I usually try
and do a journal on the last day of the month, so I guess that since today
is not only the last day of the month, but also the last day of the year,
I just had to do one! And what a year it was, huh? I don't
know about the rest of you, but I personally cannot remember a year with
more up's and down's in it. The great start to the year weather wise,
then the leg break, the recovery from that, then Burt gets hurt, then Baileys
needs surgery, then they are both healed, then my relationship with Julie
ends, then the fall is beautiful, then the early winter stinks, then the
winter becomes great. I guess you can say I am ending it as it started...On
a high note. Looking back on this years journey, I am happy and wiser
for all the ups and downs. Not sure what can be said positive or
what I learned about the hounds and my injuries, but we are over them and
that is the past. Overall, 2001 was a good year for me and the hounds.
Right now they are asleep, snoring away, in the bedroom, without a care
in the world.
I am heading out to
spend the evening with some friends who are having a get together at one
of the local motels pool. I am not sure if I will make it till midnight,
as I had a very full day the past three days and had to start work at 4:30
this morning. Not making it until midnight is nothing new for me.
My early schedule usually has me and the hounds celebrating with Newfoundland
every new years eve. Seems fitting as that is where the hounds heritage
For those of you who
did not catch the news on my Al Cam notes, I lost my digital camera yesterday.
I had plans to go for a ride on the sled, so I wanted to give the hounds
some exercise before I left. So we suited up and went for a sunrise
ski. That is the first time I have ever taken a sunrise ski and I
can say with certainty that it will not be the last! Talk about beautiful,
peaceful, spiritual, man was it great. The woods just had a different
sense to them. Really mystic. About a 1/4 mile into the ski,
I took this shot of the first hints of sun
lighting up the eastern sky. Then, as we got to the top of the
hill, the sun was a little higher and was painting the horizon in a crimson
glow. The colors were reflecting in the fresh snow and the trees
stood out in dark contrast to the palette of colors around them.
I excitedly reached into my parka to get the camera and it was not there!!!
I could feel my heart sink and I reached into the other pockets of the
parka to make sure I had not put it in one of them and it was not in any
of them either. I skied back to where I had taken the last picture
and looked for the cam on the way back but could not find it. I could
not figure it out, I have taken spills on the skis and spills on the sled
and never lost the cam, yet here all I do is take a picture and put the
cam away and it disappears!
Loosing the cam really
was a bummer. I was planning on upgrading to a better cam in the
next few months, but did not want to do it now. Plus, we had a great
ride yesterday. Tons of bottomless powder, lots of digouts and just
a great time. I was really bummed that I could not share it with
you and I know this may sound strange, but that goofy camera has almost
become a buddy of mine. It has been there on most of my adventures,
recording the events of our travels inside itself so that it could share
them with all of you later. It did so with an impeccable sense of
duty, only asking that I keep fresh enough batteries in it so that it could
work. So today I made a plan that I would head back out to the trail
and give one good last look for my buddy the cam (sort of a Tom Hanks and
Wilson thing I guess). As I headed up the trail, I remembered clearing
a stick out of the way that was laying across the trail yesterday and thought
that is the place where I would have the best luck in finding my cam.
I got to the spot, took my skis off, dropped to my hands and knees and
started digging for the cam. I had moved quite a bit of snow when
I came along the limb I had cleared off the trail. I picked it up
to get it even further out the way and there was the cam, it's wrist strap
clinging to one of the tines on the branch! I brushed off the snow,
turned it on, it gave a flicker of life, then died. No worries, the
batteries were just froze. I got it home, let it warm up and it is
So I guess that is
another reason for the year ending on a high note. I have my buddy
the cam back and we will be able to share our adventures with all of you.
Don't worry, I have not lost my mind here. Just glad that I did not
loose the cam! I am still a bit sore from Saturday's and Sunday's
rides. Actually, I am not sore at all from the riding part, just
the digging out part! In any rate, I am not sure if I will be taking
a ride tomorrow, but I will be taking a ski for sure, so I am sure I will
have some shots. I doubt that it will be a sunrise ski, but I will
do one soon. Sunrise is after 8 am right now and the sooner I do
my sunrise ski, the better, because the sunrise is getting earlier and
earlier now and I do not really want to get up at the true crack of dawn
to ski. 7 or 8 is just fine with me!
I hope that you all
have a very good new year. I am ready for the ups and downs that
this year is sure to provide and hope you all are too.
Good night and HAPPY NEW YEAR from the
helps sponsor pasty.net
which helps to make johndee.com
I am tired and
a little sore, but it is a good tired and a good sore. In under a
week, we have picked up a month's worth of snow. Since December 24th,
we have picked up 51" of snow here at my house. A little less in
some areas and a little more in others. In keeping with that theme,
I think that I have tried to work a month's worth of snow play into a week!
Skiing, sledding, you name it. It is truly a winter wonderland up
here, but I guess I can give my day late and dollar short trail report...Lots
of wet spots, lots! I have actually not been on the trails for very
long, not unusual for me, but I have seen lots of sleds and sledders coated
in mud. The problem is, we had a pretty wet November and first three
weeks of December, but it was rain or snow that melted and not snow.
Plus the mild temps have kept swamps and other low areas liquid.
So all the little creeks up here were running pretty good when all the
snow hit. Since the snow hit so hard and piled up so fast, it has
really insulated the sources for the running water and that has kept it
going. So there are still plenty of wet spots (the politically correct
way to say mud holes) up here and quite frankly, I do not know when they
will all freeze up. Probably the best thing that could happen is
for it to stop snowing and stay cold. Looks like that will happen
for the next 24 hours or so, but the LES guns look to fire back up later
tomorrow night and then continue into early Tuesday. Things will
freeze up, they always do, but it is a mess out there is spots!
