was to grab the string line that I used to set a level line for the foundation, attach one end to a nail that I drove about 1/2 way into the front of the shop, tossed the line over the shop so that the remaining spool of line landed at the back of the shop.  I then walked around to the back of the shop and started pulling up the slack.  The thin narrow nylon string started cutting into the snow on the roof and about 3/4's of the way into the snow on the roof, I heard what sounded like a muffled gun shot.  With that, the whole load of snow on the one side of the shop let go and started sliding very quickly off the roof.  The motion of the snow on the one side of the roof was enough to get the other side going and in about 5 seconds, both sides were perfectly clear of all snow and all that was left was a 3 foot wide and 3 foot deep ribbon of snow along the ridge of the roof.
    That worked pretty well and I am glad I did not have to abandon the melting method and start in on a shoveling method!  I am especially glad because I am sure that I will have to clear that roof 2-3 times a year for the rest of my life and really did not want to have to shovel it or pay to have it shoveled.  The other roofs will have a 12/12 pitch and will be metal and will be able to clear themselves of snow with no outside help.  Now if only I could get the roof over my head right now to clear so easily!  I will have to remember that nothing can go in the slide zone on either side of the shop.  It was quite a violent place to be while the snow was coming off.  Not sure if it would have killed someone, but it sure as heck would have ruined their day if not month!  Here is a shot of the slide zone after the clearing. The snow piled up on the side of the shop was about 6-7 feet deep, but because of the fact that the shop sits up on a pad of mine rock and sand and the foundation is about 3-4 feet higher than the surrounding ground it did not look that deep in that shot.
    Today Nora, Burt and I went up to the property to see about getting the property cam to function and it looks like the hard drive may have given up the ghost on the computer up there.  When the computer tries to start up, I get a message that there is no valid operating system.  I will play around with it a bit and if all else fails will take it to a local PC shop up here to get things going.  So that is why the picture at the property cam page is stuck on last Thursday!  While I worked on the cam issue Nora and Burt had fun playing around on the piles of snow that came off the roof.  I heard all the commotion outside and had to go out to see what was going on. Things had settled down a bit, but here is a shot of The Stud. Here are My Two Favorites.
    We also went on a walk up there this afternoon and came across an old building from the mining era.  Amazing that all the walls of that building were built with the mine rock that they brought up from underground.  Pretty neat that those walls probably look just like they did the day they were built and probably will look that way for another 100 years.  The building is currently 90 years old.  How do I know that?  Here's proof.
    Well, I guess that about covers it for this one.  I hope everyone's Christmas was great.  As I mentioned earlier, I will try my best to get out and take some more shots of the trails up here and get them posted within the next day or so to help you all decide on if it's worth it.  Until then...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Dec 20-
    I suppose I could do the research and someday I just might, but the past 30 days or so (since Nov 15th) have had to have been one of the snowiest stretch of 30 days up here ever.  Even I have measured over 110" of snow since November 15th.  I have heard about totals for the season (snow started around Nov 15th in all areas up here) up here over 150".  Needless to say it is getting really deep up here and things look like late winter rather than early winter.
    Sunday morning I woke up to about 10" new and heard reports of even more up on the hill, so at first light I jumped into Old Blue and headed up the hill to see what was going on up there.  The main roads up here are almost always clear no matter what is going on with the weather, but the side roads in the towns sometimes only get plowed once a day.  By sun up on Sunday, the plows had already done Lake Linden and Laurium and this was the look of the side streets in Laurium Sunday morning.  I am thinking that if things keep up like they are, then in another month, front end loaders and dump trucks will be in high demand to clear residents out, not just businesses.  I use a snow thrower, so I have a long way to go, but there are some homes in Calumet/Laurium and Mohawk that look to be near the breaking point already!
    With all the fresh snow a ride was a certainty.  Even if I could not find someone to ride with, I was going to go out and play in it.  Things did not come to that, in fact just about the whole crew was chomping at the bit as much as I was to get out and play in the snow.  I called Brian and he was ready and had already talked to Matt, who had talked to Kenny.  So there was four of us.  I called Dave who was up for a ride and that pretty much left Al who was not sure he could break away from other duties to be done that day.  The plan was to meet up at Brian's at about 11. Somewhere between when I talked to Brian and when I got to Brian's at 11, the plans had changed to 11:30/noon- which was fine with me because I got to take a few spins on the 800 in Brian's fields.  The quirky lake effect snow had really dumped on Brian's neck of the woods and he lives about 5 miles north of me as the crow flies.  I would have to say that a conservative estimate on new snow up at his place from Saturday morning to Sunday morning was 2 feet.
