I really cannot believe that there are only 2 more days left in January. Looking out my window it should be the case where I am getting ready to welcome that month in! I suppose I cannot complain, we did pick up around 8-10" across the area on Saturday and there is over a foot down in most of the Keweenaw (still less than that in the lowest of elevation- especially near the lake). Plus there is snow in the forecast off and on most of the week, with the potential for some serious accumulations by the weekend. However, I am just having a hard time feeling grateful at this point. I know, I know, some folks will say that I am just spoiled and that I should be grateful for what snow I have that they would love to have it, but keep in mind that deep snow is about as close to a guarantee every year for this place as any place in the world. It is a huge reason why I moved up here and something that I look forward to every autumn. It would be different if it were not almost a guarantee, at least I could have that concept of the real possibility that this winter will not provide deep snow. But to know it is coming and then it does not, that is hard to take. I also know that we still have nearly 2 months of winter left up here and that in past winters that started like this, some of them February has provided dump after dump. But this is still hard to take.
But alas, I am not one to dwell too long on disappointments. I prefer to move on and make the most of what I have been dealt. After all, a string of losses in my life led to me being able to move up here, find the love of my life and live out my dreams. And this area is beautiful even without 4 feet of snow on the ground. So there is much to be thankful about and life will go on and be good.
As mentioned, we did get some snow over the weekend. Saturday really. It started to snow in the morning about 10 am. We had a convergence band roll through the Keweenaw and it came down at the rate of 1-2"/hour for about 30 minutes. The snows let up for a few hours and then started to come down pretty good again at about 2. Nora, Burt and I were actually on a walk as it started to come down pretty good again and here is what the snowy Keweenaw backroad looked like on our walk Saturday afternoon. We probably could have done better on our skis! It then kept up at a decent clip for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening and from around 2 until 8 or 9 we picked up about 8-9" of snow. Then Sunday it snowed off and on most of the day, but dry and more stable air caused the flakes to become quite small and we did not pick up more than about 1/2".
I did take a ride with Troy and Zach from the Lac La Belle lodge on Sunday. We were joined by two gentleman from Muncie IN who were staying at the lodge. It's always a treat to ride with Troy in that neck of the woods. It is still quite foreign to me, but Troy knows it so well, all I have to do is play follow the leader and mindlessly enjoy the views- and what views they are. That was Mount Houghton. It pretty much dominates the view up there whenever you have a clear vantage point. It is what allows me to keep my bearings at times too! Although I must admit that at times I am completely turned around up there. It only happened to me a half dozen times yesterday! Not that I would be completely lost, but there were several times I thought we were going in one direction and we were going in another. I think one thing that always messes me up is that as I ride I try to keep a "map of the region" in my head. Like I am looking down at the map and know where I am and what is around me. Works good most of the time, but at the tip of the Keweenaw the natural thing is to think of the very tip as the northern most point when it is actually the eastern most point. Because of this, I find that my bearings are off by about 90 degrees a lot of the time! The nice thing is that the snow is usually falling, so I can tell by that which way is which. Or if it is not snowing, then the sun is probably visible to some extent and I can tell direction by that. If it is not snowing and is cloudy with no definable base to the clouds to judge their movement, then things become very difficult to tell which way is which. That is when landmarks like Mount Houghton, the East Bluff, Lake Superior come in handy.
Even though the snow is not "Keweenaw deep" up there (yet!), it was deep enough to fully enjoy the back country. Troy knows lots of trails that others do not and we were making first tracks for much of the afternoon. Troy took us down to Hoar Lake to see if we could try some carving in the snow on it, but there was a slush layer on the ice and under the snow and that does not make for good carving conditions. One of the other destinations for the day was up to the very tip of the Keweenaw. They have marked and are grooming the trail to the tip this year (High Rock), but it is a trail that has a lot of bumps and large rocks on it and right now does not have much snow on it, so we spent about a mile on it and then jumped off onto a side trail that took us to another trail and then to another and soon we were riding along the lake shore. Not much snow right along the lake shore up there right now either, but enough and one cannot complain too much about not having deep snow when you are riding along and have this off your left shoulder. No we were not riding on the rocks, that was the "beach" we were riding on an old two track that follows the shoreline and had 4-5" of snow on it. This was the look back to the north. The waves right near the shore were not too big, but the waves about a mile off shore were really big, you could actually see them bobbing up and down that far out.
After admiring the big lake for a while, we headed back to the west and south. It just amazes me how fast the snow gets deeper as you head away from the lake and gain a bit of elevation. On the way home, I spied some nice climbing hills when they get some more snow up there. Not sure if I could find them again, but they are on a pretty prominate set of hills up that way and I could probably find a way in to them. We stopped for a rest and got another view of Mount Houghton. I liked that one so much, here is a full sized version. We made it back safe and sound and I loaded the 700 (the 800 is just too much sled for this amount of snow) onto Old Blue and headed home to a nice home cooked meal and the rest of my Sunday work! All told we probably put on about 50 miles in that afternoon ride. A lot of miles for backcountry riding, but the conditions were good and we had a great leader. I am already looking forward to my next ride up north and Troy if you are reading this, I think the only lake left to bag for me is Breakfast.
I guess that about does it for this one. Just a reminder that time is running out to register for the ride in. We still have a few weeks left, but no time like the present. I was just told that we actually have a beneficiary for this years ride in. She is a 6 year old girl from Marquette. I do not have any further details, but will see if I can get more. I also hope to be able to have her and her family attend the ride in as the Guests of Honor. I know there has to be some folks that are still on the fence about coming or donating, but imagine this: Your own 6 year old daughter or son has a life threatening illness. Their life right now is not filled with playing with friends or all the other fun things that fill up a 6 year old's life. It is filled with hospital visits, tests and treatments. None of them are any fun and most are more frightening than you could ever imagine. Then imagine that there is an orginization out there who's sole puropose is to try and do all they can to grant your daughter or sons wish and make a very scary time a little less scary and a little more fun. That is what this years ride-in will be doing and why I need you to make a commitment now. Not later after it is too late. We cannot let this young girl down. Wishes are about hopes and dreams and we cannot let this hope and dream go unanswered. Not for this little girl. So visit the registration page and read about how you can help. If you want you can e mail "email@example.com" or the registration coordinator "John_E_Stachler@quakeroats.com" for more info.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
|This business directly sponsors johndee.com|
Seems shorted than 4 days since I last wrote! My sense of time must be all off or something, the last time I wrote I talked about how it seemed like longer than 4 days since I last wrote. I have a feeling this will be a short one. I know I say that many times and 12 paragraphs later I am finally signing off, but this time I think I may keep my word. Not much has been going on since I last wrote, but I will be very busy tomorrow and then Sunday may end up getting busy as well, so I figured I would "clear my plate" of things to do and get out a journal.
