December 31, 2000-
I figured I
just had to get one last journal entry in for the year 2000. I do
have stuff to talk about as well. I guess first I can talk about
my down hill ski adventure. Not much of an adventure at all.
I had boot problems which got me off the hill after only 3 runs down.
The boot problems actually can be traced back to when I bought them.
I did not know what I was doing and trusted the advice of a sales person
who did not know what he was doing either. As a result, my boots
were too small. He said they would break in and give me more room,
but they only seemed to get worse over time. Yesterday was the worst
they have ever been! They were too tight just when I put my feet
in them, let alone buckle them up. Talk about pain, my feet actually
were squished to the point that the sole was not laying flat anymore because
the sides of my feet were pushed in and caused my foot to cup. So
I tried to ski, but was just about crying by the time I got to the bottom
the third time and gave up.
I did get over to check
out some new boots and was able to get some good advice this time.
One store sent me home with a pair to wear around the house for a while
to see how they felt after being on for a few hours and they felt fine,
so I am planning on keeping them. Now I just have to remember to
go back and pay for them!
The hounds and I took
a walk after my ski experience yesterday. We headed to the north
shore to walk along
a road that is plowed, but basically no one uses. We will walk
along it for an hour and not see one car. There were even some deer
in the area. I did not get close enough to take a picture of them,
but Burt did go off into the woods to follow their tracks when we got to
where they were. Here is a shot
of him coming back from his little jaunt into the woods. Baileys
was wise enough not to try and brave the deep snow.
Today held a first
for me. It was the first time since moving up here that I rode my
sled to Copper Harbor. I know that may sound rather unbelievable,
but I am not really one for the DNR trails. There is nothing wrong
with them, it is just me. I really have always liked to go out and
explore and that carries over to when I am snowmobiling. The DNR
trails just bore me. Mostly because I have been on the so much.
I had been coming up here for 9 years to ride before I moved up here so
I knew them pretty well. About my 3rd or 4th year up here I began
to wish for more to see and do, plus a little something more challenging.
Never really got to do much until I moved up here and then hooked up with
my friends from Lake Linden and then almost never rode the groomed trails.
Last year I put about 1200 miles on my sled and I would have to say that
20% or less of those were on the DNR trails. 1200 miles in a season
may not seem like a lot, but 1 mile in the bush can be the same as 10 on
the groomed trail. I know I have ridden with friends for 8 hours
in the bush and not put on more than 35 miles. I am exhausted and
have had a total blast, but just did not pack on the miles!
So for some reason
I just had the bug to ride the DNR trails the past few days. I suppose
it might just have to do with the fact that I have not been on them much
for 3 years. So Chris,
our friend Matt, and I took to the trails. They were in surprisingly
good shape. I say surprisingly, because this is one of the busiest
times of the year and I was prepared for the worse. I can honestly
say that the worst they were was tolerable and at best, perfect.
By tolerable I mean that you are doing a little bumping around, but still
glad to be there. I have been on more than my fair share of trails
where I actually wished I was not there. Usually it was about 7 in
the evening, I was still about 50 miles from where we were staying for
the night and my back and kidneys were already beat to a pulp. Today,
there was never a time where I wished I was not on that trail. Some
times I wished that there was not the bumps that were there, but they were
tolerable, even with my old suspension. Even saw groomers on 3 separate
occasions, so they were out there. The trails were not even as busy
as I had expected them to be. Lots of sleds were in the lots at the
hotels and motels in the area, but the trails were just not too bad.
Maybe we just were on the trails they were not.
Just to prove my existence
in the Harbor today, I took a shot of one of the main stay's, The
Mariner North. Had an excellent meal (sure they are a sponsor,
but it really was excellent!), and then headed south to Eagle Harbor via
Brockway Mountain Drive. So what would a trip up Brockway be without
the obligatory pic
Most of my pictures
are taken from an area that is fairly remote, or at least not easily assessable
by car. But that does not mean that if you want to venture up here
and do not like to back country cross country ski, or snow mobile you will
be left out of the loop as far as beautiful sights are concerned, even
in the winter. Case in point, if you were to head up here in your car and
make the drive to Copper Harbor, this
would have been your sight today. This is highway 41 between
Delaware and Copper Harbor. Just up the road about 3 miles from where
that shot was taken is the ghost town of Mandan, site of the "ghost".
I joked to Chris and Matt that a short trip up the road and we could go
and check it out. Thankfully they were not too interested.
I also forgot to mention
that my trip today took me to Lac La Belle. I met the new owners
of the resort up there. They were very nice and have done a lot of
work to things up there. It is open for food, gas and the nick nacks
that were in the store. A word of caution. The restaurant is
run a little differently. There are hours when food are served and
not, even though the place is open. We were there and unfortunately
were between the breakfast and lunch hours so were not able to eat.
I would imagine that there might be a time in the afternoon that the kitchen
is closed too. So just a word of warning that you cannot just show
up and expect to find the kitchen open. The gas pump is always on
during the regular hours and they have sodas and snacks too. Plus
I heard that once they have the bar all up and running, there might be
a bar menu.
Mount Bohemia looked
totally awesome! The skiers at the top looked like ants! It
is almost as if the hill is bigger now than before. I know that is
not true, but I can not wait to try my luck going down it. Actually,
that is not totally true, I can wait and am going to until I get my abilities
a little better in line with my ego. A few private lessons at Mt.
Ripley from my private instructor "JW" and I will be good to go.
I'll keep you all posted on that endeavor as it progresses, but the views
of Bohemia will be breathtaking I promise you that.
It looks like I have
some to the end of my writing for this year. I hope that everyone
has had as wonderful year as I have, if not I hope that 2001 is.
Mine looks to be filled with nothing but bliss.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
This Businesses helps to make my Journal Possible
December 29, 2000-
22 hours later
and I am still in the same boat. Not a lot to say, waiting for some
more snow and wanting to get a journal out. The only difference is
that I am also pressed for time. I have lots of fun stuff to do tonight.
I guess I can start
out with a cute story about the hounds this morning. I was working,
it was about 6 in the morning, and for some reason I decided to go and
get some loving' from them and when I turned on the light, I was treated
to the sight of them
cuddling on the couch together. It made it all the more enjoyable
to go over and give them a hug and kiss before getting back to work.
The perks of being able to work at home, I love it!
As I said, I am also
still waiting for more snow. We did have some light snow this morning,
some areas it even mixed in with freezing drizzle. We got enough
to be officially called a trace so we scabbed by in keeping our trace or
more of measurable snow a day going, but I am not proud of the way we did
it today. There is still time left to get some real snow accumulation
before the day is over, but the skies just do not look like snow to me.
I took a look at the atmospheric conditions and we are in sort of a no
mans land as far as any kind of mechanisms for snow are concerned.
That may continue into tomorrow, so tomorrow looks to be a close call for
measurable snow as well.
The folks up here are
not wasting this lull in the snowfall one bit. Snow is being moved
off roofs, the roads are being widened again and driveways are being cleared
a bit more to make room for the next round of heavier snow. There
really is no relaxing up here once winter starts. Even when there
is a lull in the snowfall, there is work to be done. I even took
care of some things, like fixing the bush protector that broke when I was
clearing my roof. I had thought that one of the stretchers I made
just pulled out of it's connection, but it turns out the 2 x 4 actually
snapped in half from the weight of the snow falling on it. I will
be more careful next time I clear my roof and next year will make the whole
I did get to go out
and take in a ski. It was a really nice day for it, with temps in
the mid 20's. That is as warm as it has been in a long time.
Well, actually two weeks ago we rose into the upper 20's during a big storm,
but then the temps dropped right behind it and have been in the single
digits and teens since. I did not ski alone either, of course the
hounds were with me, but JW came along and took a shot of the
dogs and I. I tried my best to coax her into having her picture
taken, but there was just no way. Baileys was the typical model she
always is and I snapped this shot
of her, but Burt decided to play coy like JW and I did not get a shot
Well, I am on snow
watch. It feels weird not to see it snowing and not to have to clean
my drive way. It has only been two days, but I do not like it.
I am not worried, it looks like we will get at least a few inches by Monday,
then a break Tuesday with a return to the snowy setup by Wednesday.
Well, I have to go and get presentable (at least as much as possible),
so will sign off for now. I am still planning on down hill skiing
tomorrow and them maybe a big snowmobile trip Sunday, so hopefully I will
have more to talk about and show you. Till, then...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 28, 2000-
tonight are hard for me. I do not really have a lot of new things
to say, but I have not done a lot of journals lately and I know that there
are a lot of folks checking in, so I do feel guilty when I skip one.
I guess the biggest news is a few sleds that went through the ice on the
canal. Two went through yesterday evening and two broke through today.
Only one went all the way through, the others just nosed in and were able
to be retrieved. I am actually surprised that the ice is still not
safe there. It has been frozen for about 3 weeks, but I guess all
the snow we have picked up has really insulated it from getting thick enough.
So it you are coming up, I guess the word is stay off the ice!
We had our first KSE
tour today. All went well, the riders were exhausted, but all had
big smiles. Another tour tomorrow and then a break for a few days.
I was not able to be along for the whole ride, but was able to get caught
up on the events I missed this morning. I also learned some new places
to go today, now if I can just remember them I will be all set!
We had about a half
inch of snow today, so our streak is still going. 25 straight.
It looks like we will be safe to add another 4, probably 5, but then next
Wednesday might just be the end of the streak. Some snows are possible
for late in the day, but it will be a close one. Today was the first
day in a long time that I did not have to move snow. It felt kind
of weird to not have to shovel and snow blow. I did not like it!
I am ready for more! We do have some impressive totals though, with
Keweenaw County up near 150" so far and Houghton County at about 110 so
far. I have heard that some areas in Keweenaw County like Lac La
Belle are really buried. A friend said that he saw some guys shoveling
off a roof at Lac La Belle that had 4-5 feet on it. Ouch, my back
hurts just thinking about it! I need to get up there to check out
the deeper snow.