    As I unloaded the 800 and got ready to ride, I could feel my heart start to quicken it's pace a bit.  It's not that often that I get to ride in conditions like we had Sunday.  This place gets a lot of powder and we have many powder days, but even here it's a once a year or so experience that we get to ride in 2 feet+ of fresh champaign powder.  I was also excited to see how the 800 and it's 159" track would do in the deep and I can say that I was certainly not disappointed!  That was certainly the sled to be on that day!  No problems what so ever and in that kind of snow conditions, all you need to do is put a little more pressure on one side of the sled and you are carving- whether you want to or not!.  Brian had a blast taking a few runs before the rest of the crew arrived. Here is a shot of Brian playing in his back yard.  Notice the trench in the foreground?!   Here is a shot of my ride, covered in snow, just waiting to go tear it up some more.
    The rest of the crew showed up and were all in the same mindset as I was, so we headed out with Brian or Dave in the lead.  I was second in line most of the day and the riding was really a challenge.  Even with a trail through the snow in front of me, I still had to carve the entire time we were riding.  The skis were totally useless and if you wanted to turn you had to tip the sled in the direction you wanted to turn.  We spent about 1/2 the time plowing through the woods on logging roads back behind Brian's and Dave's houses and about the other 1/2 of the time playing in Dave's fields.  The fresh powder in Dave's fields was not as deep as in Brian's (only about 2 miles as the crow flies), but still plenty deep for some fun carving as Dave illustrates hereHere is Brian showing his stuff and here is yours truly.  What the heck, it's my website...here is another one of me!
    After tearing up Dave's fields, we headed to town to gas up and play some more.  We opted to head back into the woods a bit and found an old railroad grade to put some track on.  Here is a shot of us while stopped on the grade for a moment.  That was Brian's sled on the far left, Matt's sitting in the trench, Kenny's with the orange windshield and mine on the far right.  Out of those 4 sleds, only Matt's and mine got going unassisted.  Both Brian's and Kenny's sleds needed some help and they are both long tracks!  Not too often a long track gets stuck on the flat!  Here is a close up shot of the 800 at that last rest stop.  DEEP!
    After the railroad grade is was back down into the valley to play in some of the secret spots that only guys like Dave, Brian and Al know about.  The whole while it felt like I was in a dream, with the sled floating on air.  If it were not for the snow flying over the hood and windshield and up into my face, I might have believed it was a dream.  I'm not sure which muscles were more sore after the ride, my legs, back and arms from having to throw the sled around all afternoon or my face muscles from grinning the whole time!  Somewhere along the line, we lost Matt, so Brian doubled back to find him, while the rest of us shook the powder out of our goggles, helmets and any other places it managed to find it's way into.  It's not too often that I ever have problems with my goggles fogging up, but riding that day with the snow constantly flying over the hood and windshield was like standing in front of a snow thrower. So I did manage to fog up a bit, but I carry a spare set of goggles and that solved the problems.  Here is a shot of Matt and Brian riding up to meet us.
    My only regret Sunday was that I was not able to take more pictures.  There were so many times I wished that I just had the camera mounted to my helmet and could remotely trigger the shutter, I could have posted over a hundred incredible shots or more.  Another problem was that every time I stopped to take a picture, I had to dig out all the snow from between the handle bars and the windshield bag so that I could get the camera out!  It was worth it on every occasion and I did manage to snap one last shot of the snowy beauty of that day and moment.
    All in all it was just about as perfect a ride as could be.  There were no mishaps, no sleds broke, no crashes, just a lot of incredible riding!  The same cannot be said for another group of locals we happened along.  As we cut across a field we came across a couple of guys from up the valley that were stopped.  We stopped to see what was up and it did not take long to notice. I figured I would call this next shot "Look before you leap...that pond may be pretty deep!"  I shiver just looking at it!  The rider was fortunate enough to be OK, those were his tracks leading from the sled, but I am thinking a very important less was learned.
