Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The last of the white pictures with blue background...

Well I think I managed to hang onto winter as long as I could but I guess it is time to let it go. That is exactly why I ordered a new kayak! Time to start recycling all of this frozen water I've been playing on all winter.

My last time at home I managed one more trip with the guys to the cabin at Honolulu Creek as well as a few day trips from home. The guys at the Polaris shop managed to get my machine running despite several known manufacturing problems and it ran good the whole time I was at home. I can't say it didn't take a good beating but it did run well. Spring riding is probably the hardest time to keep from inflicting damage to both machine and rider as the snow is mostly good but has soft pockets and rocks, trees, and stumps sticking out. Oh well, I guess everything has it's price and that is why my Dragon just became my fall/spring rock sled! I have proven it can take a beating thus lowering it's resale value enough to just (and I hate to have to do it) keep it.

On my second Friday home I ran across a moose that had been killed by wolves about an hour from home, so I brought home some pictures. My wife being a large animal veterinarian who also teaches an Anatomy and Physiology class at the college thought I should go get it for her. I asked why a picture wasn't sufficient. So anyway, being the obedient husband that I am off I went....
Saturday morning I headed out to once again find my moose. Unlike Friday it wasn't sunny and nice, it was cloudy and wanting to snow. The best place to ride this time of year is about 20 miles up the road from where we live. This gets you deeper into the mountains and at a much higher elevation. On Saturday as I was working my through the swamps and trails to get up the pass to better snow I kind of crashed at a high rate of speed. As I was screaming across one of the swamps I hit a small bump that landed my left ski in a patch of rotten snow starting a chain of events that I still haven't completely pieced back together. Like most accidents it happened so fast I wasn't sure what exactly was happening, I just remember wondering how many more times I was going to cartwheel through air. After all motion ceased and I got enough of the snow that was packed in my helmet cleaned out to see, I jumped up and looked around to see if anyone might have seen me. I guess it was just out of habit because the reality of there actually being anyone around to see me eat it was less than zero. After surveying the crash site I determined a few things really quick. The first of which was that I could still walk, and the second of which was that my snowmachine was on it's side and facing the opposite direction that I was going. After looking my snowmachine over all looked ok and then I noticed that the rear tunnel behind the seat and the bumper were bent downward a fair amount causing the need for a bit of future body and fender work (the kind that involves a really big hammer). It looked to me like my machine went end over end at least once but couldn't determine for sure.

After I got going again it didn't take too long to get to the place where the moose was awaiting my arrival. Once I got there and did a little excavating I determined that the moose wasn't facing the same direction that his antlers indicated. I had to chip a little ice to get him out but luckily the animals that had been there before me did most of the work and his head was basically ready to be strapped right on the back of my snowmachine. The interesting part was the ride home down the valley in rotten snow with a giant rack on the back of my machine. I only clipped one tree. At great risk of looking a bit like a redneck I did this favor for my favorite wife.

I was pretty sure that after Saturday's crash that I was done for the season so I spent Sunday cleaning up my snowmachine to park for the summer. I did however get curious about how hard it was going to be to take the bend out of my tunnel so I got my big timberframing sledgehammer and worked the dents right out. I may have missed my calling in the auto body industry....
I was planning on putting things back together enough to store it for the summer on Monday and then spend the rest of the day doing a little spring cleaning around the yard. At 8:00 AM Bill called and wanted to know if I wanted to go riding. It took all of about twenty minutes to put my machine back together, gas up, and strap on an extra two gallons of gas (turns out that wasn't near enough). It took about thirty five minutes to get up the pass to meet Bill who came from the Palmer side. I was extra cautious and rode slow through the swamps as the snow was even more rotten than on Saturday. I have to say that once we got to the top of the first pass the snow was great and combined with the sunshine it made for an epic day. I did incur a little rock damage that limited my ability to turn right, but not enough to make me miss out on this great day of riding. It was actually running out of gas that did that! Luckily with my two extra gallons and the two gallons that Bill was kind enough to loan me I made it about a third of a mile from home before running out.
All said I put 1230 miles on my Dragon from December 23rd to April 20th and another 205 miles on my friend Lukes SkiDoo XP because my Dragon was in the shop for three weeks. I think I'd have been over 1500 miles if I'd have had my machine all of March which is a huge increase over the 800 miles from 2007 and less than 600 miles last year.

I got to ride a lot this winter at the expense of putting off any and all projects for the winter. The downside to that is that now I have a ton of work to do this summer. Stay tuned for hopefully future progress on our barn and landscaping in the next few months.....

Ash from Mt Redoubt layered in the snow.

Headed for the cabin; what more is required aside from gas and beer?

Riding into Honolulu Creek valley head with Denali in the background.

Stuck Fest 2009! Three out of four of us in this photo were stuck (Clay was over the far creek bank). We went down Little Honolulu Creek and all went from good to bad in a hurry. Boy did I do a lot of shoveling...

Our evening fire at the Cabin.

This was the best stuck picture of the weekend. While trying to get up this ravine which is steeper than it appears I got stuck after I encountered a large clump of alders at a high rate of speed. Clay thought he could make it to the top on the left of me however he met the other clump of alder and ended up keeping me company. In this picture I have rolled my sled upside down to try and get it out of the hole it was in. Before I could get it all the way over we had to roll Clay's sled over to get it pointed downhill. The funny part was that when we rolled his back on it's track it took off down the hill before he could get on. He did manage to do a superman leap and catch the bumper and drag halfway down the hill before letting go (at a high rate of speed) to watch his sled narrowly miss a big birch tree at the bottom. It was quite funny. Although I must say that had he not have helped me roll mine all the way over I'd have probably ended up in the same boat.

Looking across the valley at where we had ridden the previous day.

Spring riding up the pass from our house. Things were starting to really break up.

Wow, look an antler....

Is it frozen? Ummm, no it appears to still be attached to a head...

Right behind the gas can is where the tunnel bent. The bumper was bent down a bit too.

Ok, come on Mr Moose lets go...

A touch of digging and chipping of ice and out he came.

My redneck picture of the year...

Bill Hall headed up this hill.

Looking down a valley; Denali is barely visible in the background.

Bill and I taking a break.

My Dragon from the top of this saddle. We left here and rode right up the ridge on the right and stopped at the top for an even better view.

The view from this side was spectacular!

Looking back up the ridge.

Looking at it from the bottom.

My favorite parting shot; Mt Redoubt is steaming in the distance (right of center).


margmor said...

Wow! Glad you're okay! I have an awesome mental picture of you cartwheeling through the air in slow motion, pondering your fate- in my mental picture you are rubbing your chin with your fingers, in the universal sign for pondering. Awesome!

s said...

1. You're making me sound like Sarah P (moose-obsessed) to the people who are reading this in the Lower 48.
2. You're keeping it now? Surely it has SOME value left?
3. You didn't tell me you ran out of gas a second time!
4. It's snowing again.
5. You'll always be my favorite high-class redneck.