Friday, April 08, 2005

A Gentle White Blanket, Sparkling Under The Moon

That was what we aimed for last night. It didn't work out that way.

One of the things that surveyors do from time to time is lay out 'story poles' - usually four foot tall lathe topped with a couple of feet of fluorescent survey tape - to delineate proposed roads, building lots, or home sites. The project I am working on now is planned to be built in successive phases over a period of years. The real estate people are ecstatic with how well sales have been going thus far and we were asked to lay out a future phase with story poles so that they could prepare literature and maybe drive prospective clients out for a look-see. We were tasked with this about a week ago. The new phase sprawls across two ridges and the intervening draws and was covered with about four feet and change of snow when the request came in. A mile of roads and a couple dozen building lots needed to be defined.

On day one we hiked in with snowshoes. On day two I wore shoes and carried our GPS while my partner acquired a snowmobile to cache our lathe out at key points across the job. On day three...on day three the thaw began. Where once we were having to dig a hole in the snow to paint the top foot of the lathe we set, sagebrush tops and sink holes began to appear. I weigh just over two hundred pounds (just?, says the Wife...) and was using snowshoes already at the limit of their design capability. On day four my partner broke the windshield on the snowmobile when he found a void formed by a watercourse under the snow; it was a slow-mo accident and he walked away with only a bruised leg. In three days we managed to get about a third of the roads done and the most visible- from- existing- roads lots staked out but it was killing us. Day five was a total wash out; my last post tells you all you need to know about that one.

Yesterday morning we went out in hopes that the thaw had advanced far enough to let us at least get the roads in. The highs are pushing seventy during the day now. Disaster.

Nights are cold in the mountains, right? Snow should freeze under the starry night sky, allowing us to skip merrily across the crackling crust with GPS and lathe and big freakin' snowshoes and smiles on our faces, right?

Not quite. We had a chinook last night, and overcast to hold the heat in. We did go out at midnight and we did wade through the snow and slush and we did finish our remaining roads. We will be back up there early Sunday morning in hopes that the remaining crap is shallow enough for us to bull through and knock out the last of the lots.

I have a cold. I am scratched up, stretched, strained, and tend to be snappish.

I will be glad to see this project done.

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