This weather can certainly be frustrating! Mid-week, before the tourists arrive for the weekend, we go out and track-set our 40 km of cross country ski trails. Twice this winter we’ve been frustrated by unseasonable warm weather that rolls in just before the weekend, bringing rain. It messes up our trails by melting some of the track-set and it also makes our main trail in very rough. Since so many people will be walking in, and we’ll be going out to the parking lot a few times with a machine to get gear, the trail takes a beating. And then when it finally gets cold again the rough conditions (footsteps and tread tracks) freeze into place. Without more fresh snow there is nothing we can do. And it’s particularly frustrating when we know that we spend an entire day grooming the trails and have them in perfect condition but then the weather plays mean.
In the past these warm spells (we usually get one each season) played havoc with our snowmobiles. The Alpines we use are real work horses, but with only one front ski they are nearly impossible to steer in slushy snow. And we frequently get stuck on the hill pulling up supplies when we get icy conditions. The new ATV with tracks (the ‘Tank’) really helps in these conditions. But, it leaves pretty deep tracks in the wet snow. We got around that by towing a big 6×6 timber behind us to smooth out the trail. Still, I would much prefer -20C weather to +2C.
Many people deny global warming exists, but I can tell you that our weather is changing. We get now what I call “yo-yo weather”. It’s up and down. A lot. It’ll be very cold, and then extremely warm for a few days, then right back to very cold. And it’ll do this quite a few times each winter. When I first got involved with the Eco-Lodge we usually got one cold spell of a bout a week of -35C to -40C for a low, and then at some point we would get half a week of weather above freezing. Snow would melt, streams would flood, but then it’d be back to normal (-25C to -30C at night). The snow melting didn’t matter too much since it was always thigh deep, and up to our waist at the northern end of our trail system.
Now, the coldest it has gotten in the past 3 years is -31C, and only for 1 night. Also, the snow is still deep, but it is only knee deep these past few winters. That means the lakes start off with less water in them after the spring melt. Don’t get me wrong, slightly milder winters are definitely easier for us humans to handle. Less firewood burnt, etc. But, we need a few days of the extreme cold to kill of parasites and invasive insects. I’ve actually seen earwigs for the first time in Algonquin. And the warm weather cuts our season short by at least a week.
I’m sure all the people who grew up in southern Ontario can remember building snowforts in the drifts when they were kids. Not much chance of that now!
OK, I’ve said my two cents. Now stop producing greenhouse gasses – it’s starting to piss me off! ;-)