The nice thing about
being a local, is that I know where to go to avoid the mud holes.
Right now you sure can tell which sleds in the parking lots belong to a
local, they are the ones without any mud on them! Anyway, I went
on a ride with Chris from the White House Motel, as well as some friends
of ours. My plan was to play in some fields first, then take some
back country trails to Gay. We had plenty of success and fun in finding
fields to play in. Tons
of snow and tons of fun. It was plenty deep out there.
The 51 inches since Sunday night has compacted, with about 2 - 2 1/2 feet
out in the fields right now. Enough to fly a sled and also enough
to get good and stuck.
Once we got into the
woods, things got a little more interesting. The big windstorm we
had a few weeks ago brought down a lot of trees. Even with the snow
we have down, it is not enough to cover the trees with enough snow to get
over them (believe me, some in our group tried!), so we would be heading
down a trail, busting powder and then hit a road block and have to turn
the sleds around. It's a lot of work to get one of those turned
around and we all were wishing we had reverse, so that we could do a little
three point turn around! Other than blowing a belt, my sled ran like
a top. I am really amazed at the snow that old girl can get through.
I lead the group and was making first tracks. The snow was way over
the bumper and basically coming over the windshield the whole trip.
Here is a shot I took just after we stopped
on one of the trails. Believe it or not, I was able to just give
it gas and go right from that spot. I did have a few getting stuck
moments today, but nothing too dramatic.
We eventually found
our way through the woods and did make it to Gay. It was nice to
be able to get inside, have a few beverages and grab a bite to eat.
Then it was back out into the cold and snow for the return trip.
That went much smoother, as we knew where to go and not to go. I
was not so tired when we got back to town from the ride, so it must have
been the combination of the ride and then the hike through the deep snow
with the hounds afterward that has pooped me out so much. But like
I say, it is a good tired. The kind when the couch and bed feel extra
good, and man would a hot tub feel good right about now too boot.
Maybe I'll have to get one of those, or better yet, find a cute girl who
Well, I'm not sure
what the fascination with my truck is, but just to let you all know, it
does get used from time to time. It is not my everyday vehicle, but
I do start it up almost every day and pull it out so that I can clear the
drive. The other day I did use it to go to the bank and store and
decided to take a picture of it all
cleared off. That was yesterday afternoon. When it snows
so much up here, the snow will pile up on it quickly and make it look like
I have not used it in weeks, just like
it looked this morning. So hopefully that will end that controversy.
And by the way, I have seen a rabbit under it a few times in the morning.
So I guess that gets
you caught up on things going on up here. The weather is wonderful
and I have been having a ball in it. Looks like another ride is in
order tomorrow, I'll try and take more pictures that I did on today's ride.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
Whew, good to
be back in the saddle. I have been away for so long, that I am sure
I have lots to say. Problem is, I have just started and am already
bushed. A busy day. The first day we got to play in the snow
and play we did. I'll get to that in a minute. First, I hope
that everyone's Christmas was great, mine was. It was great to see
my family and hang with them for a few days. We even got a little
bit of snow to make for a white Christmas. It was fun watching the
snow pile up on the AL Cam. Monday morning, when I looked at it and
saw 14", I almost freaked. I was calling for up to 12", but to tell
you the honest truth, the way this winter had been going, I would have
been elated to see 6-8" on the snow station. 14 was epic.
By the time I left
to head back, the snow station was reporting 20" and I knew it was time
to return. The whole way back, I was fighting the urge to get back
to the land of deep snow with the common sense to not get a speeding ticket.
At times it was a major battle. Thankfully, the weather and roads
were perfect for most of the trip. However, just north of Merrill
WI, it started to snow. Not heavy at all, just some flurries.
However, that was enough to cause me concern. You see, for the past
12 years that I have been making that drive north, I have never encountered
lake effect snow much further south than Eagle River and usually there
all I see are some flurries. Well, I got to Rhinelander and it was
actually snowing hard enough to dust the roadway. Still not a problem
with driving there, but an ominous sign of what lie ahead up the road.
By the time I reached Eagle River, the snow was more than dusting the road.
A coating of an inch or so was down and the snows were a little heavier
in nature, actually enough to cause some reduction in driving conditions.
Heading north and crossing the border into MI, the snows only became heavier
and then actually leveled off some. A good sign I thought, the roads
will be good all the way home. I passed through Watersmeet and Bruce
Crossing without much problems, but about halfway through Bruce Crossing
and Mass City, the intensity made a dramatic increase. About 5 miles
south of Mass City, I was in a complete and total whiteout. I am
not a wimp when it comes to winter driving (just ask the person I passed
last night in the snow storm), but it was coming down so hard when I hit
Mass City, I was worried if I would make it to Lake Linden. I could
only drive about 25 MPH, I could only see just past my hood and a coating
of about 4-5 inches on the roadway and banks caused all the details between
the roadway and the banks to be lost. I was basically guessing where
the road was. I thought to myself that there was no way that I could
drive the last 55 miles in conditions like that. Number one, it was
coming down at about the rate of 4-6"/hr and with 4" on the road already,
I would not be able to get through the snow with my car in about an hour.
So I placed a call to a friend up here to see how things were and got no
answer. A second friend was home and he revealed to me that it was
snowing pretty good in the Keweenaw, but nothing like I was experiencing.
Soon after that call a car came from the other direction (first one in
about 15 minutes) and I decided that the band of torrential snow I was
in would end shortly. I guessed right and was soon in just regular
old lake effect snow and did make it home.
Upon arrival at my
house, I was treated to a cleared driveway. Well mostly clear anyway.
