Now you see it…Now you don’t

Boy, I think this past week was the best week of summer weather we have had all season. The only strange thing is that it came the third week of October! For those that came up to the Keweenaw this past week to see the colors, you should run and get a lottery ticket. Not only did you catch the peak, but also were treated to some of the finest weather we can have this time of the year…all week! It was in the 70’s for highs many days and we also had a ton of blue bird skies. Sure does make for a beautiful time to be in the woods. However, if you were putting things off, it’s too late! Some rains and winds and POOF! Bare trees! That last shot was taken just a few minutes ago. It is just amazing how fast the leaves come down once fully changed. So, if you were hoping to come up to catch some late colors, forgetaboutit! At least if you were wanting to see them still in the trees, the ground is a beautiful canvas of autumn colors!

It was a very busy week for me. Nora was out of town Monday and Tuesday, which put some more duties on me with getting Gracie ready for school, to school and then back home. Plus piano lessons and skating lessons on Tuesday. I do have to admit that Nora does a ton more work around here than I just listed, but I pretty much slacked at the rest! No need to over do it!

In addition to all of my Mr Mom duties, I also was busy running around getting prepared for the trail work session and work that we are having done by contractors on our trails to get them ready for the season. It has been a very wet spring, summer and autumn and there are a lot of issues that we are dealing with. We typically have about a half dozen “issues” to deal with to get things ready. Some are as small as fixing a small washout on the trail, while others can be a large as a major re-route. Somehow they all get done in time for the start of the season and we are on track to meet that goal again this year.

After dropping Gracie off at school Tuesday, the pups and I headed out to do some reconnoitering of the trail from Lake Linden to Gay. Most of that trail has been closed due to logging the past few years, but they are done and we are able to have it open up for this season again. It will be great to have it open again, as it is an excellent way for folks to avoid the busier main trail that goes from Calumet to Mohawk and then Phoenix. It also helps to spread the traffic out more, which makes it easier for us to keep that main trail in good shape. The only down side is that when we are not using a trail, we are not keeping up with maintenance. So we had quite a bit of work to do on it to make it safe and passable for snowmobiles this season.

One of the bigger issues were a number of mud/water holes just outside of Lake Linden. Some were rather small, but if left would only get larger. There were a handful of medium ones to deal with. And then there were 3-4 spots that needed some pretty major work, like this one and this one. Its a lot of work to keep our trail system in the shape we do, not only when the snow is flying and folks are playing on them, but in the off season. The frustrating part of most repairs we need to do is that the problems were not created by snowmobiles or our club! These holes all were created by wheeled vehicles going where they were not suppose to. I am not going to get up on a soap box and preach about trespassing or damage done by wheeled vehicles where they should not be. My point is that it cost us time and money to fix these things and it was urgent that we did. Not only because they presented a problem for us once the trails open for snowmobilers, but because the land owners were threatening to close the land to any kind of use, so we had to fix these problems, just to keep the trail open. A frustrating situation and also something that I think most folks do not even know we deal with on a regular basis. Thankfully, for major repairs like those, we are able to get financial help from the Michigan DNR. All of that money comes from your trail pass fees, so anyone wondering where your money for trail passes goes, it is not just grooming…it is EVERYTHING to give you trails to ride on.

The Keweenaw Snowmobile Club in responsible for taking care of over 230 miles of trails in our system. That is nearly double the next largest trail system and in some cases 5-8 times more miles than other clubs in MI have. Without the help we get from the DNR and the snowmobile program, there is no way we could do what we do. I can also say that since taking a very active role in the maintenance of our trails, I have gotten to work closely with several DNR employees and they have all been great to work with and go out of their way to help make not just our trail system, but all trails in MI as good as they can be. So what I am saying is there is a TON of work that goes on behind the scenes to allow you all to come up and enjoy the plentiful snow that falls up here each winter. Almost nothing short of a miracle…year in and year out. Oh, and if you wanted to know what things look like once the work is done, here is an example.

The section by Lake Linden was just one of our problem spots. Another is on the “south end”. The Freeda Loops have really taken it on the chin this summer with the combination of all the rain and all the traffic. The biggest problem was caused when a beaver dam gave way and washed out a section of the trail. I was unable to get out there to take pics, but I have been told that the trail would be impassable for both sleds and a groomer come winter. We did have a contractor go out and look at all that was going to be needed to repair it, but before he could even get there, he had to deal with several spots like this. I reported this info back to the DNR, along with the cost that the contractor quoted us to fix all of them and the DNR was able to dig hard, come up with the money and the contractor will be going out this week and next to fix the washout as well as all the water holes on those loops.

Our club held its annual trail work session this past Friday and Saturday and were blessed with about as perfect weather as we could have asked for. Upper 70’s on Friday and I believe 81 yesterday! Along with that was tons of sunshine and very low humidity levels, so we did not even get overheated working. The majority of the work done during the work session is of a “lighter variety”. Meaning we are cutting back brush, moving anything that has fallen on the trails during the off season, checking signs and also taking care of any “leaners”.

This is probably the 10th or 11th work session that we have had and the work done by previous sessions is really becoming noticeable. For as short a growing season that we have up here, the vegetation sure does tend to grow quickly! So while some areas need to be brushed almost annually, others we were able to drive right past and could see the trimmed brush from work done in previous years. A perfect example of the kind of brushing we do is like this, where the turn ahead sign is partially obscured by some saplings growing in front of it. While one might think the sign is still quite able to be seen, come winter, snow will pile up on those saplings “Keweenaw Kamo” style and can nearly block the sign completely. So we cut back the saplings and leave nothing to block the view of the sign. Certainly not grueling work, especially in the weather and beauty we had this Fri-Sat, but important none the less. Other spots require a bit more effort and fancy footwork, such as this one where a bunch of brush was laying near a mud hole. The brush we took care of and the mud hole will be drained.

Friday had just myself and another volunteer in my truck, so the pups got to ride along. They have been on quite a few of the Friday work sessions. Usually when we stop to do some work, I let them out to romp in the woods. However, with all the water/mud holes this season, they spent more time in the truck that romping. So when we had to travel from one work areas in the Lac La Belle area to another in the Gay area, we made a quick pit stop at one of the beaches to let them do some splashing around and also get a drink of water.

So the trail work session for 2017 is done and I thank all that came up to help out. It may not seem like you all are doing much, but that is because many hands makes for light work. If we had to do it all on our own, it would be a lot of work and a lot of time. So your help is greatly appreciated and I hope you all had a great time! Hope to see you all up next autumn! I also need to put out a HUGE Thank You to Chris and Sue at the Trailside Lodge. They opened up their doors and gave free lodging to all the workers. A huge sacrifice made even huger this year by the fact that they could have easily filled those rooms with folks up for the color show. If you are going to the snowmobile show in Novi in 2 weeks, be sure to stop by the Keweenaw booth and say hi and “atta boy/girl” to them both, as they will be manning the booth for that show.

I think that about covers it for this one. I am glad to have some free time again to resume finishing up my latest project. The water heater and furnace got moved into the addition last week and the furnace just needs a few more connections to be made tomorrow and then we will have heat. It will be coming at a perfect time, as it is going to get colder this week and it looks like much of the Northwoods will even see their first snows of the season fall by later in the week. So be sure to check out the cams later this week, as some could be a nice wintry look. I am getting ready to start the winter forecasts and if there is some snow to forecast for, will be starting them up November 1st, otherwise, will be doing it for sure on Monday the 6th. We’re getting close folks!

Good night from the Keweenaw..