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community weblog - [ SNOW ]

Snowshoe craftsman

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BENTON HARBOR -- Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Chuck Nelson plods his way across the fallen autumn leaves with two pieces of white ash wood in his hands.

He pauses next to a charcoal-black water boiler a short distance from the Sarett Nature Center.

"We get a nice fire going and stick the wood right in here for about an hour," Nelson says.

The director of the Sarett Nature Center is making snowshoes. Not the airplane aluminum models that have popped up in sporting good stores. Nelson doesn't think much of "those zippy little things." These are more traditional models in the style of the Ojibwa tribe.   more...

 



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Big tree, big names, big thrill for boaters

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By Mike Moore

Rick Hennig and the crew of the Deuce know all about big.

The Deuce, the ice boat they race, is 54 feet long and weighs roughly 4,000 pounds. So, when they spotted a crack in its hull during a regatta last winter, they had big worries. Even more than losing a big lead.

Hennig brought the boat back to a warehouse at his Franksville tool-and-die business to assess the damage.

Four brains filled with engineering and carpentry experience - the other crew members Todd Knop, Keith Haas and Dan Mott - are usually enough to devise a fix.

This one was above them. It's been more than a half-century since one of those monsters was built.

They turned to a big name. Hennig called on Bill Mattison, a legend in both building and racing ice boats.

"It'd be like being a rookie on a football team and walking up to Brett Favre and asking for his advice," Hennig said.

The guys got more than advice. Mattison, who has a son teaching in the Racine area, volunteered to guide them through the process of building a new hull. No, more like drag them by their necks through that process.   more...

 



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Small but Mighty

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Another powder day dawns. You can almost hear a click as dozens of eyelids snap open simultaneously across the parking lot, where the faithful have passed the night in their cars and trucks, eager to ski fresh powder on the adjacent steeps. Nik Seyferth and his buddies drove 12 hours last night to be here. As the rising sun filters through their freshly snow-shrouded windshield, they rouse themselves to action. All across the lot, anticipation hangs in the air. As glances meet, there's an unspoken understanding: This is going to be good. It's a familiar scene-one played out morning after morning at mountains throughout the West. But we're not in Utah. We're in Michigan. And we're not below a rugged Teton or an imposing Wasatch mountain, but rather at the base of a 900-vertical-foot geological anomaly called Mount Bohemia.

Bohemia, which opened in 2000, is the Midwest's newest ski resort, and one that bears little resemblance to anything else, anywhere. For starters, there are no beginner runs at Mount Bohemia. Nor are there any intermediate trails. With the largest skiable glades between Vermont and the Rockies and terrain that consists solely of lift-served black-diamond runs (rated single, double and triple) with an average pitch of 31 degrees, the skiing here is proudly-and loudly-billed as experts-only. NO BEGINNERS ALLOWED, the mountain's advertising warns. "Reckless behavior on Mount Bohemia can kill you," a sign at the base exclaims. To up the ante, none of the trails or glades are groomed-at all, ever. The mountain does own a grooming machine. They use it to plow the parking lot.   more...


 



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North to the pole while pulling a sled

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When Kevin DeVries dragged an 80-pound sled 70 miles across the ice to the North Pole last month, it marked six down and three to go.

DeVries, a 37-year-old Pinckney businessman, wants to become the 10th person in the world and second American to complete the Adventure Grand Slam, climbing the highest mountains on all seven continents and skiing to both poles.

It's a daunting quest on several levels. It's expensive. The North Pole trip alone cost $15,000. It takes enormous planning because most of the attempts can be done only when the weather permits, and that happens at different times of the year in different hemispheres and continents.   more...

 



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New rules make snowmobiles OK for fishing near Apostles

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The National Park Service today is expected to publish a new rule in the Federal register that will clear up confusion over where snowmobiles can travel around the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Under the new rule snowmobiles, power ice augers and ATVs will be allowed for fishing on the ice within a quarter-mile of the islands and the mainland unit of the park near Bayfield.   more...

 



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Spring is here, so don't fall through the ice while fishing

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Now that's the sure sign of spring.

Not the robins flitting about the riverbank in Flat Rock the other day. Not the patches of lawn finally showing through the foot of snow that still covers most of our yard in Grayling. Not even the huge vee of about 100 Canada geese honking their way northward across a full moon over Flint the other night.

Those things are just harbingers of spring, portents that the real thing is around the corner.

The true sign that spring has arrived are the dodos who insist on going out on Lake St. Clair even as the ice is breaking up. They have to be rescued by officialdom or other anglers, and I see by the paper that the first of the annual ice rescues has occurred.   more...

 



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A warm dogsled ride through the snow

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Andrew Letzring wasn't the first schoolboy to forge a better grade on his report card so he could continue to play sports. But the Upper Peninsula musher might be the only one who ended up running in the 1,047-mile Iditarod sled dog race because of it.

"My parents said I needed a 3.0 grade-point average to keep playing hockey, and I was just under it, so I changed a couple of grades," Letzring said. "When they found out about it, I was grounded for six months.

"My folks lived in Duluth at the time, and they were into sled dogs. I wasn't big on it. I couldn't see the point of running around in the woods and getting cold. But when I got grounded, there was nothing else I could do but run dogs or read books, so I started doing a lot of dogsled driving."   more...

