Snowy Adventures and Duke's Moat
Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yes, Crested Butte is inundated with snow this winter. Some folks are happier about this than others, but everyone wants to know "how much?" We have received numerous requests for photos, documentation and a story, and hope you enjoy these snapshots of our recent crystalline bounty.

Ceilidh and Duke in deep snowAs you may remember, our Brittany Duke is a rescue dog with a shady past. When rescued in Houston, TX 2-1/2 years ago, Duke was approximately three years old. We believe he survived his early years like most abandoned or ill-treated animals, cunningly escaping from Cruella deVille-ish owners to obtain food. Of course now Duke is lovingly cared for, heartily exercised and well-fed. So you might think he would happily stay at flyingcracker headquarters all day, lounging in the lap of canine luxury. You might be wrong.

Duke, like many dogs, has an insatiable curiousity, a powerful need to investigate the great outdoors. He wants to know who has been where and what they have been doing, and most importantly, how "it" smells. This winter we have seen more wildlife in our suburban landscape than normal. The huge snowpack has made foraging for food difficult for the critters. As elk, deer, bear, foxes and other animals venture nearer to civilization in search of a tasty morsel, Duke's olfactory senses sound a klaxon alarm which apparently cannot be ignored. Here a fox is seen next door in Mike and Robin's driveway, heading out to the street.

foxy loxy

We observe foxes in the neighborhood nearly every day. Duke barks like crazy every time he sees a fox. "Woof woof woof!"

"got to get me some food!"

So far this winter Crested Butte has received 342" of snow, as measured by flyingcracker friend billy barr of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic. While Gothic receives much more snow than Crested Butte South, we get our fair share. When the snow piles up, Duke sometimes decides to go on walkabout by simply walking across the snow over top rail of our 42" high split rail fence.

Duke sez, "Why stay inside on a nice day like today?"

CB South prohibits dogs roaming at large. So we dug a moat.

Duke in the moat thinks, "this isn't fair!"

Nearly three feet wide and over sixty feet long, the moat keeps Duke inside the flyingcracker compound for the moment. Apparently he is not much of a long-jumper or we would have to widen it.

Duke won't jump the gap

Like everyone else in town, we spend hours and hours clearing snow. This snowbank on the side of our driveway was created by nature, not plow, and stands eight feet high. The photo was taken several weeks ago; the snowbank is higher now. In the background you can just make out the peak of a two-story house across the street.

Our driveway with 8 foot snowbanks.

Of course we do enjoy recreation in and on the solid moisture. Mrs. Flyingcracker often skis with Duke and Ceilidh near the Cement Creek summer home group. As long as they can run on packed snow the dogs are quite happy. They now own doggie booties to keep their paws ice-free during these hikes.

Mrs. Flyingcracker skiing with Ceilidh and Duke

When you have so much snow to work with, you find ways of using it for shelter. After reading an article about quinzees and forts we decided to build an igloo with our friends John and Peggy. This snazzy igloo kit was purchased from Grand Shelters in Longmont, CO. We read about this system in Cool Tools. Here we are starting on the first layer of blocks.

Starting the igloo, first layer of blocks

Peggy shovels fresh snow into the three-sided form. Packing the snow is done by hand and takes a few minutes for each block. As soon as you finish packing one block you move the form and start another. This is the third layer (of six) for an eight foot diameter igloo.

Packing igloo form with snow

We picked a windy snowy day to build, perhaps not optimal conditions.

Peggy working on igloo layer four

Just before the cap is packed in. We finished in the dark around 6:30 pm.

Igloo just before the last block caps the roof

Ceilidh gives us a big smile!

Happy Ceilidh, floating in snow

That's about it for now. CBAC is predicting more snow tonight so we're going to get a head start shoveling the roof. Maybe you'll see me up there on the Whetstone webcam.