I spent December 26 to January 3 at The Cabin or on route to and from it. Jon, Matt, and I blazed the trail there. Later in the week Amelia and Frank came up. For some reason Vittoria decided not to attend (she will never live this down).
In past years we did many stupid things and made many stupid mistakes. We corrected most (all?) of them on this trip and only had a couple of minor problems. One problem we had in the past was the old snowmobiles we have being hard to start. Before this trip we tried to get the old snowmobiles fixed and found out it would cost quite a bit to get them running. Since it was about a month before the trip and we didn't have time to fix them ourselves I finally saw the light that Jon had been shining in my face for a long time. We bought our own brand new snowmobile. I had resisted until the bitter end but it turned out to be more than worth it on just this trip alone. We got a nice Yamaha 2 seater with electric ignition, hand warmers, and reverse. There are plenty of pictures of it below. It helped make this my best trip up to the cabin yet.
Based on our previous experiences of insanely trying to drive up and get to the cabin in one day we finally wised up and stopped in St. Ignace for the night. This left a 2 hour drive to Grand Marais. Quite manageable. Even with just Jon, Matt, and I it was a good idea to stop so we could make the trip into the cabin while it was still light out.
We arrived at Airport road (end of the plowed road) before noon
on the 27th. There was a good 2 feet of snow on the ground that
the snowmobile trail wasn't beaten up yet. Jon and I took the
first trip in along with the sleigh full of gear. Nobody had
been down McCloud Grade on a snow mobile recently. Jon and I
snowshoed the trail into the cabin to beat down some of the
powder to make driving the snowmobile in easier. We had no
problems getting the snowmobile in along with the sled after
this. I dropped off Jon and sled.
I then went out to pick up Matt. He drove into town to park and
we cruised back from there. We got back so early that Jon had
just finished shoveling out paths. The next task was to clear
out the chimney for the fireplace (you'd think we'd just cap the
thing and be done with it). Matt dumped many buckets of water
down the chimney before it finally cleared up. We had no
problems with smoke during our whole stay.
The trip in went so smoothly that we were able to pose for a few
pictures while it was still light out!! At left we are
all posing with the snowmobile and the bottle Margaux (are you
dying yet Vitt?) At right Jon and Matt pose with the snowmobile
already put away for the day. In fact, later that evening Jon
and I went out for a short snowshoe hike.
Since it was Matt's birthday while we were there I made some
brownies. We had gotten in so early and it was so easy (have I
stressed that enough?) we actually celebrated on the day we
arrived right after dinner.
The next day (and most days). We went out cross country skiing
in the morning and then again after lunch. On the first day we
mainly stuck to trails that snowmobiles had gone down some time
in the past. This had the advantage of providing a good base
for skiing but allowed enough powder so that we didn't slide
side to side very much. Here is a picture of Jon in one of his
finer moments (don't worry, there are more).
The next day Jon went into town to find out what Amelia's plans
were. Since the snowmobile was so reliable Jon went in alone
while Matt and I did some snowshoeing. We went out into the
marsh behind the cabin; someplace that is pretty hard to go in
the summer and fall. We were getting a good amount of lake
effect snow this day (and on every other day it turns out). At
times it came down somewhat heavily. This produced fresh powder
to trek through on the ground and made the scenery even more beautiful.
I gained a new appreciation for snowshoes. Besides being more
agile, we did a lot of breaking through dense forest, climbing
over things, crossing streams, etc., they make traveling
through the deep powder much easier. The scenery was stunning,
particularly the snow on all the trees.
As more snow fell skiing became much more of a workout. Even on
skies the snow was almost up to our knees in spots and about a
foot deep in most others. Matt and I took it pretty easy this
day (or at least that was the idea) since we had a big trip
planned for the next day. We only went out once but still spent
about 3 hours out skiing. Our short little trip turned into a
long expedition. It included Jon straddling (and eventually
crushing) a poor small pine tree (I told you there were more).
But the scenery was once again stunning. We ended up going
through lots of deep powder and climbing through lots of
overgrown areas (so much for an easy trip). But in the end it
was worth it. We came out underneath a huge pine tree (which
Jon and Matt are standing next to). It was standing next to a
river that looked incredible with the coat of freshly falling snow.