 



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What's New On iceboat.org:

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March 27, 2005:
I came across this interesting interview with Neil Leifer, one of the best sports photographers in the world. His work has appeared hundreds of times in Sports Illustrated and LIFE magazine. Here's his story about iceboating with Buddy Melges in Lake Geneva.
Neil:
I’ll give you my best story. There’s a picture in the book of ice boating and you can see how one runner is way off the ice. In the 60’s I went out to middle of Wisconsin to do the ice boating story. I’d go out every weekend to photograph a former Olympic sailor named Bud Melges who was sort of my guide and made sure I got everything I needed. They took me out about a half dozen weekends in different boats to shoot the ice boating. I was positioned about eight inches off the ice, riding backwards with no seatbelt. I’m kneeling in this little cutout like a canoe and riding backwards looking at the skipper.

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Ice Boaters Enjoy a Perfect Day

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They called it one of the best days of the year.

They are talking about the ice boating year.

Ice boating aficionados gathered on southwest White Bear Lake Friday to enjoy one of few good days of the year.

"It's such a limited season," said Jason Brown, who runs White Bear Boat Works across the street from the lake. Brown was setting sail on his Nite, a small, quick, two passenger ice boat.

Brown spent virtually all his time giving rides to people who've never been on an ice boat before.

He says, "These boats can reach up to 100 miles an hour, on natural power. That's what's cool about it, and scaring people half to death is the other fun thing about it."
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What's New On iceboat.org:

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Spring Banquet Reservation Form 
Make your reservations now by printing the form and sending information & check to Banquet Chairs Jerry & Joye Ebert.
Where: Fyfe's Corner Bistro
           1344 East Washington Avenue
           Madison, WI
When:  Saturday, April 16, 2005
           Social Hour: 6-7 PM
           Dinner to follow

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New cross-country ski proves to be a great Discovery

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GRAYLING -- Like a lot of cross-country ski enthusiasts, I have several pairs of skis for different conditions and activities: narrow, waxable skis for classical kick-and-glide touring; fast skating skis for days I feel ambitious, and no-wax rock skis for icy days and the crappy conditions we run into when the snow gets thin.

If you're a more casual skier, someone who gets out only a half-dozen times a winter, and you don't always have the luxury of skiing groomed trails, take a look at the new Alpina Discovery. It's a metal-edged, no-wax model that a friend called "the perfect all-around Michigan ski" after it turned a day of lousy conditions into great fun for three of us.   more...

 



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Snowmobile laws lag; deaths mount

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Minocqua - Senseless bloodshed and ugly headlines drove the North American snowmobiling community to adopt a "zero-tolerance" policy on drinking and sledding during the 2002 International Snowmobiling Congress.

Less than three full snowmobile seasons later, at least 43 people have died while snowmobiling drunk, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. That number seems to swell with almost every passing week with snow on the ground.

For the DNR wardens who are left literally to pick up the pieces after a fatal crash, the story line behind the deaths has become frighteningly mundane.  more...

 



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Shelter From the Snow

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How to make it through a long winter night.

When a man is faced with spending an unexpected night outdoors, his gut reaction is to pat his pockets for matches. Besides providing warmth, a fire’s cheerful light is an antidote to the spiritual pall that accompanies the fall of darkness. But in heavy snow, when deadfall is buried and wet, a fire can be hard to spark and difficult to maintain. At such times, your best option is to use the snow to your advantage. Snow not only provides a windbreak but is one of nature’s best insulators. A properly constructed shelter made with it can raise inside air temperatures to above freezing on a 20-below day—and it can get even warmer if you light a candle (be sure to vent carbon monoxide with airholes). The key is to keep the inside volume small, so that your body heat can warm the space. The roomier your retreat, the colder and more miserable you will be. Here are two shelters for different situations.    more...

 



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What's New On iceboat.org:

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March 17, 2005:
Nordhaus Boatworks Update

4LIYC Weekend Racing Possibilities
From Greg Simon: "Don't put your boats away yet... sailing this weekend looks to be very promising.  Lake Mendota has over 20" of ice and the boat landing at Warner has multiple spots to push on trailers. The snow has been reduced to under an inch and by this weekend we should be sailing on clear ice!!!! 

Nite Nationals On Hold
Via Fred Miller: "Here's the latest.  The ice report from Lake Geneva is not good.  The surface is slushy and the ice thickness is less than 6" and thinning.  The remaining boats rigged on the lake are pulling off.  Mendota still has a good 20" and many landings are still ok.  However, rain turning at times into snow is predicted Friday into Saturday.  Minnetonka's weather forecast is even worse. 

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Don't put away those skis just yet

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Spring skiing is usually a good news-bad news kind of thing.

The good news is that the mild temperatures mean heavy winter coats can be abandoned and replaced by fleece or even sweaters. The bad news is that the mild temperatures mean the slopes will turn to slush by mid-morning.

But if the weather forecast holds true, the next three weekends could bring Michiganders some of the best skiing in years just as the season comes to an end.

"We have a ton of snow, and conditions are as good or better than they've been all year long," said Jim Bartlett, general manager of Nub's Nob in Harbor Springs. "The days are getting into the 30s, but it's still freezing at night. That sets the snow up great and allows us to groom it properly. The sun is coming up early and setting late, but it isn't hot enough to create the slushy stuff you can get at this time of year."   more...

 



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