It’s trying

If it wasn’t enough to live in the snow desert of Jacobsville where around 1/4 of the snow falls compared to areas just 15 miles away, this winter so far has been an extra special challenge. I realize that I may seem ungrateful to be living in the Keweenaw and complaining about lack of snow, but the truth is, we are quite a bit behind for this time of the year and it can be just as frustrating for a snow lover here as it is for a snow lover in the less snowy parts of the Midwest. The only difference being that we will get slammed sooner or later!

So in my little snow funk I decided to head up to the high country while the girls were doing some shopping on Saturday. When we lived in the high country, a spot I would often go to when I was in a snow funk was Cliff Drive. For some reason it has a way of lifting my spirits more than other locations up here. I’m not sure why, it is a beautiful spot, but there are dozens of beautiful spots up here. In the past I always had the dogs with me, but the two we have now cannot be trusted to be off a leash and my poor old heart does not really like to do a lot of exercising these days, even a walk down the road. I am good for about a 1/2 mile and then I can keep going, but it is just not that enjoyable. 

So off I went, solo into the great outdoors of the Keweenaw. I did not get out of my truck to walk Cliff Drive, rather I just drove a bit faster than walking speed. The western 1/2 of the drive is closed and not plowed in the winter and even though the snow was not yet deep enough to keep a truck or SUV with 4 wheel drive from going down that end, no one seems to be using the drive anymore and the plowed section was nice and quiet. So I was able to creep along in the truck and pay more attention to the world around me than the road.

I have been down that stretch of road dozens of times since moving here, but yet am still amazed by the magnitude of the Cliff Range. Most locals use it as a by-pass of 41 through Mohawk and I think the majority of visitors take 41 rather than Cliff Drive, so I feel that their true majesty is missed by many, especially in the time that the leaves are down and you can see the details of the Cliff Range better. There is a spot where a frozen waterfall develops every winter and the freeze/thaw cycles we have had already has it looking pretty good

Further east, the drive separates itself from the range a bit and in between is a lake, swampy area and also left over tailings from the mining era. There was some remediation work done to the area several years ago and when they were finished they put up a post and rail fence. At first I did not care for the fence, but it has grown on me and even helped to add to the atmosphere in this picture.

After rejoining with the main highway, I took it to where hwy 26 branches off and heads to Eagle River. My intent was not to drive down to Eagle River or to see the big lake. I can see it here in Jake anytime I would like to. The reason for the turn was to go and check out the Eagle River at a spot called “10 foot”. It gets that name because of a little waterfall there. I have never measured the size of the falls, but it must be 10 feet, otherwise the spot would be called something different, right?! Anyway, it is a very scenic spot just about anytime of the year and another spot that souths my soul, especially when I have the place to myself. The view downstream is quite beautiful, as is the view looking upstream and in between you have the drop. The formations that mother nature can create with water and cold air can be quite beautiful and amazing. Such was the case with this terraced ice formation over a rock.

After 10 foot, I turned around and headed back up to 41 and took a Louie to continue up the highway towards Copper Harbor, although the harbor was not on my list of places to visit. It was probably pretty quiet, which is just the way I like it, but too far of a drive, especially with snow starting to fall. My last goal for the afternoon was to take a jaunt up to Gratiot Lake. The Gratiot Lake road is another beautiful and therapeutic drive for me and I love the incline up to where the old radar base used to be and then the decline down to the lake. The snowmobile trail crosses the road right next to the hwy, so I did stop and take a pic of the trail. The snow is not as deep as those in charge of the trails would like right now, but they did open up the gates over the weekend and some lucky snowmobilers were able to take advantage of the snow we have and some very quiet trails. They are not grooming yet, but with the snow so thin the trails don’t really have a chance to get moguls. I’m sure there may be some wet spots and even a few of the bigger rocks to have to keep an eye out, but as I was take the picture, I really wished that I was on my sled and being able to leisurely cruise down them without worry of someone outriding their skills. 

I did make the drive to the lake and took a turn onto the road that runs along the lake, feeding the camps on it. My plan was to stop at the boat launch to take a picture of the lake, but when I got there, it was snowing heavy enough that the view of the lake was just a wall of white. 

With my planned destinations for the afternoon all met, I headed back down to Jake. I did take a little detour through the old neighborhood and even cracked a little tear as I drove down “Old Joe’s” road. That was one of the roads that the dogs and I (also Nora and Grace when they were home) walked every day. It also reminded me of when I could walk that 2 mile walk at a brisk pace. Some great memories for sure!

As I drove down to Jake, I thought about how I really miss the high country in Keweenaw County in the winter. There is no better place than Jake in the warm months. It is truly paradise, but when the snows start to fly, I love them bumps in Keweenaw County! When I got down to Jake, I turned right instead of left and drove to White City Beach. Soon the snow will be too deep on that stretch of unplowed road to drive there and I was in need of seeing the beach, pier and light one last time before spring. I guess Jake can be quite beautiful in the winter too!

This past Thursday, Grace had her winter skating show at MI Tech. She is getting quite good and actually took a first place in a competition in Escanaba a little over a week ago. She is also fun to watch as she really loves to perform. I think one of the reasons why she does so good in the competitions is that you can tell she is out there having fun and also is not afraid to add flair to her routine. Some skaters she goes against have better skills, but are just mechanical and like robots. Grace looks the opposite of a robot, all full of smiles the whole time. Yes, I’m bragging about my daughter, but what proud dad doesn’t every now and then?

So that covers it for this one. Hopefully the storm for Thursday-Saturday gives us a nice dumping and sets us on the road for more before the holidays. I also hope the rest of the northern Midwest gets a good dumping too. It’s been a while since the entire northern Midwest had a deep snowpack during the holidays.

Good Night from the Keweenaw..