No new pictures to
share with you tonight. I forgot to take the camera along on the
ride. I will not be riding tomorrow and may not get out until maybe
Sunday or Monday even. I might even go down hill skiing Saturday,
maybe I will take some pictures of that event. I'm a little scared
to go. All the locals up here are such good skiers and I am a bit
of a southern Midwest hack. I can make it down just about anything
(even the steeps and bumps of Alta in Utah), but my form leaves a lot to
be desired. I kind of look like that ski jumper, Eddie the Eagle.
Good think my website can only handle still shots, that way I can pose
and look cool and not reveal the true look as I head down the slopes.
I did get a seasons pass to Mt. Bohemia, but will get my ski legs at Mt
Ripley first and then try the hill up north. This first year there
is pretty much only expert terrain, with beginner and intermediate coming
next year. I will for sure get up there, if nothing else but to take
some shots and show everyone how awesome that hill is. I bet if they
do it right, it will become the premier ski hill in the Midwest.
The have all the natural ingredients, most snow, great terrain, plus the
snow sticks around a lot longer up there. In a year like this one,
they could be skiing into April, when others have been shut down for weeks.
I am looking forward
to another long weekend. I can really use the days off. This
is the first holiday season when things have been so busy in a long time
and I hope next years is a little less busy. It has all been the
good kind of busy, but still busy, and I am use to lots of free time and
taking it easy.
Well, I am officially
out of things to say so I may as well sign off for tonight. I plan
a ski tomorrow and will bring the camera along. Hopefully there will
be some fresh snow to show off.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 27, 2000-
I hope everyone's
holidays went well. Still one more to go I guess, but the biggies
are over. Mine was good. Another adventurous drive down.
I don't believe I have ever seen so many cars in the ditch in one stretch
of roadway that I saw from about Stevens Point to Janesville WI.
There had to have been an average of 1 car per every half mile. Some
really good ones too, plus some bad ones, which I hope everyone was all
right. It is a little unnerving to see a car upside down in the ditch.
All that with just about 3" of new snow to boot. At least this year
I did not almost plow head onto a person backing up in the interstate like
I did last year!
Well enough of that.
I need to back track a bit in this entry, as I did take some shots of the
events before I left, it just got a little crazy up here last week and
I did not have time to get to the journal. I did manage to finish
shoveling off my roof. There was more snow on it this time around
than when I did it last year at the end of January. I also managed
to take a before
pic of what my driveway looked like, a
during shot with all the snow from the roof on it and an
after shot to try and illustrate what you all missed out on, since
no one took me up on my offer to clear it for me. Next time.
Here is s shot of the front
of the house with the roof clear. Needless to say it is not clean
anymore. Actually it was not clean for more than about a few hours
and there is already a foot of new snow on it. I even had a little
scare while doing the roof. I had cleaned off the roof, but had 3-5
foot piles on my driveway and walkway. I fired up the snow thrower
and made one pass through the pile on the driveway. As soon as it
got through, it died on me and would not start. Not a good feeling
to look at all that snow that needed to be moved and suddenly be faced
with the reality of having to move it by hand. Many have sent me
notes saying that I need a yooper scooper or snow scoop. I have one,
but trust me, it is still a ton of work to move snow with one of those,
just not as much work as it is with a regular shovel. I placed a
call to my friendly neighborhood mechanic and he talked me through figuring
out what was wrong with the machine. Turns out it was a frozen carb
and I got it running again and was able to get my car out of the garage!
I said that there is already
a foot of snow up on my roof since I cleared it off about a week ago.
We have actually picked up more than a foot, it has just compacted.
Keweenaw County has been the kings of the hill so far this year.
They have been getting crushed. Just a few miles up the road, their
snow is 43" deep compared to my 28. They picked up 16" last Friday
when all I got was about 5 here at my house. So far this year, they
have picked up 141" (not including what fell today). That is just
20" shy of last seasons TOTAL! It is funny, when I got together this
fall with the guys who are doing the guide service with me, we were worried
about accepting reservations for the week between Christmas and New Years,
thinking that there might not be enough snow. We decided to do it
anyway and just return any deposits if the conditions did not permit.
Well, we are actually faced with an opposite problem. One of the
areas where we were to take people has too much snow. One of the
guides went for a ride with two of his friends today to break trail in
this area for a tour tomorrow. The guide was on the "least equipped"
sled, a Powder Special 500. The other riders were riding a Highmark
700 and a Mountain Cat 800. For those of you who are a bit lost,
these are sleds which are made to handle the deep powder found out west
and also built to hill climb. Anyway, I got a call from him this
evening saying that they had to turn around before making it all the way
through the trail. They all got stuck several times and the lead
rider could not stop, or was instantly stuck. I also need to point
out that they are all excellent riders.
The main reason for
the bottomless powder is just simply the 100" in about 3-4 weeks.
Another part is that the temps have been so cold that we have not had much
settling so there is no "bottom" to the snow. By a bottom, I mean
a layer of compacted snow that is able to support a human or sled.
An the last reason is the fact that we have not had much wind up here,
so the snow has just piled up. I was out in a big field today and
we were busting about 2 feet of fresh powder. Normally that field
is either blown to the hard pack or just has a few inches of powder on
it. I was out riding with Jim, the person who helped me redesign
the site, and his Dad. Here is a shot of Jim
"laying 'er down in the pow pow". I had a few of those too and
we both had a few where the sled ended up sitting on it's side, with us
laying on our back next to it. There is still a ton of untracked
snow out there so I may just have to get out there tomorrow for some more.
I still need to perfect my powder 8 technique, but they are getting there.
Put about 3 perfect "8's" together and then lost it. It's a lot of
work, but I guess someone has to do it!
Jim, his dad and I
also hit the trail today. We did a little riding on the DNR trail
and then some off trail. But here is proof that you can find a perfectly
groomed trail in the Keweenaw in the week between Christmas and New
Years! Quite honestly, they said that a lot of the trails they rode
on (they drove from Ontonagon to Lake Linden today) were in really good
shape. They also spoke very highly of the new trail that runs down
between Twin Lakes and Ontonagon. I'll have to go and give that one
a try some day.
I did manage to get
in a ski. Not much to say about that, but I did happen across a stand
of red pine that had a very symmetrical look to them with the snow
collecting on the bark and branches, so I thought I would share it
with you all.
I also need to wish
Burt and Baileys a Happy Birthday and thank those who did the same by e
mail. I thought that was really special that persons remembered it
and recognized it. They did get their traditional
spaghetti dinner. Burt inhaled it and was done with the whole
plate in about 15 seconds. Baileys was real lady and took her time
and politely slurped it down in about a minute. They are now sound
asleep, getting ready for a new day in the Keweenaw. Sounds like
a good idea to me. I think I will go join them.
Good night from the Keweenaw, it is great
to be back!
- JD -
December 22, 2000-
I have much to be grateful
for this holiday season. Much, much, more than a lot of snow.
Although that is one thing on the list for sure! My first year up
here was so much fun, my fear was that it would be impossible to beat.
Well, I guess the magic of the Keweenaw took care of my worries and then
some! This past year has been one great turn after another.
It keeps getting better and better and the outlook holds nothing but more
of the same.
I am glad for the
opportunity to be able to share my experiences and thoughts about things
up here with you all and really look forward to doing lots more of the
It is my Christmas
wish that everyone has a safe, happy and peaceful holiday. I am heading
south in about an hour to be with my family for Christmas. I will
return Tuesday night and crank johndee.com back in gear.
- JD - Baileys and Burt.
December 19, 2000-
This may not
be a short one, but it might jump around a lot. I have about 30 minutes
to get it out, as I have a party to go to. So I apologize for any
grammar errors and well as the lack of flowing from one idea to another
The first thing I want
to say is LET IT SNOW, BRING IT ON, I AM READY! I got my snow thrower
back and she cranks! Throws the snow 30 feet once again and plows
right through snow that is up over the 24" high intake. Yeah Baby!
The snow gods must have been reading my mind this morning because we
got dumped on! That was a shot of what happened for about 2 hours
this morning. Actually it even came down harder at times. We
ended up with about 6" in those 2 hours, one inch of it came down in 10
minutes. I know that because I went to take a shower and took a peak
at the snow station and it read about 3.5" on top. When I came out
of the shower 10 minutes later, it read 4.5"! I can't believe it
missed it! Oh well, I did get to see some pretty heavy snow the rest
of the time. 6" in 2 hours is not too shabby. The strange thing
is this snow band did not impact the whole Keweenaw. The whole time
we had 1/8 mile vis. and heavy snow, the airport was reporting 1-2 mile
vis. with light snow. I also checked out the bridge cam and they
did not have the heavy snow there either.
The heavy snow tapered
off about 11:30 and we have been in and out of snow showers the rest of
the day. It still is a little unnerving for a meteorologist who is
doing a forecast for this area to be in the situation we had this afternoon,
because I was calling for 1-3" of additional accumulation, but when one
of those squalls comes through, it starts to look like we will get another
6" in 2 hours, then it slows way down and the sun even tries to peak it's
head out. Here is a shot take on the afternoon walk showing my area
in a break in the snow, but a new
squall moving in from the north.
I decided to take a
walk to check out the local snowmobile trail. I will likely be a
little busier this year as it connects with the trail that goes to Gay,
which is open this year. Yes, the Lake Linden to Gay trail is open.
Anyway, it was flat
as a pancake. I did hear from some riders in the Loading Zone
that trail 3 was a little bumped up, but I know it was in decent shape
today, as I ran into some riders today on the local trail looking for the
Lindell in Lake Linden and I redirected them back to trail 3 and they were
happy to get back on it, saying it was awesome.
I feared that the trail
might be too busy for us to walk on, so I took us off trail and we had
to make our own. Here is Baileys
breaking trail. As we were getting back to the neighborhood,
that approaching squall that I talked about in an earlier pic hit and here
is a shot taken from
roughly the same spot. On days like today, it is fun to watch
things unfold in the sky. It is a virtual lesson in Lake Effect Snow
formation, as you can see the clouds
billowing off in the distance and see how they form, dump their snow
and die off.
