Wonders and Hopes

This is that time of the year. The time of the year that every since I first moved up here, I wonder and I hope. Both for the same thing…will this be the winter that breaks the all time record for snowfall? Why in mid-November? Well, if we are going to have a record breaking winter, we cannot accomplish it with simply a snowy month or even two. We need to go pretty strong from start to finish. We are at the start. Although it is WAY early in the game (top of the first inning?), we are off to a good start. Here is is only November 20th and we have already received 33.5″ of snow and have a very solid 10″ on the ground. If it were not for the utterly depressing day we had last Wednesday, we would probably have around 15″ on the ground.

Last Wednesday was plenty depressing. We had around 10″ of very solid snow on the ground to start last week. Tuesday we did have temps rise above freezing, with some melting, but nothing too out of hand. In fact, I actually took my first snowmobile ride of the season last Tuesday, more on that in a bit. Then Wednesday arrived and a fairly steady rain fell all day. It was a very frustrating rain in a couple of ways. First, it fell with temps in the mid 30’s. So just a few degrees cooler and it would have been snow. Secondly, despite the fact that temps were just a few degrees above average and the snow we had on the ground was quite dense, it managed to eat much of it away. So by the time the sun was setting, there were even a few spots where the blades of grass were starting to poke through the snow. About 6 pm, the rains changed to snow and it did come down pretty good. We ended up with 4″ of new snow by daybreak Thursday, but it was a wash. The 4″ new just replaced the 4″ we lost during the day on Wednesday.

The other depressing thing about Wednesday’s rain is that things were just starting to freeze up around here. It has been so wet that there are tons of puddles and in some cases, small ponds out in the woods. Those were just starting to freeze up and even shrink through seeping into the ground. Wednesdays 2/3rds of an inch of rain helped to bring those puddles and ponds back. We did get cold again on Thursday and the freezing started up again, but it was just hard not to imagine the shape of things up here without those rains on Wednesday.

As depressing as Wednesday’s rains were, Friday’s snows were joyous! They were not a total surprise, but we only looked to pick up around 1-3″. It spat snow at us for most of the day on Friday, but with the intermittent nature to the snow and temps hovering in the mid 30’s, it did not accumulate much. Then, about 3:30 pm, it started to snow more heavily and started to accumulate. I fed the pups and then went to Gracie’s ice skating lesson. On the way there, the roads were slick with around an inch of new snow. There is open ice from 4-5 pm and then her lesson is from 5-5:30. By the time her lesson was finished and we all were heading to the truck, there was a fresh 4″ of snow on the ground. About 3 more came down before it let up at around 9 pm.

There has been a bit of settling and a tiny bit of melting, but we still have much of that snow on the ground and is a big reason why we have nearly a foot of very dense snow on the ground right now. The forecast looks pretty good to hold most of what we have, as well as freeze things up. There is not a ton of fresh in the forecast, but quite honestly, with the base we have right now, cold is probably needed more than snow. I wish I could say for sure if our club will be grooming December 1st, but I know that the operators are all busy getting things ready. The big wind storm a few weeks ago took down a ton of trees and there has been a crew out daily cleaning that up. The majority of the machines are all prepped and ready to go, so should there be enough snow, then I am sure Brian will be sending them out to pack it down and also check for any hazards that might need addressing.

Speaking of hazards, we had a doozy on the Freeda Loop. Some beavers had taken it upon themselves to clog up a culvert and let an pond on the upstream side get even deeper. Deep enough that in spring it over topped the trail and washed it out. So this summer we got our ducks in a row and applied for a grant to replace the culvert and re-build the trail. That was accomplished earlier this month, so I accompanied the DNR and DEQ last Tuesday on their inspection. The way the conditions were, it was decided that taking sleds out to the project site would be the best mode of transportation, so the three of us boarded some DNR sleds and hit the trail. It was an interesting ride to say the least! and I was glad that I was not on my sled! Most of what we rode on was snow, but there were also a ton of puddles and mud holes out there, so it was a fun, but messy ride!

We got out to the site and the two agents did their thing. I was a little nervous, as I was the one that applied for the grant and it was my first go around with this. It was also the contractors first go around with doing work for us, so the “greenhorn” effect was at full play. It turns out that there will be a few things that need to be addressed in the spring, but it will be fine to use for the snowmobile trail this season. I am grateful to the two agents for understanding the inexperience involved in this project and being flexible. It was actually kind of fun to be part of the process for this trail repair and I am going to be the one taking the lead on most of our future projects, but it is also clear that I have more to learn! I can also add that the pond on the other side of the trail is still there and it was quite beautiful, especially since it was no longer flowing over the trail!

The rest of my week was spent between doing my regular, daily work, working on the new feature to the website that will be rolled out in the next day or two! and of course the remodel project. That too is very close to completion. At least the utility room. The ceiling is done and the tops of the end walls are also now done and just need to have the finish put on them. There will also be a bit of cove and crown molding to put up (all of which I hope to do tomorrow) and then the final bit will be to add the work table and sink. I hope to get that done on Wednesday, but will not stress out about it. Then it will be into the woodshop to build the new cabinets for the pantry and by the time those are done, I hope the hunters will be out of the woods and there will be enough snow to go play in!

Gracie and her friend Jake made good use of the snow on Saturday by starting to build a snow fort. The snow was perfect for it, as it was wet and heavy and packed in really nicely. They did not get a ton done, but did have an absolute blast, which is all that really matters. I have yet to put the blower on Big Red for the season, as I am waiting for the time to do it as well as for most of our snows to become more easily moved by a blower! So far, most of our snows would have just clogged the chute and been a pain to use the blower with, so I have been using the loader. It was a joy to be sitting in the heated cab, listening to tunes, moving snow with the flick of a lever and watching the kids play in the snow! That last shot was actually taken from inside the cab of Big Red!

Of course the pups are still loving the snow, not only to play in, but they love to use it as their source for hydration! It’s all cute when it is convenient for me to let them out and keep an eye on them as they meander around the yard is search of the freshest snow, but can be a bit of a pain when they keep going to the door, asking to be let out when I am in the middle of something! So the other day, I decided to just fill up their water bowl with snow and see if that might work. It did, at least to some extent. Although they still prefer to go out and eat the snow just like their cousins, the wolves, do.

So the questions that introduced this entry still exist and the answer will not be known for at least a bit, perhaps months from now. It really is not critical that I experience a record breaking winter. In fact, I fully realize that it is a distinct possibility that it will not even happen. However, a snow lover can still dream!

Good night from the Keweenaw..