    My last shot is of my snowmobile trailer.  About a week ago the trailer was clear of snow, now look at it.  Yep, that is what a weeks work of snow in the Keweenaw looks like!  At least this year!
    I did make it up to the property to clear the driveway.  Had over a foot again, but it only took about 30 minutes to get it all cleared.  I also managed to clear some of the snow off the shop's roof.  Just the eaves.  I know most folks are praying we do not get a thaw later this week, but I actually am hoping for some warmer temps.  I plan to fire up a propane heater in the shop to heat the air inside it which will then heat up the metal roof and that should get the snow to slide off the roof.  It will work if I can get things warmed up enough and with temps above freezing that will only help out further.  Not that I want some huge and sustained thaw to occur, just enough to help me cleat the 2-3 feet of snow on top of the shop right now.  If not, that will be the next clearing job after Christmas!
    Speaking of Christmas, I am not sure if I will be getting out another entry before Christmas comes, so here is wishing you all a wonderful Holiday Season!  This one will be a little bittersweet for all of us, but we do have many reasons to be thankful this year and it will be nice to see my family.  From a very snowy Keweenaw...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Dec 17-
    Been almost a week and unfortunately I do not have a whole lot to say.  It has been snowing a ton up here and it seems like my life has been comprised of just a few things: sleeping, working, playing with Burt and Nora and then moving snow!  I was planning on going for a ride with Brian today, but he had to run to Marquette for a work meeting today, so hopefully we can ride tomorrow.  I know that Al would like to ride tomorrow as well.  I actually contemplated waiting until tomorrow to write so that I could include the riding shots, but then decided I am many times to tired to write and there is the possibility we may not even ride tomorrow, so I just decided to write today.
    As mentioned we have been getting a ton of snow.  The storm that hit many locales in the northern Midwest this past week did hit us too.  Some places harder than others.  Here in Lake Linden, we awoke to about 9 1/2" new on Thursday, but in places like Mowhawk and Phoenix the totals were double that.  On Wednesday Burt and I went up to the property to clear the driveway at the property and I had to move about 12-14" of snow that had piled up in the previous 4-5 days  The blower did just fine, but I did snap another sheer pin in the auger and forgot to bring some extras, so I had to finish the last 1/3rd of the drive using just 1/2 of the blower.  Then the storm hit Wed night and early Thursday and so I went up there again Thursday afternoon, just 24 hours after clearing the driveway and it looked like it had not even been touched in a week or more!  The temps were in the upper 20's to low 30's when the snow fell Wednesday night and Thursday, so it was very wet and heavy stuff.  Not a problem for the Ariens!  I am, just amazed at how well that thing can throw snow.  At times when I was cutting the banks back, the snow was deeper than the intake for the augers, but it just chewed right into it and threw it off into the woods.
    I have decided to just keep the drive open the rest of the winter using the snowthrower.  It really does a better job than the ATV & plow and actually does it just as quick or maybe even quicker too.  Plus eventually using the ATV would have caused the banks to close in as it cannot make very large banks.  So even with the snow on the driveway Thursday afternoon was about 18" deep and also being very wet and heavy, it took about 35 minutes to clear the driveway and that included a refueling and replacing a sheer bolt that sheered.  Plus I even cleared a spot to back up into and turn the truck around so that we do not have to try and back up the whole drive way and into the road.  Here is a shot of the driveway leading up to the shop and here is a shot from the road.  Looks like it will need clearing very soon.  Nora, Burt and I went up today to drop off a propane heater (salamander) to help clear the roof and there was about 8-10" new on the driveway already and this afternoon a skinny "Bayfield Bomber" has been hitting the area up there and it has been snowing at the rate of 3-4"/hour.  Here is a pick from the "Construction Cam".  Any time it looks that foggy up there, you can bet it is really coming down!  Here is a shot looking down the road the property is on and here is a shot taken while driving home when it was really coming down.
    Man do I wish we lived up there!  For one it would mean I only had to clear one driveway rather than two, but also we could just look out the window and see it snow.  The area where the property is located is in a very snowy spot up here, but it is just amazing to see how much snowier this year is.  We have picked up some snow here in Good Old Lake Linden too.  As mentioned about 9 1/2" with the activity Wed night/Thur morning and then another 4" later Thur and early Fri.  All of that wet and heavy stuff and now the lake effect champaign powder is falling.  I really am nuts to not be out riding right now!  Tomorrow!