We are in a bit of a snow drought. Burt and I took a ski today and our tracks made on Sunday were clearly visible. That is sad when 6 days can pass in January and we can still see our tracks. I guess I really should not be complaining. We have snow and there is enough to play in. A week ago my spirits were much higher and we had the same amount of snow, so I guess things are just relative to the amount of new snow that falls. I was even reading past journals from last year and the year before and looking at shots with the snow 3-4 times deeper than it is right now and I was still complaining, so you see, I am one of those folks where it can just never snow too much. I just cannot imagine there ever being a point where I say: "enough already, I do not want any more snow!".
There is some snow coming for tonight, tomorrow and into early Sunday and then maybe some more for later Monday and into Tuesday with the promise of more- perhaps lots more by the end of next week and the following weekend. I say "the promise" as the models really have been in the mode where they promise things out about 5 or more days in advance and then as we get closer and closer to the day or reckoning, things are not nearly as impressive. I sure wish it would end up being the opposite. I like it when the surprise comes in the form of more snow not less. Also, I am always amazed at how we can get into a snow rut and it seems like no matter what the atmosphere is doing, it just does not want to produce snow over us and then we can get into a situation where just the opposite occurs. It snows if you go outside and sneeze in the right direction. Man I wish that would happen!
The trails seem to be holding up OK. At least from what I have seen in my travels around the area via the road. There is more traffic up here now. It seems like once Houghton/Hancock got enough snow to support traffic then they started coming north into the northern end of the Keweenaw. With the snow indicated to start late tonight or early tomorrow and keep up for most of tomorrow, the conditions should be able to hold their own with the weekend traffic. I am going to be a "tag along" on a KSE ride tomorrow. I am not sure if it will be the first one for the season or if some have gone out this week. It's really neat to see and nice to know that those guys were holding off until conditions became good enough to take folks out and did not just take folks out to get their money. I know the guides there really take a sense of pride in trying to show folks the best time they can and I also know that before each ride the guides think a lot about where they will be going in hopes of making the ride the best it can be. I know I am looking forward to the ride tomorrow. I think it is still just as fun for me to head out as it was the very first time I rode with those guys and it is also nice to be able to just mindlessly tag along and not have to worry about leading!
About the only other order of business is to remind you all about the ride in. The numbers of folks registered has doubled in the last month or so, but we are still a little shy of last years numbers and I was really hoping to grow the numbers from last year to this. There have been quite a few folks that have said they cannot make the ride in, but have made contributions to the event. We have been able to raise several hundred dollars from those good folks. The folks at the JohnDee.com Store also have the event t-shirts for sale on their site. For each shirt purchased a $5 contribution to the ride in charity the Make A Wish Foundation will be made. One other note about the store. I was asked by the folks that run it if I had any ideas for new products. I mentioned to them how I thought it might be funny to add the phrase "Stupid El Nino" in front of ThinkSnow! to some of the products and they are going to produce some bumper stickers with that and are looking into the possibility of adding it to some of the other items, so check the store for that in a few weeks.
I guess that about wraps it up for this one. See, I kept my word this time!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Seems longer than 4 days since I last wrote, but I guess the past 3-4 days have been pretty event filled, so maybe that is why. I was able to score the hat trick of riding days over the weekend (three in a row). I cannot even remember the last time that was achieved. We did not end up shooting any video for this years DVD. Conditions were just not good enough for that in most areas. Dobson was planning on coming up in February anyway and we also have a week in Wyoming to make enough bloopers, er I mean exciting riding shots to allow them to put together a decent DVD. Actually I think the footage in WY alone would give him enough to produce a great DVD, but I know he wants to do some different story lines and wants to include the Keweenaw.
On Friday I hooked up with Skylar and Co. and we rode around the southern Keweenaw. I am in discovery mode right now, trying to learn all the trails in this neck of the woods. It's funny that just as I was really getting to know the trails in the valley I am off to living in a new spot with new places to learn. Some places in the valley I am sure I will go to as they are just as close to me now as they were when I lived in Lake Linden. Plus, the crew still lives or will be riding a lot in the valley, so when I hook up with them I will likely be doing some riding in the valley.
It's neat doing the exploring though. This weekend took me to several places I have never been to before. Seems hard to believe that I have been riding the backcountry up here for 7 years and there are still places I have yet to see, but there are probably 100's of miles of backwoods trail that I have yet to even see- mostly in areas in northern Keweenaw County. Anyway, Skylar and his crew showed up at our place Friday early afternoon and we took off for our ride. Initially we stuck to areas that I knew would have decent snow and where I have been before on several occasions, but that still did not stop me from getting a little bit turned around. We reached a certain geographical marker, but in a different spot than I had anticipated. So we rode on and eventually stopped for some fuel at the Vansville in Phoenix and then took off for some more exploring. As we rode closer and closer to the lake, the snow got thinner and thinner. At one point I feared we would have to turn around because we would run out of snow, but the depth stabilized and gave us just enough snow to get down to the lake. The snow may not be typical mid-January deep up here, but the shoreline is filled with ice castles like you would find around there in mid-January. After gawking at the big lake for a while we headed back up into the higher terrain and where the snow was a little better. Not long after the sun was setting so we went in to one of the local watering holes to warm up and then they headed back south to Twin Lakes and I made the quick ride home to dinner. I felt a little bad that we ended up in some low snow conditions, but was surprised where we found them We were several miles inland and not much lower in elevation that our house here, but I guess with this strange winter we are having this year we are bound to encounter some strange variances in conditions. Hopefully the next time they are up the snow will be ankle deep- if you go in head first!
On Saturday I was suppose to hook up with one of the guys and ride in the afternoon, so I got up early, did all my chores. Nora and I got the weekly shopping out the way and then no phone call. I tried calling him and nothing. Finally I talked to his wife and she said he was out riding with others down in the Twin Lakes area. I was a little upset and sad that he had not called to let me know as I could have made other plans and now it was getting too late in the day to try and make plans with others, so I putted with my sled , feeling sorry for myself when Nora said she would go for a ride with me. I said sure and just as we were getting ready, my cell phone rang and it was Al telling me that a bunch of the guys were meeting up for a ride. I asked Nora if it was all right if I rode with them and she had no problem with that as she was just offering to ride with me to make me happy. So I loaded the 800 into Old Blue and headed north to the rendezvous spot.
As we headed into the bush and rode through the woods, I was glad that we had decided to postpone the filming. The snow was plenty deep for riding the back country on the logging roads, but for some of the other things that Rick likes to have the gang do it would have been downright dangerous. I know I bounced off more than one stump and Al said he almost went over the handle bars at least once. We did end up at one of the jumping spots and Matt got a little more familiar with his new ride as did Nick.
