Mid-Winter Update

No pictures this time. As most people who live in Ontario know already, this winter has been nothing short of brutal. I don’t mind that we have more snow than the last years that I’ve been here, but the Arctic-like cold, encouraged by strong winds, has been a definite no-go for me.

It’s no fun freezing your ass off trying to have fun. Any short breaks we get in the weather, I have to use as supply runs to the grocery store, like I just did today.

I don’t drive in winter up here because having studded snow tires is not optional. This is mostly because they don’t salt the roads, they just let them build up a layer of hard ice-like snow, and studs grip really well in that stuff. Since my budget does not allow for a separate set of summer and winter tires, I walk everywhere in winter.

I’m not complaining about that, because I love walking, especially up here, but even the most hardy individuals might grimace at a minus 30 or 40 windchill factor. I’d never even seen a forecast of minus 45 until this year. It’s not only up north either, southern Ontario is getting some pretty cold weather too.

But, no use in complaining about it, it is what it is. Just have to find ways to enjoy life while the outdoors remain off limits.

I received another 15 used laptop batteries from ebay, and I stripped the cells out of them. I now have 270 lithium ion cells in my possession in order to build my ebike battery. I only need 120, so I’ll pick the best ones for the main battery, and I’ll use the other ‘good’ cells to build a backup battery, which I can carry with me as ‘reserve’ power.

From this recent group of 15 used laptop batteries, I got a lesser amount of ‘probably good’ cells than I did from the first set of 15. However, I had a larger group of ‘maybe good’ ones, so I won’t really know until I can do the charge holding test on them.

I’m still waiting for a small lithium ion battery charger that I ordered from China. I can’t really do anything else until that arrives on a slow boat, of course. It seems a bit late but, of all the things I’ve purchased from China, I’ve never not received an item.

When that small charger arrives, I’ll start to fully charge all the batteries, and see which ones hold the charge the best. The ones that self-discharge the fastest, will be eliminated as potential battery pack material. I already have a pretty good idea which ones are ‘good’ and which ones are no-go’s, but there’s an in between group that will definitely need testing in order to determine which side of the scale they will fall on.

I won’t deny that it’s been really hard being stuck inside for, what seems like, a long period of time. Like I said, I still do supply runs now and then, but it’s not the same as getting out for a real nice, long walk in the bush. I find myself checking the long range forecast a lot, even though I know they have no idea what it will be like tomorrow, let alone next week.

Anytime we get weather like this, I think of homeless people, and what they must have to go through to survive. This tends to lessen my feelings of discontent somewhat. I also think of how tough the wild animals have to be to survive, not only in this extremely rugged country, but through these Arctic conditions, with so much snow on the ground.

Sure, some animals hibernate, or semi-hibernate, but a lot of animals do not, and they must find food throughout the winter months. How the heck they walk through that deep snow I can’t imagine. One day, not too long ago, I was out walking, and I decided to cut across from one trail to another. Well, I got into some snow that was waist deep and I actually found myself a bit worried.

When the snow is that deep, you can’t lift your leg high enough to take another step. Fortunately for me, it wasn’t a very long distance that I needed to go, and I did struggle to make it through. However, if it had been a longer distance, I know that I wouldn’t have made it.

Snowshoes, or cross-country skis would have worked well in that instance, but I’ve already nixed those ideas for my personal use. However, I may have to see if I can come up with a solution for dealing with deep snow that fits me better, or just stay out of it. Possibly something like this; http://altaiskis.com/products/the-hok/ or this; http://www.easternslopes.com/2011/11/21/meta-skis-and-sliding-snowshoes-options-for-winter-backcountry-fun/ or this; http://pistehors.com/backcountry/wiki/Gear/Approach-Skis

With the Ice Fishing Derby coming up next month, I have to wonder how they will be able to drill one thousand holes in the ice with all that snow on top. Sure, the drill can easily go through snow, but walking on it will be most challenging. I sure wouldn’t want to be doing that. Even if they had ten drillers, that’s one hundred holes each! No thanks.

I’ll be down there to give a first hand report, with pictures of the event. However, they do not let non-participants on the ice during the three hours they are fishing. I’m thinking that even getting close enough to take pictures will be difficult because of deep snow.

So, that’s the mid-winter update. I’m doing my best to enjoy it, but nature is not making it easy.


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