Sunday, December 29, 2013

Winter Copper Harbor Respite: Defying labels.

The tree tunnel buried in snow
Insulation isolation
I hate to be slapped with a label.  That is why I have titled this blog Universal Klister.  You see Universal Klister is a ski wax that sticks to ANYTHING and everything.

Back in 2006 when I started this venture, I was living in Vermont and skiing and working in the ski industry.  I was labeled a skier.  A nordic skier (of all ilks).  Which I am.  But again, I was not ONLY a skier.

I was a kayaker, a skier, a mountain biker, a climber, a fisherman a hunter etc.  Lately I think folks have been liberally calling me a Fat Biker.  Which I am, but like I said before.....

Bikes and skis and boats and poles and guns are tools, tools meant to be used to explore the great outdoors, so do yourself a favor and defy labels yourself.  Learn to use em all and then pick the best one for the job.

This winter in my world it has most certainly been a great one for skis and that has been a long time coming.

So when I had a chance to drive up to the Keweenaw to work with my fellow co-worker Lori Hauswirth I accepted with glee.

The week before I headed up I called Aaron Rogers to see what sort of tools I should be hauling along.  Fat Bike?  Skis?  I was told that as of that week they had 110 inches of snow on the ground.....Skis!! Fat ones!!

I tossed in the boards and drove on to defy some labels.

New boards

Grease em up!

Light as a feather

After a full day of meetings and greetings I popped into the car and headed for the Harbor.

Driving through the tree tunnel was like a magic.  With over a hundred inches of snow, the trees hung with heavy burdens.  The world looked puffy. Since then they have received at least several feet more of snow and I am betting that the skiing is just amazing.

I sacked on Aaron's couch and busily delved into pulling my gear together.  It was a mess.  Just a scant few years ago I was skiing over a hundred days a year, nearly all backcountry.  My return to the Midwest put a shuttering halt to that pastime.

I still have the skills, but the gear is spread far and wide.  While I put it together I felt that familiar stoke and I began to get excited.  Flashbacks to another life exploded in my brain and the chemical results were satisfying.

The day of skiing was just as good.  It felt so good to skin and ski and to trust the snow, to feel the bounce and experience the speed.  It was also fun to see the MTB trail system buried deep in the powder.  At one point I caught myself boosting off of a berm and laughing my ass off about it.

Typical winter night in CH
 Copper Harbor is one of those places that I can intermingle my passions (or my addictions) and this trip was no exception to that.  I worked, I skied and I also was able to go fishing.

The ice was just starting to shape up on the harbor and Aaron and his friend Allan were about to head out to catch Splake.

I was in.

Living right

Frosted shredded wheat

Ice auger contest
The funny thing about early ice in the harbor is that it might not be fully formed.  The cakes of ice, 12-18 inches thick sort of float around in a primordial soup.

They are anywhere from house sized to hut sized to car sized.  Because of the wind direction they tend to bunch up on one side of the harbor or the other until they finally get a chance to bond.  This day, they were not yet bonded.  So we hopped from flow to flow and until we were a good distance out to have a chance at a Splake.

Allan, Aaron and I warily kept an eye on the shore in case the wind shifted and our flow started to head out to the big lake.  At times the cakes spread up to three to four feet and we were forced to jump back to the edge in case the whole flotilla started to move out.  It was exciting.  Duce the dog, barked and sniffed at the cracks, clearly un-nerved by the movement caused by the wave action.

Smart dog


Lil' guy
After a really fun day, I boarded the car and headed for home.  The lake effect snow as insane and it was also unrelenting.  I left the harbor in a puking snow storm and I pulled up to my house 8 hours later in the same situation.

The mere 40 inches of snow we have looked paltry in comparison to what the Keweenaw is dealing with.

However it is more than enough for me to keep defying labels....


shredi said...

Very nice Hansi. I am a fan of no labels. Regardless of the tools you choose the end result is the same. Experiencing the outdoor adventure in your own way. It's snowing here and I've got some gear to test.......

Drew Guttormson said...

A very nice story and awesome photos. Thank you Hansi !