    The snow is not only getting deep on the level, but the plow banks are starting to get mid-winter tall.  I have a feeling that folks with a front end loader will be in high demand in not too long.  Usually they are only needed for the large commercial lots, but I bet that anyone plowing and not blowing will need a front end loader and dump truck before the season is over.  Here is a shot of the plow banks along the main drag through Copper City Thursday afternoon. Not much room left up there!
    All the snow does not just mean work, it also means beauty.  Here is what we look at as we reach where the driveway comes to the road- basically the other side of the road from the property.  The snow also means play.  While I have not been doing as much as I would like, one sure could.  Here is a shot of the snowmobile trail in a spot where it crosses the road on the way home from the property.  That section has looked good just about every time I have gone by it.  The section running along side the road from Hancock to Dollar Bay did not look so good last night or today.  Not sure if it had been groomed in the past 24 hours.  I did hear that one of the groomers is still down.  Two were down last week.  They better have all 4 going by next weekend!
    I did spice up the 800 this week.  I did a lot of research this past summer on things that riders out west were doing to their long track mountain sleds and one of the things that kept coming up over and over was to add larger diameter rear idler wheels and one business that kept coming up over and over again was Mountain Machines Performance.  So I got in touch with them to see about replacing the 6 3/8" wheels on the 800 with 8" ones.  The larger diameter makes for less resistance back there and thus less work for the engine to have to turn the track and you in essence pick up more horsepower (about 5 horses as measured on a dyno).  Plus it is one of those rare things that you can do to your sled to not only improve performance, but also improve the looks!  Here is a shot of one of the billet aluminum wheels that I got with the kit.  Here is the setup in the sled.  I also went from three rear wheels (two on the outside of the rails) to just two and both are located inside the rails.  The folks at MMP said that most folks out west are running just two on the inside and that makes for easier carving, with no performance loss in any other aspect.  So I am pretty excited to try them out.  My next step will be to replace all the wheels in the rear suspension with those billet aluminum ones.  Not so much a performance issue from here on out, but it will look nice!  From what I understand it is something you can do on any sled, not just a long track, although  I think the long tracks gain the most.  In fact most of the new long tracks are already coming with the larger idlers stock.  Next is Nitrous!  Just kidding!
    Well, I think that about covers it for this one.  Sorry no riding shots, but it seems like there is just too much other stuff to take care of right now.  I think it's because we usually are not thinking about taking deep powder rides off trail at this time of the year and my schedule was not "cleared".  You can bet that will be different in about a week or two!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Dec 11-
    Two quick reminders: Tomorrow (Dec 12) is the last day to get your orders in at the JohnDee.com Store if you want to get your goods by December 24th.  Also, the Pol-Cat is still up for auction and will be sold to the highest bidder at noon on Tuesday. So, if you are interested in getting your hands on the good old Pol-Cat, better get over there and make a bid on it.  Don't forget, if you buy the sled, I will be happy to take you and a few of your friends on a 3-5 hour back country tour up here.  You can bring the sled if you want, but do not have to.  So those are the two announcements.
    After 75+" of snow this season I finally took my first real ride on the 800.  Saturday morning I packed up the sled and headed south to Twin Lakes to meet up with Skylar and crew for a ride down in that neck of the woods. The plan was to just put the 800 in the back of Old Blue and head down there, but Old Blue decided to stop running on Friday.  It actually pulled and almost not running earlier in the week and the thought was the fuel pump was going out.  Not sure if that is the problem, but it sure will not start now.  So Friday afternoon I managed to get the snowthrower into the back of the Blazer, then Nora, Burt and I headed up there so that I could dig out the trailer and use that and the Blazer to get the sled down.  I probably could have just driven the sled down there or maybe even changed our meeting place to South Range or Toivola or something, but figured I could get the trailer dug out and just keep my plans of meeting up with the boys in Twin Lakes.  Got the trailer dug out from the 2 foot+ snow pack, but almost not.  The sheer pin on one of the augers sheered and that left me with just one working auger to pull the snow into the impeller.  I sure was praying that the other sheer pin did not go and thankfully it did not!
