Rob's Blog Archive

November 11, 2012

Here Comes Winter










It’s snowing, pretty hard actually, and it looks like it will continue for a couple of days.  We had our first real snow a few weeks ago, but that was only a few inches.   About a foot is predicted from the current set of storms.  We’ll see, though.  The National Weather Service does very well at predicting temperatures---predicting snowfall accumulation, not so much.  Still, looking out my window, it seems they got this one right.

Snow and cold rain typify November in Seeley Lake.  This means I deal with two things: ATV runs in miserable conditions and doing my final preparations for winter. With the cancellation of the 2013 Serum Run and my season goal switching from this to sledding into the Bob Marshall Wilderness to see the Chinese Wall, I don’t need to get the dogs out that much.  I’ve had some miserable runs and will have more, but not like I would have if I was still preparing for sledding across Alaska.  As for winter preparations, there’s a remote possibility I’m growing up---It’s less than two weeks into November and I am more ready for winter than in any previous year.

For the first time, I have my studded snowtires on in time and a month earlier than I usually do.  Normally, I hold out until my truck actually starts sliding off of driveways or dirt roads.  It ends up this is more normal than one might think.  I just finished reading, The Wild Marsh: Four Seasons at Home in Montana by Rick Bass and it seems that Bass does what I’ve done in years past, wait until a little after the last minute before putting on snow tires.  In the book, he actually slides off a road completely and avoids injury only by bailing out of his truck, a maneuver I’m not interested in trying.  My slides are much less spectacular.  My truck has always had at least one tire on my driveway, though I have needed to be towed at least once and digging out and chaining up has been an annual tradition.  This year, I decided to save myself from chaining up to get out my driveway and switched over on time.  I had felt a sort of kinship with Bass based on my approach to seasonal tire exchange in past years, but I guess that kinship no longer exist----maybe.  He did write the book about a decade ago and perhaps he too started exchanging his tires on time. 

Another chore that I should do but sometimes put off for too long is make sure the doghouses are separated correctly before they’re frozen in place.  I have five foot tethers attached to platforms, so the attachment points have to be separated by ten feet to guarantee the dogs don’t get tangled.  Most of my platforms are not staked down and can move, so several times a year I wander the yard with my ten foot stick making sure the they are all properly spaced, just over ten feet.  This way the dogs can’t get tangled but they can touch each other to play or groom or whatever, something they all take advantage of.  Last year, I waited too long and had to dislodge a couple of the platforms from ice and snow using Rube Goldberg like contraptions based on levers and sledgehammers.   This year, I had the houses positioned by November 1.

The one thing that I have always done before the first significant snow is the one thing that I didn’t get done on time.  I haven’t gotten my winter dog food supply in.  I buy my dogfood by the ton, which means I get a wholesale price and it comes to my door. This year, my delivery comes on Monday.  We’ll see whether or not the truck or whatever forklift type widget the driver brings can negotiate the driveway from hell---it will have at least some snow on it though probably no ice.  Worst case is he leaves the pallet and I ferry bags with my truck.  I figure I can do it in two 25 bag trips without much difficulty.  It will take longer than if the dogfood had arrived before the snow and we could just unload the bags from the truck into my utility room, but not a lot---an hour at most. 

It is said that by the second snowfall, bears are in their dens for the winter.  The first real snow came late October, just when I found out that the Serum Run had been postponed.  Going out for a late night walk to clear my mind, I found footprints in the snow I suspected were bear tracks.  Since then, I’ve confirmed this----I watched a movie about crossing the North Pole on skis and, while the narrator described near encounters with polar bears, they showed some tracks in the snow----essentially a larger version of the prints I saw.  With the second snow, the bear who had been wandering between my driveway and my pond, Silly Lake, is sleeping off the winter.  This leaves, the ravens, my dogs, the wolves, and me.

I enjoy all of Seeley Lake’s seasons, but winter is my favorite and the nighttime sentry for the winter, Orion the Warrior, is my favorite constellation.  By midnight, Orion is high overhead surveying his domain.  The winter is coming. 

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