So I am a happy camper,
7" fresh today, with lots more to some this week. It is really deep
out there. I got about 1/3rd of the front of my roof done.
The rest will happen tomorrow and Thursday. I am not fretting that
anymore, as the snow thrower is working great and will clear my walk and
driveway of the snow from the roof just fine. Although there is more
snow on my roof now, than when I cleared it at the end of January last
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 18, 2000-
You know, this
journal has been taking you into the woods, across the beaches and through
the scenic towns of the Keweenaw, and I hope that you all can get the feeling
of what it is like to live up here. However, you really haven't lived
until you have shoveled 3 feet of snow off a roof up here. And as
luck would have it, there is still half a roof over my head that needs
to be done. So, do to my overwhelming generosity, I will allow the
first 1-3 people who respond to me to be able to get up there and live
the true yooper life, by doing the other half of the roof. And to
make this offer even more enticing, I will let you do it free of charge!
But you must hurry, this opportunity will not last long! So don't
delay, this is a limited time offer, makes a great stocking stuffer for
that person who has everything!
On the more serious
side, I did get up there and took care of the back side of the house and
will do the front side the rest of this week. It took me about an
hour to do, much better than the 4-5 hours it took to do the front half
last year, with the wrong tools. I have some pics, and will get to
them in a bit.
The hounds and I were
city slickers today, as we did not go off into the bush, but rather walked
around the village so that I could take some pics and show you all what
we see on our morning walks. Yesterday I talked about how the neighborhood
really gets transformed by all the snow. Things close to the ground
are buried by the snow and objects that are over 4-5 feet tall just become
one big white lump. Here is a shot of an old
pickup and small camper. The thing I liked about that one was
the back of the pickup. It was empty just a month or so ago, but
now the snow is bubbling over it like some kind of science experiment gone
wrong. This next shot illustrates one way that bushes are prepared
to withstand the heavy snow load. They remind me of some prehistoric
snow soldiers or something.
No matter when we go
for a walk or drive through the neighborhood, someone is out moving snow.
I am not kidding. You can tell by either the low growl of a snow
thrower or by the white arch of snow it is throwing. The real interesting
thing is to see how different people go about taking care of the snow.
Some folks will push it way to the back of their lot in hopes of leaving
enough room for future piles. Some folks just push it across the
street into an empty lot and others are like me and just throw it into
their yard. Here is a shot of the best
kept driveway in the village. Although, if you look, about 1/3rd
of the way up, on the right hand side, it looks as though his cut with
the blower got a little sloppy, there appears to be an area of snow projecting
out into the drive way about 2-3". If it is still there tomorrow,
I will be sure to point it out to him. The really weird thing about
it is that there is not even a tire track on the driveway, which makes
me wonder if he even uses the driveway for his car!
About a week ago I
took a picture of a mini van that has been collecting the snows of the
season. It is still there and it is still collecting the snows
of the season. This could prove to be an interesting thing to
follow, as it looks like it might be there to stay for a while.
Some of the banks
on the side of the road are getting pretty big. Driving in my
low riding Honda is actually very hard because I cannot see anything but
the banks. I have been turing to my truck more and more to get around,
even just to shoot over to the store or something like that. Behind
my house and across the street is the "bone
yard", a baseball field and small play ground. I just learned
the name of it a few months ago, but now when ever anyone asks me where
I live, I say up by the bone yard in Lake Linden and everyone seems to
know just where I am talking about. Doesn't look like those swings
will be getting used anytime soon.
Arriving back home,
I can show you how my
bush protection system is performing. So far so good. I
doubt that there will be any problems with it. The snow from the
roof gets pushed past them, so that will not be a proble, but I may need
to slice some snow off them in the near future so I will be able to look
out my front windows. See that snow up on the roof? Holy wa!
Moving into the back
yard, here is a shot of my webber
grill wearing a bonnet of white. I am always amazed at how the
snow just collects on everything with a horizontal surface. I have
driven past stop signs with 4-5 inches of snow piled on top! Speaking
of snow piling on top of things, the good
old snow station sure has been getting a work out this winter.
It has measured fresh snowfall every day for 14 days straight. Today
will be number 15 and we may just get to 20 or more. Not unusual
for this place, but still really cool just the same. Not moving an
inch from where the last shot was taken, but looking up and to your right,
you get a glimpse of my afternoon work, the
roof. Now, staying in the same spot, but time warping ahead about
60 minutes you can see where
all the snow from my roof goes. Remember, there are still openings
available for the front!
I hope you all enjoyed
my little tour. If the pattern keeps up, I will do this again in
a few weeks to keep you updated on things. But for now, I must go
and rest my bones for tomorrow's adventures in the snow.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 17, 2000-
Holy wa, it's
getting deep around here and mean with a four letter word starting with
"s" and ending with "w". I spent 1 1/2 hours cleaning the driveway,
front walk and clearing a path for the hounds in the back. It would
not have taken me half the time if my snow thrower was working properly.
I really need to get it in and get it fixed once and for all. Some
things were fixed, but others are still not working. I may just break
down and get a new one, but the $1200-1500 price tag is making me a little
squeamish. Of course, buying a good one at that price will last me
10-15 years, so I can look at it that way. Anyway, the snow has passed
the just for fun point and is now becoming work as well. Don't get
me wrong, I still am as addicted to it as ever. When the LES started
to ease up a bit this morning, I was disappointed, even though there was
15" new sitting on the top of my snow station! But the fact remains
that I could not just let things slide by and push the snow to the side
of the driveway anymore. A thorough cleaning was in order and I even
went so far as to cut into the banks so that the they would not continue
to close in on my driveway. Since this was such an exhausting chore,
I decided it would be a good idea to take a before and after picture
of the fruits of my labor. Seeing the truck all cleaned off reminds
me that it actually does get cleaned off every day, so when you take a
look at the front of house shot taken in the morning, and there is snow
on the truck, you can deduce that new snow has fallen since the previous
The next big chore
slated for sometime this week is to clean off the roof. There is
about 2-3 feet up there now and with more on the way and me being out of
town from Friday through Monday for Christmas, I need to get up there so
that I do not end up having to clear 4 feet off. I am prepared this
time around and it should not take me too long, but still, this is the
ONLY thing that I do not like about all the snow we get up here.
I could just pay someone to do it, but as long as I have the ability to
do it, I may as well. I'll keep all of you posted, as I'm sure you
are just on the edges of your seat over this!
No riding today.
I was really tempted to just hit a few fields close by and play in the
powder, but after my snow removal experience this morning, I was a bit
tired. Plus, it seems like I have been away from the dogs a lot and
I decided that today I would spend all day with them, playing around and
laying around. Sort of pretending I was a dog.
We did go
off into the woods for a ski. It was one of those trips that
I never saw the tips of my skis. The snow was so deep that my skis
were fully underneath the snow the whole time. The amazing thing
is that I had been through this trail on my sled last week and the dogs
and I came down on a ski just a few days ago. The foggy quality of
the picture is due to the falling snow. It was really coming down
at the time the shot was taken. I need to tally up the snow totals
for this year so far, I think we are closing in on 100".
The deep snow did not
slow down the hounds. They ran off in
front to explore and sniff out all who had come before us. Although
the snow was up past their bellies on the trail and way over their head
when they went off trail. It is really funny to watch them jump off
the trail and disappear in the snow. Burt has learned that the snow
will be over his head so he just leaps off all four and poofs down on all
four. I would really love to get a pic as he was landing, but I never
have the camera ready, but take it from me, it is really a funny sight.
While out on the trail, I though that it has been a while since the fans
of the hounds got some close ups so here is one of Burt
and here is one of Baileys.
Don't they just look cute enough for a hug? Trust me, they get plenty!
So the main story has
been the snow. Lots of it. The banks on the side of the road
are now about 5 feet high and growing. Here is a shot looking
down my street, you can't really make out how high the banks are, but
maybe tomorrow I will take some shots of how the neighborhood is dealing
with the snow as well as being transformed. It is really pretty neat
to see things being swallowed up by the increasing snow cover. You
can almost make a game out of trying to figure out what is underneath it
all. This is what I have been waiting for since moving up here in
May of last year! Keep it coming!
- JD -
December 16, 2000-
I had a good
streak going, but I guess like all good things, it had to end. No
riding last night, but I did have a Christmas party to go to. I am
in a bit of a rush tonight as well. Have to take care of things and
then go to dinner, so this may be a little brief. But I had to talk
about and show you the new snow we got. The count right now is at
about 10" and it is still snowing. Although is has just begun to
taper off so it looks like maybe another inch or two will be all that we
see. I suppose that some lake effect might actually throw in another
inch or two later tonight and into tomorrow, so It looks like this storm
will have brought a foot of new snow.
It is getting deep
out there. Today I hooked up with some new friends from the Chicago
area. Our plan was to do as much bush
riding as possible and we were fairly successful at that. I am
really glad that I put the new track on, what a difference! The places
I went today would have been next to impossible to do with the .85" track
I had last year. Today's riding was basically "pushing-snow-with-the
bumper" all day, and the sled performed like a dream. All I needed
to do was give it a little more throttle and the sled would jump right
out of the snow. With the old track, I would have just spun the track
and gotten stuck. Of course today's had it's fair share of digouts.
You can't really ride in places like we were without getting stuck.
The worst of all the places was on the road to the top of the Cliff Range.
We managed to get all 5 sleds stuck. First it was me, I was in the
lead. Then I thought we might be able to get up the incline by leap
frogging the sleds, each one breaking a little further up the trail.
That worked for a bit, but the distance gained on the leap frogs got smaller
and smaller and the incline got steeper and steeper and since we were breaking
trail in about 2 1/2 - 3 feet of snow it soon became apparent that the
was going to win. The incline in that picture does not do it
justice. It was pretty steep, especially with the deep snow.