We rode till dark and then put them away for the day. No one had any crashes (well, except for that nice end-o Nick did for us!) or did any damage to their sleds, but I know I was really cautious about doing too much. Once this snow settles and we get some fresh, then conditions in the back country will be much better. Hopefully we will not have to wait too much longer for that next burst of snow. I know I am keeping an eye for this weekend and actually much of next week. My main concern is that the models keep promising quite a bit of snow in the period beyond day 5 and then when we get into the period inside of day 5 they start backing off the ideas for snow. So we'll see if they can hang onto the idea for this weekend and next week.
Yesterday I asked Nora if she wanted to go for a ride. I don't think that she even went for a ride last year and I have been wanting to let her get more comfortable on a sled. I promised that it would be just the two of us and we would take it easy and go at a pace where she would be comfortable and enjoy herself. So she agreed and we took off on the sleds yesterday afternoon. She enjoys the back country more as well, so that is where we rode. It was a lot of fun as I was able to go at a comfortable pace for her and be able to pay close attention to the terrain and markings that will help me in future rides. We found some unexplored trails and made the first tracks on them. Many lead to dead ends (probably the reason no other tracks were on them!), but at least now I know that they dead end and it is still fun to make first tracks and be exploring a new trail doing it. We did manage to find some trails that I was looking for and my only regret was that it was getting late and we needed to get back to the cabin so that I could finish my Sunday work and we could cook dinner.
She had a blast. She said it was the most fun she has had on a sled and is excited to make future trips. I know I am looking forward to riding with her again soon and hopefully we will be able to get out a couple of times a week. Right now the only drawback is that she does not get home until almost 4 and it gets dark at about 5:30, so that does not give us a ton of daylight, but the sun will be setting later and later in the day from here on out and we should be able to take some fun rides. Even if we get out of the back country and onto the regular trails by dark we would be OK. I also look forward to taking some evening rides to dinner. I know I used to do that with a friend several years ago. Every Tuesday for about a month straight we would ride north to dinner and it was a lot of fun. We did that in March when the trails quiet down and I think that is when Nora and I will likely start taking dinner rides.
Well, I guess that about covers it, which is good because I am getting sleepy!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Gonna sneak off a quick one. I really do not have much to say, but am going to be busy riding tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday, so I do not know when I will be able to write next. My uncle is up visiting and my brother was suppose to arrive today, but has a dog with a back problem and had to stay back down south. My uncle leaves tomorrow and without my brother here I have scheduled a ride with friends tomorrow afternoon. Then the crew from Dobson Entertainment will be up filming us on Saturday and Sunday so I will be out riding most of those two days as well. Not sure what we are going to do for filming spots. This has never happened, but there is not enough snow in the valley to go to any of our typical play spots and even in the higher terrain there will not likely be enough to get any serious riding in. It is snowing now and we could pick up around 4-8" by Saturday morning, with some spots even picking up more, but we really need a foot to 18" to give us the type of snowpack we want for what we do while filming. I talked to the film crew this morning and said that there is enough snow that we can ride and we will just have to be a little more creative in our shot location and what we shoot. They are planning on coming up in February and then we are all going out to Togwotee in Wyoming in March to shoot, so there is no real pressure to try and get a ton of video shot this weekend, but at least I get to do some riding!
Been doing some skiing the past few several days. It is so nice to be able to just ski right from the front door of the cabin! When I first moved to Lake Linden I could do that, but had to cross a few streets and then someone bought the lot that we used to get into the bush, so that ended that. But I know we are safe here. No roads to cross and where we exit our property to continue into the woods there is not likely to be any development, so I think we will be safe with our ski trail for years and years. There are a couple of holes that the path that I use to get through our woods right now. I have been trying to fill them in with snow by shoveling snow into the holes and then packing it down. I have the two biggest holes about 2/3rds of the way filled and a small one yet to do. If we get the 4-8" in the next 24 hours or so, then I should be able to fill in the rest of the holes 100%. As it is right now, I can still ski over the holes, but it is a little interesting. I think next spring I will find a better path to use as our way to ski and hike out of our woods and into the back country.
I only took two pictures since Sunday and they were actually taken on the ski on Monday. The snowstorm on Monday was in the process of finishing up and all told we picked up about 7" of snow with it. It sure made everything very beautiful. It is so nice to be able to just strap on the skis, head out the door and ski out in the backcountry of the Keweenaw. That is actually part of an old railroad grade and some of the locals use it for snowmobiling too. I am actually glad that it will get the snowmobile usage as well, that way the snow will be packed down for us to ski on and for Burt to walk on. Breaking trail can be fun, but if we get into a decent snow cycle up here, there can be 2 feet of snow to have to break through if I do not ski in a couple of days. Not that I would be complaining about a couple of feet of snow in a few days! but you get the idea.
On Tuesday Burt and I went down to Lake Linden to check on things and I could not believe the lack of snow they had compared to what we have up here. We actually got more snow on Monday than the total they had on the ground for the entire season! Man, am I glad that I am not living there and having to deal with that! I think I would have gone nuts by now, or perhaps pitched a tent here at the property and lived in it, just to be where it snows. Even today I talked to Al down in Lake Linden and while we talked it was snowing and had been for about an hour and he said that it was not snowing there and that the sun had even just been our briefly. It is joked that Lake Linden is in the banana belt and while l lived there I did notice that they do not get as much snow as some other areas, but nothing as dramatic as this year. Got out just in the nick of time!
Wow, I really do not have much else to write about. The 7" of snow we got on Monday was all the trails up by me needed. They are 100% snow covered now and the groomers have been running regularly. I even saw the groomer go by when we were returning from our ski yesterday. No pics of the trail by me, but trust me, they are in good shape. It has remained pretty quiet up here this week and I am actually looking forward to being on them a bit tomorrow! I am sure we will get busier this weekend, but am just amazed at how quiet it still is up here. I don't know if it is that quiet everywhere, or maybe because the snow is still marginal right down in the lower elevations of Houghton/Hancock that are keeping folks from traveling north into my neck of the woods or what. If it is quiet this weekend I will just be amazed. One thing is for sure, if you want to experience the Keweenaw as it used to be about 15 years ago, come on up during the week (and maybe even the weekend) right now, it's still a ghost town!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Good morning from the Keweenaw! This will probably not be too long of an entry. The main purpose is really more of a conditions report for this area, I was thinking of just writing up something in the General Discussions board, but thought that putting it here might catch more eyes. I went for a nice ride yesterday and also on our way down to Houghton to shop yesterday morning Nora and I went by some trail crossings to take pics for you all. So I have a nice set of pics to share with you. The one thing I can say is that WE HAVE SNOW. It varies depending on location, but there is not a spot from Houghton north that you could not ride right now. The average depth around here is about 4-8" on the ground, but there are areas with 12"+ and I am not going to argue with someone that says they have less than 4", but they are few and far between at this point. Most areas from Houghton north picked up at least 4" of new snow on Friday, with my locale picking up about 6-7" new and some spots in Keweenaw County picking up close to a foot of new snow. That is what north winds will do around here (more snow the further north you go).
