Rob's Blog Archive

April 27, 2014

A Tale of Two Mud Seasons










Seeley Lake has two annual mud seasons---spring and fall.  I prefer the one in spring.   Winter now gone, I’m reminded of all the reasons why this is so. 

First, the days are long.  April 27 and August 15 have the same amount of time between sunrise and sunset, fourteen and a quarter hours. 

Second, the reality is that if I hike a bit, I can still ski.  Spring skiing in the mountains is often sublime, hard snow on which to climb then a nice fast run down on corn.  Skiing on good corn snow rivals skiing on powder snow.

Sadly, I’ve been negligent about finding places near here that I can ski, skijor, or sled during the spring.  The only exception was when I discovered that right after it opens, Logan Pass in Glacier National Park offers great skiing in a truly spectacular spot.  Finding places for spring skiing, at least traipsing up to a closed ski area for my wimpy-man version of ski mountaineering, remains on this year’s to-do list.  

Unfortunately, the part of my to-do list on which finding new ski runs resides may be more akin to the “list” my father kept when my brothers and sister and I were growing up.   With the notable exception of us getting our first family dog, making it onto dad’s list meant it wasn’t going to happen. 

Probably just like my dad and items that made it onto his list, other tasks may distract me and keep me from looking for spots for spring skiing.   I’ve done my first mountain bike ride on a dirt road and its condition was as good as I’ve ever seen.  Warm sunny days and the simplicity of starting from my house rather than driving to snow make it hard to think about driving to check out some patch of snow I’ve heard about.  We’ll have to see.

In the mean time, I’ve hung up the harnesses.  I miss sledding and skijoring just like I do every year but I can’t whine too much.  I ended up with over 100 hook-ups last season and that included time lost to moving to Alaska, moving back, and conditions in Alaska that forced me to truck fifteen to thirty miles to do all but five hook-ups. 

With mushing season over, I’ve increased how much yard time the pack gets, something nobody is objecting to.  So far, all of this has been at night.  Again, distractions, mostly from coordinating with the real world, seem to keep me from hanging with my dogs during the day, and I find myself with my gang after the sun has set.

I can’t complain, however, particularly about the last few nights.  It’s actually been below freezing as the dogs and I have been in the yard.  With clear skies, that still happens quickly after sunset. 

During yard time, I am turning my headlamp off to check out the stars.  They too are in a transitional mode.  Orion, the winter warrior, sets with the sun---I can see a bit of Gemini before it too sets, but that’s it.  From the summer, the Milky Way hasn’t yet made its appearance.  Still, living this far from city lights makes looking up on any clear night something I try not to miss. 

The temperature should break 70 F for the first time this year on Thursday and again on Friday.  The third reason I prefer the spring mud season to the fall mud season is there are many more sunny days during the spring.  By mid-November, almost every day is overcast and gray.  Blue and green dominate the spring. 

I plan to take my bike out for my second long ride on Friday.  I’ll be on the same dirt road I did my first long ride on.  In November, I can’t leave the house without a jacket.  During the winter proper, snow and real cold make up for this.  Rain and a temperature just over freezing, the November norm, don’t.  Friday, I expect to be in shorts and a tee shirt.  I might even put on a bit of sunscreen. 



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