Naturally after all this work we wanted to settle in for some
food. Here Jon and Matt are sitting in front of the fire for
dinner. Notice the wine in the picture. This is a recurring theme.
The day for the big trip had arrived. Jon went into town to
meet Amelia and Frank and bring them out to the cabin. Matt and
I decided to cross country ski to Lake Nawakwa. It is a long
trip (about 4 miles as the crow flies) and of course we decided
to take logging roads there (or as close as we could get). We
ended up coming out on Old Seney road about 1 mile north of the
turnoff so we had to ski on the equivalent of a snowmobile
freeway for far too long. However we did eventually make it to
the turnoff and started on our way. For some reason I
remembered it being a much shorter road than it turned out to be.
A short side trip from the path to Lake Nawakwa led us to a
private lake. The owner has built a beautiful cabin on the lake.
The sun came out between snow squalls while we took a break
here. I expect Matt to buy a similar cabin for us in the next
few years.... We never did make it to Lake Nawakwa. We
undoubtedly were just one more curve away but we had to turn
back since we didn't want to be skiing after it got dark (which
happens pretty early). Some fools had snowmobiled over part of
our path which made the trip back more difficult. We had skied
through fresh powder on the way out so it is amazing that they
made it through without getting stuck. This slowed us down a
bit because we had to pay attention at the various cross roads
(instead of just following our tracks back which no longer
existed). Also skiing in a snowmobile track is not that much fun.
When we arrived back Amelia and Frank had made it in without any
problems either. Matt and I were ready for dinner. We broke
out the 1990 Margaux (Pavillon Rouge) that Matt had graciously
brought up. It was, of course, exquisite. We had been
anticipating this event for the past few days and it surpassed
On our last full day at the cabin Matt and I decided to take it easy again. After crosscountry skiing for 6 hours the previous day and actually staying up until midnight the night before we did not need another big adventure. Matt, Amelia, Jon, and I went out skiing again around the cabin. We ended up passing through the marsh behind the cabin again. Later in the day Jon and Amelia took a snowmobile ride out to Lake Nawakwa. They actually made it all the way and it took much less time that my trip with Matt.
Over the week stay we burned a lot of wood, more than a face cord, and we were running low. Even worse we went through a tank and a half of propane. On our last night the propane ran out. We spent most of the night in the dark with only the fireplace for light. We managed to squeeze about an hour of propane out of one of the tanks. This was enough to make dinner and pack up most of our gear. This was the first "catastrophe" that occurred on the whole trip.
We had heard the night before on the radio that a storm was coming in from the south, precisely the direction we were heading. Coming out was about as easy as going in. Jon and Matt went into town and dug out the trucks. I then took Frank and a sleigh full of gear out to the truck. I returned to pick up Amelia and the rest of the gear. After dropping off the sleigh I finally returned to close up the cabin and pick up Jon. Round trips were only taking about 20-30 min with the new snowmobile. It was once again painless.
We headed out of town around noon. The roads in the UP were fine all the way to the bridge. Once we crossed the bridge, though, the snow started. It remained pretty heavy as we drove down 75. Traveling was pretty slow and nerve racking since we had a hard time seeing Jon in front of us with the trailer. Fortunately the voices of reason (Matt and Amelia) won out and we stopped early (around 4pm) for the night in Gaylord. It turns out the Detroit area got about 1 foot of snow so we would have had a hard time getting in even if we would have made it that far. The next day was much better though we still saw a number of cars spin out in front of us and quite a few on the side of the road stuck. Interestingly most of the people stuck were in 4 wheel drive vehicles. Perhaps they will know better next time.
All in all it was a tremendous trip. By far the best one we have had up to the cabin in the winter. Having one solid snowmobile was a distinct advantage. I'm glad Jon convinced me that we needed it because now I know it was a great idea. It also helped that we got there early in the day and well rested. Plus there were only three of us going in at first for the one big snowmobile (as opposed to 7 for two small snowmobiles). It made getting in quick and painless. The weather was great. There was a decent amount of snow (I would have preferred more). Plus we got to spend a lot of time there. Now you know why Vitt will never live this one down. I'm already looking forward to the next trip.| firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 1999 Craig J Copi. The photos on this page cannot be used without the express consent of Craig J Copi.
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