The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the scenery was outstanding as he pulled into Phoenix.
He cruised by an old log cabin and made his way down the trail near our property.
There's a clearing cut along the power line running parallel to our road. This clearing intersects our driveway between the road and our gate. We've noticed that people like to go "boondocking" in that clearing. That's when they leave the groomed snowmobile trails and play around in the deep powder carving new trails in the untouched snow. Since we're not living on our property yet, we haven't plowed the snow in our driveway all winter. Thus, the snow in the driveway is very deep and there's a huge bank of snow across the end of our driveway caused by the snowplow. This bank has gotten significantly higher with all the snow we've had in the last few weeks. Steve figured he could hop off the trail just down the road from our property, and drive down the area along the power line to get to our gate. This would enable him to bypass that huge snow bank at the entrance to our driveway.
So, Steve followed his plan. He hopped off the trail and started down the power line. Wow, what great fun it was to make new tracks in fresh snow! This is the life! Suddenly, he noticed a green gate in the distance. He was having so much fun that he had sailed right by our driveway and past the gate to our property. Oops! No need to worry, he could simply turn around. Right? Yep, he successfully turned the machine around and began to backtrack. All was going well until he left his tracks and landed in some really, really deep snow. Steve was now stuck, stuck, stuck. His mind quickly devised a plan. He wasn't too far from our property, and he knew he had a shovel in the barn. He started to trudge through the snow to the barn. That was no simple process, especially with his bum foot. The snow was deep and not crusty enough to bear his weight. Every footstep was sinking way down into the snow. He wished he had some snowshoes, but he knew our snowshoes were back in Calumet. As he struggled down the driveway, he saw something cross in front of him. It was an otter! He grabbed the camera as it scampered back into the woods. Can you see the otter in the photo below?
(Update: After studying this photo more carefully 3 years later, we realized this wasn't an otter. This was actually Steve's first sighting of a fisher! We both saw him in our backyard shortly after we moved out to the property. Here's a link to that post: http://cutoffinthekeweenaw.blogspot.com/2015/05/fisher.html)
That was very cool. Anyway, he continued on to the barn.
He had a small sleigh in the barn and loaded it with some digging implements, a set of come alongs and an extra sweatshirt, and he noticed something that would make his trek back to the snowmobile much easier. When we made a visit to the Keweenaw last summer, we purchased a pair of antique snowshoes to be used as wall decor in our new house. Eureka! They were in the barn! Steve strapped them on - hoping the old leather bindings wouldn't break. He grabbed the rope of the sleigh and made his way back to the dig site. OK, those old snowshoes were a bit more difficult to maneuver than the new style, but they did the job. So, he dug. . . and dug. . . and dug. . . and dug some more. Every time he started the snowmobile and tried to get it moving, it would sink further into the snow.
After 1-1/2 hours, Steve used his cell phone and called his wife to inform her of his predicament. Well, there wasn't much she could do to help him, but she did suggest he make a phone call to his buddy at the saw mill. Steve considered this wise advice, so he ate a little humble pie and called his Yooper friend to request some help. The friend couldn't come at that time, but he dispatched a couple of teenage helpers to rescue the silly Troll! (Remember, a Troll is from under da bridge!)
After another 1-1/2 hours, the teens showed up. Steve was basically finished digging by then and had used the set of come alongs to get the machine turned around. The kids left their truck on the road and waded slowly through the deep snow to get to Steve. He started the machine and both teens grabbed a ski. They pulled as Steve gave it some gas and managed to get it moving. Steve jumped on the machine and yelled, "Don't leave me. I'll meet you in the road." He didn't want them to leave until he knew he was completely out. He made it out! The kids met him at the road with his coat, helmet, gloves, all the tools and the sleigh. One of the healthy youngsters volunteered to wade back through the snow to shut off the lights and lock the door of the barn. By the time he returned to the road, he was completely exhausted and fell back into the snow. That shows the difficulty of that trek through the snow - even for a teenage lad! Steve thanked them, gave them some cash for their time and efforts, and gave them permission to tell all their buddies how they rescued the troll from the snow. Steve headed for home and realized he had just learned a valuable lesson: Never, ever go off the trail into the deep powder again - especially when riding alone.
Current Snow Total = 193.5". All is well in the Keweenaw.