Just another reason to save my pennies and get me a long track for next
year. However, I am very happy with the results of my modifications
to the sled for this year and will be able to "get by" the way it is.
We turned around and
rode back down and just decided to run some bush trails that did not have
any serious inclines. Even on those roads, it was impossible not
to get stuck from time to time. Just stopping meant that you might
spin the track when you try to get going again. But it is tons of
fun to float through the woods in unbroken powder.
You also get pretty
worn out digging out and riding in the deeper snow. We were only
out there for about 3 hours, but I am pretty well worn out. Something
to think about if you are planning on hooking up with a KSE tour.
Not that you would run out of steam on the full day ride, because you can
always follow in someone else's track and not worry about getting stuck,
but if I were you, I would not ride too hard the day before, to make sure
you are as fresh for the tour as possible.
Today was also the
warmest day that we have had in about 3 weeks. We rose to about 30
degrees, which made the snow fairly dense as well. That will be good,
as it will get packed down by the groomers and then set up well when it
gets cold again. Speaking of groomers, I had been saying how great
the trails were heading into the weekend. Last night I passed a few
sleds while driving in my car and the head lights were not bouncing around
at all. However, with the warmer temps and morning traffic, the moguls
returned by midday. Not the groomers fault, just the way things get
when you have traffic and warm temps. Plus the new snow actually
just made it possible to build up the moguls more, rather than filling
them in, which is usually the case. Anyway, on the way home, I rode
the trails and they had been groomed and were in pretty decent shape.
I don't know how long they will stay that way, it is still warm and there
is still traffic out there, but it was very good to see the groomers out,
I saw two on my trip home.
So this was the third
powder ride in a row, a good streak and I have a feeling that looks to
become quite a habit this year. To help put things in perspective...For
those of you who can remember the heavy snow year in Chicago in 78-79,
we have already come close to exceeding the amount of snow that region
got that entire season. I know we are in the mid 80's for total snowfall,
maybe even upper 80's. I think that O'hare's total was 89" that year.
Looks like I may just have to shovel my roof before I head south next week
for Christmas. That is the only thing that I do not like about all
the snow we get, but I can live with it. I am prepared to shovel
it off 5 more times if I have to!
Good night from the Keweenaw.-
JD -December 14, 2000-
I really don't
have a bunch of words of wisdom today, but I thought that since I have
a good streak going I may as well try and keep it going. I guess
the biggest news is it started snowing again. About noon the flakes
started to fly and by about 2 pm it was really coming down. A little
meso low developed over the lake. A meso low is a small (generally
under 50 miles across) area of low pressure that is formed by the local
environment. In this case the fairly large expanse of mild lake water
and the even larger are of arctic air over it. Winds were fairly
light, which allowed the rising air over the lake to actually form it's
own little area of low pressure. The satellite imagery picked up
on this meso low very well, as a swirl of clouds off the coast of Grand
Marias MN. Even though the winds were fairly light, the prevailing
flow caused the low to drift to the east, southeast and right for the Keweenaw.
The air around the low was being lifted fairly aggressively and that led
to our little burst of snow that gave us about 2" in 2 hours this afternoon.
Things are beginning
to whine down now, the horizon to the south looks clear. It was a
perfect setting for a ski, but the best part about the ski was the fact
that I had a companion with me. We skied the trail that the groomer
uses to get from his house to the DNR trail. For regular readers
you know just what I am talking about, as I have mentioned this several
times in the past. For those of you who are new to the journal, it
really makes for a perfect ski trail, as the groomer is pulling the drag
when he goes through, so you end up with a 10 foot wide, packed down, flat
trail to ski on. Plus it is relatively free from any major hills
and totally protected, so it makes for a very comfortable ski.
Since I was not alone,
it was possible to actually get a
shot of me. Hope that did not ruin your appetite! She was
fairly certain that she did not want a shot of her to be taken. She
is familiar with the site and journal and I guess the thought of having
thousands of people see her picture added to the reluctance that most people
have about having their picture taken. Don't worry "JW", you won't
be able to hide forever! Anyway, thanks for the ski, hope you had
fun and I am looking forward to the next time.
Oh by the way, I learned
that the ski racks for my car work much better when you snap the top piece
back down after you put the skis on them. We were driving down the
road after skiing, and I thought I heard a bump, like something had come
off the roof and landed on the trunk. I looked back, but did not
see anything. We got back to my home to find that I had not snapped
carrier down onto the skis and one was missing! We back tracked,
but did not find it right away. Then on the way home I saw where
someone had stuck it in the snow bank on the side of the road. I
missed it the first time because at a casual glance, it looked like one
of the sticks the county sticks in the ground on the side of the road to
show things the plow needs to watch out for. No damage done to the
ski and now we have something to laugh about. Live and learn!
Like I said when I
started, not a whole lot to talk about. A little fresh snow today,
about 2". It is neat to see places to our south, way to our south,
having as much snow on the ground as we have. I can be so diplomatic,
as what we have right now is good for this time of the year and only looks
to be added to in the next week to ten days, maybe even doubled!
Good night from the
Keweenaw.- JD -December
Well, I guess
I jinxed things! It stopped snowing this morning. After 9 days,
it stopped. The sun even came out, which was a welcome bonus.
As long as it is not going to snow and be in the teens, it may as well
be sunny. It's weird, I got so used to it snowing that when it stopped,
it seemed very weird not to see flakes flying. In fact I took the
morning walk and it had only been not snowing for about 2 hours, but seemed
a lot longer than that. It looks like it will start back up this
evening and may not stop for longer than a few hours for many days once
again. The snow is settling and we loose about 1-2" of depth a day
due to settling. That is no problem with me, it builds a nice solid
base that will withstand the warmer temps this spring and given a "normal"
melt (not 50-60 degree temps for 5 days in a row at the end of Feb.) that
packed snow will last for weeks and make for good riding and skiing in
I just got back from
Christmas shopping, almost all done! This may be a short one as I
have to go to our snowmobile club Christmas Party/December Meeting this
evening. Last year I remember going to it in cold temps, but very
little snow. It is at a place that is hard to ride to, so I will
be going by car. Last year it was at a perfect place to ride to,
The trails remain in
mint condition. The local groomer has been out and I took my afternoon
walk on them with
the hounds. There is just about no one up here right now riding,
so I knew we would be safe and not cause any hassles for any riders that
were out. There is about a 6" base of hard pack snow. By hard
pack I mean perfect pack for a sled. About as firm as artificial
turf in the top 1 inch and then almost as hard as pavement underneath.
The combination of cold temps, grooming and lack of traffic have all combined
to make the trails in as good of shape as they possibly can be. Here
is another shot of
the trail as it runs by the Traprock River. I am surprised the
river is froze, it rarely froze over solid all last year. A drive
to Houghton today gave me a look at the Torch Lake and Portage Canal.
The canal is frozen, but looked to be unsafe still. No tracks, but
some gray areas out there which indicates soft spots where the snow melts.
The Torch Lake is beginning to freeze. It is all frozen around Mason
and the northern end of Point Mills, but then is still wide open up by
Lake Linden. After boating and fishing on the lake this summer, it
makes perfect sense, as the areas that are frozen are all under about 20
feet deep, but the open areas are over 40 and up to 60 feet deep.
Back to the walk.
I have one more shot to share with you. It is where the trail
crosses a field just before crossing the Hammell Creek, the sight of
the excellent bridge repairs. For those of you who are not familiar
with my writing of conditions up here, I can say that I am not afraid to
call it as it is. I have been saying a lot of nice things about conditions
up here because that is the truth. I have not been around to see
all the trails, but I can say that the trails from Mohawk to Hancock are
in great condition. The pictures you saw today were of a little used,
local trail, but the main trail from Lake Linden to Hancock was in about
the same shape, just more evidence of sleds going across it, but still
as flat. All I can say is that the first ones up this weekend will
be treated to some of the best conditions this area has seen in a long
time, at any time of the season. Not just the middle of December.
I may actually take a quick spin on them tomorrow afternoon. I have
a ski planned as well, but a quick turn around the hood may just be needed
as well. Especially if we get the few inches that is forecasted by
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 12, 2000-
Day 8, more
It reads kind of like
a poor snowbound sole huh? Well, I am no poor snowbound sole.
I have been getting out and playing in it every day, having a blast!
I don't know how I would deal with being truly snowbound in the woods,
but something tells me as long as I had my two buddies with me we would
do just fine.
Today we headed north
into the land of even deeper snow, Keweenaw County. Westerly winds
have been bringing them heavier snow than the the rest of the area as well
as the UP. There is about 2 feet on the ground there, nearly 6" more
than in my neck of the woods. One reason was to play in the woods
(ski) and another was to shoot my pictures for my Christmas card.
Both were a success and we were treated to some beautiful
sights. I took the Christmas pictures with a 35 mm camera and
need to get the prints developed. Once that is done, I will be sure
to post it here and formally wish everyone a joyous holiday season
The trail we went down
was actually one of the bush trails Chris, Marlo and I took on our ride
Saturday, so there was a packed base underneath the foot of fresh powder.
Perfect for a ski and perfect
for the hounds to run on. The snow off the trail was about 2-3
feet deep, as I sunk up past my knees when I walked off of it without my
If the pictures look
peaceful, trust me, it was very peaceful. There is nothing as quiet
as the northwoods flocked in 2-3 feet of snow. Any sounds that do
try and get across are absorbed by the snow and my ears were ringing just
to try and hear anything, anything at all. We even were treated to
some fairly decent snow
The trail breaks out
into a clearing and there is a small
lake there. The trail also ends at that point so it was time
to turn around. The previous pic was taken during a lull in the snow,
it was still snowing, but only lightly, with the visibility at about a
mile or so. I decided to wait until a squall came by to show you
the difference. There was a squall on the horizon and it was headed
towards us so I decided to wait, and the hounds
waited, and we waited and waited and got tired of waiting in the cold
(the wind was coming off the lake and it went right through my jacket),
so we turned around and headed back. As luck would have it, the squall
kicked in when we were about 3/4's of the way back to the car, but I was
able to shoot a pic when we got back to the car, just to show you what
"heavy" snow looks like. This was actually beyond heavy snow,
it could be called "choking snow", as in: if you breathe in too hard, you
will choke on the flakes. There is actually truth to that statement.