    Pulled the trailer out and as we hit the plowed road, noticed it had a flat tire.  I figured all it really needed was some air as it has had a history of going flat slowly in the past.  As luck would have it I had left the air compressor up in the shop, so I charged it with air, pulled the compressor out to the road and we filled the tire with air and headed home.  I got the 800 loaded Friday night and on Saturday morning had a nice uneventful trip south to Twin Lakes, unloaded the sled and met up with the boys.
    The 100+" of snow that the Twin Lakes area has received for the season so far had settled (plus the melting of the snows in November) to about 2-3 feet on the ground.  Just about perfect for logging road riding, but not deep enough to get into the really gnarly stuff!  That was ok with me.  This was my first real ride of the season and also my first real ride on the 800 and I did not want to try and have to do too much.  Plus, should one really have to complain about riding in conditions like this in early December... or ever?!  The way this snow has settled (not just in Twin Lakes, but everywhere up here), it will be the perfect base for all the new snow to fall the rest of the season.  The next new snow should pile up quickly and it would be really awesome to get a quick foot or so of fresh and then we could have some genuine powder riding!  As mentioned, the riding yesterday was a blast.  Taking it easy, running through the woods, just taking it all in with some good friends.  Even some true back country scenes.  Saw that cabin the last time I rode with them down there!
    Skylar being the ever generous guy he is even decided to entertain us a bit.  Every time I get tempted to do something like that I just call up the memory of hearing and feeling my femur snap in two and I sit back and watch others!  Not that I stand to break my leg by jumping like that, but I'd just rather play it safe than sorry.  Anyway, a little bit later on, Skylar decided to provide us with some entertainment of a different kind.  What a guy!
    We put about 7 or 8 hours in the saddles yesterday.  Not bad at all for a first ride.  The 800 performed just great, except for one thing. It had a lean condition in the mid range, which meant that the engine was not getting enough fuel with the throttle about 1/2 way opened.  Thank goodness I put that EGT sensor in, or it would have melted down about 2 minutes into the ride!  As we were heading down the trail I looked at the EGT gauge and it was reading a little over 1200 and climbing, so I backed off right away.  I did test the sled at wide open throttle (just for a few seconds on a straight and empty section of trail) and it did not get too warm.  So I was left with the choice of running under 40 mph or over 65-70 for the day.  Riding in the backwoods we never really go over 30 so the carb problems yesterday were only a problem once we go on the trail.  At that point I pretty much kept it under 40 most of the time (letting a few sleds pass by me) and occasionally held it wide open for a few seconds to try and close some ground between me and the rest of the group.  Before someone jumps on me for riding my sled full speed down the trails, that was not the case.  I would let off the throttle before the sled ever got to full speed.  It was just that it was safe to run it at wide open throttle fuel to the jetting of the carbs.  I will run the 800 over to Al's and let him adjust the carbs.
    We made it back to Twin Lakes before dark, loaded the 800 back onto the trail and I was home by about 6 pm.  Sitting the truck on the way home I could start to feel my legs and arms get heavier and heavier- that wonderful feeling of snowmobile muscle fatigue!  Not that the actual fatigue is all that great, but the activity that produces it is!  I woke up feeling not too bad today and even managed to clear the roof of snow.  Nora helped my by clearing the snow I pushed to the ground with the snow thrower.  90 minutes later we were all done.  I really do not like clearing the roof too much, but it is one of those chores that feels sooooooo good to have done!  Now we should be good for another 100" and hopefully my older brother will be making his annual January trip up and can help me out then.
    I can say that after clearing the roof, I was officially beat. Both my legs and arms felt like I had 10 pound weights attached to them, but we still needed to take an afternoon adventure with Burt, so I sucked it up and my two favorites and I headed up to one of the quiet country roads up in Keweenaw County for a walk.  With a nice light snow falling, everything draped in a deep coating of white and the peace and quiet of the woods it was one of those perfect Keweenaw moments.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Dec 8-
    Man O Man.  I have been waiting for a start to a winter like this since I moved up here!  I can remember by first year up here I was so excited for the snow and wishing that it would get off to a bang like this winter has and it was more of a dud.  I can only imagine how much snow we would have around if we had not had those two thaws in late November.  I know I would have had to shovel the roof for sure as it is just about there right now.  I figure had those two thaws not happened, we would have at least 3, maybe 4 feet on the ground right now.  But I am certainly not complaining, just fun to think about it is all.
