February 8-14, 2021: One Crazy Week (63 Photos)
As I've already mentioned numerous times on this site, winter 2021 has been off to a terribly slow, mild, torturous start. Especially torturous for those of us who really enjoy outdoor winter activities such as snowmobiling and ice fishing. Our luck would soon turn and in true Newfoundland fashion, our warm temperatures (which hit double digits last week) and lack of snow (pictured here Saturday February 6th) would quickly change.
Our first storm of the week began very early Monday morning initially forecast to drop 5-10cm before turning to rain. It ended up gracing us with over 15cm before the changeover, then turning back to snow Monday night leaving us with 27cm snow at YYT by Tuesday!
Once again my Trusty Honda 9/28 Snowblower had no trouble even with the wet heavy snow and got the driveway cleared with ease.
With the driveway cleared and rain falling I hopped aboard Project 6x6, shut all the doors and headed out in dry heated comfort for an exploratory rip around the airport fence.
With our recent mild spurt I didn't have high hopes for good trail conditions, expectedly wet in places the trails were actually more frozen than I expected. In any case the conditions were no sweat for my tracked Argo, but not good for a snowmobile run.
All last year, my winter Argo runs were all in cold, dry conditions. Today was my first run in the rain and I discovered a leak in the convertible top. It was a simple leak across one of the sewing stitch lines along the rear of the roof. I later made a quick repair with canvas tent seam sealer when I got home and everything was thoroughly dried out in my heated shop.
Like I mentioned earlier, my shop is heated to about 12-15șC, this season I also brought out my dehumidifier to help dry the Argo quickly after each ride as it begins to thaw.
Wednesday I had to make a highway trip to Port Blandford for work, on the way home I decided to check out the new Hydro Access Road near the Sooley Family Cabin to check ice conditions.
The road was easily passable in my truck with snow tires, deepest snow was drifted about foot deep. I was real surprised to find the majority of the pond by the cabin wide open!
This centre section of pond at the cabin HAS to be crossed in order to go anywhere from the Sooley Family cabin. This is normally the time of year for the annual winter trip in years gone by, it would have made for a lot less adventures on a 2021 trip. This is of course not forgetting that I just drove a 7000lb 2500HD pickup into the heart of snowmobile country in the middle of winter!
I continued further in the Hydro Access Road checking out ice fishing hot spots, then I drove in Ocean Pond Road to hit the next section of Hydro Access Road and headed to high-waters. Some sections of ponds were ice covered but many were partially or totally open water.
These photos will provide a good reference for me if we venture out this way later this month or next month ice fishing. Even if it gets cold, areas marked today as open water will have significantly less ice and will be absolutely avoided when exploring ice thickness in the future.
Our next storm system came Thursday and once again wasn't initially forecast to be very bad. Shops and businesses that closed Monday stayed open even though conditions worsened throughout the day to Blizzard like conditions with high winds. I ran out mid morning to drop off a Snowblower to Honda One for a friend and had to turn around in 100% impenetrable white out conditions at the top of Hebron Way near the airport tarmac! Taking another route let me complete the trip and return home safely.
By 4pm we had quite a lot of snow down, compounded by high winds and heavy driving. Sandra would be getting off work soon so I cleared half the driveway for her vehicle.
Snow persisted throughout the night not letting up until early Friday morning dropping well over 20cm at YYT by storms end.
Drifting was the story of the day so my trusty Honda got another workout clearing out the driveway and helping some neighbours with theirs as well.
With my work complete I gassed up Project 6x6 and headed back out on the trails to play in the freshly drifted powder.
Argos may be slow, but it's a whole lot of fun driving an affordable tank through the woods!
A combination of Argo and Skidoo tracks does a great job packing down 5.5' of wide trail!
Things got interesting all along the fields on Indian Meal Line as the fresh snow was drifted quite deep. Skid steering isn't easy in soft deep snow but if you take your time working forward/reverse in a small area you'll quickly tramp down an area to manoeuvre with ease and not get stuck.
Tracked Argo's don't often get stuck with a good operator, but you can definitely spin out the tracks and leave the machine high centred. Momentum will let the smooth underside slide along snow with ease, but you will loose momentum turning or trying to adjust direction when off camber.
Project 6x6 did great, a few tangly areas needed multiple runs to poke through the deepest drifts, but proper operating kept the machine from spinning out and getting bogged down.
After a long drawn out poor winter our trails are finally starting to shape up, if we get some cold weather we may even be able to finally hit some ponds Ice Fishing soon!
Friday night our provincial government enacted serious restrictions returning the entire province to the strictest Covid Alert Level 5 due to a large outbreak in metro of the British Covid variant which is many times more contagious than the initial strain. After consultation with public health we were directed to close the St. John's Rod and Gun Club during this 2nd round of Level 5 due to the contagious nature of the strain.
This made for a long night for me working with public health, then creating; getting approval; and enacting our Covid Alert Level 5 plan for the club. I posted notice online very late Friday night I headed out to the club early Saturday morning to post notices at the gate and inspect our club property.
Our road had been plowed but heavy drifting filled in the road near the trap field, a lot deeper than it appeared! Thankfully I halted forward progress before the truck spun out and reversed with ease!
By the time I got back to town again Saturday I had to clean up the driveway once more!
Meanwhile on Saturday Bill and AJ took advantage of great trail conditions and nice weather to head out to the Goulds for their first snowmobile ride together of 2021. This was Bill's first run after completing some maintenance repairs and upgrades to his 2010 Yamaha Nytro XTX, and AJ was rocking his 2009 Skidoo 500ss TNT purchased earlier this year. You can check out both projects on the Projects in the Shed page.
The boys left the Goulds and made it to Witless Bay line pretty well uneventful except for Bills machine developing a minor fuel leak in the lines for his Tour Buddy auxiliary fuel tank.
This is the exact spot where I experienced the craziest impenetrable white out conditions to date just a few days ago on Thursday morning. This is at the top of Hebron Way near the round about which lays right at the end of the tarmac for YYT.
On Sunday I took advantage of sunny skies and cold dry weather to pick up Project REV from its 20 month hiatus in storage.
I have a couple minor repairs to make then the beast will be ready for snow. Check out the update on Project REV on the Projects in the Shed page.
While I was picking up project REV French took his girls Ice Fishing on Moriarty's Pond near their home in St. Phillip's. This was the first test of our new automatic hook setting rigs we recently made and it worked very well. I can't wait to try out mine soon!
By Monday level 5 Covid restrictions were in full force with many people working from home once again. For many this is not a bad thing at all as good help is hard to find!
Copyright © 2011 Michael Smith