In snow that heavy, you can actually choke on the the flakes. In
about 10 minutes we picked about an inch. That is 6 inch/hour snow.
It does not come down much harder than that. I have only seen it
snow harder than that twice. Both last year and both up here.
One was about a year ago when our first "big" storm hit and a squall came
and it snowed so hard you could barely
see my house 50 feet away. In that squall, it was coming down
at the rate of an inch every 5-6 minutes. It only snowed that hard
for about 5-6 minutes, but it was almost frightening! The other time
was at night, when it snowed so hard it set off my motion detector on the
back yard lights. The light came on and you could see nothing but
white, and I mean that. A white moving mass, but nothing else!
Trust me when I say this place is unique.
My drive by about 3
different trail crossings indicated things to be in "mint" condition.
Not a bump on them and plenty of snow. I got my sled back today.
It was not the throttle cable, but actually a frozen carb. I need
to be not in such a hurry when I fill it up and take the time to add some
isopropyl alcohol. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of ...
So maybe I will take a spin on the DNR trails. After all, they are
a lot of fun themselves. I just have been riding them for the past
11 years and like to see new things is all. If you feel the same
way, be sure to check out Keweenaw
Snow Expeditions. Sorry for the shameless plug!
Well, I hope all in
IA, northern IL, southern WI and areas of IN and MI that got hammered yesterday
are having fun in the snow. I am happy for you and with all the snow
up here am not even one bit jealous. We are almost in mid winter
form, some roofs have even begun to get cleared off up here. That
did not happen until mid January last year. Mine can wait until we
get about another 30-40", then will need clearing. Question is, will
that happen before Christmas? I hope so!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 11, 2000-
It is amazing
how relative things can be. Today I turned on the WGN noon news to
see their coverage of the snow storm and it was nothing short of a media
circus! Team coverage, with reporters at the airport, city hall,
the loop, the city neighborhoods, you name it, they had someone there.
Across the bottom of the picture, they had a custom banner that blurted
out "BLIZZARD WARNING". It as if the world was coming to an end and
they were there to cover it! I say it is amazing how all things are
relative, as they have received about 9 inches thus far and look to get
about 12-15. We awoke to 8" yesterday morning, and it was like a
dusting had fallen. People just went about their business clearing
their driveways and walks, just like they do everyday. No one even
mentioned the snow in the stores or anything. Just another day in
snow paradise. Of course if we had some things happen up here that
are more common in the big cities like murders or other big city ills,
then our media would make a circus out of it, to be sure. So I do
not mean to poke fun at the good folks in Chicago, and I am sure Milwaukee
and Detroit and Grand Rapids and Lansing and so on and so on. It
really is a big deal, and deserves the attention it is getting. You
all are not a bunch of wimps or anything, it is just amazing to see how
different things are up here, that is all.
It has been snowing
up here for over 7 days straight now. Well, we have had a few 2-4
hour periods when it was not snowing, but I do believe that it has not
gone more than 4 hours without snow falling since December 3rd. I
wonder if this place might just be the snowiest place in the lower 48 when
you measure by hours with snow reported to be falling, not total seasonal
snowfall. It is really not that uncommon for this area to go for
a week at a time with snow falling, it may not be falling too hard, but
still flakes are falling. One thing is for sure, the snow sure stays
Now onto the events
of the day. No riding, I have some throttle cable problems which
need attending to and besides, I have gone enough in the past two days
anyway. Took the hounds for a ski. One of the reasons why I
rode where I did yesterday was that I wanted to pack down one of my local
ski trails. It worked perfectly, the trail was nice and firm and
worked out really well for skiing. Of course, the hounds still jumped
off trail and into the deep snow. Here is a shot of Burt
trying to pull himself back up onto the trail. I wonder how much
longer they will keep doing that. The snow is starting to go over
their backs when they jump off the trail.
The ski trail took
us to the field that we played in on the sleds yesterday. I took
some pictures, not knowing if the tracks
made yesterday would show up. They did sort of, plus the 3" new
overnight has already begun to fill them up. Another 4-6" and a little
bit of wind will fill them all right back up and I'll have to get back
out there! Here is a shot of the
hounds following one of the tracks. To get an idea of how big
the field was, I took this
shot standing at one end and looking towards the other end.
The day was just about
perfect for a ski also. It was about 10 degrees, which makes for
a chilly start, well, maybe downright cold start, but by the time I was
about 10 minutes into it, the blood was pumping and I was nice and toast.
Having it that cold keeps me from breaking into a total sweat. Usually
when I am done, if the temps are 20 or above, I am soaking wet and need
to change out of my cloths and take a shower. Not today.
The ski back to the
truck was very beautiful, following my tracks back through the frosted
pines. I hope you were able to feel the chill and briefly be transported
up to this special place.
Good night from the
- JD -
December 10, 2000-
Today was suppose
to be a stay at home and get caught up day. Had a good ride yesterday,
so I figured I would not have a huge burning desire to ride today, plus
it was suppose to get really cold (at least for our standards, about 0-10
above) and I am not one who has to ride in the bitter cold. However,
I awoke at about 4 am and looked outside and it was a whiteout. Of
course I could not get back to sleep. Each time I almost got back
to sleep, I would turn my head to look outside and it was still coming
down. I believe I have explained this before, but when it is dark
out, I can still tell if it is snowing at a decent clip, by whether I can
see the trees beyond my neighbors house. Well the trees were not
visible, nor was much of anything, so I knew it was really coming down.
I kept almost falling back to sleep, but then looking out and getting the
adrenaline rush. Soon it was about 6:30 so I decided to just get
up and get going on the work planned for the day. By the time the
sunrise came, it was still coming down big time and we had picked up 7-8"
new. The thoughts of busting some fresh powder soon became overwhelming
and the next thing I knew all the things that I wanted to get done were
put on the back burner and I was suiting up.
I was joined by Chris
(White House Motel Fame) and some riders from New Progue Minnesota that
he had met up with. They wanted me to be sure that I put their names
in the journal, so to Craig Sindelar, Dale (the fish) Busch and the honorable
Tom Skaja, thanks for coming along, I had a great time and was entertained
My plan, as always
was to avoid the DNR trails like the plague. Not that they are too
bad right now, grooming is going on and from what I have seen and heard,
the trails are not too bad where they have been groomed. I avoid
them because it is more fun to make your own trail, especially when 14-15"
of new snow has come down in the past 28 hours. Before I met up with
the guys, I passed a little example of what
happens when you leave your car outside up here and don't clean it off
for a few days. Actually, that may have not been cleaned off
since last Monday. 38" of snow ago.
We hit the trail at
about 11:30 and I was able to find a field that was untracked and we spent
about 20 minutes making sure there was not a square inch it that was left
untracked. I am a little disappointed, as I took some neat shots
while we were out there, but for some reason they did not register with
the camera. Anyway, just imagine a field about 20 acres in area,
filled with a few patches of pines and a few gullies, but then covered
in about 20" of fresh, untracked powder. It was tons of fun to say
the least. I only got stuck once. Well, not really stuck, I
was practicing my powder-8's and got a little carried away on one of the
turns and ended up with the sled on it's side. The nice thing about
getting "stuck" like that is that you just tip the sled back over and away
you go. I am looking forward to perfecting my style, it is a weird
thing to do on a sled and does take some practice. It is also a lot
of work, I was a bit exhausted after about 15 minutes of playing in the
field. Guess I need to get in shape for the real powder riding coming
After the field, we
headed off into the woods for a little bush whacking. That also was
a lot of fun, as we were basically breaking trail through frosted trees.
After about 30 minutes of that, we took a pit stop and I snapped a
shot of the group on the trail. It was not as deep here, most
of the journey today was led by me and I was pushing snow with the bumper
and having it fly over the windshield most of the trip. After our
little rest, we headed through the woods a bit more and then hooked up
with a road that would take us to the Big Lake. For those of you
who want to see the lake effect being formed, here
I was really hoping
that there would be enough snow on the shoreline to ride, otherwise we
would have had to backtrack. As luck would have it, the snow was
about 14-16" deep and we had a great time floating down the shoreline looking
out onto the placid lake giving off all the steam. For one in the
group, the tranquility of the lake was an overpowering draw and he decided
to do a little water skipping. I was riding along the shore and all
of the sudden out of my right eye I saw a sled flying along the top of
the lake. One of the riders from MN (you can probably guess which
one by the nickname I gave him) had made his way onto the lake and was
skimming right along. He was doing really good too. He was
actually gaining on me and I was doing about 50-60. I guess I should
have said he WAS doing really good, right up until he found out that Cat's
do not like water! Luckily he was only about 15 feet from shore when
he went down. The rear end of the sled was in about 3 feet of water,
but the front end was in about 2, so his carbs remained dry and after blowing
any water out of the cylinders, the sled started right up and ran fine,
after we got it to
One final bit of play
out on the Gay sands and then inside for a nice warm meal and for some
of us, drying out. The good old yooper hospitality was given to us
at the Gay Bar, as the bartender offered to put the water skippers equipment,
wet pants and wet socks in the drier. Plus the locals were having
a little potluck party for the Packers-Lions game and we were treated to
some fresh, (still warm) homemade brownies. I am sure that in other
places in the upper Midwest, the people are very friendly and honest in
their intentions as to why they are friendly, but for those of you who
have never been here, you must really come and meet some of the most honest,
down to earth and genuinely friendly people on the face of the earth.
It is one of the things that makes my life up here that much more enjoyable.
