Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Blizzard Snowshoe

Those of you who know me are aware of the fact that I like to go on adventures.  Yesterday the snowshoe I took with Jamey and Lois is near the top of the list for one of the hardest treks I've ever had.  We knew that the weather forecast was a Winter Storm Warning with blizzard conditions.  We went anyway. 

The feel of anticipation was in the air.....
By the time we left, Grand Marais had already received many inches of new snow.  It is hard to tell how much snow since there had been intense blowing and drifting.  We headed through the woods toward Sable Lake.  It was Jamey and Lois's turn to pick the snowshoe.  They decided that we should snowshoe along the west side of Sable River all the way to the foot bridge by Sable Falls and then back the trail to the Sable Visitor's center.  I've done this route before, but never with deep snow.  Really deep snow in places....
Across the foot bridge near Sable Lake...
Then through the woods.....
We had to snowshoe through the woods a ways, but then we found the river again.  When possible, we tried to stay next to the river.  The dense vegetation in spots, however, forced us into the dunes in many places.  After many attempts to snowshoe in the dunes, we decided it was not possible.  The wind was not only blowing sand covered ice crystals into our faces, but there were several times the wind almost blew us off the ridges.  It was absolutely crazy.
We were forced back into the forest by the intense wind. 
The river was beautiful....
After snowshoeing around an hour and a half, we all of a sudden heard what we think were coyotes making a kill.  The sound was not far from us and was very unsettling.  We thought for sure that Jamey and Lois's dog, Nora, had met her end.  After she survived the night in the woods a few weeks ago, we thought that was it for her.  Jamey took off through the deep snow looking for some evidence of the sounds we heard -- with no luck.  Although we were haunted by the sound, we knew that we had to pay attention to our situation and reserve our energy and focus on getting through and out of the dunes.  We decided that we were absolutely crazy trying to make that trek, but we knew we had to just keep going despite the harsh conditions.
In places the snow drifts were so deep that even with snowshoes, we were sinking in many feet.  We tried to slide down the steepest dunes, but the snow was so deep that this was not possible.  I tried to snowshoe down these slopes, but several times I almost hyper extended my knee when the snowshoe became buried but the slope propelled me down the dune.  We basically had to descend with a series of intentional falls and rolls.
Below are a couple of photos documenting Jamey jumping off a ridge into a huge snow drift.
A little farther down stream Jamey snowshoed close to the edge of the bluff along the river and a 50 foot ridge of snow broke off and fell into the river.  Thankfully, Jamey did not go down with the avalanche.
Finally, we reached the foot bridge.  That was a beautiful site.  We knew at that point we were going to make it.  For the hour before that, we were not quite sure.
From the bridge we walked through the woods down the trail back to the Sable Visitor's Center.  The snow was very deep and we lost the trail a few times.  There are a few bridges on the trail that you have to find to safely continue.  We did find the bridges.
As we approached the parking lot where my car was, Jamey yelled for Nora one last time.  We were all amazed when she ran up over a snow drift, happy to see us.  Somehow Nora made her way back to my car and was waiting for us.  This is a dog with nine lives.


  1. We survived!!! Sore today - but that's ok - very happy to be home safe. Bear & Nora don't even want to go out and it's almost lunch!

    1. Yes--we all survived. When we were in the midst of the blizzard on that ridge with hurricane-like winds trying to blow us off that ridge: I wasn't so sure. I think we have the makings for a Survivor Yooper TV show.