The other thing I can say about things up here are that they are very, very quiet- almost like a ghost town and it reminds me a lot of what things were like when I first started visiting this area about 16 years ago. I am not sure why things are so quiet, perhaps because there is a general thinking ou there that we just do not have snow up here. Well, that is just not true. I have read some reports from folks about 50 miles from us that say that their area is about the only place with ride able snow. Not sure why they are saying we don't have snow and I am not going to argue about their snow situation as I have not been down there, but I can say we have ride able snow an in some areas we rode yesterday the trail conditions are as good as I have ever seen them. No this is not a "tourism board" report either. I do have pictures to back up my words.
So onto the conditions report. As mentioned, Nora and I "went to town" yesterday morning to do our weekly shopping. We swung by the trail up here to take a picture of it's condition. To tell you the honest truth, the trail looked better the day before. I am just speculating and do not mean to complain, but to me it looked as though the groomer might have set the drag a little too low in that spot and had removed a bit too much snow off the trail. The day before it had just been panned and had more snow on it. So there were some rocks in that section, but that was about the worst of anything that I saw yesterday. We then drove south through the valley and the next picture is from where I used to take lots of my trail condition shots- at the trail up behind Lake Linden off of Normand Rd. I was actually a little surprised that conditions were that good down there as just a few days ago, Lake Linden had little to no snow. Shows what even 4-5" of new snow can do for an area. The next stop down the line was just north of Dollar Bay at a road crossing for the trail. Not a ton of snow, but enough to ride on and also about the same as what Lake Linden had. The only problem I saw in that shot was the burn out that some pin head had decided to make after crossing the road. I did not take any further pictures of conditions as they were about the same all the way into Hancock and Houghton. The snow mat under the bridge is not there yet, but you can still cross under the bridge (they did not even start manually putting the snow mat under the bridge until a few years ago). I can also say that we did not take any pictures of the snow conditions or trails on the upper trail. We did take Hwy 41 home and I can say that there is at least twice as much snow on the ground from Quincy Hill north as there is down in the low lands like Lake Linden, Dollar Bay and Houghton/Hancock. I can also say that the trail conditions that I saw in those areas were as good or better than what we saw down low.
On the way down I got a call from a friend to see if I wanted to go riding. He is someone that I have ridden in the past with on several occasions and I have a feeling that we will be hooking up to ride many times in the future as he likes to do the type of riding that I do (mostly back country), he lives about a mile away and also has a very similar schedule as me. He was wanting to go riding that morning, but said he could wait until noon when I was done with our shopping. So Nora and I got all the shopping done, came home, had lunch and then I hopped on the 800 and met up with Scott, his daughter and her boyfriend. We rode a small section of the trail from Mohawk north and it was in pretty decent shape. Completely snow covered and groomed. After that we jumped off trail and wove our way through the woods up to Lac La Belle. The back country has enough snow to play in as long as you are sticking to safe areas like logging roads. I would not even begin to think of hill climbing and even though we went down the pole line for a bit, I stuck to the safe zone where the road goes and did not venture off into the more challenging spots for fear of hitting a stump or rock and ending the ride prematurely. We jumped out of the woods and back onto the trail about 3-4 miles south of Lac La Belle. The snow there got thinner and thinner the lower and lower in elevation we went. Usually the Lac La Belle area has way more snow that most other spots, but so far this winter they have been a little snow challenged. There was still enough snow in the trails to ride, but the last 2 miles or so before the Lac La Belle Rd was thin and had some leaves and even a few small rocks to miss. The roads did have enough snow to ride the shoulders over the the lodge where we stopped and refreshed ourselves.
I actually had plans to go to the lodge with Nora and help them install a web camera that evening and then have dinner, so I decided to stay, while Scott and the gang headed back south. I called Nora and let her know of my change of plans and asked her to bring Old Blue when she came up rather than the Blazer so we could put the 800 in the back and drive home and not have to ride home alone. Troy and his son Zach had a few chores to attend to and I tagged along for them and then Troy asked if I wanted to take a little ride with him and Zach. Already knowing what my answer would be it was probably more of a rhetorical question, but it was polite of him to phrase it in the form of a question!
We hopped on our sleds and head out from the lodge. Troy knows the backcountry around the lodge and points north and east as well as anyone (that not just being a cliché). He runs a hunting guide service in the late Summer and Autumn and puts 1000's of miles on his Atv's and trucks in the back country performing those duties. So if there are neat things to see up there, Troy know where they are. We got on the trail that heads from Lac La Belle to the Mandan trail. I am actually not sure of it's number as I do not have a trail map in front of me and do not know the trail numbers by heart. Anyway, right at lake level the snow was thin. About 4-5" on the ground. However, the trail puts on some elevation pretty quickly and in less than a half mile the snow on the ground had doubled and the conditions were very good. They have been grooming up here, but with no sleds to tear things up and very cold temps, the trails are about as good as you could get. We stopped for a photo op of Paddy's Pond (fsv) and I also snapped a shot of the trails we were riding on.
After that we rode up the trail a bit more, jumped off trail and headed for one of the scenic overlooks up there in that region - Mt. Houghton. As we climbed the mount the snow got deeper and deeper and even on the wind swept face of the hill, there was about a foot of snow or more down. Of course one cannot go to the top of Mt. Houghton and not take a picture (it is the ONLY thing you should take while up there). Here is a shot looking east towards Bete Gris, Lac La Belle and way off in the distance (not visible in the shot) is the hamlet of Gay. Here is a shot utilizing the cameras zoom to see the tip of the Keweenaw and Manitou Island off the tip. Here is a shot of Zach standing in the snow on top of Mt. Houghton.
After the photo taking and taking in of the views, we headed back down and did a bit more riding off trail before jumping back onto the trail. Here is a shot of the Lac La Belle trail with Mt. Houghton in the background. Before long we came upon the Mandan Loop, which is one of the main snowmobile trails up here. About the only time you will see a freshly groomed Mandan with no tracks on it is right after the groomer has come through. It is a popular trail and gets regular grooming, but the fresh ribbon does not last long before the tracks start to appear on it. It had been groomed overnight yesterday and had one track on it. Did I mention that it is quiet up here?
