Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Friday, February 03, 2017

Frustrated, but Through Segment #1

Posted by: Rick

I am starting to get a bit frustrated with snow management.

As I think everyone knows, we were lucky to get our Suburban parked at Mr. H's place at the state line. And, we can get to it via the Ranger with about a 45 minute trek, no matter what the weather conditions are or how much snow we have. So, we are not technically, "snowed in", and do have the ability to get off the mountain.

Still, I'd love to swap the Suburban with the Expedition, using the Expedition to get into town, and keeping the Suburban (with chains on) at our neighbor's place next to us. That way, if the roads are passable from here, we can take the Suburban to the state line. That means a faster trip and a lot more cargo space.

To get the Expedition out of here, we have several "segments" to complete. Segment #1 is just getting it out of the driveway. Our driveway is narrow, has a tricky curve in it, and also has an uphill grade to get to Hidden Meadows Lane.

Segment #2 is Hidden Meadows Lane from our driveway to Wapiti Way. That is tricky because there is a tree that creates a snow fence causing 3 foot drifts to accumulate on the road. It isn't a very long stretch, but we need to get past that.

This is the short segment of Hidden Meadows Ln that we need to cross to get to Wapiti Way. It was clear a few days ago, but has since blown in.

Segment #3 is from the Hidden Meadows / Wapiti intersection to the "top of the hill" where we meet up with our neighbor's efforts to get out. Getting to this point is nice because we now have two households working to get out.

This is segment #3, obviously taken on a different day. This is from Wapiti Way and Hidden Meadows Ln, looking up across the prairie to the "top of the hill".

Segment #4 is all of Wapiti Way to the County Road (89), and down the county road to where a ranch fence and gate causes two significant drifts in the road. Known locally as the "gate" and the "trap", these can be real problems because there is no way around them. Segment #4 can be "cheated" some, because we can drive off the road and on high points of the prairie where the wind has blown the snow clear. In other words, we can usually drive around any problem areas.

This photo is of most of segment 4, along Wapiti Way to the county road, where I'm standing to take this photo. So, this is looking back toward the cabin site rather than along the road toward the state line. You can see the road in the upper right third of the shot.

But, this is not true once you get to segment #5: the gate and the trap. These have no path around them and so must be cleared by hand.

The trap, segment #5, above.

The gate in segment #5.

Segment #6 is another relatively easy segment because it typically blows clear. It stretches from the "gate" to where Coyote Xing (sic) intersects with County Rd 89. 

The above photo shows much of segment #6. You can get through most of this with chains on a 4WD truck.

The above is the end of segment #6 and the beginning of segment #7. While it is a bit clogged up this year at the intersection, once you are on Coyote Xing, it is pretty smooth sailing. I don't have photos of this segment of the trip because we don't go that way with the Ranger. We go over the snow on the road.

Segment #7 is Coyote Xing to Buffalo Run to Ferret Circle to Snow Pass which then joins County Rd 89 very close to the state line. Again, while complicated, this segment usually blows clear and is no problem to navigate. It is a necessary "long cut" around a stretch of County Rd 89 at the Wurl Homestead that is always deep in snow.

This shows where Snow Pass rejoins the Co Rd 89 (at the bottom of this hill) and the state line is at Chimney Rock. This is usually so passable, I don't even count it as a sement of the journey!

Back to my frustration. Two days ago, I had segment #1 and segment #2 open -- largely due to my neighbor clearing them with a tractor. However, we discovered we could not transit segment #3, so parked the Expedition back at the cabin. We've had a lot of wind the past few days, and sure enough, segment #1 and segment #2 blew full of snow. Very frustrating.

So, I spent half the day today, along with much help from Lynne, opening the driveway back up. It requires wresting the snow blower through dense, packed snow, often only possible by having shoveled the snow into chunks, to the top of the driveway. Once at the top, the snow blower does a pretty good job of cutting slices out of the remaining snow going downhill. When wide enough, I can then scrape it with the snow plow on the Ranger and create hedgerows of snow that the blower can handle with no problem.

Since that is such a chore, we've decided we may just not do it any more. Maybe we'll just let the driveway drift in and just drive over the top of the snow with the Ranger. And, we could get away with that because we moved the Expedition to the top of the driveway. Instead of waiting for all segments of the journey out to be open at the same time, we'll just tackle them one at a time. Like game pieces on a board game, we've moved the Expedition to the next space.

The Expedition, parked at the top of segment #1. About 300' of the journey is done. About 6 miles to go!

Of course, by not keeping the driveway clear (or any segment that we successfull, eventually transit with the truck), we won't have vehicle access to the cabin until May or June. But, we can probably get someone with a skid-steer equipped with an industrial snow blower to open it one final time in early May.

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