Friday, February 27, 2009

Conditions Look Good for the SWC #2

I checked out the trail near the house and the driveway and took a drive on 32nd St. this a.m. I think everything is going to be good for the weekend. It's only supposed to get colder as the weekend goes on. It's snowing lightly right now (9:45 a.m.) but we aren't supposed to get much accumulation.

We didn't get the freezing rain overnight, we got a dusting of snow instead. 32nd St. is dusted over with snow and there's ice underneath but not glare ice - very driveable with a little caution. The sanding that Donnie did yesterday on the hills on our driveway is still partially visible and it's rough where he did that too so getting in our drive should be okay.

YakTrax or some other type of traction for your boots will be a good idea in the parking/staging area, as you can imagine, after all the rain we got yesterday. We will be using snowmobiles to get you to the start area, if desired.

The area where I measured the trail still had 6 inches of packed snow on it and it is set up but not rock hard or icy. Rick is going to rough it up with a scraper attachment on the drag just to be sure the surface will have some grip as it sets up overnight.

We are going to be at Government Lake Lodge (M37 - 1.5 miles north of downtown Baldwin) for supper tonight - about 8 p.m. - if you care to join us. Order from the menu, pay your own tab. We will be in the basement.

Drivers' meeting is at 9:00 tomorrow morning - first team out at 11:00 a.m.

You can leave a message at our home phone: 231-745-3614 We won't be by the phone much.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Forecast and Photos, Pre-SWC #2

From 9 & 10 News Forecast as of 1:30 p.m. Thursday:

"First off, we are looking at the potential for some rain/freezing rain/mix late afternoon along and south of M-55. This threat will increase through much of the evening hours before it changes over to snow from west to east overnight. Total snow accumulations in this area (on top of the freezing rain/mix) will be around 2"-4". If we stay "warm" enough where the freezing rain/mix sticks around longer, snow amounts will be less. If some colder air gets into this system quicker...even by a couple of hours, even parts of our central counties could see heavier snow totals.

It will be colder and windy for Friday afternoon with partly cloudy skies with only a few snowshowers expected.

A quiet weekend is in store with cooler than normal temperatures with partly cloudy skies and only a few light snowshowers possible. "

The photos below show:

1. A ruler (19" in length - 7 inches in the snow pack - could be deeper, I didn't pound it in with a hammer 'cuz I didn't have one at the time.)

2. A shot to the west of gate showing the snow in woods and the trail.
3. A shot looking east where the trail crosses the driveway.
4. A shot of the "big hill" showing that it has been heavily sanded (THANK YOU, DONNIE!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Trail Conditions for Sweetwater Challenge #2

I'll try to post a photo or two tomorrow. We have LOTS of snow. We got 12 inches of snow while I was in the UP. We had a great base prior to that and Rick spent the weekend grooming the new snow fall.

Had some rain today and 36 degrees but it's done raining.

We are on a line between 1 - 4 inches and 5 - 10 inches of snow predicted for tomorrow night.

Trail conditions should be good for the weekend. Saturday looks to be sunny and mid-20s.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Photos from the UP 200

Here are some photos from the UP 200 - if I have time I will put some text with the photos but I doubt I will get the time with the Sweetwater Challenge coming up in just a few days.

Monday, February 23, 2009

News about Joe and the UP 200

This is an update to let anyone interested know a little of the story why Joe didn't make it to Marquette. I tell ya this guy is made out of some very special stuff. He had to quit about 30 miles from Marquette, at a road crossing. To say that he went through hell is an understatement. He was the last one out of Wetmore, 2 hours behind a "train" of 3 teams who were taking turns breaking trail for each other to get to Marquette to finish. By the time Joe got out on the trail, the work those teams had done to break through was a faint memory - no runner tracks to follow.

He also ran into overflow on the lake from the weight of the snow pushing down on the ice and water coming up through stress cracks. He ran through ice water 3/4s of the way to the top of his Cabela boots that sucked most of the booties off of the dogs. What a night. He broke trail on foot ahead of the team for many miles trying to reach Deerton where volunteers and vets were waiting for him. He estimates that he completed 210 miles of the 240 mile race.

We are so proud of him we are ready to burst. Of course Joe is disappointed that he didn't finish. He will probably need a day or two to fully digest what he went through. Even though he needed to finish to use this race as a qualifier for Irod, it would have been a minor accomplishment, in my opinion, compared to surviving the blizzard he went through on the trail with his dogs. He would have been disqualified at Deerton anyway as he sent one of the dogs ahead with the trail sweeper once they finally found him on the trail. When RJ got to him at the road crossing where he picked him up - Joe's clothing was completed soaked through with sweat. He had a large supply of adhesive body warmers that he applied to his trunk areas to keep his core temperature from crashing. Both he and the team are okay - no dogs needed immediate vet care, they were all just exhausted from pushing through the 20 - 24 inches of snow over the trail.