We got off trail again and stopped at one of the spots that Troy likes to use for deer hunting. It is actually the spot where his wife bagged a buck this autumn and Troy pointed out to me some rubs from the bucks this Autumn. We also dug into the snow to see how deep it was and after digging through about 6-8" of powdery snow and another 2" of soft, but compacted snow and then another 4 inches of rock hard snow we found ground. All told about 12-14" of snow up in those spots. That is about as deep as In encountered all day, although we did encounter snow that deep in several occasions on our way through the woods of Keweenaw County. We continued on riding through the back country. Troy leading the way and taking us down one path and then off onto another and then another and then another. I sure hope that someday I will know the woods half as well as guys like Troy. To be able to know where all these places are and how to get to them. Of course it is also fun to just follow his lead and to me the most enjoyable part of the trip is just cruising along the back country trails at about 25-30 mph, taking it all in. For those that love the path less traveled, here is a full sized version of that last shot.
So, in closing: We have enough snow up here to ride on. Some spots have more than others. Some spots are in excellent shape, while others would be in the good and some in the marginal category. There is more snow in the forecast for just about every day this week and into the weekend and early part of next week. Perhaps not feet of new snow, but with temps to stay cold the only way to go is up at this point. I am not sure how long the "ghost town" situation will last once word gets out that you can in fact ride the Keweenaw, but for now things are very, very quiet and you would practically have the place to yourself. Pretty much unheard of in January when we have snow. Guess that about covers it for this time and even though it is still morning I will keep with tradition and say-
Good night from the Keweenaw..
This is my intoxicant... and I have been drunk all day.
Yep, it has finally been a good old fashioned winter day here in the Keweenaw. When I awoke and started work at about 4:30 this morning the flakes were already flying and we had picked up maybe an inch of new snow. By the time Nora headed off to work at about 6:15 there was probably about 1 inches down. By 9 am we had about 3 1/2" and as of this writing we are somewhere between 5 and 6" new. It has not stopped all day and for most of the day has actually been snowing at a fairly respectable clip. It is a light and fluffy snow, but still is adding to the snowpack and really starting to make things look nice around here. That last picture was taken on our afternoon walk. Burt and I headed off into the woods and out past Burt's pond. It was quite brisk with a temp right around 10 degrees and some winds too boot, but boy was it nice to be out there in the snow.
Really is amazing how some snow can just perk my spirits right up. Last night when I went to bed I was starting to feel myself slip back into the nasties, but the sight of the flakes this morning caused my heart to pick up it's tempo and the fact that it has been snowing all day has set my attitude up nice for the weekend. I think I need to see about trade marking a word, you know, just like that sports guy did with the phrase 3-peat? Anyway, my word would be snow-buzz. It's that feeling of euphoria you get when it just keeps on snowing. It's been a long, long time coming this year. Normally I do not even have to wait until December is here to catch my first snow-buzz and I know that since I have moved up here this is the longest I have had to wait. Heck, I even got to use the snowthrower for the first time all season today. If we were still living back in Lake Linden, I would not have used it, but with the amount of driveway that I need to clear up here, shoveling is really out of the question.
So we had a nice walk this afternoon. For some reason Burt did not really want to go to far and that was OK with me. It was quite brisk out and I also wanted to get back to the cabin and take care of a few things before I finally called it quits for the work week. I still managed to snap a few more shots. This one is of the back corner of Burt's Pond. It is really more of a beaver dam/swamp, but in the summer is deep enough for him to swim in. Every day when we head out to walk, I have to pinch myself to make sure it is really true that all I have to do is step out my front door, hang a left, walk for about 100 feet and I am in the backwoods of the Keweenaw. I am not sure it can get any better than that. On our way back it was neat to see the wood boiler making heat in the falling snow.
Our walk today also took us across the snowmobile trail. No more walking down it until the season is over, but we do cross it at a 90 degree angle. The new snow we picked up today really made quite an improvement. Not that I would classify it as "excellent", but the condition today was actually better than when I rode my one and only ride this season back in early December. Things are very quiet up here right now- especially for a holiday weekend for some. I understand as just yesterday things were in a much different condition around here. It will be interesting to see how busy it gets up here tomorrow and Sunday. I know I am a little tempted to take a little ride. Perhaps if things are not too busy, Nora and I can take a little spin up to Phoenix or something. There is still not enough snow in the woods to play in the back country. Well, I suppose a logging road that was free of any obstacles would be just fine, but for most of the places we like to ride we like to have at least a foot and a half of base.
I sure hope that the visitors to the area start to arrive. The businesses up here sure are ready for them! I know some businesses that were even closed up to this point have opened today and will remain open for the rest of the season. I am betting that just about every business that was not open yet for the season is open now. There are not too many that close for the autumn and spring seasons, most of them being restaurants as well. The low snow up here so far has also caused the locals to go into action to prepare for the Michigan Tech Winter Carnival. The official start of the building of the snow statues will occur this Sunday, but already they are trucking in snow from the Airport. I know a few years ago they needed to truck snow over from the cities of Houghton and Hancock, but there was not much of that snow around this year and I think what little there was got trucked over to the tech cross country ski trails for the ski competition last week. I also know that the city of Houghton has canceled the snow luge for this year. Last year they created a luge track down one of the streets that go up the hill in Houghton. With the lack of snow, they have decided to conserve it for the snow statues. Of course if things turn around (like is indicated) and they have enough snow for the statues, then perhaps the luge might just happen. I did not even get to see the luge last year, but if they have it this year, I will really try to get down there.
Burt and I have been taking to the woods every day, not just today. He really looks forward to his walks and he is getting around better now than he has in quite some time. We will walk 2 and even 3 miles and at the end he is not favoring his problem leg at all. He even has gotten into the habit of running around when we let him out after eating his dinner. I don't know what that is all about, but it just warms my heart to see him do it! It reminds me of when he was a pup and would play chase with Baileys. On the walk the other day I decided to look back for some reason and spotted our tracks in the snow. I found it funny to see my set of tracks going on a fairly straight line and Burt's wandering back and forth. You cannot see them, but there are some snout prints in the snow as well (on Burt's side!). I think I mentioned in a previous journal how Burt has gotten into the habit of telling me where he wants to go. On our Wednesday walk he stopped like he does when he wants to go a certain direction. I did not even notice, but we were at the spot where we climbed the hill about a month ago. I was just amazed that he actually remembered where we turned off the trail to climb that hill. So up the hill we went, right to the top. On the way up I looked at him leading the way and decided to call the hill "Burt's Hill". So now we have Burt's Pond and Burt's Hill. Here is a pic of Burt about halfway up his hill.
