Entering the Home Stretch

So tomorrow will be the final day of February for 2017. New flash eh? My point is that March is typically the final stretch of winter for us. In some seasons, it is basically over…in others we still have a ways to go. Only time will tell what will happen this season, but I suspect we will work our way towards more spring like weather, with the occasional burst of winter interrupting that progression. The stronger sunshine at this time of the year is already being noticed. It only takes a few peaks of sun to start melting the roadways and in some cases, the sun can still be behind the clouds, as long as they are not too thick.

We did start last week in the throws of the latest thaw, but did manage to finally wiggle out of it by Wednesday night. Thursday morning we awoke to a nice fresh coating of snow in the woods. I marvel at how humans can be so different. Snow lovers would look at that picture and probably feel a sense of calm. I know I did. Yet, those that do not like snow would likely react to it with anxiety. Many of us snow lovers might even think the non snow lover is being goofy with their reaction, while it could be the case for the other side. Obviously this plays out for just about everything in life, but I get the feeling that many of us forget that fact and are not willing to accept the differing opinion. Many times we try to explain it by saying were just “being human”, if true, I want out. My dogs can see and accept the differences between them and humans and even them and other dogs and I am trying my hardest to follow their lead. There are still stumbles, but I suppose it takes time. Nearly a half a century of programming can take time to undo.

I have know idea how I just got so side tracked, but the words just started flowing and I could not stop! Now… there is no way I can delete them and stay in a right mind, so I hope you all were able to bear with me through that!!!

Anyway, the snows returned on Thursday and brightened up all the nasty looking stuff that was left behind from the latest thaw. The dinge is among the things that I dislike most about spring up here. Thankfully, our woods typically do not get all nasty looking. The snow remains white right up to the point where the ground starts to show. In town, it is a different story.

So the woods were nicely frosted Thursday morning and so was the house. The patch of driveway where Nora’s vehicle was parked being the only reminder that just 12 hours prior, things looked a whole lot different. That snow was just the harbinger of things to come. The advance guard so to speak. The main storm was scheduled for Friday and Friday night. I have to admit that on Wednesday and even Thursday, I was quite nervous about the storm. Not just for our area, but for areas like northern IA, southern MN and northern WI, which were suppose to get hit pretty good too. I am not sure if I am imagining things, but it seems like I can sense the collective mindset of the visitors to the site and about midweek last week, I sensed a ton of anticipation for that snow to actually fall! Some areas had bare ground, but with double digit accumulations, it could put them back in business for snowplay for at least the weekend. For other areas (like us) it would take us from marginal conditions to pretty darned good. I even woke up Wednesday morning at around 2:30 in the morning and could not get back to sleep thinking about all the possibilities.

Thursday night was a little better, as by the time I was going to sleep, the snows were already breaking out across NE and western sections of IA/MN. Our snow was suppose to start in earnest the second half of the day on Friday. We did have light snows start up in the morning, but then it stayed pretty light through most of the day. I was starting to get nervous again, as I had friends driving up from around 7 hours away and had said we only needed around 6-8″ to make things pretty good again and had a good chance that would happen. Just as the sun was setting, the snows started to pick up and by the time they arrived, it was snowing pretty good and we had picked up a few inches of fresh.

I went to bed Friday night hoping that what it was doing outside would keep up for at least a few hours and it did and more. By the time we all rolled out of bed Saturday morning, there was a fresh 10″ of powder on everything. Of all the scenes that a snow lover likes to see, this has to be ranked very near the top. I was able to get out and clear our neighbors driveway as well as ours and then got in and make breakfast for us all and then we got suited up and headed out to play in the fresh.

The conditions we encountered in the woods were pretty similar to what was in our driveway, although the snow was very powdery and did get moved around a bit by the winds in spots. At times we were riding on only 3-4″ of fresh and other times had powder over the hood. Here is a shot of a section of road where if you went far enough to the left, you had powder filling your helmet. The two significant warm ups we have had up here this season has also caused some interesting sections in the bush. In spots, water was either flowing or sitting and melted the snow, but not entirely. In the same spot, the snow had not melted, so you would have 2-3 foot trenches in the snow, which made for some fun times getting through. To make things even more interesting, the snow underneath the 8-10″ of fresh stuff was almost like concrete, so it did not give way to  a ski being pushed into it. I learned the hard way one time, with an attempted carve to the left going very wrong and the sled rolling. I got very lucky, as it ended up rolling on top of me with the track still spinning a bit, but the throttle did not get pinned and I was able to use my feet to keep the sled from rolling right on top of me. Nothing hurt but my pride! I am pretty familiar with that!

On Sunday, we headed out again. The fluff of Friday night had settled some, but the goings in the bush were still loads of fun. On Saturday we had Ben from Keweenaw Cabin Keeper join us in our ride and on Saturday, we had Dave from “Downtime with Dick Dostaler” join us. Dave is one of the guys that was part of the band of brothers that got together to ride almost every weekend back about a decade or so ago. He is one that I still get out and ride with a couple of times a season, but this was the first time this season we got together. We actually rode some of the old hunting grounds we used to ride back in the day, areas I have not been to in quite some time. It felt really nice to be with good friends in memorable places. As if on cue, it even started to snow.

We had our fair share of creek crossings and other obstacles to get around on Sunday’s ride as well. Some even required a bit of reconnoitering on foot. All of the challenges were met and successfully crossed, but a few did bite back. In this shot, not only is it snowing to beat the band, but there is a sled hiding behind the trees to the right. The one crossing was made, but another hidden one caused the rider to hit the ejection button, resulting in a stuck sled. We all made it back safe and sound and then settled in for a nice dinner with Nora and Gracie. Thus the reason why I did not write last night.

The forecast for this week looks OK. A chance of snow and/or wintry mix tomorrow, with some fresh snow Wed-Thur. Not a lot, but enough to keep things in pretty decent shape for playing. The CopperDog 150 sled dog race is going on up here this weekend and the snows will be welcomed for that. The race uses sections of our trail system and I got a notification that a section that they use had been washed out by water over the weekend. So this morning I headed down to survey the damage there (the reason for no forecast text). It was a pretty nasty wash-out, that will require a fair amount of work in the off season. This wash out happened on trail 122 just north of Lake Linden. Most of 122 has been closed due to logging all season, but we kept the section open that connected with the Dreamland trail. Well, now due to this wash out, that little section is also closed, so all of 122 is now closed.

There is a solution for the dog teams this weekend. It will require a bit of work for the organizers of the race, but nothing too major. They will be able to get around the wash-out.

I guess that covers it for this one. Stay tuned for more!

Good night from the Keweenaw..