Keep it Coming!

We are falling further and further behind in the race to set a new record. It is still within the realm of possibilities, but in the record setting year of 78-79, by the end of January they had picked up 262.9″ of snow. Right now I am at 181″, so that leaves 15 days to pick up 82″ of snow. Certainly not out of the realm of possibilities, but with the next 3-4 days looking pretty quiet up here, it only makes it harder to keep up with 78-79. I suppose one can look to February of 78-79 and see that “only” 40″ fell in that month, so perhaps a strong finish to January and a strong February will keep us in the race.

Either way, I am loving this winter! Except for some arctic air shots, it has been nearly perfect to date. Fresh snow almost every day, not always a ton, but enough to have to move from driveways and such, as well as keep everything looking beautiful. Most importantly, nice, fresh snow to play in! The snow banks are getting pretty big up here and the municipalities have been busy hauling away the snow already piled high to make room for more. Last week, Calumet was busy nearly all week cutting back the banks with the snow-go and shooting it into the back of large dump trucks. Those trucks then take it away to a dumping spot outside of town.

I too have been busy with snow removal. Although the fix put into place to help prevent the snapping of the bolts in the augers did not work out too well. I got the blower back last week and went to town on the 8-10″ that was sitting fresh on the driveways Friday morning. The driveway clearing went well, but then later in the day when I was clearing the ice rink the same side that has been giving me problems snapped again. The best option for fixing would be to just replace the parts that have become so worn that they are increasing the chances for the bolts to snap off. However, I am in the midst of the season and do not want to get into that kind of undertaking. Plus, I am not sure how much that route would cost, but I would like to avoid a large expenditure at this point. So plan B is to do the next best thing. That being to drill a new hole through both shafts and weld new re-enforcing buttons onto the outer shaft. That should actually be as good as replacing the parts and if so, I may just run it like that until a new auger and inner shaft is needed. At any rate, the local shop just came and picked up Big Red and I am just hoping to get it back before the end of the week, as it looks like may need it in a pretty big way next Sunday night or Monday. Despite all the issues with blower, it is still WAY better than the old way I was clearing. I just have to spend more time in the heated cab, listening to tunes!

So back to the fun in the sun and snow. I had some buddies come up and arrive in the wee morning hours of Friday and while they slept, I did my morning work and then cleared snow. Upon waking up, one of them learned that there was a family emergency at home, so he ended up renting a car and driving back to northern IL. The rest of the day was spent picking up my sled from having the headlights and hand warmers fixed and then just hanging out with the other friend that came up.

Saturday plans were made to ride in the morning and we kept to them by around 30 minutes! As my riding buddies and I get older, we all find it less necessary to be out on the sleds by the crack of dawn. I do remember those days, even leaving while it was still dark out, but these days it seems like we can get our fill by riding for 4-5 hours each day. We hit the snow around 11:30 and made our way north. Other than it being in the single digits, it was a beautiful day for a ride. The winds were not too bad and the sun peaked its head out from time to time. There was around 8-10″ of fresh snow sitting on top of the 2-3 foot base.

The riding was smooth sailing whether we were on an untouched logging road¬†on neighbors land or trail. The only thing that would have made things any better would have been to have another 4-5″ of fluff on top of the base and to have temps around 10 degrees warmer, but as any snowmobiler knows, you have to stop trying to nail the perfect day and just get out and have fun with what is given to you. To me, just getting out into the woods and exploring was well worth the ride, regardless of conditions. We even found a few fields to play in and I snapped some shots of Ben carving up the snow as well as Keith.

As mentioned, we also rode the trails up here and those that we were on we found to be in very good shape, even for a Saturday afternoon at the height of the season. Here is a shot of trail 132 that leads to Lac La Belle from the west. We ended up taking that trail to the Bear Belly Bar and Grill and had lunch. I recommend the poutine (if that is your thing. Sits perfectly in your stomach on a groomed trail! Bumpy one, well…that would likely be a different story. However, we found 132 to be in as good of shape on our way back as we did on the way in and trail 3 back down to Mohawk was in great shape too, even passed a groomer nearing Phoenix.

Sunday found me nursing a very sore wrist. I damaged it trying to clear the blower at the rink on Friday and it was sore on Saturday, but still in pretty good working condition. The riding on Saturday was enough to aggravate it and on Sunday I awoke to a throbbing and swollen wrist. So that combined with the fact that it was still 6 below zero at 10 am made our decision to not ride an easy one. We did not sit around the house all day. Nora and Grace joined Keith and I of a little tour of the Keweenaw. We ended up down at Eagle River, where we viewed what was left unfrozen of the falls there. The falls were not the only beautiful sight while there, up in the sky, the ice crystals in the sky had created a sun halo. Those are kind of a rarity up here, not because we do not have ice crystals in the sky in the winter time, but because there are usually so many of them you cannot see the sun!

From there we went up to check out the lighthouse at Eagle Harbor, but when faced with a 100 yard trounce through the deep snow, we all decided it was a better idea to head to the Eagle Harbor Inn and have a nice warm late lunch! Good call!

Today I awoke to 7″ of new snow that had fallen overnight, on top of 2.5″ that fell during the day yesterday. It was nice fluffy lake effect snow, but still needed moving. So I headed over to the gas station to get a tank of diesel for Big Red and then headed home to fill ‘er up and move snow. On the way back home, I was treated to the other two visual effects that ice in the atmosphere can have on sunlight. They are a sun dog and ice pillar. The ice pillar came and went and at the time I took the shot, it was just barely visible as the streak of light going straight up from the suns center. The sun dog is very prominent, because it is the bright spot in the picture. I realize that it looks like that was actually the sun, but the sun was actually located just below the cloud tops on the horizon. Those clouds were also producing some beautiful snow showers that have been falling most of the day today.

Blessed is the only way I can describe being able to live here. The Keweenaw is a true snow-lovers dream and this winter is living up to that reputation.

Good Night from the Keweenaw..
-JD