Well, I guess that about does it for this one. I just have one last announcement. The deadline for registering for the ride in and still being able to get your shirt at the ride in (rather than having it mailed to you) is now February 3rd rather than this Monday. So that's a nice development. Well, I guess I will sign off so I can go and watch the snow fall in the lights outside and recharge my snow-buzz.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Well, my optimism hit the wall yesterday. All last week as we were going through the thaw, I was looking beyond- to this week's cold and snow, to keep my spirits up. Well, we got the cold and some areas are getting the snow, but up until late Saturday or Sunday I really thought we would be in store for about 6-10" of snow from Sunday night into Tuesday. So far about an inch and a half. I suppose we could still get put under a strong band before the lake effect shuts down tomorrow morning and pick up a quick 5-6" and that would put us into the expected snowfall totals, but that 5-6" between now and tomorrow morning is a long shot and I am certainly not even considering it. My spirits today are actually quite a bit better than yesterday. Yesterday was my rock bottom for this event and this winter so far. I had actually been doing very well all winter (considering) up until late Saturday and Sunday when the system that was suppose to bring us a couple of inches of system snow had it's moisture stolen from a surprise system that developed across IN, MI and OH. Also occurring on Sunday was the westerly winds for Monday that would have put us in a decent setup for lake effect were changed to be more out of the NW and also drier air was forecasted. So we were robbed of the accumulating snows for Sunday and the meaningful LES event for Monday was taken out of the cards. One of these snow removal events probably would have been ok with me, but both was just too much for me to remain in a good mood about things.
It's not that I was at the end of my rope or anything. Just in a bad mood is all. I have been there before with weather events up here and they always pass, so I never get worried about being in a bad mood and I also try ad if not tell Nora outright I am in a bad mood, at least give her some warning signs that are not upsetting to her! For about 98% of the time I am a very enjoyable person to be around, but when I am in a bad mood, just leave me alone! I spent most of the afternoon and evening up in my office looking over things and just making myself more and more upset at the situation.
My mood was not much better when I woke up this morning, but it has improved as the day went on. It has been snowing all day and I think that has helped. We have not picked up too much new snow today, about an inch. At times it really comes down, but that only lasts for a few minutes and then we go back to light snow or even flurries for another 20 minutes before the next band of heavier snow rolls in. It's funny, even though I know there is about a 95% chance that each of the heavier snow bursts will only last a few minutes, when I see one happening, I keep wishing that it will just keep up like that for a few hours! Ahh the life of a snow addict! Quite honestly, even after the big storms and we have picked up feet of snow I am sad to see the snow lighten up!
There are areas up here that have done better with this LES event and I am happy for them, because some of them had bare ground before it started. We actually have enough on the ground that if someone really wanted to ride they could. Burt and I took to the trail for our afternoon walk today. I figured there would be little to no traffic on it and was right. There was one lone track on the trail made by a snowmobiler, but that was it. As mentioned at times it would come down pretty good and here is a shot taken of the trail about 5 minutes after that first one.
Everything has froze up well now and we will be all set for when the heavier snows do arrive. So that is a real plus. Nothing like getting a bunch of snow and having it turn to a sloppy mess in a day or two when all the puddles are exposed. Of course there is still some running water out there. We walked past the swamp and the water was still running through it. But it was a chilly walk today. Temps only in the teens and the snow was crunching under foot. The winds have been howling all day as well and it did feel good to feel the sting of the air on my face as we were walking this afternoon. I am not normally one to enjoy the really cold stuff, but it did feel good today! This is only the second day this entire winter where we have been below 20 for the high for the day. Actually the high for the day was made around midnight when we were around 23 and has been falling since.
As we were returning to the cabin through our woods the snow started to pick up again and kept up in time for me to take a picture of the cabin during some decent snowfall. Hopefully that is the first of many, many such shots this winter and for the next several winters to come.
I have to announcements to make before I forget. If you plan to attend the ride in this March and would like to be able to pick up your shirt at the event, you will need to register by this Monday, January the 15th. If you register after that date you will still receive a shirt, but we will have to mail it to you after the event. We are getting more and more folks to sign up, so that's good. Plus we have received some donations from folks who wanted to contribute and could not attend and I am very grateful to those folks too! I sure hope we can get some more so sign up. I think this years event will be even better than last years. The other item is a little note about the Valley Sno Drifters fund raising event. It is a spaghetti dinner that is held at the Dreamland Hotel. It is the 21st event for this club and is the main fund raiser for the club that maintains the Dreamland Snowmobile Trail. The tickets cost $6.00 and it is an all you can eat affair. If you are in the area on Sunday February 11th, stop in at the Dreamland Hotel for a great spaghetti dinner and help out one of the local clubs. You can get tickets at the door or you can buy in advance by contacting Todd Sarazin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well, I guess that about covers it for this one. Please do not be worried at all about me! I am just fine. Yesterday was a different story, but still just crabby, nothing more. It is snowing right now and I live in a beautiful place- even without 4 feet of snow on the ground. The forecast looks really good for the next 2 weeks, even beyond, so my spirits will continue to improve as the snow gets deeper. Who knows maybe tomorrow I will wake up to enough to allow Burt and I to have a good ski tomorrow afternoon!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Day 4 of the meltdown. The dripping has stopped and the puddles have froze. We dropped below freezing this morning and picked up some flurries this morning. The whiskey ran out this morning and I am not sure how much longer I can go on... Hey wait a minute. I am having a Deja Vu moment right now. Hmmm...wonder why. Actually, I am still hanging in there. Although this is really one for the record books. Long time locals have all said they have not seen anything like this occur. We have had slow starts before, but not like this. I was actually going to look back over the record books and see if this is in fact the slowest start we have ever had, but figured it might just really depress me, so I didn't. A strange things seems to be happening to a few locals that I know of up here that do not like snow that much. They have gone from being happy about the winter so far to a little worried about what is down the road. Seems they know that we always get a fair amount of snow up here, even in an off year and if we have gone this long without much, what is going to happen for us to get caught up? Hope their biggest fears come true!!!
Thank goodness for that snow we got New Years Eve, or I think I may have lost it. That snow did manage to hang on through this latest round of warm weather. We broke high temperature records Wednesday (43), Thursday (41) and Friday (37). Yesterday Nora, Burt and I went down into Lake Linden to check on things and there was little to no snow there. Pretty depressing look really and I am glad to be up on the hill where there is snow. It has been so long since we had an honest to goodness snowfall and snowcover around here, that I have actually forgotten what it is like! I know that may sound strange, but I have actually yet to see it come down really good so far this winter. In all my wildest dreams I never thought I would be saying those words on January 6th living in the Keweenaw.
At least the thaw is over and it looks to stay below freezing for the next 2 weeks at least. Plus there is snow in the forecast. Much of it lake effect, so it hard to say just how much will fall, but I think a week from now we should certainly have enough to play in and in two weeks it could be Keweenaw deep around here. That is one nice thing about living in this neck of the woods, things can and do change in a hurry. You can literally go to bed with bare ground and wake up to 2 feet of snow and never look back. Not that I see that type of transformation coming, but I do see a situation where it will start snowing around here tomorrow morning and may not stop for any longer than 4-8 hours for the next 2 weeks. As Martha would say- that's a good thing.
