Winter in the UP

Yoopers (residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) say there are nine months of winter and three months of bad sledding. This may be true. Winter is a big part of our lives especially here in the woods. For instance, we don’t have indoor plumbing but we have an outhouse and just to get there or the wood shed, or the spring we have to shovel a trail. We get our water from a spring in a ravine. So, when there is a big snow storm the snow piles up over our waists. We have two and a half gallon buckets that we collect the water in. When we get water, we trudge through snow. There is an iron bar by the spring so when there is thick ice we must break it to dip our buckets in. Then we carry the buckets back up the hill. From the house to the spring is longer than a football field. We do this every day. We cook and heat with wood. Part of doing the chores is cutting and hauling firewood. When we begin to run low on firewood we go out with the snowmobile and snowshoes and find a few dead trees and cut them down. Then we load it into the snowmobile trailer, come back to the house and unload into the wood shed. We live a couple miles from our trucks so to get there we either have to snowshoe, snowmobile or ski. I like snowmobiling the best.

Jan cutting wood on snowshoes

Jan cutting wood on snowshoes

Even though winter is lots of work, there are many fun things to do. For instance, when we take saunas, and get really hot and we run outside to jump in the snow and run back in. It’s cold but once you get back in it feels good. It makes your skin tingle. Some of Jan and Rochelle’s friends invited Seamus and me to go ice fishing. We caught two pike over 24 inches long. We had them for dinner and they sent us home with some for dinner the next night. We also go sledding. I find the steepest hill I can and go blazing down, trying not to hit trees.  I like making snow forts on top of the wood shed roof and I like to climb up there and on top of the house roof to shoot my bb gun. The roof is cool, like being in the trees.

In February, we took a ski trip from John and Victoria’s to our house. All together there were eight of us. It was eight hours long. It was sure hard but we did it. At the end, there was a huge hill to go down, but I was so tired I wouldn’t make it ten feet without falling. That night we took a sauna, had a big feast and celebrated Victoria’s birthday with two birthday cakes, one for Victoria and one for Rochelle. The next day, I was sore but in the end, it was worth it.                                   

The Yellow Dog Watershed ski trip

The Yellow Dog Watershed ski trip

We took many trips through the woods this winter. All the places we went were awesome. When we went on top of the mountains it was so cool. In some places, you could see Lake Superior. This year Jan and Rochelle introduced me to the ice on Lake Superior. When we went on the ice it was like being in the north pole. Here’s a picture:

Lake superior ice

Lake superior ice

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When I was with John, he said if you had to survive in the winter time, snaring rabbits would be an essential skill because you can see their tracks and they don’t need to drink from rivers. They can just eat snow which means they can live in different habitats. This is what a Yooper winter is like. 

One of the last things we do before spring comes is tap maple trees. We tapped 80 trees. And now we wait for warm weather for them to flow. More on this later.  

Misun

Misun

Me drinking sap from a newly tapped tree

Me drinking sap from a newly tapped tree

UP 200 sled dog race in Marquette

UP 200 sled dog race in Marquette