    Even with those two thaws, it is plenty deep up here.  Some places deeper than others, but believe it or not, Lake Linden is actually one of those spots where the snow has been falling pretty good.  I have picked up about 76" for the season so far, while others are as high as 100" and some are probably as low as about 45-50.  Here is a shot looking down my street Tuesday morning, that was about 8" of snow ago!  Earlier in the week it snowed quite heavily across sections of Keweenaw County.  In fact, the property was one of those locales that picked up the heavy snow.  I really do not know how much fell, but I would have to guess probably around 30-35" from late Sunday through early Tuesday.  On Monday it looked like the Keweenaw might experience what I have nick named the "Bayfield Bomber".  That is an area of converging winds that start near the Bayfield Peninsula to the west of us and then travels across the lake and slams into the Keweenaw bringing very heavy snows.  The last time that happened, areas of the Keweenaw (not the whole peninsula) picked up 2-3 feet in 24 hours.  Well, Lake Linden did not see the bomber, but it looked like the property sure did!
    I went out there on Tuesday to move some snow and could not believe how deep it was.  Old Blue made it into the driveway, but she was pushing snow with the bumper!  I got out and the snow was up to the middle/top of my thigh!
    There was also quite a controversy going on the General Discussions board as to what had happened to the Property/Construction Cam.  The ideas ranged from snow on the lens to the snow causing the camera to collapse.  Well, if you look in that last photo you can see how the snow had drifted over the edge of the roof.  It was that drift that had completely covered the camera's view.  Here is a close up shot of the drift and the camera hiding behind it.  I knocked down the drift while up there on Tuesday, but it is coming back!
    Plowing the snow with the ATV was interesting Tuesday.  I kept the plow up, but the snow was still so deep that it was coming over the top of the plow and over the front of the ATV.  Once I made one path to the road, I was able to take smaller bites with the plow still up and get the driveway cleared to the depth with the plow up and then could drop the plow.  I plan to head up there with the snowthrower soon and clean things up a bit more as well as cut the banks back.  When we live up there I plan to have a nice John Deere tractor with a thrower on the front to clear the driveway.  I think it is easier to manage snow with a thrower than with a plow.  A plow makes such large piles and you really need to have a place to put it.  With a blower you can just shoot it where you want.
    The shop was not the only roof that had a big drift on it.  Here is a picture of a drift that was hanging off the front of my house yesterday.  Looks like I will have to clear the roof very soon.  I figure I will maybe get to it Sunday.  If the forecast pans out, it will for sure need to be done by the middle of next week.  This will be the earliest that I have ever had to clear the roof.  I think 2 years ago Nora and I did it between Christmas and New Years and I thought that was early!  I guess the question is if this trend will continue for the rest of the winter, or if it will be like 1999 where over 100" fell from mid December to mid January and then things got really quiet.  At this point I am thinking more along the lines of a big winter.  In my examination of the weather records for this area, the really big years always start out strong and then just run pretty much full throttle for the rest of the winter, with maybe a 2-3 week period of "quieter" weather.  We are overdue for a big winter and it just seems like this could be one- but only time will tell!
    I have actually not been on the sled since last Friday's testing session if you can believe that.  I have actually been very busy with the site, moving snow and working on the 700.  I had put the 700 back together this summer after getting the crank rebuilt.  I decided to wait until it was cold enough before doing the final work and starting it up.  I figured when it was cold and we even had some snow, I could let it run longer and heat up.  Well, then Baileys got sick and I did not work on the sled during those early snows.  So this past weekend I decided to get the 700 going, which basically included adding the coolant and clutch and starting it up.  I added the coolant and clutch and gave the starter a tug and after about one rotation of the crankshaft, it seized.  Not a good sign.  I pulled the spark plugs, gave a tug on the starter rope and it was like being at Old Faithful.  Coolant shooting out of the spark plug holes!  So I pulled the heads and found that one of the rubber gaskets that keeps coolant from getting into the cylinder did not seat correctly and that allowed the whole engine to fill up with coolant.