They had the Cross Country Ski Nationals up here this past week. Due to the lack of snow in the area where the races are being held, they went around to all the ball playing fields and scooped up the snow from those spots, trucked it to the ski trails and dumped it down. From what I hear that worked quite well and here is a shot of one section of the race course from this afternoon. I grabbed that from the web cam that MI Tech has out there and is on the NCN for Houghton/Hancock. Too bad we cannot do that sort of a snow replacement on the snowmobile trails! Man what a job that would be! Speaking of the snowmobile trails, here is what they looked like in my neck of the woods yesterday afternoon. Here is another look at a different area not too far from the house. They actually held up pretty well all things considered. Nora, Burt and I walked a bit of them today and they are froze solid, so we do have a fairly decent base to build upon. There were a few puddles that were still in need of freezing solid, but those should freeze up solid in the next day or so.
The mat on the drive way survived the thaw as well. Although it is more of an ice skating rink right now than a mat of snow. That will not be a problem with the first new snow. I can just leave a bit on the ice when I clear the drive way and it will get panked down and make for a nice and safe mat to walk and drive on.
With the low amount of snow on the ground Burt and I have been able to do more walking in the woods around the house. We have actually been spending lots of time exploring our own land. Even though I have owned the land for about 5 years now and there is only about 10 acres, there are spots on it that we have never even been to. Much of the land is so densely grown in that you can only get to it when the vegetation is off the plants and trees and even then some areas are so thick it is still a challenge. The problem in some spots is that there are so many trees down that you cannot even walk through. So Burt and I have been busy this week scouting out the property for where we will do some clearing and make some little trails. Here is a shot of what the average look to the backwoods of the property looks like and here is one of the thicker spots a grove of cedars. Today Burt and I took Nora into the backwoods of the property to show her around. We showed her the cedar grove and the big old white pine and then took her to the "canyon". Not much of a canyon really, only about 6 feet deep, but the boy in me still likes to do a bit of pretending! Not sure what caused that deformation in the terrain either. Perhaps something left over from the mining era or just something that mother nature created many years ago.
Not much else to talk about really. I have been watching the temps creep down ever so slowly all day and also watching the leading edge of the snows creep their way through the Dakotas ever so slowly. Both are good signs and boy am I ready! It is almost impossible for me to imagine what it will look like outside our windows up here with 3-4 feet of snow on the ground, as I have never seen that sight. I can actually picture what things would look like back in Lake Linden, but not here. Looking forward to it though and with that thought I will sign off for this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Welcome to 2007 everyone! I hope that everyone had a safe and happy New Year. We did here at the Dee household. I actually made it to midnight this year, something that I have not accomplished for the past 3 years. With having to start my work day at 4:30 everyday, it just is not worth it to stay up and ring in the new year. Prior to Nora joining us, the hounds and I would celebrate with the place of their ancestry (Newfoundland) and then in the past years we moved even further east and had been celebrating with the good folks on Greenland- all both of them! Not quite sure why I made it to midnight this year. We did not have any specific plans to stay up or go to bed at a certain time, but the next thing we knew it was 11 pm. At about 11:30 I had hit the wall, but figured I may as well stick it out and stay awake the next 30 minutes to watch the ball drop in Times Square. I think the new year was about 75 seconds old when Nora said I was sound asleep, and that included going from the living room to the bedroom. That's me, mister excitement!
If you cannot tell, I am in better spirits than I was the last time I wrote. I feared I really was near the breaking point last Saturday with the snow season thus far. That did not deter us from going out Sunday afternoon and having some fun. We went for a walk up in the "higher terrain" of Keweenaw County, just to see some different sights. Then Nora wanted to head over to Eagle River to see if any deer were hanging out (did not see a single one down there). On the way back we stopped off at a waterfall along the Eagle River. It is not the more well known one down in town, but rather upstream a bit. I believe some folks call it something like "ten foot drop". Anyway, I figured it might be a neat place to have a look around seeing as though the river was still flowing pretty good and there might be some neat ice formations to see as well. What we came along was one of those magical Keweenaw moments that happen so frequently to me up here. Even though it was the last day of December and there was little to no snow, the beauty of that spot at that moment was just breathtaking(fsv). Things were so quite and peaceful, except for the sounds of the water and the occasional rustle of the wind through the trees. Plus as is the case most of the time we have one of these moments- we had the place to ourselves.
The river was about 1/4 covered in ice, but was still flowing pretty good. I climbed down the river bank to take a shot of the falls themselves which were about 90% covered in ice. We have been here several times in the summer and the dogs liked to swim in the pool of water below the falls. One time during a severe spring melt several years ago, the water level was so high that the falls were actually not even noticeable. Much to the worry of Mom (Nora) Burt and I spent some time exploring the rocks that dot the river just above the falls. There was some ice on some of the rocks, but the worst that could have happened would have been for Burt or I to fall into water that was less than 12" deep. I suppose I could have slipped and hit my head on a rock and floated down stream, only to drift out into Lake Superior and never be seen again, but then again I could have been hit by a logging truck getting out of the blazer to see the falls, or a meteor could have come down and hit me on the head and then I would have floated down stream to drift out into Lake Superior and never be seen again. Sorry, about that. I just had to tease Nora. She does worry about us a lot, but it is nice to have someone that worries about us.
Our timing for our afternoon adventure could not have been much better (sometimes it pays to know what the weather is going to do). As we were driving home from the falls the rain drops started to hit the windshield. We got home and decided we wanted to run to town to pick up a few things for dinner and by the time we got to Calumet it was just pouring. I mean pouring rain like it does in a thunderstorm. My head was soaked just from the quick run from the blazer to the store. The sad part was I knew that it was about as close to being snow as you can get. The bank thermometer near the grocery store said 31 degrees, but the blazers temp sensor said 33. I am guessing the temp was closer to 33 as the rain was not freezing on anything, just turning the parking lot into a sloppy mess! We finished the shopping and it was still pouring out, so we sprinted to the blazer and drove home in the downpour. When we got home it was not raining quite as hard and I wonder if it ever had been.
