February on the Gunflint Trail was a time when the intense cold gave way to hints of spring. Wood piles needed to be restocked. Mid day sun coming through the windows was cause for after lunch naps on the floor. Position of the nap was critical so that as the sun moved through its arc you would be in the light for as long as possible.
Skiing through the woods was enhanced by longer glides in the moderating temperatures. The alternating settling of snow with occasional snowfall was seemingly burying the woods. The layers of snow closest to the ground seemed to pull away from the rocks and soil and crystallize into a fragile corn snow. +
Skiing the same routes was starting to get old, so we dreamed up ways to route new trails. Getting off trail to investigate new ways to avoid problem areas or to find connector routes to open up variations of the trails was the order of the day. Some of our new trail routes have now been in use since 1981. The irony is that we now have to pay the state to ski on trails I designed and first cut. The original Mid Gunflint trail ski trails were groomed by a double track snowmobile, before the rough edges were smoothed out and the big snow cats took over.
This is the time of year that summer gear was taken out of storage and each pack and tent gone through for repairs. Tents were fully set up and a stitch in time really would save nine. Leather straps were oiled, restitched onto canvas, opening of the packs gone over. It was these and other repairs—evaluating stress points and how people actually use camping gear—that still give rewards of insight into the root causes of failures.
I purchased an old Singer industrial Treadle sewing machine from a former employer of my mother. Learning to get the footwork down along with basic sewing was the challenge of the day. I thought often about the fact that here I was sewing on the same machine my mother used when I was still crawling. Soon that treadle sewing machine will be 100 years old.
Checkout the deals for February 1st through the 8th.