From the Gay bar, I
broke from the pack and headed home to do a little bit of the work I needed
to get done. At least the stuff I had to get done. I
feel great tonight, a fun ride, with good company, in lots of snow.
What a difference a year makes. I have about 240 miles on the sled,
not a lot I guess, but it is the quality, not the quantity I always
Good night from the
- JD -
December 9, 2000-
the snowy Keweenaw. Actually, the past 8 hours have been about the
least snowy in the past 6 days. We actually did not even have accumulation.
What the heck is going on here! Ha, just kidding, but it is weird
to not have it snow at a rate to cause accumulation when it has been for
5-6 days straight. It has just started to snow at a good enough clip
to start accumulating so here we go again. It looks like we could
pick up about 3-8" new by this time tomorrow, with maybe a bit more tomorrow
night and into Monday. But it looks like the big storm will miss
us. I suppose that is just as well, as I am still without my snow
thrower. Well, that is not completely true. I do have it, but
it is not working right yet. The carburetor problems are fixed, but
the new belt did not fix the auger problem so it will go back to the shop
on Monday and hopefully I will have is soon, as the piles of snow are starting
to get fairly big on either side of the driveway and if we do get some
serious snow I may be in trouble. But to tell you the honest truth,
I would not mind dealing with that sort of trouble.
What a difference from
last year though. This winter so far has really been what my memories
of the Keweenaw are all about. Never ending snow. It is getting
deep too. I got stuck today on the sled. We were running a
road and I was going off into the ditches to play in the deeper snow and
I got sucked into a hole. When I got off my sled, I sunk up to my
waist. It was a ditch, so the snow had filled in the low spot, but
still the snow on the level up here is anywhere from about 14-22" deep.
The deepest is in Keweenaw County and my particular location seems to be
one of the lowest.
They are grooming up
here. Not all trails have been groomed yet, but I am fairly confident
that they will be in the next day or two. I went riding with Chris
and Marlo from the White House Motel, and that place was a hub of activity.
I pulled into their driveway and the whole place was filled with trucks,
trailers and sleds. It is good to see the season starting so early,
now if we can just ride into the end of April, it will make up for last
year. A good source of trail conditions for this area will be their
site at www.whitehousemotel.com
I am kind of reaching
for things to say tonight. I do not have any pictures. I wanted
to take some, but it just slipped my mind. I should have taken one
of my little mishap in the ditch today, the sled was in there pretty good.
I did just remember something I wanted to say, I was talking with a friend
about things and we were talking about deer and what they do in the winter.
I have never seen one on the trails up here in the winter. I just
figured they left the area or something. It turns out that they have
"yards" where they all go and spend the winter. These are areas where
the food is more easily found. When the snow really starts to pile
up, they all migrate to these yards. About a week ago I was talking
about the Deer Super Highways we say in the woods. It turns out what
we were looking at were the migration paths that the deer use to get from
their summer living areas to the winter areas. So I learned something
and wanted to pass it along to you. By the way, I am not seeing any
"deer sign" or signs of deer in the woods anymore, so they must all be
in their winter yards.
Well, I guess I may
as well sign off for tonight. I will make sure to have some pictures
and interesting stuff to say tomorrow.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 8, 2000-
Well, if you
all were thinking that the reason why there was not journal yesterday was
that I was out riding you were wrong. Although the reason why I was
unable to get one out was because I was talking about riding. I guess
I may as well let the cat out of the bag and verify what some, or many,
of you already suspected. KSE or Keweenaw Snow Expeditions is myself
and my friends from the Lake Linden area. I did not want to put my
name all over it because I did not want to make it seem like I was trying
to use what ever popularity I have to try and push the guide service, but
then most people I talked to about said that they did not think it was
wrong. Plus I figured that sooner or later it will become fairly
common knowledge so I spilled the beans.
Yesterday evening we
had a meeting at my house to discuss things and start to route out some
trips. I think that I will be going out early next week with some
of the riders to route the trips for real and I am psyched. I promise
to take the camera along and give you all a first hand look at what you
can get yourself into. But to further describe things a little more,
the riding is not that extreme, in fact we can make it what ever you want.
Sure it can be extreme, but like I say, we pretty much will be asking what
people want and then giving it to them. So you do not have to be
a highly experienced rider, just be ready to have fun and do a little digging
out every once and a while.
Yesterday I took the
hounds for the afternoon walk out on the snowmobile trail. They were
not grooming and I had me a little upset. So I figured that I would
take you out there as well to show you the conditions and let you all judge
for yourself if there was enough snow. So here is a shot
of the trail. A few sleds had been down, the trails were not
in bad shape, but I just thought that NOW would be the time to get out
there and get things packed down. Nights have been in the single
digits and with almost no one on them at night, they would set up well.
Then we would have a great base to work with from here on out. My
biggest fear was that they would not go out all weekend, and the riders
this weekend (they are here, 10 sleds at the Loading Zone when I drove
by this afternoon) would beat things up and then they WOULD have to wait
for more snow to have enough to groom and then we would be chasing our
tails all winter again. As I walked along this trail I got more and
more angry at the situation. Here we finally have what we need.
Before all the snow came this week, we had a hard pack base down, about
2-4" of snoment. All the wet spots had frozen solid and then we get
about 14-20" new. Can't ask for better! And where were the
groomers? Well, the one out of the Valley was not out, that is for
sure. I even dug down on the trail with my boot to see things and
there was about 5-8" of packed snow, then the 2-4" of snoment. The
snoment was really hard. I even quit before reaching ground as I
was afraid I was going to ruin my boot. I even took a picture of
the dogs climbing
up through the snow to show that it is past their bellies.
Well to make my long
story short, the groomer out of the valley went out today. So it
does not look like things will be wasted after all. Maybe it was
a good thing I did not write last night, I may have made some enemies for
life at the tourism council and groomer community. I am not afraid
to speak my mind and also am a firm believer of the truth, and that is
what would have been said last night, but I am afraid that in my state
of mind, I may have been fairly mean.
Some things just never
change, the dogs are still checking the culverts, even with all the snow
down. Here is a shot of them down checking one out. Notice
the snow on Bailey's
Another thing I wanted
to point out on today's journal was that the snow by the snowstation does
not show how much snow we have down. For one, the platform catches
the snow, so there is not as much directly underneath it, right where my
ruler is. And we had a big wind on Tuesday, which blew some away
from the back yard. I take my official measurements across the street
in a sheltered lot. To prove that we have the 13". Here is
pic of today's measurement. Now to prove that I did not stick
it in a drift, here is a shot of the
yardstick from a few feet back.
Today I was pressed
for time, so took the hounds for a ski on the Lake Linden Meadows (sands).
We came across some flocked
pine trees. I just love when the snow coats everything!
That one could almost be a Christmas card, EH? I will be changing
out the pictures that get rotated on the front page, that one and some
of the ones with the frost will have to be added.
The one thing that
has be a bit surprised is the fact that the Torch
Lake is still not frozen. We have been cold for the past week
to ten days, with highs in the teens and lows around zero. Only last
Sunday made it into the 30's. I bet it is close, the canal has frozen
over. Still not safe by any means, but it froze two days ago.
Another neat thing about that picture was the snow squall. It was
the dark part of the pic on the right and was moving from right to left.
It has been snowing here since Sunday night, with only a few hours of flurries
or no snow. Now this is the Keweenaw that I wanted to move too!!!!!
Well, I am pressed
for time, have a dinner guest showing up in 5 minutes, so I will have to
end it for now. I do plan on a ride tomorrow, so will be sure to
bring you all along.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 6, 2000-
Snow. Everywhere Snow. It sure is looking more and more like
winter up here. It has not stopped snowing since Sunday night and
it may very well continue for another week. Our biggest risk for
no snow to fall is by around Saturday. Anyway, the reason for no
journal last night was that I went for a night ride. I suppose that
if there is no journal, the most likely reason will be that I went for
a night ride.
Yesterday I got word
that the groomers were to be running, but I believe it was false alarm.
I believe that they just were bringing the one that stays in the Lake Linden
area down from the summer storage are in Phoenix. Anyway, here is
a shot of the trail
yesterday after the grommer went through.
Like I said, it has
been snowing for over three days straight. It is amazing how folks
just roll with it. Just about any place else and this would be major
news, schools would be closed, businesses too. But here, it is just
another day. Sure some talk of the snow is being made in the checkout
line at the store and stuff like that, but for the most part it is just
not a big deal. Of course it does have an impact on peoples routine.
On the morning walk yesterday, the neighborhood was a
buzz with snow removal equipment. People all have their methods
and techniques and places they put it. Almost everyone has a snow
thrower, if not they hire out someone to plow. It is just too much
to shovel. I suppose a few persons with very small driveways get
by with a snow scoop, but even my driveway would be hard to do with a scoop.
I still have not gotten my snow thrower back, but hopefully tomorrow or
Friday it will be back and I will welcome it.
I must say that I am
glad to have my 4 wheel drive truck. I did not have to even worry
a bit about driving yesterday or today. I knew that the dogs and
I could go anywhere we wanted to and not worry about getting stuck.
Plus I am up so much higher that my vision is better, I can see over the
snow banks. Here is a shot
out my front window as we drove to our afternoon's walk destination
yesterday. Our destination yesterday took us out to the north shore
to view the angry
lake. The waves were not quite as big as I thought they might
be, but it was still an experience to be out on the the beach. The
roar of the waves and wind, the snow flying horizontally, temperatures
near 10 degrees and 30 MPH winds. With conditions like that, we did
not stay on the beach long, but I did take a shot of some hoar
frost that was building on the trees along the shore. The steam
from the lake was being blown into them and then froze. Not quite
to the extent that we had in the valley last Saturday, but still not bad.
Just off the shoreline
is a road that follows
the lake and we walked down that. It was amazing how calm the
wind was there. Just about 100 feet to my right, the winds were blowing
at 20-30 with gusts to 35, but along the road things were very quiet.