My friend and KSE guide Al had come over and plowed out my drive yesterday
morning. It had snowed all day, so there was a fresh 8" on the driveway,
but I could make it up and into the garage. I then spent the rest
of the evening, eating dinner, unpacking and clearing my driveway and walk
ways. This morning I had to clear my drive again and got the truck
cleared off as well. We have already picked up enough snow that I
know I will have to move snow again tomorrow. Ahhh, it's nice to
be back! and have winter back! I was wondering just when it would
come. I did not get to take our Christmas picture in the snow and
I also wanted to get a picture of the house with the holiday lights up
when the house was all coated is snow. Yesterday evening I was able
to get a shot of the
Dee house on Christmas night.
Today the hounds and
I got to take our first ski of the season. I though that we would
go to the trail that the groomer uses to get from his home to the trails,
my thinking was that they must be out grooming and he would have the trail
all packed down for us. Oops, I guessed wrong. He was out grooming,
but did not start out from his house and had not yet been through.
So we headed off down the trail and into the knee
deep snow. Knee deep to me that is! To the hounds it was
up to their ears! To my surprise, they even took the lead.
Usually when the snow is that deep, they tag along behind me and let me
break trail. Today they seemed as excited as me to be out in the
snow and took the lead. Of course what would a hike through the snow
be without some exploration
of a creek.
We did not go too far
today. Despite all the enthusiasm displayed by the hounds, it was
a real workout for them and I did not want to overdo it on the first day.
So after about a half mile, we turned around and headed back. This
time they followed me and let me pack things down a little more.
Here is a shot of the trail
we were heading down.
I also did a little
bit of snowmobiling today. Not a lot, but it was fun. I headed
over to a meadow that I knew would be full of untracked snow and played
in it for about 30 minutes. After making about 3, 1/4 mile lines
of powder 8's, I headed off to check out the trails. The groomer
had just been down. There were still a few wet spots and things were
not in great shape. But is is the first day of grooming, so the cold
temps and new snow in the next few days will help out a lot. I would
suspect that things should be in pretty good shape, not perfect by any
means, but considering last Saturday there was bare ground up here, pretty
Needless to say I will
be getting out in the coming days and will report more on the trails.
Our first KSE tour is tomorrow and I hope to meet up with them in the afternoon.
For now, this boy needs to head to sleep and dream of all the snow to come!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
I believe this
will be a rather short journal tonight. I have begun to make a list
of things I need to get done before I head south Friday and it is getting
rather lengthy. To top it off, I realized I only have one evening
besides tonight to get it done. Tomorrow is bowling night and then
I leave Friday at noon. So, I am going to crank this out, then answer
the Ask John's and then get some of the chores done. Sheesh, where
did the time go? Here I have been complaining how late it is getting
without snow and I have not even been paying attention to how close to
Christmas it was. Thankfully I have all my shopping done, so I don't
have to worry about that.
Not much going on up
here. Still lots of green, but we might be hours away from that ending,
do I dare say for the rest of the season? Ooh, I better not.
Not with the way this winter is going! But seriously, things are
looking pretty good. Not ideal, but really good. What would
make it ideal would be for the heaviest snows to start before Christmas,
that way we could have a base down before all of you come to play in it.
As it stands now, the heaviest snow will be coming just about the time
you all arrive, so we'll be fighting the traffic to build a base.
Too bad we can't just keep the trails crossed until a foot or so is down
so that we can pank 'er down, but no way would I want to do that to you
poor folks. Drive all the way up here and then watch it snow, without
riding? Ya right!!!
Took the hounds for
a walk along the north shore today. I did not bring the camera because
I thought that there would not be too much to see. I was half right
and half wrong. There were lots of blow downs. With the lake
providing very little friction, that is where the strongest winds were
likely found with the wind storm a few weeks ago. Some trees had
trunks of about 2 feet in diameter and the trees were not rotten.
That takes some kind of power to snap a tree like that. There was
also quite a bit of new driftwood on the beach, some very big pieces, placed
very high up the shore. It sure would have been neat to see the waves
at their peak during that event. Another thing noteworthy about the
picture at the beach today was the lake itself. Calm, very calm for
this time of the year. It reminded me of the lake in the summer.
Almost like glass, with just a few little waves lapping at the shore.
I even saw someone out on a sea kayak. A sea kayak - out on Lake
Superior - in the middle of December? Crazy.
Anyway, it was a fine
afternoon walk. Just my two buddies and I. Strolling down a
quiet road through the woods, then out onto the beach. They even
found it agreeable enough to go for a swim. How they can do that
is just amazing. Really a feat of nature the way their coats protect
them from the cold. Wish I had one of those sometimes!
So I guess this will
be it until after the holidays. I am heading down Friday afternoon
to my parents place in southern WI. The car is good to go, or at
least should be. Having some work done on it tomorrow. I will
be bringing my laptop and hope to be able to answer the ask John's and
I also plan on updating the site's forecasts on Christmas Eve. I
realize that a lot of you will be dying to know what the outlook is and
I can't let you down.
About three weeks ago
when we got that storm and about 12" of snow, I thought I would wait just
a bit longer to take the family Christmas picture of the hounds and I in
the snow. That was a poor decision, as it all melted before I could
take a shot. So no picture this year. I guess I could have
done it in the green and brown, but it just did not seem right. Even
with no picture, I want to wish all of you a safe and Merry Christmas.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
Two years ago,
it was my first winter living up here and the beginning of the season was
pure torture. The first accumulation did not come until two days
before Thanksgiving, then we struggled to produce more than some light
accumulations until the middle of December. Well, so far this season
season looks to be getting off to a worse start than that one. Two
years ago on this date we began our climb into winter with about 6" of
snow and it never left until the spring. Of course the spring came
historically early as well, so I am praying that maybe our late start this
year will lead to a late ending and all will even out.
