Rob's Blog Archive

November 18, 2012

Late November Blues










The last two weeks in November and the first week in December make up the only season in Seeley Lake I don’t like.  Snow and cold like we had a week ago tease newbies with the hope of real winter.  Then it rains.  Then it snows again.  Then it rains again.  On top of this, it is when ATV runs are their longest—just before we switch to sleds.  And finally, hunting season keeps me off the trails during daylight hours on weekends, another November feature.

Reflecting the time of year, the dogyard is now in full November mode.  There’s a mix of mud and exposed rocks, some very icy snow in those few places where the dogs don’t regularly traipse around, and a layer of glare ice that has formed from the ongoing snow then rain combination in those areas where the dogs actually are.  The bulk of the area on top of the platforms is covered with a layer of ice as well.  Last year, I finally found some shoes that go on fast and aren’t super slick on ice, but I still walk gingerly through the dogyard, particularly when I’m carrying full buckets of food and water. 

I suppose this grim season is not quite as demoralizing this year as other years have been. Previously, I had to get a lot more training runs and miles in, so I had to run on weekends during hunting season.  This meant running at night and in freezing rain.  An ice layer on my parka often forced me to move my arms back and forth and in circles to break it up.  With a mini-expedition into the Chinese Wall being my main goal this year, my conditioning is more critical than the dogs and we don’t need to train on weekends during hunting season---I can do all my runs during daylight if I want to.   

I can also be consoled by the fact that I’ve got good clothing and now know how to use it to stay warm.  Moreover, I have a great stash of wood this year---keeping the house a bit on the warm side is easy.

And with the cooler weather and an ability to run any time, the dogs are happy.  Add to this their yard time between training sessions and they have no qualms with November.  One would think that freezing rain would bother them, but several usually spend the night outside of their houses, particularly if the rain leaves any snow behind to lie in.  They even seem to be able to convince themselves that soft ice is the same as snow.   

There are two mud seasons here, spring and fall.  During the spring, the days are already quite long.  April is, in fact, a dry month.  Conversely, we’re only weeks away from the Winter Solstice.  I love the night, but grimy overcast and freezing rain literally put a damper on this.  And with as much exposed rock and mud as there is, it’s dark. The snowpack will change this, but we’re not there yet. 

My first stint in the Rockies was in Boulder, Colorado.  The Front Range never really had a fall.  We’d get snow.  Then it would warm up.  Then we’d get snow.  Then it would warm up.  Basically we had alternating days of summer and winter.  Late summer and early winter, if you want.  I now live in an area that actually has four, or more, distinct seasons.  Early fall here is great.  Late fall, right now, sucks.  Next week’s forecast actually does call for snow, then rain, then snow, then rain. I know Orion is there, but he’s hidden.

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