Thursday March 7th, 2013

Greetings and welcome!

As I look outside today at noon I am seeing a filtered sun and a 25 degree day. There is a little melting going with the snow on the snowmobile trailer, but it is a black trailer, and the first push of water is just starting its journey down the trailer.

We really dodged the sun this week. It has been a cloudy week. Today was the one that I was really worried about, and so far it isn’t bad. There is a north wind bringing a little lake effect snow to the UP and the clouds are making it this far south.  It is expected to clear up later in the afternoon, but hopefully much later.

Yesterday I finished up the track swap and final drive maintenance on the Indy Trail, and after dinner I took it for a ride. Riding alone at night on a freshly repaired sled I didn’t wander too far off of the beaten path. I rode the trails from Rapids to Fisher’s Camp to Thornton’s and down the trail along Parkway to X and back. I think that the trip odo said about 40 miles.

With only a few exceptions I found fast flat hard packed trails. Even though my left carbide is pretty beat I really wasn’t ghosting through corners, so it wasn’t all that icy. I think that I had two corners that surprised me a little.

Likewise the sunburn was not as bad as I expected. There were a couple of minor spots, mostly where the groomer hit a high spot and on the edge of a couple of sunny corners. I was pleasantly surprised there.

On the way back I took a break to check out the star display on the clear night. That was pretty cool. As I relaxed a minute I dug my heel into the trail to see how much was hard pack snow and how far down the ice base was. I came up with about 2-3″ of hard pack.

The just over freezing days and cold nights have brought a freeze-thaw-freeze cycle that definitely hardened the trails. There wasn’t a lot of free snow, but I had no problem gathering  a bunch in my suspension and keeping the slides happy.

Overall I had a great ride on what are usually pretty high traffic trails. That is pretty good  for March 7th.

The weekend weather is still a little bit of a question mark, but it is getting a little clearer. Unfortunately the model that had the storm coming farther north wasn’t an outlier, and the others are trending that way. We are looking at some rain this weekend, and probably some snow behind it.

The GFS, NAM, HPC, and the noon news all are pretty consistent in their outlook. The scenario is a chance of light rain or snow after noon Saturday. It doesn’t look like much early, but as the day progresses, the chance of rain increases.

Saturday night looks like when the bulk of the rain will come, and we are looking at 0.25-0.5″. Later Saturday night into Sunday it is expected to change over to snow. The amount is dependent on how soon it changes over, but right now it looks like a couple of inches Sunday.

IF it stays on track, we have a good chance of a mostly decent day Saturday, especially for people that start early. Saturday night doesn’t look good, and Sunday could go either way, but will probably end with some snow.

The total QPF for the weekend is 0.5-0.75″. The way that it breaks down is <0.25″ by 6pm Saturday, about 0.5″ Saturday night, and 0.1-0.25 for Sunday. I guess if we HAD to have a rain storm on the last or one of the last weekends of the season, that would be the way that I would time it. Fortunately the forecasts agree, hopefully it will work out that way.

I don’t think that 1/2″ of rain will trash our trails. There is a heck of an ice base and a couple of inches of hard pack to catch it. My bet is that it will freeze in and reinforce them, but it might get a little icy until the snow comes.

The worst that I can say about the trails right now is that the plowed/paved roads are getting bare. You will want to dodge those. Other than the 1/2 mile of bare stuff on the way to the trail I had a good ride last night.

I will be at Rapids Resort one more time this season on Saturday. They are open Friday and Saturday at 11am. (No breakfast or 7am start) They will NOT be open Sunday or St Pattie’s Day weekend. They are taking a little break between snowmobiling and the whitewater rafting season that starts the first weekend in April.

Other than coming to see me, the only event on my calendar is the Hot Dog ride with the NEW Low Buck Vintage Riders. As Patti said in the comments yesterday, everyone is encouraged to ride along. Being vintage they don’t travel too far, but the trails are great up by Dunbar, so extra riding is encouraged.

As far as riding beyond this weekend, we have a fighting chance. The sun will get ugly, but we have a heck of a base. North of about Benson Lake Rd a couple of friends are pretty sure that it will be a good bet that we will ride the 16th & 17th. Around here where we missed a storm or two, so maybe/maybe not, we will see.

The GFS shows some warm stuff mid-week next week, but nothing too terrible, and it is followed by a little snow. Other than sunburn, we are looking pretty good until the 16th. Sunday the 17th the GFS is showing a big push of warm air, rain, and much more of it as the week progresses. That will probably do it for the season.

Unless something changes in the forecast we should be able to get Friday and most of Saturday in with good conditions and reasonable weather. Saturday night looks wet, and Sunday?

That is it for today. Have a good Thursday and thank you for visiting!