Winter still looks
to rear it's head by the end of this week or more likely next week.
The one model that goes out beyond 10 days is still very aggressive with
the cold, so there is hope. Not a whole lot seen for the Midwest
for the next 4-5 days. A few light snow events may actually insure
a white Christmas so that is also something to hope for. We are now
on day 45 out of the last 46 in being above average. Man, when we
finally do get some average or below average temps, it's going to feel
For those of you hoping
to be able to come up here between Christmas and New Years to ride, there
is still hope. It looks like things may be a little thin right around
Christmas, but as we go through next week, the potential for fresh snow
just about every day could lead to pretty decent conditions by the end
of the week. Keep in mind it is still a bit out there in the forecast,
so don't count on it just yet, but there is plenty to be hopeful for.
I would much rather be seeing what I am seeing in the models now than no
hope for cold and snow.
In the last journal
I talked about hoe regardless of the warm temps the bodies of water are
still starting to freeze up. On Friday, the hounds and I took a walk
in the woods up by the old quarry. It was frozen
over. Burt wanted to go out on it, but I called him back in,
I did not want to get involved with an ice rescue! The ground is
also fairly frozen. Today we were above freezing all day and had
some rain, but it just sort of puddled up on the ground and after the rain
we took a walk and the ground was a little spongy, but I could tell that
it was still frozen down about inch below the surface. So once we
slip back below freezing, the top layer of the ground will quickly re-freeze
and then the snows should pile up rather quickly. I'm not sounding
too overly optimistic am I ?!
Yesterday the hounds
and I took a walk in the woods and were almost run over by a buck!
We went up on the tracks and were minding our own business when I heard
this rustling in the woods off to my left. I looked over to see what
was causing all the commotion and saw this buck running towards, very much
towards us! For a moment, I thought the thing had lost it's mind
and we were going to become one of those weird stories about a human being
gored by a buck. It was about 30 yards from us and closing fast when
I saw us and diverted a little so that it would cross the tracks about
20 feet behind us. The dogs were pretty freaked out at first as well,
but then took to pursuit. That did not last long as the deer was
soon out of sight. Sure was a little exciting there for a moment!
I don't know why that animal did what it did. Maybe something was
chasing it, maybe it still was in rut and needed to get something out of
it's system. Whatever it was, it was on a mission and we barely phased
A little later on in
the walk we came across the tree I have seen in the past. I tried
to get a picture of it the last time I was out there, but the cameras battery
died. What makes this tree so unusual is that it grows vertically
(like any other tree) for the first ten feet. Then it takes a 90
degree turn and grows horizontally for about 4 feet, then resumes it's
vertical growth again. The jog in the growth direction is not due
to a branch that became the main trunk, the
jog occurs in the main trunk. What is also interesting about
this feature is that another smaller tree actually grows up through the
jog and has basically been wrapped
by the larger tree. Another of mother nature's mysteries.
The only thing I can think of with this one is that the tree with the jog
in it had another tree fall on it a while back and caused it to bend horizontally.
As the tree grew, it resumed it's vertical growth pattern again.
Then the tree that fell eventually rotted or fell and left this weird 90
degree jog in the other tree. Never a dull moment up here in the
Keweenaw, if you look hard enough!
Well, I guess that
about does it for this one. This week is going to be a busy one for
me. I travel south Friday and need to get things in order before
I do so. I will get off a journal between now and then, but it may
just be one. We'll see.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
Looks like I
caught everyone's attention with yesterday's forecast! I guess when
I use words like "epic" and record breaking, that is prone to happen.
I toned things down just a bit today. Not because I felt any different
about the forecast, but I did not want to whip everyone into a frenzy and
then have the forecast bust. No, I don't think the forecast will
bust. There is every indication that the pattern will indeed change
beginning the second half of next week and could really get going with
cold by Christmas week. Finally.
On one of our morning
walks the past few days, I passed a house that had it's bush
protectors out. Actually, everyone has had these out for several
weeks. But is just struck me as odd, almost out of place the way
this winter has been going so far. It kind of reminds me more of
how winters were down in Chicago. You get a few inches of snow, then
temps warm a few days later and it melts. Then you get a few more
inches, it stays for a few days, then melts. A vicious cycle for
a snow lover. That is what is suppose to be so great about this place,
after December 1st, the snow typically stays and is only added to.
So for the past 3 weeks, it has seemed more like a Chicago winter than
a UP winter and the bush protectors seem out of place. I have a feeling
that they will be very much en' vogue in just a few weeks.
Before I forget, I
can make a little update on the whole Keweenaw Tourism Council issue.
I have been in contact with some of the right people and it looks like
some issues will be addressed soon. I really do not want to spill
the beans about what is going to change, because I am not sure exactly
which issues will be addressed first. However, I can say that for
the first time since deciding to do something about this, I am encouraged
by the direction things seem to be taking. As soon as I feel it is
right to say what issues will be addressed, I will tell you all, but for
now, just know that it looks like things are beginning to move in the right
direction and this place will be an even better place to ride.
I decided to take a
look at the weather data for the Airport and noticed that since Halloween,
there has only been one day, November 10th, when the average temperature
for the day (high for the day + low for the day divided by 2) was below
average. And that day was only 2 degrees below average. That
is no small feat, 42 out of the past 43 days! So it seems a little
surprising to me that ice is starting to form on the smaller lakes.
Here is a shot of Little
Torch Lake with a sheet of ice on it. I don't know if it is really
called Little Torch Lake, but that is what I call it. It is the section
of Torch Lake to the north of the old stamp sand area. The main section
of the Torch Lake is still wide open as is Portage Lake (the canal) and
they will likely be that way for a while to come, even with the colder
temps headed their in way next week.