The forecast was for the rain to change to snow overnight, but I had this feeling that the rain was going to change to snow sooner. The temp at the home had been dropping all afternoon, going from 36 degrees when the rain started to 33 degrees when we got home from the store. So I spent the better part of the mid afternoon glancing out the window waiting for the rain to change to snow. After about an hour, I thought I saw what looked to be something other than rain fall past the window. At first I thought that because my hopes for the change over to snow were so strong, maybe my mind was just playing tricks on me. Then saw it again, and again. So I got up off the couch and went over to the sliding glass door and took a closer look at the situation. My mind was not playing tricks on me. It was not snowing, but it was not rain any more. The precip had changed over to sleet. There were little sleet pellets bouncing off the ground and even trying to cover it up a bit. Immediately my spirits started to rise. The change over was taking place sooner than expected and my glance at the radar a few hours ago indicated we had quite a bit of the storms precip left to go through. So I did a few quick calculations in my head and figured we were in store for at least 3" of snow, perhaps even as much as 8" of snow if the sleet changed over to snow soon. After about 5 minutes of sleet, it changed over to very wet snowflakes and then to very large and wet snowflakes. My spirits rose even higher. It did not take long for those big wet flakes to start coating everything, but about as fast as they started, they also wound down. I ran up to my office and reloaded the radar loop and saw the dreaded "dry slot" heading right for the Keweenaw. There was still a band of snow off to our west that I new we would get back into, but my spirits dropped a little as it now looked like 2-4" would fall and not the 8 that looked possible just a few moments earlier.
At about sunset, the precip stopped all together. I spent about 1/2 my time New Year Evening watching whatever we were watching on TV and the other half watching the radar, looking for any sign the dryslot would fill in and we would get more snow than just the 2-4" that the cold conveyer stuff on the back side of the low promised. There was a little filling in, but really to little too late. It had started to snow out again a little by midnight (perhaps that is why I was able to make it to midnight!) and then we did get into the narrow band of snow on the back side of the low sometime in the wee morning hours of New Years Day, because when I woke up at about 6 am, the outside had been transformed into a winter wonderland, but it had also stopped snowing. I went back to bed, but could not sleep, so I just laid there and thought about what we would do for fun.
We made a nice breakfast and I went out to check on the wood boiler. The sun had come up by then, so I was able to capture a picture of our winter wonderland. Yep, one of those snows that sticks to everything. It even stuck to the antenna on the blazer. After checking the wood boiler and taking care of a few other things I decided to hop into Old Blue and pank down the snow for the second time this season. At first this seemed like not such a good idea as there were still some wet spots underneath the snow and rather than panking the snow into a nice white mat, in some spots the snow was turning into a mess of slush. The pockets of slush did not seem to numerous, so I kept up with the panking and after about a half hour had it all done. I am really hoping that this will be the last time I have to pank down the snow on the driveway. If the forecast holds true, I think it will be the last time for this season.
Ever since my one and only ride on the 800 back in early December, I have been waiting for enough snow to take it out again. On that first ride it was acting up a bit and I think the carbs were just froze in the needle jets. The sled ran fine at the low end and top end, but really sputtered and nearly stalled in the mid range. The EGT was reading hot in the midrange and I also used up nearly a full tank of gas just going from our house to the harbor and back and that should really be about a half a tank trip. There was enough snow down yesterday morning that I figured I would take the 800 out to see if my fix had taken care of the carb problem or if there was something else the matter. The 800 ran fine yesterday, so it looks like it was just some ice. I did not spend much time at all riding yesterday. There was enough snow to ride, but not enough for me to really enjoy it! So back into her stall she went. Hopefully she will be getting a lot more use as we head through next week.
After lunch Burt, Nora and I went up to the "higher terrain" of Keweenaw county for a ski. Yep, a ski. I figured if we had picked up 3-4" of snow, they must have picked up a bit more and with the 3-4" they had the day before there would be plenty to ski on. Well, they sure did! They had picked up the 8" that I had hoped for. The way I figure it, they probably never saw the rain that the rest of us saw Sunday afternoon. In the area where we park for our adventures up there a bunch of guys from the power company congregated. There was three of their big trucks up there they were actually putting two snowmobiles back on trailers. I asked what they were up to and one of them replied that they had to go into the bush on snowmobile and make a repair to one of the transmission lines. Only in the UP!
What was nice about all of that was that their snowmobiles had panked down a nice trail for us to ski on. Not that we could have not made it trough the 11-12" on the ground, but it was a lot easier to follow their tracks and also a lot easier for Burt. It was nice to be on skis again. First time this season and nobody fell. It sure was beautiful up there too. The snow had stuck to everything up there too, but just to a larger degree. Heck had I known there was that much snow up there, I might have decided to load the sled on the trailer and do some riding up there. I know I was salivating a bit as we skied past this old logging road (fsv) and I thought about how much fun it would be to take a sled down it. Soon. It will be happening soon. We skied about 11/2 miles into the bush turned around at a creek that was still wide open and too big to try and jump across and then skied back out to the Blazer. That was probably as far as we should have gone anyway as Burt is still struggling with his arthritis, although is probably as good as I have seen him get around in several years thanks to the meds he is on.
Today we stuck close to home for our afternoon adventure. I actually had the day off from my regular work duties due to the markets being closed in recognition of the nation day or mourning for President Ford. That means I had a nice 4 day weekend. Nora actually had planned last week to take this day off, so we both got a nice extended weekend together. Today's travels took us across the snowmobile trail near our house. As you can see, things are not in that bad of shape right there. I would say that conditions are likely similar in most of the higher terrain up here. I do not know how much snow areas in the lower elevations like Lake Linden, Houghton/Hancock got. I can also say that there are a few wet areas that developed due to the snow that melted late last week and then the rain on Sunday. Not that there are wet spots all over, but places that were dry all season so far now have some frozen puddles in them.
I would say that conditions right where I live are as good or even a bit better than they were in the days following Christmas. However, they are not even close to being what I would call good. We are in day one of a string of three that will see temps rise above freezing for highs. However, as I mentioned in my forecast text, the air will also be fairly dry. If you are going to have to experience temps above freezing, then at least pray for dry air. It does not transfer the heat energy as well (dry air is actually a very good insulator against heat transfer) and thus the snow does not melt as fast. Case in point, temps were above freezing on our walk this afternoon and the sun was out in full force, but yet the snow was still dry and had not begun to melt yet. I am sure that it probably eventually did start to melt some, but then the sun sets and with the dry air temps fall back down to below freezing very quickly and spend the rest of the night below freezing. Not that I ever want to have to go through a thaw once the snow season has started, but if I had my choice I would take a string of sunny days with high in the upper 30's to around 40 than a string of overcast days with temps and dewpoints in the mid 30's.
So we should not melt off too much of the snow we have right now and then things do look to change in a manner where we will likely get some snow starting later this week and continue into the next week and possibly beyond. My brother is coming up in a little over 2 weeks and he is the one that always helps me shovel my roof off. Up until this point it looked like this would be the first year that his help would not be needed, but if the forecasted pattern actually takes place we may just give that roof a shovel when he is here. Not that it will probably NEED to be shoveled, but there could certainly be enough up there to not make it a waste of time. Forecasts can change, but I sure like what I am seeing right now.
Good night from the Keweenaw..