Thursday, January 08, 2009

Let It Snow!

This is turning out to be a really great winter for snow. It is like the ones we used to have several years ago. The best estimate we have is 24-30 inches so far. A little of this variance comes from whether you just measure the number of inches that have fallen or whether you measure the depth of the snow on any given day. This picture shows you the snow bank on the main dock. The truck in front of it gives a way to gauge the depth.

Down at our house Bruce is happy to have the high snow banks. He calls them his bumpers. Our driveway is very steep. On really warm days when the snow is particularly slippery, we come to a complete stop at the top of the hill, put the car in neutral, and coast down. Even so the car occasionally gets going too fast. That’s when the bumpers come into play to stop it.

Going uphill on those days is also great fun. It can’t be done without four-wheel drive. If the driver is inexperienced with driving on snow, Bruce gives them a little help. We save all the ashes from our fireplace and use them to make a path for the wheels. It works every time.

All the snow has made slush pockets on the lake. In fact we have not been able to run any dog sled rides until a slush-free trail was established on the lake. Today was our first day to run this trail. Here is a picture of Linda and Neal with two guests. You can see how the dog team is tethered front and back to the trees frozen in the ice.

I left the lodge before they came back, so I’ll find out tonight how it went.

As I looked at the pictures, it surprised me how dark they were. I took them about 1:00 p.m. on a bright day. I suppose that even this early in the day, we are starting to darken down. It's 5:00 p.m. now and almost totally dark.

Once a trail is established, it will stay free of slush all winter. This is because the ice gets thicker on the trail than other places. That makes it stronger and less likely to crack from the weight of the newly fallen snow. Slush is created from the weight of the snow pushing down on the ice until the water beneath is under so much pressure that the water is able to crack the ice and seep out into the dry snow. It rarely seeps out through all the snow which is why you can’t see it. All you see is dry snow. Although this year there is so much snow that several slush pockets have soaked through all the snow. That is the best thing because it will freeze up that night with no insulating snow. As you can tell, I think all the changes that occur in the ice over the winter are quite interesting.

Bruce and I were in Duluth yesterday. It snowed most of the way down but wasn’t too bad coming back. We saw one moose going down and 2 moose coming back. The two were running on the road, one on each side. One was a young cow and the other was a young bull. We were only about 3-4 miles from home and had decided that we were not going to see any moose. Suddenly we saw lots of tracks on the road and slowed down. It was a good decision because this pair thought they owned the road. Remember when you drive the Trail to look for fresh animal tracks and slow down if there are lots of them.

As we turned off the main trail at the lodge corner, Bruce noticed that someone had gone into the ditch. It is a common happening at our junction. In fact, we have all done it too. You have to slow down almost to a complete stop before making the turn. Then you take your foot off the brake and make the turn. If you keep braking through the turn, there is a good chance you will end up in the snow bank.

One of Bruce’s errands was to interview some high school students who are applying to Cornell University for next fall. Bruce is an alumnus of Cornell. He has interviewed 6 students so far and it has been most interesting. His report back to the school will not make or break any student but it just gives a human face to the application process. Listening to the scores of the kids on the ACT’s and SAT’s, all the activities they are in, and all the jobs they have had just makes me feel tired. If these are our college-bound kids, we have nothing to worry about.

Reservations are coming in steadily for the rest of the winter. As part of our monitoring process we keep track of how many days of cabin rentals we have for each month. Right now January has passed last year’s mark at the end of the month for nights of cabin rentals. That is really good news because it means we can expect a nice increase in business for January. I am sure that a lot of this is due to all our snow. So, let it snow!

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