Nobody Pinch Me

If this is a dream, I don’t want to wake up! 97″ of snow in the past 4 weeks. I have always wanted to live through a record setting snow year up here, in a unique way, I think I already have…kind of, sorta. You see, to have a record year, we cannot have much of a low period. 400″ of snow does not just fall in a few days. It needs to snow full speed ahead from mid-November through March and even into April. While I have not spent a winter up here like that, I have experienced extremely snowy Novembers, such as the one 4 years ago. 71.5″ fell. Just last winter, our December provided 113″ of snow. In the winter of ’00/’01, 105″ of snow fell in January and 72″ fell in March. This February is only a bit past half over, but already we have picked up 53″ of snow. February of last year provided 64″ and February of 2006 brought just shy of 70″.

I’ll stop here, because I think you get my point by now. But add those months from separate years together and it would be 425.5″. A new record and that is not even counting what might have fallen in October, April and May! So I can imagine what each month must have been like and perhaps even a two month span, but I can’t fully grasp what it would like to have it snow like that month, after month, after month, after month…etc. Where would one put it all? I would not have too much of a problem with the driveway and parking area. Big Red tosses it far enough away that it would still be able to do that. But how about the roofs? I have room for one more clearing of the shop, another clearing or two of the house and that is it.

I doubt strongly that I will have to worry about those scenarios this year, but it does make one think!

So the week started out with things being a bit on the quiet side Monday. The pups and I took the opportunity to head out into the woods for a gander. We had not been out there for a while, so I figured we all were in need of some woods time and pay a brief visit to Old Granddad. So off into the woods we went. Huck and Millie sinking up to their bellies and Bleau using his built in snow shoes to sink in just a few inches! I’m not even sure he realizes how his huge paws keep him on top of the snow, but he certainly does not rub it in to the other two.

Walking through the woods, it was hard to realize that we were walking across 4 feet of snow. It’s clear that there are more than just a few inches down, but typically when you reach past the 3 foot mark, it all starts looking the same. That is until you start seeing many feet of snow sitting on top of objects that have not yet been buried. Here is a leaning dead fall with around 3-4 feet of snow on it. My favorite was the still standing, but long-dead white pine doing it’s imitation of a snowman.

The snows have been keeping me pretty busy clearing it. Between the rink, my neighbors and our driveway, I have been averaging around 2 hours a day in Big Red. I am still enjoying it, but would not having that time to do some other things as well! I typically do our drive first, then the neighbors and finish up with the rink. That takes me on a 2 mile loop through the neighborhood and one of my favorite periods of the entire clearing process is the trip home from the rink. It is down a very quiet country road and always looks to beautiful in the winter.

I have also been busy with a shovel this week. The snow on the woodshed REALLY needed to come off the downwind side, but my go-to guy was out of town. With it not being a very large area to clear, I decided to DIY. Things were moving along quite swimmingly. I had about 1/2 the roof cleared and was starting to tire a bit and that is when the shovel slipped out of my hand and went skidding down the roof to the ground below. Normally such an innocent thing would not be that big of a deal, but with my arms, legs and back already starting to feel the burn, the last thing I wanted to have to do is climb down the ladder, pick up the shovel and climb back up!

I toughed it out and finished up the one side of the roof. I was really glad when I finished and just as glad that it was done. The snow on the other side was not nearly as deep and will actually slide the first time we get above freezing. So not much worry there. The only thing left to do was move the snow that had been pushed off the roof and onto the ground. Big Red made easy work of that for me!

After an awesome massage and a few days rest, I spied the snow on the roof of the lean-to-where my precious Big Red is stored. It also looked to be getting too deep, so I hit it with a roof rake in hopes to moving the top two feet of snow off and make things safe again. Well, the top 2 feet came off without too much challenge from the snow rake, but the problem was, there was still around 3 feet of snow left! It was also not the light and fluffy kind, so I figured I better get up there and clear that snow off too!

So up the ladder I went, shovel in hand and got busy. It was deep. Even deeper than it looked from the ground. Its funny how that works. Just about every time I make my estimate of snow on a roof and then actually get up there, it is considerably deeper than it looked from below! Anyway, I dug and tossed, dug and tossed and stopped from time to time to rest. At one of my stopping intervals, I noticed the shovel leaning against the snow still on the roof. That was not even the deepest spot, nor was the shovel on the surface of the roof. There were a couple of inches of snow still on it!

A little while later, I did clean a spot all the way down to the bare roof and snapped a shot of it. It is hard to tell how deep it was without a reference object, but when I was standing on the roof, the top of the snow was up to the bottom of my chin. I am 6 foot 1 inch tall, so that was at least 5 feet of snow! The other thing that was cool about looking at the slab of snow (and this can also be seen in the photo) is the different layers in the slab. Each representing a snow storm or snow cycle in which it did not stop snowing for long enough to allow the snow surface to change. A couple of significant weak layers in there for all you avalanche hounds, but no avalanche terrain up here!

I did run out of steam and did not finish the lean-to, but will get back at it this week and I did remove enough snow to make things safe for Big Red. It has my back and I have its. Literally! The only casualty to the snow has been the swing set. But it will re-appear when the spring meltdown takes hold.

So I think that about covers it for this one. Looks like some more snow to come this week, but not as much as last week. So any Houghton-Keweenaw school kids reading this be ready to have a full week!

Good Night from the Keweenaw..