Wednesday March 14th, 2012

Greetings and welcome!

The abnormal weather continued today. Athelstane Weather marked a high of 75, breaking the previous record of 59. It was a beautiful blue sky day outside.  When I watched the noon news the weather guy did not show any days in the coming week with a high temperature under 60, and some were close to 70. That is pretty good considering that our normal high/low is 37/15. Note that I referred to it as abnormal weather, not unusual. Normal +38 degrees is beyond unusual.

As you probably saw, they closed the ATV trails yesterday. That put an end to riding the trail north of Brandywine and Parkway Rd and the north trails up in the county forest even if there were some snow to play in. Those trails will be closed to all until the frost-out is over and the ground firms up. Normally they re-open the first Friday in May. This year we have a fighting chance of opening early, but it is a big county, and the deep forests up north still take time to thaw out and firm up.

I have also seen where the towns are putting the road ban signs up. The road ban is a slang term for weight limits that take heavy trucks off of the road in spring when the frost is coming out of the ground and the road base gets mushy. At that point loggers, excavators, and cement companies get a little hiatus while the roads firm up.

The principal is the same with closing the ATV trails. When the frost is coming out of the ground the sandy soil turns to about the consistency of thick waffle batter. Having heavy trucks on the road or ATVs on the trail when it is like that would do a lot of damage.

The ground is in a wide variety of states of drying out. Some places still have snow patches and all of the frost below is intact. A lot of sunny spots are actually starting to firm up a little. That is unheard of on March 15th.

When I drove over the Peshtigo river yesterday by Kosir’s there was a channel open along one side of the river and it was starting to run pretty good. The day before it was lifting up the ice, now it had made a channel. This morning word came from Rapids Resort that the river was really flying. I checked the gauge and it is running at about a +15″. If the ice in the rapids were open that would be some prime rafting. In my almost dozen years here I have only seen that happen this early once before, the river opened up and rose about St Pattie’s Day.

When I went down Landing 11 Rd yesterday the last patches of ice on the road were reduced to puddles. Considering that it is pretty sheltered in places, that is significant. That road has a good base so it wasn’t too deep with frost mud, but I wouldn’t judge the rest of the back roads by that. Most are probably pretty ugly.

I saw a lot of cars parked at the ends of driveways in the past couple of days, indicating a lot of soft ground and driveways. Mine isn’t too bad, I sink in about 2-4″ in the usual soft spots. Some years it is axle deep on my truck and I get to walk in too. I could go for it, and might even enjoy it, but the fun ends when you need a truckload or two of gravel to fix the road.

As I was sitting on the back step this morning taking in the warm sunny day my eye wandered over to the wood shed. To my amazement it is still about 1/4 full. To have that much wood left is stunning. I actually got an LP furnace this Fall because I was sure that I would be out of firewood by about mid-February. It is still sitting in the other room waiting to be hooked up, and won’t be this winter.

We never had the big cold blasts in January, we never had the big cold blasts behind the storms, and unlike last year, the heating season doesn’t look like it will reach well into May. It was the worst snowmobile season that I have seen, but people can’t be mad about their heat bills.

One last item, I have seen the first mosquitoes. I killed one hovering by the windshield on the way to Lakewood yesterday, and tonight one landed on me while I was doing the dinner dishes. She got swatted too. That is pretty unusual for March 14th, but so is leaving the house open for most of the day.

That’s news from sunny Silver Cliff. Have a good night and thank you for visiting!