Wednesday, February 19, 2014

One of our Best Snowshoes Ever

Yesterday was the warmest day we have had in Grand Marais since early December.  Friends, Jamey and Lois, and I decided to celebrate by going on one of our epic snowshoes.  It was one of my favorite of all time.  It was their turn to make the picnic lunch and select the route.  I cannot even tell you exactly where we were.  Because of Jamey's hunting, fishing, logging, and trapping -- he knows the woods around Grand Marais better than anyone else I know.  We drove east of town and parked at H58 and Old Seney Road.  From there we followed Jamey into the woods.  Their dogs, Nora and Bear, of course went with us.

I have spent a lot of time in the winter woods since 1994 when I moved to Grand Marais.  I'm not sure I have ever seen the snow "sculptures" cling to trees in as elaborate a fashion as what we saw yesterday.  It was like snow shoeing through a natural art museum.

For half of the snowshoe we followed a road that the snowmobiles had packed down.  For the other half we bushwhacked through the deep snow in the woods.  It was interesting.

We saw a face on the right side of this snow cling on.

Snow snake...

For a while we walked on the north side of a ridge.

The largest "mushroom cap" that we saw is shown below.

The easiest and safest way to get down the hills is to slide...

I have never before seen such large clumps cling to the tops of trees.

The woodpeckers went nice on this tree.  The bottom hole is over three feet tall.

The snow sculpture below is a down hill skier in the tuck position.

Along the way we checked out a small lake.  There was enough flow in the river flowing into the lake to keep some open water.

Most of the rest of the lake's surface seemed frozen.  However, Jamey explained that this lake has resident beavers.  The beavers use the same routes to move under the ice causing it to be thin above these routes.  Thus, if you try to walk across the frozen surface you can encounter thin ice sections, too.  We didn't snowshoe across the lake and instead went around.


After two hours of snowshoeing we arrived at Jamey's target destination.  He had never been to this spot in the winter, but guessed that there would be open water due to the natural spring.  He was right.  It was absolutely gorgeous with the puffs of snow decorating the top.

Our first task was to gather wood and start a fire.  There is so much snow that camp fire sized wood was hard to come by.   With all three of us gathering, however, we were able to get enough.

Next we built a little couch with the only large piece of downed wood we were able to find.  We propped up the log with snow.  Below is my view from where I sat on the log.

Jamey took a few photos to document our lunch spot, claiming to be a "professional."  I brought an old shower curtain and towels for us to sit on.  Lois made a great lunch including fancy tuna fish sandwiches on her home-made bread, cole slaw, muffins, and an orange.  Our "couch" is propped on a large yellow birch that was angling away toward the spring.  There was a lot of snow clinging to the tree.  If that snow would have let loose, it would have avalanched right at us -- but it didn't.

In the photo series below Jamey demonstrates one way that us Yoopers put out a winter camp fire.

After hanging out at this beautiful spot for nearly a couple of hours, we packed up and headed back.

In the center of the picture below notice the long snow cling on.  It is hard to tell, but that snow sculpture is over 20 feet long.

Below is a cling on that we think looks like Santa Claus.

Lois and I usually take the trail or flatter ground.  Jamey does not.  He climbed on this huge downed tree and used the pine tree to get down.

That was not easy given the length of his antique Iverson snowshoes, which could have got caught in the pine tree branches.  It works out for Lois and I that Jamey uses these snowshoes.  He always goes first and doesn't sink in the snow as much as we do with our smaller new generation snow shoes.  That packs the trail a bit to make it easier for us.

The snow cling on below was around four feet in diameter -- barely hanging on the thin branches.

 As usual, we got back to the car just before dark after a wonderful five hour adventure.  Thanks, Lois and Jamey, for a wonderful afternoon.

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