Monday, February 24, 2014

Mountain girls break from the weather

Top of the Mountain


In front of house
Lee and I left for the first time in twelve years during a winter weekend. We didn't have to go far south to find the snow gone. Unfortunately, when we came back Monday our snow had not disappeared much. I did notice about a foot drop in some of the piles and a few places the plowed road are down to the dirt. The unplowed roads are icy, hard-packed snow with lots of snowmobile hills on them. Not good cross-country ski snow. You might be able to travel them in a four-wheel drive vehicle with chains if you stay exactly in the middle. It will be a difficult journey and if the temperatures rise it could get tricky. Right now it looks like the weather will be below freezing for highs during the next ten days and no significant snowfall. Although I don't trust any forecast more than a day in advance as it seems they are constantly changing their minds.

February will not be the month to take the snow of this mountain. March is always our melting month and can be the most difficult month to travel unplowed areas of the forest. I am hoping March can make a dent in the snow cover as I am more than ready to see the ground again. Spring is only a month away and I am hoping not much snow remains when April arrives. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Porky pining away in Leetonia

Nap Time for Porky

Pettite's Camp

Steele Waters

Pine Lined road

Valley Hi

It was a perfect snow day to cross country ski down to Leetonia. The snowmobiles were running but it wasn't so bad that I couldn't share the road with them. It was a beautiful day to be out and on silent skis I see a bit more than the faster noisier sleds.

The first thing I saw was a deer about a half mile from my house who decided I was too strange to take a chance on and headed back up into the woods. Then as I approached the sharp turn before Mick's old place within ten foot of the road sat a porcupine no farther than about eight foot above the road. He was sound asleep and it was hard to tell that he wasn't dead. He just hung there breathing slowly and from the looks of the hemlock tree he might of been dreaming of the bark and leaves he ate the night before. I often see porcupines up in the trees during the winter sleeping but they are usually much higher so I was able to get a nice picture of him before I headed on down to Leetonia. 

There wasn't a living soul in Leetonia, but I always feel the presence of old residents especially when everyone else is gone. Everything is white sprinkled with tall green pines and quiet except for a few snowmobiles.  We have had so much snow I am starting to go a bit winter blind. I am definitely ready to see some other color beside white. I skied down to the Ruins and back getting a short video of a few snowmobilers. I was surprised to see my sleepy little friend still resting on the low branch even though several sleds had noisily ripped by him. 

Cross country skiing on the snowmobile road isn't bad but you do have to watch out for them coming around the corners. Also it is a bit rougher than a trail groomed for skiing, but not as bad as going across unpacked snow which is now over two foot deep in some places. If I am not too stiff I may get out again tomorrow. It always feels good to breath the air and see the animals of Leetonia. Mountian girl, Paula, logging out.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Snowmobile Paradise

Wood dogs buried

White Out

"Speck get out of your bed, I know I can fit."
We got a good sixteen inches of snow Wednesday and it took three hours using the neighbor's four-wheeler to plow out. The four-wheeler plow really doesn't like anymore than a foot of snow and the only way to clear the snow off was in layers, starting on top and working my way down. Since we had some freezing rain/sleet under the snow it causes the four-wheeler to get stuck more than once. But after much pushing, pulling and one snapped cable we got it done at 8:30 PM. Four-wheelers don't cushion the blow of hitting a big pile of snow so after three hours I ached all over. Thank goodness this snow was light or I don't think I could have moved it at all.

The next day the temperatures plunged again below zero to -18. It did warm up to the 20's during the day and has stayed about the same temperatures for the last couple days. Today it again started snowing and the 1 inch we were supposed to have has already turned to 2 and likely to be 3 before it stops. So it looks like more plowing tonight.

The good news is for the snowmobilers, skiers and lovers of snow. It is perfect for all to play. The snowmobliers have been running like buzzing bees all over the mountain. I would have to say this is the best it has been for snowmobiles the entire season. It doesn't look like anything will change during the next week as temperatures will stay from slightly below zero to mid-twenties all week. The deer are having a rough time moving through the deep snow and will be more prone to winter death from starving and other animals attacking them. They have been herding up as usual for this time of year to aid in clearing snow. They get on the road and don't like to jump off into deep snow, so try not to run them with vehicles anymore than necessary.

I haven't been down the road towards Cedar Run since this last snow and am not sure it is passable. There could have been some slides with all the snow being light and coming so fast. My suggestion is snowmobile only except in plowed areas.