Here in town the snow
is all but gone. Only the piles created by the shovels and plows
still exist. However, the hounds and I took to the woods today and
I was surprised to find some snow
still hanging on out there. Not enough to play in obviously,
but still neat to see and walk in, especially since today we remained below
freezing and the snow was all crunchy, the ground frozen solid and the
puddles frozen. Actually, that last picture was not a very good representation
of how much snow was still left in most areas, it was a bit of an over
representation. Here is a something more along the lines of what
we were walking through.
A few flakes were flying
which also added to the enjoyment of the walk today. With things
being so agreeable weatherwise, and nothing else we had to do this afternoon,
we stayed out there for over an hour. Saw some deer and birds and
a few other critters. Very nice, very peaceful and I was soaking
up the moment as much as possible.
We were walking on
the trail that the groomer uses to get from his house to the trails.
It is about 2 miles long and is also a favorite cross country ski trail
of mine. Since the groomer uses it, the snow is always packed down
and in perfect shape for skiing. However, he is going to need to
do a bit of brushing his trail to get the groomer through. I did
not count, but I would have to say that there were at least a dozen of
buggers down (red pine) and one of these
jobbers (white birch). I did not bring my little hand saw, otherwise
I would have cleaned them up for him. Yea, RIGHT! I'll try
and get the word to him somehow, maybe a "local" reading this will even
pass along the word.
It's funny, the pattern
has not changed yet and maybe I am just wishful thinking, but with the
cooler temps today, it seemed like winter was really arriving. There
was that chill in the air, the dull gray overcast and even a few flurries.
Now we just need to get the four feet of snow on the ground part and it
will look like winter!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
Knowing I was
going to do a journal tonight, I was thinking early on in the day that
this was probably going to be one filled with belly aching about this winter
so far. Seems to be a fairly major subject around the eastern 1/2
of US so far and is a real sore subject with me. However, as the
day went on, I started to make a mental list of all the things I have to
be thankful for at this moment and before I knew it, it had grown into
a rather large list. First off I have my health. A lot can
be said for that, especially with the events of last winter. I can
walk, run, hike, climb, jump, do anything that I want to. The simple
things in life, like putting on my shoes and socks or going to the bathroom
are just that, simple things. Plus the hounds have their health.
Both of them are getting around pretty good. Baileys may still need
to have a hip done as she is a little slower to get around that Burt, but
I'll hold off on that until this spring. My family and friends are
also in good health. So there is lots of good health things going
on around me. I am living in my dream location, in a great house
and get to work out of it, doing a job that I love. I get to go out
every afternoon and explore the great outdoors with my two best friends.
And finally, business is good. I know of some that are going through
some hard times right now and I can thankfully say that my business is
as strong as it has ever been in the 11 years I have been doing it.
So after taking stock
in all the things that are good in my life, and also being reminded that
thousands of lives were forever altered just 3 months ago today, the lack
of snow seemed really insignificant in the whole scope of things.
Plus, I know it will come. I took a look at some past slow start
years and many of them turned out just fine. In 1998 the first 16
days of the month were spent in the upper 30's to upper 40's, and on the
14th it was 51. On the 17th no snow was on the ground for the morning
report, but by the morning of Christmas, 30" was being reported on the
ground and the month saw about 80" total. The year before, got off
to a good start and finished like a snail. So I am not worried at
all. Plus, the forecast looks pretty good. It is no longer
a case of "if we will get snow", but "how much".
I do have some pictures
taken over the past couple of days. Saturday night/Sunday morning
was our coldest of the season so far, with temps dropping into the teens.
The overnight temps have been so warm that the poor folks at the ski hills
up here have not been able to even make snow. They got busy with
it Saturday night though, and were still going
strong when I headed down to do some shopping in Houghton Sunday morning.
It is amazing how much snow one of those things can put down. It
must have been about 3-4 feet deep in areas where they blew all night.
A couple more cold nights and they should be ready to open that run at
least. Then Sunday afternoon the hounds and I took to the woods to
walk the trails. I brought a little saw with me this time to finish
the brushing job that I started last Friday. The 3-4" of snow we
got on Saturday was still on the trails Sunday and it made for a very pleasant
walk. As I was walking along I thought that if I were really
desperate to go riding, there was actually enough snow
had more warm temps and the snow is just about gone. Thanks to the
low December sun angle, the snow does persist a little longer given the
circumstances. There is still a few patches left around my house
and the woods still have some. This
shot was taken this afternoon. Not enough to ride on, no matter
how desperate I was, but still hanging onto some white.
So I am actually in
a very good mood, considering the lack of winter weather. I really
do feel pretty good about the longer term forecast too. Hopefully
tomorrow will the hat trick with the models indicating the major pattern
change and I will feel very good about it happening. Should not have
too much of a problem waking up tomorrow morning to check things out.
Will have good info on how much snow for tomorrow night and early Thursday,
plus the weekend system and then the pending change in the pattern.
Jeez, when I put it that way, I hope I can fall asleep!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
I'm going to
start this entry out with one last item from the big windstorm we had the
other day. I mentioned how the rain cap on my roof was damaged by
the wind. Yesterday I climbed up on the roof to take look at it and
see if I could fix it. Ever since breaking my leg, I have been a
little shy about going up on the roof. My neighbor fell off a roof
not too long ago and broke his ankle and I am just a bit afraid that something
will happen to me. I am not so much concerned about things once I
am up there, my main concern is taking that last step off the ladder onto
the roof and worse yet, that first step off the roof and onto the ladder.