    So I drained the engine, sprayed some lubricant into it, got a new gasket and put the head back on. This was on Monday.  Try number two resulted in more coolant (although not as much) getting into the engine.  I took the head off again and all was fine with the gaskets this time.  I decided to involve an expert in my troubles and gave Al a call.  He said that the head might be cracked or maybe one of the cylinders.  So Tuesday between plowing snow at home and the property, I managed to get the engine out, take it completely apart, cleaned, dried and lubricated up.  Then yesterday I put it back together without the bottom of the crankcase and pistons in it, brought it over to Al's shop and we put some water into the cooling system put some pressure on it and looked for the leak.  No leak!  I did not have any other choice but to put it all back together (with the lower case and pistons in) and see if it leaked again.  Got that done today and no leak, but it won't start either!  It has spark and the carb bowls are full of gas, but it won't even pop. The plus were a little wet with gas so I really am at a bit of a loss.  Al says to just keep ripping on the starter cord and she should fire.  I plan to try that for a while tomorrow and if I have no luck, then I will pull the carbs off and let Al see if they need some cleaning.
    The good news is the 800 is sitting patiently in the garage and I plan to take a real ride with her Saturday, if not Friday afternoon.  I still want to get the 700 going so that it will be there as a backup and for Nora to ride, but I am starting to think I should have kept the Pol-Cat and sent the 700 off to the auction house!!!  The Pol-Cat may have a lot of miles on her, but she was the best and most reliable sled I have ever seen.  I have a friend that would tease me about the sled and it having 12,000 miles on it and I would counter by saying "it did not get 12,000 miles of trouble free riding by being a piece of junk!"  Not trying to hype the sled, but I do think there is a lot of truth in my last sentence.  In case you missed it in my earlier post, the Pol-Cat is up for auction on CrashedToys.com. The final day of bidding is this coming Tuesday the 13th.
    Well, it looks like I have run out of things to say for this one.  I have one final picture for you.  It is of a snowy Traprock River  (fsv), taken Tuesday on my way home from the property.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Dec 3-
    Starting to look a whole lot like winter around here!  Feels like it too.  As I look out onto the snowy yard, it is hard to believe that just a few days ago, there were a few spots of lawn showing through and we were dodging raindrops on our walks.  Not any more!  Been snowing nonstop since about 1 pm on Tuesday and looks like it will keep up through Wednesday at least.  That would make 8 days straight.  Not a record for this neck of the woods, that's for sure, but when I look at some of the web cams and see the depth of snow around here, I wonder if perhaps some of these places have record depth for this time of the year.  The snowstick down at Krupps is showing nearly 3 feet on the ground!  I can only imagine how much snow is down in the highest of terrain of the Porcupine Mountains.  That area has been in the main snow band since about Wednesday and I would not be surprised if they have not picked up 70-100" since then.  Wish we lived closer, it would be neat to sled into the park and then ski up to the overlook at Summit Peak.  Bet the depth there is even more than at Twin Lakes!
    Even my depth is pretty healthy.  We got into a decent band of snow Thursday night and picked up about 14-15" in about 6-7 hours.  I woke up at about 2 am.  The snow was coming down so hard at times it was triggering the motion sensor on the back yard lights to go off. Needless to say when I saw the heavy snow coming down I had a hard time getting back to sleep, so I came into the office and did a bit of work.  In the hour or so that I was in here, the snow depth on the snow station increased by over 2"!  Gotta love living here!
    It is now time for your day late and dollar short trail report.  On Thursday firearm deer season was over and we were finally able to take to the woods, so Burt and I headed up to the tracks to have a look around.  There was about 4-5" of snow on the ground, enough for a ride if you wanted, but no sleds had been through.  It seems like there is usually someone that comes through December 1st if there is enough snow, but not that day- at least not up to that point.  There was just one lone set of ATV tracks going down the trail. Of course the very early season riding can present some challenges and some hazards.  We had some pretty big wind storms during deer season and since no motorized vehicles are allowed in the woods during that time (except for a few select hours during the midday), the trail brushing and signing needs to be done prior to the 15th and then any final clean up work has to wait until December 1st.  This is one of those years where the clean up work will be a little more involved as Burt can attest to.  Sure would be a bummer to hook a ski on that blow down!  The good news is the groomers are out and they do a great job of cleaning things up.  So all should be pretty good now, but I would still strongly recommend taking it easy if you are headed up in the next few days.  In my travels out and about today I have seen some sleds.  Not a ton, but I probably saw 10-15 total today, so the season has started.
