Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fort Juniper

Sorry it’s been so long.  I just got back from Christmas in Wisconsin.  Three Christmases in one week.  That’s a lot of wine, cookies and cheese!

The furthest south we went was to my parents’ house in Clintonville.  They had no snow.  The more we drove north, however, the snowier it got.  Watersmeet had quite a bit, and the snowmobilers were flocking.  I saw lots of trailers at the Casino Hotel there.

We even got some snow here!  According to my little shovel, there is 7-10 inches in the woods.  Snowshoeable, but I hiked today.  Mostly because I didn’t realize how much snow fell while I was gone.

We’ve had lots of snowmobilers up here too.  Even on my one block walk to get the mail, I couldn’t keep track of them all.  I’m grateful for the economy boost, but I’ll miss the peace and quiet... and the fresh air.

Today snowed all day.  It just dumped.  So I decided to start building my snow fort as my first adventure back in da Harbor.  The snow was glorious to pack.  I mean, it was bricks and mortar all in one!  Very sticky and sturdy.  I built walls for about four hours today, and this is what I got.

Fort Juniper and my little red shovel.

Fort Juniper, I call it because it’s surrounded by juniper bushes on two sides, and I had to bend back some branches for my west wall.  I thought that I would get tired of packing snow within the first half hour, but my fantasies of sitting in my little fort, blocked from the north winds watching Lake Superior’s waves through the window kept me scooping and patting endlessly.  I only stopped because I noticed the snow was drying out and daylight was fading.

Here is my lake view from the fort.

Look to the back behind the drear, and there is the Lake!

I’m excited to have this secret little hideaway in such a serene spot.  It gives me something to do outside now that I can’t ice skate or snowboard.  But the cross country ski trails just got groomed tonight, so that sounds fun for tomorrow!

Bonus!  A snowy path in da woods.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Lesson in Ice and Desire

There is a fine line between listening to what EVERYone else tells you and doing what you know you can do.  Here is my example.

Tuesday was a beautifully sunny day.  Soooooo unseasonably gorgeous.  Since it's natural for me to want to be in the most sun possible, my heart was steering me to Lake Fanny Hooe.  I was out the day before, and I knew it was traversable.  I wanted to go skating.  "No."  "Don't go out yet."  "Don't do it by yourself."  

Those were the comments from my townsfolk.  I appreciate their concern.  So instead, I found Steve Brimm to come out with me.  We carried long poles (his was a garden hoe, mine was a mop) in case we did go through.  He didn't have skates, so we slid around in out boots.  Here are some photos of our adventure.

Our shadows on the ice, poles in hand.

Looking west toward Brockway Mountain

The giant, but solid crack starting at the mouth of Manganese Falls and going to the north shore.

Steve capturing a high quality image of these beautiful ice gems.

Verdict: the ice is fine.  It was at least three inches thick.  I was going to skate on it the next day.

"Don't go out there," they said.  But they were not out the day before trying to punch holes in it to no avail!  They did not realize that it could snow any day, and this pristine rink would be no longer!  They are probably not as crazy as me to get out and do some winter activities.

So I went with only Duce at my side.  I knew how the ice was for two solid miles, and I was going to get my fix.

I skated all around and up and down and twisted and twirled and laughed.  My goodness.  I looked around at that sanctuary and wished the whole town was on skates in a giant game of hockey or a figure skating party.  I have never seen the ice like that on the whole lake.

HERE IS A BRIEF VIDEO of my skating adventure.

So here is my lesson.  I'm ever grateful that I did what I thought was right because today it is snowing.  Fanny Hooe is already a half inch covered in snow.  Well, at least it's snowing!  Let it snow!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Skating Rink

I thought for sure the ice on Lake Fanny Hooe wouldn't make it through the thaw/wind combo we had last week.  I was wrong.  She is an ice rink right now!  I better get out my skates!  

I didn't plan on walking on her today, but I saw remnants of an ice fisherman, so I went out as far as he did.  Thick and smooth that lake was.  I let Mr. Butters test it for me.

Other than that, it really hasn't snowed anymore.  The snowmobilers have been around nearly everyday, however.  Those trails must be decent (or people are just desperate!).  I don't blame them.  I'm about to take desperate measures myself... maybe I should bring someone ice skating with me!

I was in Houghton this weekend.  Overnight, even!  That means I got to wander around and enjoy myself in da Big City.  I walked along the Portage Canal.  She is freezing over too.  I also snuck down beside the old Ranger III that took my friends and I to Isle Royale two springs ago.  So nostalgic.

It was all quite lovely.  I even walked the Downtown strip and caught snowflakes on my tongue.  Some of them were huge!  Now come on, huge snowflakes... Come to Copper Harbor!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Aaaaand the Melt

So, yeah.  The snow is melting.  The good thing is that when the ground freezes after this, the trails and ski hills will have a solid base for more snow to fall upon.  That's sounds lovely.  Yes, yes it does.

I hiked up to Lake Manganese two days ago to see if it was frozen over.  Below is what it looked like.

With the temps in the forties lately, I would imagine more of the ice melted by now.

After Lake Manganese, Duce and I hiked down the Mango Trail.  I found some hearty friends out there.  The pipsissewa stay green and lush throughout the whole winter!  They are always green in the spring as well.  Here is proof.

With all the calm days we've been having, the freighters are out like mad.  Check out this Lake Superior Marine Traffic site to see who is cruising now.  If you hold your pointer over one of the ship icons on the lake, it will tell you which boat it is and how fast it's going.  Another way to make you feel one with Lake Superior!