Sara and I are stuck in Wetmore - they closed M28 most of yesterday. RJ just squeaked through when they opened it last night at 8 p.m. We decided it made sense for us to stay put with the support vehicle in case he couldn't get through as we didn't know exactly where Joe was when RJ headed out. He got cell phone updates from the UP200 headquarters as he drove toward Chatham. Someone did drive out to the road crossing with bales of straw for the dogs to lay on until RJ could get there.

There is a rumor here at the motel that they may be closing it again now. They actually barracaded M28 yesterday, 1.5 miles from where we are staying. The motel clerk said the last time they did that it stayed closed for 2 days. Welcome to the UP! More to come....I can't see to type anymore, the tears keep welling up in my eyes just thinking about what he and the dogs went through last night.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Quick Update before Leaving Town

RJ and I are heading to the UP200 with Joe Gutowski's wife, Sara tonight. Hoping to get across the bridge before the big winds hit. We have to be at the meeting tomorrow afternoon or Joe can be disqualified (handlers and musher must attend.)

Rick will be home all weekend - if you are thinking of coming up/over to run dogs - call ahead to let him know. We are forecast to get 5 - 10 inches of snow here over the next 36 hours. He hasn't run trails since Sunday a.m. but they should be about the same as they were then.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day Weekend

I'm going to let the photos tell the story....

A great weekend on the trails!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th - 2nd Update

I just got back from a trip to the Sec. of State office in Big Rapids - wow - NO snow over that way and not much at all until you get to Baldwin. If you are driving here this weekend, don't get discouraged as you head north/south/east/west - WE DO HAVE A LOT OF SNOW. We have a lot more at our place than what you will see in Baldwin-proper too.

Friday, the 13th - Trail Update

12:30 p.m. We just got in from running all the trails with the smowmobile and 4 ft. drag. No bare spots, not even in "Eagle View" where it's very open. Several eagles were perched in the trees in that area today, overseeing things. The snow pack is thinnest (2") in the red pine plantations where the snow doesn't always reach the ground, at least not all of it. It's still deep in the second growth oak areas where the trees aren't crowded together.

It's been spitting snow all morning but not amounting to much on the ground - we have about 1.5 inches of wet snow on top of everything - it's a good thing as there are still some icy spots on the driveway and 32nd St. The wet snow is sticking to that really well.

The trail was punchier than I anticipated it would be - it should set up overnight after packing it down with the heavy snowmobile and two riders. It obviously didn't get as cold as they predicted overnight. It should be good to go tomorrow, if it gets below freezing tonight.

Call ahead and let us know if you are coming this way. I'm heading into town to do some errands, leave a message on the answering machine. I'll check email later too.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Trail Update - 02-12-09

We haven't been out on any of the trails with the snowmobile yet (waiting for it to get colder and set up first) but what we can see and walk from the driveway looks good. I took a couple of photos at 11 a.m. today showing the packed trail depth that is left after the rain and warm weather this week. The photos were taken on the west and east side of the driveway at the gate. One side shows about 6.5 inches, the other side in a sparse area is about 3 inches. I expect that there will be a combination of the two depths throughout the trail and maybe a bare spot or two in the very open areas where the sun can hit it all day long. I'll post another update tonight or tomorrow a.m. Call or email for trail/driveway specifics if you are thinking of heading our way to run dogs this weekend.
Here's the 9&10 News forecast for tonight and the weekend:

"It will be windy and much colder today with afternoon temperatures falling to the upper 20s north to mid 30s south. Tonight scattered snowshowers (with small or no accumulation) and diminishing winds will be the story and lows will be into eh teens with some localized single digits, back to a February overnight/morning feel for sure! Friday will bring mostly cloudy skies and scattered flurries with highs in the upper 20s to low 30s. The weekend looks quiet and seasonably cold with decent sunshine expected and highs from the upper 20s to low 30s again. Lows will be cold, in the teens and single digits through Monday morning. Next week we return scattered snowshowers with similar temperatures, but no major storm systems are on the docket."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

More Photos from SWC #1

The following are from the driveway crossing - Lee and Claudia's post on Saturday.

These photos have been resized and enhanced a bit.

We had two brave ski-jorers - both ran 12.5 miles through the hills on Saturday:

Mariel's comment coming in from 12.5 miles of challenge - "best run EVER." She's planning on doing the 24 mile route next year (she has prior commitments for SWC #2.)

Photos from the Sweetwater Challenge #1

Thanks to Lee Nowak we have some nice photos of the recent MiDD event:

Drivers' meeting around the campfire (almost looks like a prayer meeting, eh? :) :)

One of our two ski-jorers, at the start chute...

Another participant, in the chute, ready for anything!
Just figured out that I forgot to downsize the photos...more to come.