Another thing that was neat about walking down the road was experiencing
the snow squalls. When the last pic was taken, a squall was in the
process of arriving. About 10 minutes later, the sun was almost out.
It does not stop snowing even when the sun is trying to come out, but when
the heart of the squall is overhead, it is dark like a thunderstorm.
It also would snow very hard. I could hold out my hand and actually
watch it accumulate.
The ride last night
was fun. We tried to get to Gay via the old Lake Linden to Gay trail,
but came upon a gate that was not passable. We also encountered some
logging areas. There was quite a bit of snow, and any wet spots were
completely froze up. We even rode across some frozen puddles that
I suspect were pretty deep. I can't imagine things being much better
this year for the start. Last year the snow came so late and even
then, things were not totally froze up. All is frozen now and the
snow is getting deep. About a foot to 13" at my house and up to about
16-18" in other areas. I am surprised they are not grooming.
We had less last year and they went out. Maybe tomorrow.
The highlight of the
ride last night was busting some 2-4 foot drifts along a fence line.
I can tell already that the new track is going to make a huge difference.
I hit one drift that sent me almost straight up and all I had to do was
give it a little more throttle and I made it through just fine. I
might have gotten stuck with the old track. My only wish after going
through was that it was light out, as it would have been fun to play in
them for a while.
Today was more snow.
Lots in some areas. A report of 11" new in Keweenaw county somewhere.
I know that 8" new came down in Mohawk by this morning and it snowed there
all day. I shoveled about 6" new at midday and picked up about 1-2"
since. Today was a good day for a ski, so the hounds and I headed
off into the woods for a ski. I had to use a unique technique as
I left my gloves at the bank and had to ski with my hands in my pockets
to keep them warm. I did all right, but was afraid of a face plant.
The woods were very pretty, very winter like. A
winter wonderland you could say. The ski also took us to the
sight of the drifts we hit last night. They were along this
fence line. Most of the bigger drifts were further down, and
the ones closer in had been flattened out.
So things are really
beginning to look like winter up here. I don't know how much snow
we have for the season, but it may be safe to day as much as we had by
Christmas or even the first of the year last year and there is more to
come soon, maybe a lot more. I am going to sign off for tonight,
getting a little sleepy.
Good night from the
- JD -
December 4, 2000-
The snow has
arrived, actually I awoke to a nice little 1/2" dusting and then it has
snowed lightly all day. The arctic front came through about 2 PM
and that touched off some heavier snow we picked up another 1/2 inch in
about an hour and then it tapered off to flurries. About 6 PM the
lake effect arrived and we have picked up about an inch in the past hour
with that. It looks like a 3-6" fall tonight, with another 1-3 tomorrow.
A bit more on Wednesday and then another 3-8" Thursday night/Friday.
All that could be the warm up for the big one early next week. It
is beginning to look more and more like this will be a real Keweenaw winter.
I am not too sure if it will totally stop snowing for the next 8 days.
The trails are set
up very well. They had a nice solid base and all the wet areas were
able to freeze up solid. Now with the fresh powder we look to get
this week, things should be in pretty decent shape this weekend.
Took the hounds for one more walk on the trails today. I figured
this might be the last day on the trails, as there are already some sledders
up here and more will likely come with the conditions improving and there
are plenty of places for us to walk in the woods without being on the snowmobile
trails. The real reason was for me to take a shot of them.
Here is what things
looked like this afternoon. Not too bad EH? If you look
closely, you can see some tracks made by a sled that went by shortly before
I took the shot. I think it was a local. I did not recognize
him, but he did not look like someone who had traveled to get here to ride.
The hounds had a great
time out there. Lots of interesting things for them to smell.
One of their favorite things to do is to check
the culverts. They actually climb into the thing completely and
most of them are only about 18" in diameter. I am always afraid they
will get stuck or encounter something like a porcupine or skunk, but so
far so good and they have done it a ton of times. Of course there
were some Deer Super
Highways to go down. Did you happen to check the smiles on the
dogs faces? This was really "their" walk. Usually we compromise,
spending time to let them sniff and explore things and then also moving
along at a good clip so dad can get some exercise and not get cold.
Today was mostly sniffing and exploring. We were out in the woods
for over an hour, but only put in a mile or less total distance.
At least I did, they put on more with their exploring and back and forth
and are showing it with snoring coming from the bedroom right now.
I really did not mind
not putting on much mileage today. It was so nice just to be out
in the woods, with the light snow falling and fresh snow on the ground.
Nothing but the sound of the winds whipping through the trees. Beat
the heck out of sitting in the office somewhere. Plus the excitement
of some decent snow coming in the next week or so and the decent start
to winter we are having so far. I would have to rate it about a 9
out of ten.
My next few evenings
are filling up, so I wonder if I will be riding this week. I suppose
I might go Wednesday or Thursday afternoon, especially if we get some deeper
snow, but I am also itching to get out on the cross country skis, so maybe
that will take precedence. Stay tuned.
On a downer note, the
UP had it's first fatal accident involving a snowmobile. A man went
through the ice on a lake in Marquette county and did not survive.
That brings up a point I wanted to make. I have received some questions
on "Ask John" about ice being safe. Now, I am the type of person
who believes there are no dumb questions, only dumb answers, so I did not
have a problem answering them. However, I guess my standard answer
to any questions involving ice would be: "There is no such thing as safe
ice. Some ice may be less risky than others, but the bottom line
is there is water under most ice surfaces and as long as that situation
exists, then it cannot be said to be safe." I am not a wimp and I
ride ice all the time. I make it a point to not be the first one
out and try and eliminate as much risk as possible, but there is always
some risk. So for that reason I will never say to anyone that the
ice will be safe. I cannot even estimate when some areas are less
risky, especially if I have no knowledge of the body of water. So
to sort of save anyone else the trouble asking me a question I can say
that I will just never tell anyone that the ice is safe. Just sort
of covering my rear end here.
Back to the snow, the
only down side to it the fact that my snow thrower is in the shop.
It did not work too well two weeks ago so I decided to get it running right.
I need to get a carb kit and new belts for it. Hopefully soon because
moving the snow by hand may get to be a bit of a chore in the not too distant
future. Actually I will need it most when the piles on the side of
the driveway get too big to throw it. That will not likely come for
a while. Just the same, I am looking forward to having that thing
Well, I think I am
going to go and sit by the window and watch it snow for a while.
So I will sign off for tonight.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 3, 2000-
come and gone, but I don't care because we are less than 24 hours away
from the start of a good period of snow. Thus it feels more like
a Friday! I'm so glad that all of you reading this are pretty much
snow lovers yourselves, otherwise most of you would think I need to be
committed! The forecast look incredibly good, almost too good to
believe. I have been following the weather as close as anyone can
for the past 11 years, as that is as long as I have been in business. Before
that I watched it pretty closely for about 4 years during my schooling
and I have never, never, seen a pattern which looked more impressive for
snow and cold wholesale across the Midwest as the next 10 days do at this
moment. Experience has taught me that things can, and usually do,
change with a forecast for the next 10 days, but it is hard not to imagine
how much snow might fall here and in other areas of the Midwest by about
Wednesday of next week. For the short term, it looks very good for
enough snow to allow for grooming to occur by the weekend, maybe even by
about Thursday or Friday, but certainly by the weekend.
Speaking of the trails
and grooming, the dogs and I went on the trail that runs by my house and
was I ever impressed! At first I was a little angry, we got to the
trail and it had been torn up. From a distance I thought that ATV's
or even a truck had just been doing doughnuts out there, but as I got closer,
I could see that it had been done by a bulldozer and the culprit dozer
was still there, off to the side of the trail. I was wondering why
someone would choose to scrape the snow off the trail in that one spot.
It is not like there was a ton of snow to scrape off, but every little
bit helps at this point. I noticed that the dozers tracks went in
the direction down the trail that I had planned to walk so I prepared myself
for more questionable acts. We walked and walked and no other places
had been scraped, I wondered what the dozer did when it had gotten to the
bridge, as it was in need of repair ( I had told the proper people that
it needed fixing) and I was not sure if the bridge could even support that
heavy a piece of machinery. I got my answer and a pleasant surprise.
The bridge had been repaired and the dozer had crossed it. I would
like to take this time to compliment the repair person or crew for a job
very well done! Not only did they repair the few boards that needed
it, but they went the extra mile to repair other that were in the process
of going and it was a very well done job. That coming from a woodworker.
I doubt that the person(s) responsible for the repairs will ever read this,
but they deserve a compliment. The other surprise was that the dozer
had flattened out a low spot on the other side of the bridge which was
always filled with water. It was never a problem in the dead of winter,
as snow would fill it and it would actually be flat, but when the snow
was not there, it was a mud hole that was not a lot of fun to get around
(unless you were a labrador retriever with a certain fondness for mud!).
So a double whammy of serendipity. Then when I got home it hit me
that the first scraping of the trail was a spot where ATV's had caused
a banking of dirt to build up in a turn so that is what the dozer had flattened
out. I am going to try and find out who did the repairs and thank
them personally. I know it will not mean squat to them, but it is
always nice when someone appreciates your work.
Today was suppose to
be the main thaw day, and it did not turn out to be much a problem at all.
I think that we hit 33-34 degrees, but the sun angle is so low this time
of the year, the snow did not melt at all. In fact, it was still
powdery all day long. I had left the snow from last Thursday on the
platform to see how much melting would occur and none did. The snow
settled since Thursday, but that was it.
The mild temps and
clear blue skied made for a perfect walking day, so the hounds and I took
full advantage of it and headed off into the woods. We took one of
my favorite trails, one that becomes one of my favorite ski trails in the
winter. It is the one that the groomer uses to get from his house
to the trail. I like it because it goes through some very beautiful
woods. If I had to give an example of the Keweenaw's woods to someone
who had never been here before and could only use one example, this would
be it. There areas of mixed pines and hardwoods, all hardwoods and
all pines, plus there are a few meadows within sight and just this past
fall, I discovered a hidden lake. Here is what my
view looked like as I walked the woods with the hounds.