Other than that, I'm still waiting for the final proof of my book, so it can hit the market soon.  Oh, and the lights look beautiful in the park.  I'll have to get a picture for you!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Official... It's Winter

Yesterday I took a long hike on my double lake shore loop.  During this escapade I realized that it is truly winter.

I had to trudge through 4-5 inches of snow.  Not enough for snowshoes, but enough for the heavy duty boots!

Lake Fanny Hooe was frozen.  Overnight!  The winds were calm the night before because she was frozen all the way across.  Here is some proof.

A little critter even tested the ice already.  I wouldn't try.  Duce did, and he was cracking through and slipping all around.  Never a dull moment with that pup.

In the middle of Fanny Hooe, however, some spots were open.  So if we get high winds soon, these holes could break up the ice and open her up again.  Personally, I think the ice is here to stay, but there's always that chance!  I can't wait to walk to the middle.  That is one of my favorite frozen spots.

On Lake Superior's shore, I saw something that was more uncharacteristic of this time of year.  Two freighters at the same time!  The south winds were only slight, so they took their chance while they could.

I relished in the peace, quiet, majesty and serenity of these wintery moments.  I know they won't last long.

And they didn't.  Later that afternoon, I saw the first two snowmobilers cruising through town.  Snowmobilers!  The trails aren't even open yet! 

So that's it.  It's officially winter as far as I'm concerned.  I just hope I didn't jinx the snow!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter Update

You're probably wondering what the snow is like up here.  I'm kind of embarrassed.  It's pretty pitiful.  In the woods we have just over an inch.  In the sunshine we have nothing.  Ice on the roads.  But we are supposed to get a big dump soon, so cross your fingers for da Harbor!

My tracks both ways and... cat tracks?  Coyote?  Little doggy?

Lake Medora is pretty much frozen over.  At least when I drove by last.  Lake Fanny Hooe is starting to ice up on the west end (and probably the east, but I haven't been there).  Some ice lines the north shore as well.  Lake Superior has been kicking up some waves, so she isn't freezing anytime soon...

Other than that, today had a bit of sunshine, and partly cloudy skies tonight.  That should cool things off even more!

I am really looking forward to winter.  I found an awesome hiking loop that will double as a great snowshoe loop.  It parallels two lake shores.  How can you beat that?  Plus, I found my new favorite spot high on a rock that overlooks Superior.  I think I'll make a snow fort up there.  If you come up, come find me, and we'll start packing snow!

So life is good in da Harbor.  I expect my book to hit the market in three weeks.  I just okayed the final draft to send to the printer... then a hard copy to me for approval!  Wow, to hold my Copper Harbor book in my hands will be surreal.  I hope it is for you too!

Well, the winds and snowflakes are supposed to pick up, so I wanted to catch you in case the power and internet go out.  Maybe next time I write, I'll tell you that I had to shovel through 10 feet of snow just to get out of my house!   Wishful thinking... let it snow!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Petroglyphs: Fact or Fiction?

Petroglyph: |ˈpetrəˌglif| (noun) a rock carving, esp. a prehistoric one.

With that definition in mind, I take you to the petroglyphs.  Yes, a more exciting adventure for you... and myself!

Since darkness was approaching that day, I hopped on Aaron's ATV and gunned it (at 30 mph) up the hill to the site.  That was my first time taking that beast out on my own.  I can honestly say, I now realize why people tool around on those things.  Although, if time permits, I prefer to pedal my bike.  It's much quieter.

Surprisingly, I found the site with ease.  It's been just over a year since I was there last, and that was my first time.  My memory hasn't failed me yet!

I should say this about the petroglyphs: they are supposed to be a secret.  The Michigan Nature Conservancy doesn't want anyone to tamper with them let alone tell their friends (or blog readers on the internet!)  I hope the Nature Police don't show up at my door after this!

But I do respect that, and I won't tell you where they are.

As I walked around, I tuned into my intuition to try to remember where the carvings were.  I was looking for two that looked the most authentic: the bear and the boat.

While walking around for a couple minutes, a shiny thing caught my eye.  Is someone bringing car parts out here I wondered?  This shiny thing was also in the area where I remembered the sailboat being.  When I approached it, I realized what it was.  I would assume an effort of conservancy bolted this glass shield over the top, so nobody could mess with it.  It doesn't really make for good photography, though.

If you look at my reflection first, you can see that my camera hand is right over the mast of the ship.  Above my camera is the sail, and all below over to my head is the hull.  Kinda cool, huh?

Another neat thing I found out there was a little spring coming up through the rocks.  Now, these rocks were elevated enough, so to see water running down from them was quite a surprise.  But I don't know much about that stuff, so I simply took it as an observation to share with you (and a source for fresh water if need be!).

While channeling my inner guide, I was lead to the bear.  Once you're up on the rock, it's hard to find this one... the conservancy didn't.  Here it is in all its rock glory.

Pretty neat, huh?  This one was just like I left it.  They say it's a bear.

They also say these carvings are from thousands of years ago, when the water was much higher -- hundreds of feet.  It is really amazing to chew on that, and imagine what those natives saw and did around at that time.

I have also heard, however, that a couple old boys back in the 1970's carved those in.  

Either way, they are neat works of art.  I see many little trails from all the people who have visited there, checking out the wonders of ancient man.  You can decide what you believe.  I know what I think.

Though I can't tell you where I was, on my way home, I saw this view.

Pretty nice for the end of the earth, hey?