Friday, April 28, 2017

Last time out...

After finishing the bridge deck (All decked out...4/25/17), there were still lot's of debris from the demolished deck and unused lumber to haul back. The snow machine sled is really my trail groomer with some metal strips bolted to one side to act like skis. While it works OK on hard packed trails, the warm weather (it's been up nest fifty most afternoons), made for soft, sloppy trails. So after almost getting stuck a few times hauling loads back, finally was forced to use one of the dog sleds. These have plastic on the runners (QCR) that glide well on the wet snow and patches of exposed ground, while the toboggan bed keeps it from sinking in. Of course it's not designed to haul lumber and hooks on with a rope hitch, so it tends to slam into the back of the machine on down hills. Not a good thing for sled longevity.
Fortunately, we had a light frost in the morning, so the trail was somewhat frozen. It was a slow trip down, stopping a lot to make sure the sled handle bars cleared the trees that were leaning into the trail. But made it there, loaded the sled and headed back quickly, while the trail was still frozen, if only slightly. The trip back was uneventful, kind of anticlimactic after the last few days of hurrying to get the bridge deck finished before the snow was gone.
The dog sled came in pretty handy to haul out the last load.

This may be the last blog post for awhile. Got lots to do before we head out of town in a few weeks and not sure if anybody reads this stuff anyway. Maybe later will have something worthwhile to write about. So here's a final photo, the pond near the bridge just after the creek started to flow. Now already filled with water, just the day before it'd been dry, covered with snow. Spring always amazes me at how fast things change up here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

All decked out...

Back in the day, the bridge over the creek in the valley behind our place washed out (Bridge Work 4/30/09). It caused a hassle running dogs, since the banks are 6-8 feet high and the creek frequently overflows. I got in the habit of building ramps by shoveling lots of snow After a few years, a local trapper dropped a bunch of trees on the trail in the vicinity of the creek, then went on vacation. So that 's what got me involved, just clearing up his mess and then doing the log work to turn the pile of logs into a timber framed bridge. My neighbor offered to help out with the deck. When I went to see how he was doing. the bridge already had a deck. While I appreciated all his hard work, he used a bunch of oriented strand board (OSB) he had apparently gotten from the dump. Now I know that OSB has taken over a lot of the uses of plywood, but it's not really good for decking, since it readily soaks up water. Over the years, it's been deteriorating, sagging between the log joists. I tried waterproofing it with some old wood preservative stain, but it didn't seem to help. What really doomed the deck was it became a regular part of the local moose trails. While they seldom use it in the winter, the moose apparently cross the bridge in the summer, often punching holes through the soggy OSB. The last few years I spent a lot of time patching holes in the deck. So when I went to shovel off the bridge this spring, it was obvious that the deck was now beyond patching. As much as I didn't want to take on a new project, I wound up spending the last week or so re-decking the bridge.


Forgot the camera the first few trips so don''t have shots of the old deck. It was so full of holes, it reminded me of the pictures of Bosnia during the Serbian war. The pile on the left is the old decking. The strip down the middle is the new plywood, ripped into two foot widths to make it easier to haul with the Ski Doo..

Wound up narrowing the bridge a bit after re-levelling and straightening the logs.


The finished deck. The project was largely completed with scrounged material. The main expense was gas for the Ski Doo and chainsaw and aspirin and vodka for my sore back.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Iron Dog 2...

When the old Ski Doo wouldn't start, it was a setback to my wood cutting plans, since this is the time of year when the trees that fall along the dog trail get bucked up and hauled back (Iron Dog 4/19/09). The local dealer no longer stocks parts for a machine that old, so had to order them from a place in Vermont. Took a week to get here and then a few days to install it. The ignition coils mount underneath the oil tank in a space so small you can only get two fingers in there. I was able to get one bolt fastened, but not the other. Fortunately, Andy offered the services of her long thin fingers, she was able to get the second bolt threaded, so then it was just a matter replacing the plug wires, caps, and spark plugs. It started first pull, so that was pretty good, since I wasn't sure if the coils were the problem.  So then was able to go over the hill, buck up some wood and haul it back. The main problem now is that while snow is melting fast on the south side of the ridge, on the north side, there's still almost two feet of snow on the ground, which makes it harder to find and cut up the downed trees.

The old Ski Doo hauling the wood home. Like me, it's getting older and slower, but still gets the job done.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Last dog run?...

After a week of warm weather, it cooled off, clouded over, and dumped a couple inches of snow. While this will delay spring and all the changes it brings, it also means it's time for one more dog run.

Even though the trail out of the yard was soft and punchy, it was still winter in the valley.

The younger dogs ran great this winter and should be a solid team next year.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Signs of spring...

After an unusually cold March, April has started off quite warm with some firsts:
Been up to 50 for a few days now, the first since last October. 
The first time we've seen gravel since last fall.

And the first time the old Ski Doo wouldn't start. Waiting on parts to replace the ignition coils.

And here's the March weather summary:
Fairbanks had a mean monthly temperature of -3.0°F, a significant 14.4°F below normal. Third coldest on record, only seven of the 111 monthly average temps for March have been below zero. The highest temperature for the month was 48°F occurring on the 31st, while the lowest was -39°F on the 8th.
Precipitation was 0.17”, 0.08” below the normal of 0.25”. Snowfall was measured at 3.5”, 71% of normal, 1.4” below the expected 4.9”. Average snow depth was higher than normal at 26 inches at the end of the month. The highest wind speed was 25 mph from a northeasterly direction on the 15th, while the average wind speed was 3.0 mph.