Feel the Burn

Before I say another word, I would like to thank my best friend and wonderful wife, Nora, for writing last week’s entry. It is nice to have a break. It seems to re-energize me for the next week’s entry. Thanks Sweetie!

Winter continues to crank along in the Keweenaw. It snowed every day last week. Nothing too big most of the time, but Friday’s clipper system over achieved and brought a solid 6-8″ to most areas. The snow is now ankle deep in the higher terrain of the Keweenaw…If you go in head first! Haha! A riding buddy of mine would say that all the time and I thought it was a pretty funny way to put it. Ankle deep…if you go in head first. Keweenaw Counties total for the season is around 235 so far and that looks to grow considerably this week. Before I get into that, I have some shots to share from the weekend.

The girls traveled down to Iron Mountain on Friday so that Grace could attend a figure skating clinic. Thankfully they left before the snow got heavy and they were able to make it there without any issues. I finished up my work for the website around noon and then took to the road myself. By the time I was headed out of Jacobsville, we had already gotten a quick 3 inches and it was coming down pretty good. I have never minded driving in the snow, in fact, in most cases I fully enjoy it. The only times I did not like it was when I lived in the big city and had to deal with the traffic and folks who just did not know how to drive in it. The other two times were when I was far from home and it was snowing so hard, I was not sure I would make it home or have to change plans. Once that happened returning to the university of Wyoming after playing in a hockey tournament in Steamboat. I was THE last vehicle they let go up and over Rabbit Ears Pass. The other was coming home Christmas Evening from southern WI. Hit snow falling so hard (about 6″/hr) around Mass City that I was pushing it with my axle. Thankfully, I caught up with a plow truck and was able to continue on my way.

Anyway, my first stop on Friday was in Calumet and it was coming down at around 2-3″ per hour, with winds blowing pretty good. The visibility was less than 1/4 of a mile. Typically that would be enough to just about shut down most areas, but for the hardened folks of the Keweenaw, it just caused them to drive a bit more slowly and cautiously. After my stop in Calumet, I headed up the highway through the hamlets of Centennial, Wolverine, Allouez, Ahmeek and Mohawk, finally reaching my destination in the greater Phoenix area. It was still snowing pretty good at that point and I did not stop on the side of the highway for fear of creating another challenge to drivers. I did turn off on a side street and was able to snap this shot of a home that has not seen any humans in it since the snow began to fall 3 1/2 months ago.

After that, I had to go all the way back down south to Houghton to pick up some ThinkSnow stickers I had run out of as well as do the grocery shopping for this week. The snowfall rate had backed down a bit by the time I got to Houghton, but even still, a fresh 1-2″ was on my truck when I came back out of the grocery store. I returned home to two hungry and happy-to-see-me doggies, fed them and had dinner and settled in for the night.

There was still a bit of snow falling when I woke up Saturday morning, but just very light snow showers. I fed the dogs, fired up Big Red and cleared snow. Then took a shower and hopped in Chelsea (the truck, her full name is Chelsea Dagger) with the Riot in the bed and headed north to ride with my good friend Al from the old days of our riing riding gang the Lumberjacks. I probably have not ridden with Al in at least 5 years, but it was just like falling off a bike, like we just rode last week and it was great to be out there with him. We also had a group from the Crystal Falls area that I was introduced to about a month ago and promised that I would take them into the bush for a day’s riding.

I don’t know if it was riding with Al, or riding in my old stomping grounds or some combination of those two, but I felt the most relaxed and happy to be on a sled as I have felt in a long time. Ever since having my heart issues, riding the backcountry has been somewhat stressful for me. It is a lot more physically demanding and I think the fear of getting stuck and having to rely nearly 100% on the others to get me out of my pickle creates some anxiety. I think if riding he trails was not so worrisome to me for fear of getting hit, I would have transitioned to a trail rider only.

The snow was plenty deep and the fresh 6-8″ that had fallen 12 hours before we took to the woods was like icing on the cake. The group were all good riders too. They ride primarily the backcountry north of Crystal Falls, but just do not have the kind of snow we have here, so they were all smiles all day! There were a few mishaps and Al dropped into a drainage to help one of them out and had to do a little finagling to get himself out of the drainage, but all in all, a great time was had by all and I hope those guys can make it up again to ride someday, as they were super nice guys.

I even was able to pull off a maneuver that I would not have tried in the past 3-4 years. It the same spot Al dropped into the drainage, I started to head down, but quickly hit the breaks when I realized what kind of a situation that would put me in. So while the sled was stationary, pointed straight down the hill, I tipped it over on it’s left (uphill) side on about a 45 degree angle, hit the throttle and the sleds rear end swung right around, which put it at a perpendicular angle to the fall line and I was able to side hill across and out of the drainage and onto level ground. Sure did give this old buck a shot of confidence that I have been lacking!

After we finished the ride and had the sled loaded into the bed of the truck, I noticed a cool snow formation that had developed around the tailpipe. It kind of reminded me of a picture of a black hole. I awoke with some pretty sore muscles, the good kind of soreness and something I have not felt in quite a few years. I have a couple more rides planned this season, including one in the MN Arrowhead in early March and yesterday’s ride has got me even more excited for all of the rides yet to happen this season.

Now, onto that snow idea for tomorrow and Tuesday. It’s the same storm that I was talking about in my forecast last week and it now puts the Keweenaw square in the band of heaviest snow. Perhaps not the top of the list of snow totals, but one idea calls for Jacobsville to get 18″ of snow, while the other is at 23.5. So it is looking quite promising that the missing “big storm” for this season might be headed our way. For a sneak peak at snowfall totals for the rest of the Midwest, you can check this map out. That will do wonders for the Northwoods and it a great note to close on!

Good Night from the Keweenaw..