Leo has been trying to take over Speck's bed the last few weeks. For some reason he thinks he should fit in this tiny bed. I don't think Speck appreciates the invasion. We are all looking forward to a little warmer weather soon as cabin fever has affected many in the area. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A break from sub-zero

Hanging by a hook

4' Icicle
Yesterday it finally broke above freezing temperatures after a long span of sub-zero temperatures. The dogs and I have been struggling to stay warm while Lee went South to a family funeral. It wasn't the warmest in Florida their 60 degrees above zero complaints feel on deaf ears when my thermometer read -19 last week. I spent most of the week dripping water to keep it from freezing in the pipes.

The warm up caused some strange icicle formations on my garage. Large four to five foot icicles formed off the garage roof and then when the air warmed up they were left hanging on Lee's hooks for the hummingbird feeders separated from the roof. It is almost like we hung fake ones up with metal hooks. 

Quite a few snowmobiles were running last night when I came home. I guess they are trying to use up the last bit of snow before it melts. This weekend we are supposed to get temperatures into the mid-thirties.  It almost feels like swimming weather. 

During last week's cold temperatures one of the women I work with came in with a story I know many people will relate to.  Although it varies a bit from my usual talk about the mountains. I thought you all might enjoy it. I call it: "Snapped in Coudersport".

Dee was a busy, working mother of two children.  Today would be “her day off,” an extra day in the middle of the week to do things for herself.  It started off with a delay of day report: Schools will be on a two-hour delay today due to the bad weather. Dee determined to have a good day made a choice not to freak out after all it was only two hours she would still get for her alone time. 

Later she drove the kids to school and noticed her low-tire pressure light coming on.  Not to worry she thought, the cold weather sometimes makes it come on.  She kept on driving thinking about the appointment with physical therapy that day.   Dee made it home and didn't notice anything strange about the tires.  Soon it would be off to the physical therapy appointment. The appointment had taken her a month to get.  Her knee pain bothered her for the last several months and she hadn't slowed down long enough to take care of it.

With just enough time to make it to her physical therapy appointment Dee jumped back into the truck and started down the road.  The truck began pulling to the side and just didn’t act right.  She got out in the sub-zero weather and saw her tire dangerously low.  No problem there was an air compressor at home.  She returned to blow it up.

Dee drove back home. She went into the garage and switched on the air compressor… nothing happened.  She could see the cord plugged in and couldn't understand why the air compressor wouldn't run. 
“What now!” she yelled out loud. 
Dee ran back inside the house to warm up and dialed her husband for support as she felt her “me time” turning into “scream time”.

“Why can’t I get this stupid air compressor to work?” she shouted to her husband frantic to get to her appointment.

“Do you have it plugged in?” he asked.

 Of course I do. She thought to herself, does he think I am an idiot.

“It is the orange cord not the yellow one,” he added.

Slightly annoyed with herself she spouted back. “I didn't know it wasn't plugged in. Okay, thanks.” Dee runs back out, plugs in the air compressor. Air is flowing into the tire all is well with the world.  The sound of hissing air tells her otherwise. She sees the tire is losing air around the rim and refusing to fill.

“NO! I am going to miss my appointment you stupid tire!” 

Dee stomps back inside and looks at the time. Facing defeat she calls to cancel her appointment.

Well, at least I can still relax; have some milk and my favorite mint Oreo cookies I keep hidden for myself.  Dee poured a nice glass of milk anticipating some small pleasure in her “me time day. “ She reached into the cupboard for her Oreo cookies and they weren’t in their normal hiding place.  She starts moving things, cans of soup, croutons, cereal, and green beans are plowed out of her way. Lighter things like potato chips fly through the air to uncover her sacred cookies.   

“What the H… happened to my Oreos,” she screamed matching the intensity of the nearby volunteer fire siren.

“I can deal with late school, flat tires, air compressors not working, but there will be hell to pay for the person who took my Oreos.” Dee went through her usual list of suspects and at the top of the list, rose one above the others… her husband.  Her eyes glowed red with the anger only a woman who does everything for everyone else and needed just one small thing to go right can feel.

The dial of death pressed on her phone an unaware husband answers.

“Did you take my cookies?”

Nothing her husband can say is going to end well for him and one word he seals his fate.


At that moment deafness befalls Dee and her husband’s rambling excuses are of little comfort to her. She hangs up.

Dee pours the milk in solemn ceremony back into the container and with the grave covered on her day declares its last rites.

“All I needed were my Oreos.”

Mountain girl, Paula logging out.