The neat thing about
walking in the woods after some relatively new snow is that you get to
see the history of activity that has occurred there before you. All
the tracks left by the creatures as they made their way through.
I have come to recognize deer, coyote, bobcat, rabbit and squirrel.
Yesterday I saw white mink cross the trail as I was riding my sled, but
did not stop to try and see what it's tracks looked like, but I have seen
tracks out in the woods that I cannot identify yet. I have also been
able to tell which way they came from and can even estimate how long it
has been since they were through by the change the tracks have gone through
since they were laid down. Slowly, I am learning the ways of the
woods and it is really fun. I did see something interesting.
There was set of deer tracks and in the same spot, heading in the same
direction some very big dog tracks. Most likely a wolf, but I have
never seen wolf tracks and cannot rule out a big dog, but these tracks
were huge. Almost twice the size of a coyote and my dogs and about
half the size of my hand. I would just love to see a wolf in the
woods. Maybe someday I will.
The deer do not spend
a lot of time on the trail we walk on. They will either cross it
on a 90 degree angle of enter into the trail and then get off it in 50
or so feet. There are even what I call the "deer super highways".
These are paths made by deer. It is either about 10 deer going through
once, one deer going through ten times or maybe something like 5 deer going
through twice. I decided to follow one of these DSH's to see if it
would take us to anything interesting. That was fun as we were no
longer on any man made trail and off into the woods with no other way to
find our way out except to follow the trail back. We walked for about
a half mile on this, but did not come across any main bedding or feeding
area so I decided to turn around. Here is a shot of Bailey's
walking down the DSH.
It was so nice out
there, that I did not want to leave, but I wanted to take advantage of
the nice weather to finally get my Christmas lights up outside and needed
to do some of my Sunday work for the commodities. I was able to get
the lights up, but already a section has gone dark so I will try and replace
it tomorrow before things gnarly out there. We look to go into a
pretty cold and snowy period for the next 10 days at least, beginning tomorrow
Well, I think that
gets you caught up with my day's adventure. I am looking forward
to the snow and cold and it does not look like it will be just the Keweenaw.
Almost all of the upper Midwest looks to see some decent snow through the
next week to ten days. This may very well shape up to be the coldest
and snowiest winters the Midwest has seen since the late 70's. Talk
about going out on a high note!
Good night from the
- JD -
December 2, 2000-
They say that
a picture speaks a thousand words, so this entry will be a bit over 9,000
words long. I am pressed for time, it is 4:30 and I have an engagement
to go to and have to be ready by 6:45. I still need to make myself
presentable, so I guess what I am trying to say is that the text part of
this entry will be very short, but it will by no means lack content.
We had a clear, calm
night last night. That led to very cold temps this morning in the
valley. My thermometer read 2 degrees at 8 am. The Torch Lake
is still free of ice and must have been steaming up a bunch, because not
only did we have very cool temps in the valley, but the little bit of southerly
wind brought the steam off of the lake up into the valley and we were locked
into pea soup fog. Because it was so cold, that fog produced a thick
coating of ice crystals on everything. It was truly a
winter wonderland in the valley this morning. Here is a close
up of some weeds and
grass to show how thick the ice crystals (frost) was. Here is
an almost ghostly
image of mixed hard and softwoods. The frost did not discriminate,
coating all trees equally, actually all surfaces! Notice how thick
the fog was? Here is a shot of Baileys on the local access trail
which was transformed into a
tunnel of frosted limbs. Here is my favorite one, the frosting
that a pine tree took. The coating was about an inch to inch
and a half on every exposed surface of that grove of trees. It was
really a magical moment. I have always thought that this place was
really special and it is moments like I had this morning that help to prove
my point. Not too many places in the world where this sort of an
event occurs. Here is one last shot of some maple saplings.
The other fun for today
took place on my snowmobile. Yes, I went for a ride. I was
talking to my friend Chris (the owner of the White House Motel in Mohawk)
yesterday and he happened to mention that he might be up for a ride today
if there seemed to be enough snow out there. That was one of the
goals of yesterday's tour in Keweenaw County with the hounds, to see if
there was enough snow to support a ride. It was decided that there
was so we planned to meet at his motel at about 9 AM. My little walk
through the frost land this morning delayed me about 25 minutes, but I
got there at about 9:25 and we were ready to roll. Chris and his
wife Marlo have some family visiting and we were joined by their guests
on the ride.
The trails were not
too bad. In fact as I was heading to Mohawk, the trails were flat
and totally snow packed and I thought to myself: "these trails do not get
any better than this in the middle of the winter!". I was beginning
to feel a little guilty about telling people to stay away until we get
more snow. Closer to Mohawk, the conditions got worse. There
were a few patches of frozen mud and puddles as well as quite a few bumps.
I lost that feeling of guilt fairly quickly. It was not that you
could not ride, but I think that only the most desperate of riders would
have wanted to drive all the way up here to ride on what we have right
It was not my intention
to spend too much time on the trails. They were fairly heavily used
by hunters in trucks and ATV's and that is why they were in such poor shape.
I had a few seasonal roads in mind that I knew of north of Mohawk that
would not be too used by hunters. It is pretty hard to find one that
has been untouched, but the less traffic the better shape we were in.
As luck would have it we did pretty good. Here we are taking
a break on one of the seasonal roads. Here is a shot of one
of the seasonal roads. These roads will be a lot of fun in another
week or so if the current forecast for up to 15-24" of new snow by next
Saturday holds. The snow down now is like cement and will make an
excellent base. All the wet spots are frozen so with some new snow,
things should be in excellent shape. Almost perfect.
Hunger struck and we
decided to head to the Loading Zone II in Lake Linden for some food.
On the way down I stopped to show Chris some property that is for sale
and we both were drooling over the possibility of having a log cabin sitting
on it. Who knows? Maybe some day. Walking back to the
sleds, I snapped this shot of the trio
of Polaris awaiting our next commands.
So far this year I
have logged 150 miles. I am not a big one for bragging about my seasonal
mileage. More to the fact that most of my riding is off trail and
you don't put too many miles on that way, but you do earn every inch of
them! At any rate, that 150 miles is more than I put on before January
1st last season. That is how much better things are this year from
Good night from the
- JD -
This Businesses helps to make my Journal Possible
December 1, 2000-
Bon Hivar (Good
Winter)! Well, it may not be astronomical winter, that starts December
21, but it is meteorological winter. Meteorologist like to use the
3 month period of December, January and February to describe the winter
months. I think that is more accurate, but will also not get into
a big argument about it. Astronomers can get kind upset when you
start messing with "their" seasons. Up here winter starts about mid
November and runs through March. Technically, winter to me is when
the majority of the precip fall as some form of wintery precip, be it snow,
sleet or freezing rain. Of course, some years our winter starts around
Halloween and some years they extend into May. Fairly decent riding
occurred into May back in 1996.
Today was the first
day of riding, but the trails were not crammed with sleds. A good
thing I think. Anyone driving more than 2 hours to ride in our snow
right now would not be too happy. Especially since they would have
started with not much less snow, as most areas within a 2 hour drive have
about as much as us. This year is much better than last. We
are very close to having fairly decent conditions. About another
4-6" and that would set things up pretty well. December first is
generally the day that there is a net gain in snowcover. Meaning
that little melting occurs and any that does occur is usually offset by
new snow very quickly. Such looks to be the case this year, as we
may loose a bit this weekend, but then look to get some new snow by early
The one thing that
has happened to me since moving up here is that in the wintertime, my days
to look forward to are not Saturday or Sunday, but are the ones that a
decent snow event is arriving. So instead of saying: "only three
more days until the weekend", I am sitting here in the weekend and saying:
"only three more days until some new snow!". I guess all things are
December first also
means back in the woods day for the hounds and I. I was feeling much
better today so we went into the woods for a walk. I still was sure
to put an orange blaze on them and I wore my yellow jacket, as it is muzzle
loading and archery season. No need to become the 7th person killed
in MI due to hunting season. They never say how many domestic animals
are killed. I wonder if there are even statistics for that.
One guy that was shot was actually shot because he was out skiing with
his dog and the hunter mistook his dog for a deer and shot at it.
The hunter missed the dog and hit the skier. Kind of scary, but if
the man and his dog were out in the woods without any blaze orange (or
neon yellow) on then that was really not too wise. I am just glad
that all turned out ok in that one. I also do not mean to come down
hard on hunters. Most of my friends hunt up here and all the hunters
I know are very responsible and are as astounded by these stories as I
am. So it is the old case that the good and safe hunters don't get
the press, only the bad or unsafe ones. Enough of that side track.
Back to this afternoons
walk. One of the reasons for the walk was to check out how much snow
was down in different areas, so we headed up to Keweenaw county to see
how things were up there. On the walk there were signs of deer and
signs of hunters. The most unique sign of hunters was this blind
made of snow. Now that is what I call cost effective. I
don't know if it worked, but it did not cost anything and the hunter sure
did blend in with the natural surroundings! A little later on we
came to a seasonal
road that will be calling my name to come and ride once we get a little
more snow. It had actually been plowed some, probably to access the
hunting spots. The hounds seemed to be very happy to be able to get
back into the woods and I also thoroughly enjoyed things too. It
is amazing how quiet things get out there. All I heard the whole
time we were walking was the snow crunching under foot and paw as well
as the jingle of the dogs collars. When we stopped for a while, my
ears were ringing. Not because they had been exposed to a loud noise,
but because they were straining to try and pick up any sound. That
is one of the things that is so cool about this place, to be able to head
off into the woods and find a place where there is no man made disturbances
what so ever. If any of you have never experienced this sort of solitude,
then you must try it. I suppose it may be a little unnerving at first,
but then I believe a peace will come over you. A peace you have never
experienced before. Peace to all tonight.
Good night from the
- JD -
Dee would like to thank Jim Formanek of Formanek Designs for his expert
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