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November 30, 2014

Snowpack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of now, there’s about a foot of snow on the ground.  Any item I’m going to need before April had better be inside or under cover, otherwise the snow will continue to bury it and I won’t see it again until next spring.  As much as anything, that’s what makes this different than anyplace else I’ve lived---a single storm dropping a foot or two of snow was much more common in Boulder than it is here, but that snow melted away, completely.  Here, starting sometime in late November or early December, snow hides the ground until spring.  That part of our annual cycle has started. 

So far, the year is looking very promising as a snow year.  I have a friend, another musher, who’s told me that the snow is already deep enough and dense enough to hold a snowhook.  Once that’s true, I’ll be riding my sled.  Still, I’ve been fooled many times before. 

In fact, there are usually two factors that keep me off of my runners.  The first is the amount of snow on the ground.  The second is that, until hunting season ends, hunters drive their trucks on the roads that, with snow, become snowmobile and dogsled trails.  I might be sledding as soon as hunting season ends, but I don’t know.  The Zen like approach of, “I’ll be on my sled when I’m on my sled,” is the one that works. 

I may not have been on the runners yet, but I have been on my skis, and that first run of the season was more than a week earlier than last year.  I was skiing at night.  Snow was falling, though not hard.  Maybe a quarter of an inch fell during the hour and a quarter that I skied.   While, like last year’s first run, I was in and out of ruts from hunters’ trucks, the trail was much less rough.  It is looking like there will be many good ski and skijoring tours this season.    

My Siberian Huskies also enjoy the snow---quite the surprise to anybody reading this, I’m sure.  Pads and joints do much better on snow than on dirt and pulling a sled or me on skis is more fun than pulling an ATV.  Yard time, with everybody bouncing through fresh snow is also special for the pack.  And even now, as old farts, many prefer laying in the snow to their cozy doghouses.  As much as it’s my favorite time of year, it’s their main time of year.

My biggest question for the winter remains how well Vixen, about to turn 15, will do.  So far, she’s holding up well, but we’ll see.  Her movement, while great for her age, is much more limited than anybody else’s.  Additionally, she does seem to have some difficulty shaking off her coat.  That said, her coat is in great shape and she’s maintaining her weight quite well.  And with this, except for a couple of nights, I have kept her outside with her pack, winter and all.  Bringing her inside was easy, but I figure she’s much happier outside with the rest of her buddies.  She continues to eat well and she enjoys yardtime with everybody else. 

With only a foot of snow there’s not enough for wind wells around trees to have formed, but these, too, will start appearing.  Before I moved here I didn’t know what caused these.  A friend thought it was the wind.  I figured they were from tree trunks being a little warmer than the environment.  The reality is that these are simply the result of conifers shielding the ground from snow initially, then generally shedding any that eventually hits the ground outward, away from the trunk.  There is something to be said for living here and seeing what is going on.

With the snowpack started, my least favorite season has ended.   Late in November and, often into December, dark wet ground combines with the sun laying low on the horizon during the day and long nights to make the world quite dark.  Now, the world, even the night world, is bright, and the darkness has been banished until next year.  On to the runners! 

   
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