Monday, December 29, 2008

Our Trails Survived the Rain!

As you can see we still have lots of snow. Proof positive that packing trails regularly makes a difference when the weather gets ugly. The photo with the ruler shows a hammer handle laying on top of the trail where it has been packed for weeks now. There's at least a 6" packed base everywhere, more in some places.

The driveway was a challenge after the rain turned that to slush and then the slush froze. There are some ruts left but Rick has been working on plowing those out.

The photo with the pink Geo Tracker shows the Geo parked on the main drive and the packed trail to the right of the planter/fence.

Rick is running trails today to check for limbs down on the trails. I'm sure there are many. By tomorrow (Tuesday) noon the trails should be ready to run!

We are very fortunate that we did not lose power in our area. We are high in the hills too so no flooding. The main county road is in pretty good shape also.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Photos From The Trail

While Rick worked on snowplowing roadways, I headed out on the Skandic to try to get a track back in on the East trail. I almost tipped the machine over in the same place as I did a week or so ago but I jockied back and forth, reverse/forward and got around the canted hillside without mishap. LOTS OF SNOW. Here's a look just leaving our property; heading east onto Federal land.

The photo on the right is where the east trail heads up onto the old railroad bed (not in use since the early 1900s or before.)

The next photo is what Patty Allen calls the "Rose Cathedral" - it's a very large white pine root system. I'll try to find the photo I took of Rick, standing in front of it last spring when we "discovered" it. The last photo is some "tree snow art" along the trail on our property.

Hope you and yours have a great Christmas holiday!

Good Press in the Grand Rapids Press

Here's a link where you can find an article about MiDD and MUSH that was in the Friday, Dec. 19th edition of the Outdoors section:

The lead story on that day is about elk hunting; scroll down to find the sled dog story.

Howard Meyerson, the senior outdoor writer, says he will be doing a follow-up story on the Sweetwater Challenge events this season. He did a story on the Wooden Nickel 30 MiDD event in 2006 too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

First Weekend of Winter

And the snow just keeps's a view of the driveway, heading down to the lodge and camp area on Friday after 9 inches of snow Thursday night.

THEN, we got 15 inches of new snow between Saturday night and Sunday evening.

It's been quite the challenge just keeping the mile-long driveway, camp and parking areas plowed. We have been happy to just have a single snowmobile track around the 23 mile loop. Thanks, Ed Setterington for your work this past week on the trails. I wish I had taken a photo of Ed and Rick returning from their maiden voyage on the Skandic after the 9 inch dump. They were on the Skandic together (so Ed could learn the trail system) and they looked like a moving snowbank, sitting on a "chopped and dropped" snowmobile.

Sting loves the snow more than any of our other dogs - here he is making snow angels, dog style.

At the end of the season, with bare earth in most places, he will climb up on the leftover snow piles and dig down into them so he can be "in" the snow.

Here's Rick and the "A" team coming up Coyote Pass where the trail comes out onto the powerline for a short distance.

The conditions were not ideal - I was ahead of him and Patty on the Skandic, breaking trail. This was on Sunday after about 9 inches of snow overnight - we were out in the blizzard for about 3 hours - taking it slow in the deepening snow.

Patty Allen and her husband, Demos were here for the weekend. Patty's team is truly an ATV team - she trains them to go ANYWHERE, at her command. I was impressed on Monday morning when she headed back out on the trail for a short run before leaving Baldwin. She said the dogs looked like they were swimming in the snow it was so deep in places.

Here's Patty and her team coming up a steep hill on the Sweetwater Challenge trail:

Here's a couple more photos from Sunday's run. I do wish I had a better camera and knew more about editing the photos and posting them on here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More photos from the trail...

It's Saturday, the 13th of December...despite many hours on trail grooming, the base isn't setting up like we had hoped. We are supposed to get a warm up on Sunday, then more cold and snow for the rest of the week. That combination should set us up for a great base by next weekend.

Took out 6 of the "B" team dogs yesterday, with Fox in loose lead. Didn't get far and came to another large pine limb down in the trail. Called the trail maintenance crew (Rick) who came and fixed the problem. The harness-bangers on the team didn't like the long delay on the trail so I unhooked some tugs and tied off to a tree. Gotta love those border mutts in lead, Sting and Blazer, they like to lay in the snow while they wait. Fox didn't help matters with the harness-bangers, staying just beyond the fallen limb.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

14 inches of fresh, heavy snow

What a difference a couple of days make!

We never did get to try out our groomed trails with a dog team before we got 14 inches of fresh, heavy snow.

Lots of struggle getting through all that snow with the Skandic - without this machine at our disposal I think our trails would be inaccessible for who-knows how long. We did get one track in on Tuesday, the 9th and Rick went out again all day Wednesday, working on getting enough of a track in that he could pull the 4ft. groomer behind the Skandic. He did it! Superman, for sure!

Most of these photos were taken while it was snowing, on my walk back from getting the Skandic stuck on it's side about 2.5 miles from home. I sure wished I hadn't put on rubber rain gear for the trip - I had my own personal sauna going on by the time I got back to our property.

These photos show some of the wilderness areas that the Sweetwater Challenge runs through.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sled Dog Trail Conditions

Mother Nature has been kind to us here in the western end of Lake County, Michigan. We have about a foot and half of snow with lots more in the forecast for this week. Rick and I have been grooming trails since last week with the marvelous Skandic snowmobile and drag.