It just seems like a situation that could lead to problems. Well,
I did not have any problems and was able to survey the
damage. The power of the wind sure can amaze me. It actually
just ripped the sheet steel that the rain cap was attached to. I
was able to get over to the hardware store and get things to fix it and
all is well up there now.
Yesterday the hounds
and I took a walk up on the tracks. We had no snow, but I decided
you all might be interested to see what kind of shape the trails were in.
Temps had been below freezing for at least 24 hours so I thought things
would not be too messy out there. Luckily I was right. There
were still some puddles,
but they were in the process of freezing up and the ground itself was frozen
solid, so it was not messy at all. Oop, you know what? I lied.
There was more than one last item to deal with regarding the windstorm
Thursday. The other reason why I went up to the tracks was to see
what kind of blowdowns too place up there. I was hoping that things
were not too bad because that would just take more time to get the trails
in shape. Usually what happens is the groomers put a saw on the groomer
and when they come along a blowdown, they will take care of it. So
if things were a real mess, then it would take an unusually long time to
get the trails groomed for the first time.
At first things were
not bad at all. A few limbs down here and there, but no major problems.
Then we did come across a
tree that had fallen and blocked part of the trail. That was
a pretty easy fix, I just grabbed hold of the one end and pulled it off
to the side. The next blow down we came across proved to be a little
more of a challenge.
Actually, I had thoughts of just passing by this one and continuing on
with the walk. I did have more things to do that afternoon, so I
could not spend all day in the woods, cleaning up things. The hounds
found a culvert to explore, so while waiting for them to finish with that,
I started picking apart that mess of limbs. Before I knew it, I was
fully entrenched in the task and even when the hounds were done exploring
the culvert, I kept up with it. I asked them for some help, but they
did not seem to interested. After about 15 minutes, I got most
of it taken care of. At least all that I could without a saw.
I'll head back up there in a few days with a little hand saw and take care
of the rest. So at least that section will be clear and the groomer
will not have to worry about things. The trails actually get quite
a bit of usage by hunters before they get all snow covered, so I would
not be surprised that many of the other blowdowns on the trails that I
did not go on will be cleared up by them.
As I said, the temps
have been below freezing since Wednesday evening, so things are freezing
up. The ground is frozen solid and the puddles are in the process
of freezing solid. Even some of the ponds
are freezing up. I checked some of the cams in the NCN and saw
that lakes in view of them are also freezing up. Just remember, I
don't get into the "when is the ice safe" forecasting game. My standard
answer is: "Ice is NEVER SAFE, there are just varying degrees of risk associated
with going out on it".
I awoke to a nice little
snowfall occurring this morning, it was system snow, but I also knew that
we could get some lake effect by later in the day. Seeing the snow
fall made it hard to go back to sleep, even on a weekend morning, so the
hounds and I had breakfast and then headed out in the snow to take our
morning walk. Initially I thought that it would be a short walk,
but walking in the snow was such a wonderful experience we turned the short
walk into a long one, heading out to the local
snowmobile access trail and then following it for a while. It
is just amazing how something like snow falling can really perk up my spirit.
We did end up getting
our lake effect this afternoon. For a while it was really coming
down. Not hard enough to be technically called heavy snow, but definitely
moderate snow. All told we picked up 4" of the white stuff.
The neighborhood is all nice and white again and even the roads are all
snowpacked, as the snow accumulated on everything, with the temps being
so cool lately.
The forecast still
does not hold any major storms. The European Model is indicating
a cat 3 storm for much of MN, northern WI and the UP by later Wednesday
and into Thursday, but it is sort of on it's own in indicating this, so
I am not holding my breath. The other models are not as snowy, but
do indicate that temps will only warm into the mid 30's tomorrow and then
cool back into the 20's and low 30's for highs for the rest of the week,
so that is a plus at least. It is still hard to feel good about things,
especially when I read in last years journal about taking a ride at this
time last year and getting stuck! Patience, I know. I suppose
that one thing that might be the silver lining is that many times when
winter gets off to a really slow start up here, when it does come, we get
hammered. A glimmer of hope I guess.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
Funny how things
work. Yesterday we started the day with at least an inch or two of
snow in most spots with a few more in other spots. However, we rose
to 52 degrees and had rain and that took of all of the snow. The
funny thing is that the last vestiges of snow left just as the temps went
from 50 degrees to 32 yesterday evening! Mother nature can have a
sick sense of humor. It's also amazing how much the perspective can
change in a few days. Late last week we had about 9" on the ground
and the forecast called for at least 2-4, maybe as much as 4-8 in the next
week. I had visions of trails opening up and riding taking place
and an all around general good start to the season. By Tuesday of
this week, all that had changed. Much of the snow was gone and there
was not much promise in the future. Still not a whole lot of promise
in the future, but it does not look quite as dim. Things do not need
to change much at all for us to pick up 1-3" of LES with a mini event Saturday,
then a storm arriving next Wednesday to give us another 3-6". However,
I will say that things do need to change, maybe not a lot, but change for
that to happen. The way it looks right now, the LES event Saturday
would bring an inch or so and the system Wednesday currently looks to bring
us rain, with snows in western MN and the Dakotas. There also some
bright spots on the horizon for later down the road. I am being cautious
about putting too much faith on these other bright spots. It is not
the first time that real winter weather has been forecasted, but some of
those other forecasts did not verify. So I am still hopeful, but
also well aware that in December 1998 and 1999, winter did not really arrive
until a week before Christmas.
If you have not heard,
we had quite a blow last night. I believe it was the biggest one
since I moved up here. I was actually a little unnerved early this
morning as the house actually shook in the winds. I have never experienced
that before, feeling the house shake. Even the dogs were uneasy.
The winds ripped my snow station out of the ground. I had it secured
with 6" stakes pounded in to the ground and it had withstood every storm
prior to that one. Plus, the rain cap on my chimney got mangled by
the wind. That was all the damage done to my property, and I never
lost power. Others were not so lucky. I heard lots of reports
of power out, even out until this afternoon. I did not hear of any
major structure damage, so that is good. I wonder if the trails have
trees down across them? It would not surprise me at all. The
peak wind gust at the airport was 63 MPH, but I heard of wind gusts to
over 70 MPH out on the lake. I would not be surprised if we had gusts
over 70 MPH, it was really blowing out there.
I wished that I did
not have to work this morning, it would have been neat to have seen the
waves on the lake. The hounds and I did head to the lake this afternoon.
We had some business to attend to in Houghton so we ended up going to the
entry park. The waves were still pretty big. That breakwater
was about 10-15 feet above the waters surface and a few of them were crashing
over it. However, they were a lot smaller than they must have been
during the height of the storm because in this
pic, you can see how far up the beach the waves were making it, but
at the peak of their height, the waves were making it all the way up and
over the incline, which is past where the color of the beach goes from
dark to a little lighter, in the left center of the image. To put
things in perspective, that wave breaking on the beach may not seem too
big, but in reality, it was about 7 feet high. Had I been standing
right were it was curling, it would have gone right over the top of me.
I tried to get the hounds in the picture, to help give the waves some perspective,
but things did not work out. I did not want them getting to close
to the water anyway. Here is another shot looking
back at the break water and looking down the length of the wave.
I thought that might also help show how big the waves were.
The hike up the beach
actually was a bit of a workout. The sand was giving way under foot,
which made it difficult to propel myself, plus we were traveling into the
wind to start out and that also caused for some resistance. About
a half mile down the beach, I stopped to take a short break and looked
back to see three
sets of tracks, the three musketeers, all for one and one for all.
Our travels took us
about 3/4 of a mile down the beach. The hike was worth it though.
I know of some cliffs that are at the end of the beach and thought the
waves crashing into them would make for a neat picture. I was not
disappointed. The trip back was much easier, walking with the
wind was a big help. My leg is actually a little sore, so it was
a good workout.
The winds have calmed
down and temps were below freezing all day. That is beginning to
freeze things up. Some puddles on our morning walk were already froze.
It may not look like winter, but at least it feels like it. Time
to go build a fire and settle into the couch with the hounds.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
Up until now,
I feel like I have been the beacon of hope for the beleaguered snow lovers
in the Midwest. For weeks I have been saying: "Hang in there, things
will change, winter is coming". For those in the northwest Midwest,
it did, but then decided to go away almost as fast. For the southern
and eastern Midwest, it has yet to show it's face. I have not given
up hope just yet, but I fear that as a beacon, I may be fading just a bit.
I am not really so despondent because of the current thaw going on, more
because the cold that keeps being promised in the extended period continues
to be weakened. I will not divulge all of my forecasting tools and
methods (don't want to show my hand to my competitors), but there are a
few signals coming in to me that things may not pan out as initially thought.
Actually, they already have not, but I guess there is still a few weeks
to allow for some redemption.
Now don't get me wrong,
I am not thinking that this winter will be a disaster. I still believe
that the Midwest as a whole is in for a period of some pretty cold temps
and above average snowfall that will last 3-4 weeks. When?
Haven't a clue. Up until a few days ago, it appeared as though that
period might be upon us, just like last year. Now, I believe it is
at least a week away, possibly more. My current thinking is that
the period of cold and snow may not be as intense as last Decembers, but
also when that period is over, things may not be as mild and snowless as
last Jan and Feb were either. So from one snow lover to all you others,
I still believe that we will get some decent snows. I really wish
that I could say why, but I know that there are some competitors that check
in to see what I am saying in the forecast section and they might just
be reading this. Plus, I don't want to get into e mailing everyone
who wants to know why I think what I think, so please don't go down that
avenue either. Just keep the faith, that's all I can say. I
know it's not easy, especially with temps in record territory, but it is
not any easier for me.
I must also admit,
I got into quite a funk today. Mostly due to the weather. I
think that much of the problems started when I realized that it was about
this time last year when things started to go into action across the Midwest.
If you check out my historical weather page from last year, you will see
that it was on this date that we started our climb into the deep snowpack.
A few days later, the rest of the Midwest also started their buildup of
snow. Up until today, this years weather was not going that differently
than last years. I guess I was holding out some hope that this year
would continue to follow suit and I would be busting powder by the 10th
and getting seriously stuck by the 16th. Then I looked at the snow
history for the year before and got really depressed! I do remember
that year, it was pure torture. No real snow until the second week
of December and not enough to really ride on until the 20th! I pray
that we will not follow that path and beg and plead and pray that if we
do, we do not loose all the rideable snow by the third week of February!!!
Don't know if I can handle 3 - 8 week seasons in a row! Last years
was my fault, but it still counts!
Needless to say that
with all of our warm temps, the snows of last week have been melting away.
Took the hounds into the woods yesterday to get in our afternoon walk.
There are spots where
you could have ridden if you really wanted to, but then down the trail
just a bit, you would have wished you were in a swamp
buggy. The one problem with getting snows before the puddles freeze
up and also before deer season ends is that the hunters take their 4x4's
out and really dig in some serious ruts in spots. It does not make
me angry, they get their time in the woods and all is fair. After
the first few storms up here, you never know the ruts were even there.
Just makes me very glad that we get the snow we get!
Today was more melting,
so the hounds and I stayed out of the mud. They are not fond of baths
and I am not fond of mud all over my house, so we stuck to the village
sands. Just some puddles out there, but no mud. Not much to
take any pictures of either, so I did not. I guess the bright spot
to the weather we are having is it is great for walks. 40's are about
the perfect temp if you ask me. At least if it's below 65, which
I think it the perfect temp to walk with shorts and a t shirt. Of
course I would not complain to be out in the single digits and skiing across
a few feet of snow!
We do have some cold
and snow coming. Not a ton, but just about anything would be nice
at this point. Especially the cold. It will not take long to
freeze things up. Some of the ponds are already froze and I bet that
the shallower lakes will go pretty fast. I also know the snows will
come and it will get deep. I guess I just need to follow my own advice
and hang in there!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
All the weekends
festivities are over and I can finally do a little chatting. We're
hanging onto our snow. Today was actually below freezing for most
of the day and we did not have much melting yesterday. On Friday
we actually picked up a little surprise snow. At about noon it started
to rain. The temps were about 34 and the dewpoint was about 30.
Soon the rains mixed in with snow and then all snow. It actually
started to really come down. Big
silver dollar flakes. However, the temps were still above freezing,
so the snow was having a hard time accumulating. Even so, it was
still a great day to take the hounds for a walk on the Lake
Linden Sands. We did end up picking up about an inch of new snow
here in Lake Linden and about 2-3" in the higher elevations, so that was
a nice surprise.
Yesterday was a rather
uneventful day. Not much to talk about weather wise. A few
flurries from time to time, but no big deal. It was the first day
of December, so that meant we could head back into the woods. The
hounds and I went to go hike in the school forest. There are still
lots of puddles out there and I remembered most of the trails in the school
forest being rather dry, so we headed out there. It was a good call,
as there was plenty of snow
to walk through, but very little in the way of puddles. Not much
snow on the metal
roof of the cabin out there though.
Not enough snow to
ride on in most places here. I have a friend who has been going out
since Tuesday, riding from South Range south towards Toivola and points
south. It is his first year up here and is really itching to ride.
I have not gone out since my ride Tuesday night. We really need more
snow by my house. I also had a friend that went to Marquette to shop.
She said that the motel parking lots were full with sled trailers, so there
were folks out there who made the trip up there to ride. It would
be interesting to hear from anyone that made the pilgrimage.
I don't have much else
to say in a typical journal sense, so I guess that I will just talk a minute
about the weather. Several week ago I started talking about a potential
pattern change. A change that would do away with the abnormally warm
weather in the mid section of the country and replace it with something
that was more winterlike. The change did unfold, but slightly different
from what was indicated. For those folks in the Dakotas and much
of MN, no words from me needed to be uttered about the change. They
went from highs in the 50's and 60's to almost 2 feet of snow on the ground
when the change unfolded early last week. However, I feel sorry for
the folks in places like central and southern WI and even more so across
much of lower MI. You folks have been stuck in the warm temps through
Looking at the computer
guidance over the past few days, it looks like the changes will become
more noticeable across all of the Midwest in the next week or so.
Now, I do want to caution that I am not totally sold on this "second change"
playing out, but the models are onto the idea that a large ridge will build
in across the west coast of North America. The buckling of the jet
northward there will allow the jet to turn in more out of the north across
the midsection of North America and that will allow temps to cool.
Right now they only look to cool to average, maybe a bit below average.
That would be enough to start up the LES machine off of Lake Superior and
northern Lake Michigan and also help to freeze up the inland lakes.
No major storms are indicated to roll through, but as I said last year
at about this time, the most important thing is to get the cold air in.
The snows will come if the cold air is in place. We got into a cold
pattern last December 7-8th and the snows came.
So I will continue
to repeat myself for everyone out there still not in a very good mood on
the current pattern change. Hang in there. I also want to make
the point that it is only the second of December. For some reason,
I think that people have a much colder and snowier vision of years past
for their location. I spent about 30 years of my life living in Chicago
and even my recollection of the winters there were of snow always on the
ground and it being cold. In reality, snow does not last on the ground
too long there. A few weeks is usually the norm. 1979 was an
abnormal year, with snow accumulating in early December and lasting into
March, but when I really think back to things, I remember being a kid and
praying for the big one to come, only to see them pass off to the north
or west. Occasionally we did get a good one, but more times than
not, the winters were not so great. Heck if they were that good (snow
on the ground from Thanksgiving through March) I likely would not have
moved up here. I also think that people jump the gun as to when winter
should start in their location. At this time of the year, the only
places that see average highs of freezing or below are North Dakota, much
of MN, the UP and northern WI. Chicago's average high is 40, Detroit's
is 39, even Traverse City's is 37. Kind of hard to have the dead
of winter start with temps like that! Here is a map
of average highs for Dec 2 to more fully illustrate my point.
Lastly, it seems like
persons thoughts of how much snow falls is also over inflated. Chicago's
seasonal snowfall is about 38". Head north towards Minneapolis and
it increases to about 45-50" and places like Rhinelander are about 65-70".
Not exactly a ton of snow. For Chicago, a December or January that
produces about 20" of snow is TWICE the average! So I guess what
I am trying to do is force a more realistic perspective on things.
Sure temps have been above average in much of the Midwest up until a week
ago and have hung onto above average levels in the east since, but the
pattern has changed and I personally think that is is better to get the
above average stuff out of the way now, rather than in January and February
when we are trying to play in the snows we get in December and January.
So hang in there. I still think that this winter will be one that
most think was pretty good. Maybe not the best ever, but not a disaster.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
Dee would like to thank Jim Formanek of Formanek Designs for his expert
assistance in the creation and technical support of this site. For
anyone wishing to have a site of their own developed, I strongly recommend
that you contact him.
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