    The season started for me yesterday.  Yep, the clutch and carb work was completed on the 800 and I got the pleasure of testing it yesterday.  It is amazing how squeezing that throttle and feeling the sled take off is such a great feeling!  It was also amazing to me how much power that 800 had than the 700.  I know that I have not been on the 700 for about 7 months, so maybe I have forgotten exactly how it ran, but I know I was never able to let the sled stop pulling when I was testing.  I always ran out of space before letting it top out.  I did not even check the speed, I was too busy watching the tack and the EGT gauge.  I added that EGT (exhaust gas temperature) gauge to be on the safe side as far as carburetor jetting.  I would like to run this pretty close to as lean as possible, it lets the sled really maximize the HP, but too lean and you get a melt down- that's not good.  Al did a great job with both the jetting and clutching.  The tack jumped to 7800 rpm and stayed there the whole time and the EGT would jump to about 1180 degrees F and stay there too.  Both numbers just about as close to perfect as you can get.  Thankfully the temps yesterday were also close to what they are during a lot of the riding time up here, so I do not have to worry about the colder temps causing a lean condition.  So the 800 is rip roaring and ready to go and so am I!
    This morning Burt, Nora and I headed up to the property at first light to plow snow.  Al is letting me keep his ATV up there and the ATV has a plow on it, so we are going to keep the property open all winter and if it gets too deep for the ATV, Al will come up with his plow truck.  Although I must stay that ATV can really move some snow.  It was well over a foot deep up there today and it did not hesitate at all.  For those of you that have been checking out the "construction cam" and wondering what the sticks out there are for, they are to mark where the driveway is so that when we plow we do not go off the edge and get stuck.  Well, I was doing great moving the snow and got a little over confident in moving the snow as far to the edge as possible and ended up going off the edge.  Was not much of a problem to move the ATV back over and get out.  The sticks are more for when the truck is up there moving snow.  It would be a little more work to move a truck back up onto the driveway!
    Burt and Nora had a fun time exploring the snowy woods while I was moving snow.  Burt sure does love the property and I can't wait for us to live there.  I think he will just be beside himself being able to look out the window all day and watch all the critters that will wander by and then be able to just go outside and be right there.  He is such an outside dog.  Funny, Baileys liked the outdoors too, but she was really more of an indoor dog, especially if her daddy was inside.  While on their exploration this morning, Nora took some neat pictures.  Here is one of the shop all nestled in snug in the snowy woods.
    On the way home we came to a point where the trail crosses the road near the property and I saw that the groomers had been through.  Rather than stopping there, I just decided to head back home and shoot up Normand Road and take a picture of where the trail crosses that road.  That is the place from where I have taken many a picture of the trails to share with you.  Here is the view looking south and here is the view looking north.  Looking pretty good!
    Nora, Burt and I headed out to the school forest today.  That is one of our favorite stomping grounds in the winter and one we miss during deer season.  I promised to Nora that we would wait for her to be able to join us before going out there.  We had contemplated whether we should ski or hike out there and opted for hiking.  There are always a few wet spots out there in the early winter and they can make a mess out of the bottom of a cross country ski.  The snow was deep, but not too deep to hike and we did encounter some wet areas, so it was a good thing we opted out of the ski.  The school forest was it's usual beautiful place with all the new fallen snow.  Lots of critter tracks, looked like the deer were going crazy looking for some acorns out there.  I have never seen the snow so torn up by deer before.  Walking in the snow was a pretty good workout though and I was glad when we rounded the last bend and were on the home stretch.  I think we will all sleep good tonight!
    Well, I just looked outside and it's snowing pretty good again.  About an inch new since I started this.  Looks like we might even get the favored west wind in here tomorrow and or Monday.  Always can get a little interesting around here with a west wind!  Too bad we had those two thaws or it would be really deep up here!  I'll still take what we have, been the best it's ever been since I have lived here.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -