Winter Days and Roof Rakes

You may have heard — you may even have noticed personally — that this has been quite the winter for snow in the northeastern United States, where we live.  For most of the past two months, it has also been routinely 20-30 degrees below freezing during the day and colder at night.


A winter’s snow, mid-February. That’s the end of the first floor deck, the surface of which is about four-and-a-half feet off the ground. I reckon that’s about four feet of snow and ice perched atop it. And we’ve had a few storms since.

That has meant a very busy and happy time at the day job, but it has caused work on the cottage to cease, as noted.  Beyond the inconvenience, there have been added challenges. 

The frigid air means that any heat that escaped from the trailer immediately caused condensation on the roof — indeed, on any metal surface inside or out. Eventually, this condensation formed puddles in two places: On the outside of the roof, and in between the ceiling and the roof. That block of ice on the roof eventually became buried under the additional ice created when the snow that fell on the tarp over Clark melted and refroze, and under the massive, massive amounts of snow with which we’ve been blessed.

A few weeks ago, the inevitable happened: a leak. I don’t suppose it was inevitable that the leak would form directly over the bed, at around midnight, but it did.

It was some time until I was able to do anything about this and my Ski Patrol comrades rode to the rescue in many different ways.

The Patrol guys have been super generous and understanding. For example, before, the leak and all:

Glen: Coming out for a pint?
Me: Meet you there. I need to go back and turn on the heat first.
Glen: What, you mean open a window?
Me: …

Phil and Glen have provided places to sleep and stay (both of which in actual buildings with actual heating and plumbing systems, and with actual beds. It’s wild). And two weeks ago Austin came over for an afternoon and helped me dig out.

First, there was the matter of getting to the trailer. In the weeks between when the leak appeared and when I was able to find time to do something about it, we got about three feet of snow (on top of the two or so that had already fallen). Moving around in that much snow, even with snowshoes, is a bit of a challenge.

As I stuck a shovel into the stack of snow on the roof, it fractured in neat geometric layers, like the sides of an avalanche test pit. Each storm revealed its own sedimentary slice, and they blocked and slid in units. On top was about 10″ of frothy powder from the latest storm. Beneath that, several layers of varying thickness but almost uniform lightness. The cold air has meant that Vermont has been getting the most beautiful powder. On the bottom, two lines of ice about four inches apart — an ice-storm on the bottom, followed by a snow and slight thaw before re-freeze.  Then, of course, about three inches of ice built from the occasional heat from inside Clark.


Austin, undertaking the thankless archeology of unearthing framing lumber from its snowy grave.

While I worked on the roof of the trailer, Austin exhumed the stack of framing lumber that came in just as winter fell. We pulled out some 8-foot long 2x6s and I knocked together a quick frame. The frame will do two things, I hope. First, it will be much stronger than Clark’s roof is on its own. Second, it will hold the new tarp away from the metal and greatly reduce the amount of condensation that forms and sticks.


Look, it just has to last until April, ok? OK, May. Maybe June.

As to the ice in between the ceiling and the roof, as we got ready to leave I turned on the propane heater and shut the door. I figure it will take a couple of cycles to fully dry out.  We shall see.


Something like that. Tarps are terrible creations, really.

But we won’t see too soon. Turns out, it’s a lot easier to get out of bed for that third day on the hill after actually sleeping in a bed. As long as Glen and/or Phil don’t get sick of me, I’ll probably run out the season under their care. I don’t care what you say: -20 is better from inside a building.

Do I feel like I’m cheating? Yes, a little. Am I OK with that? Very much so.


The homesite, when I arrived that afternoon.

One thought on “Winter Days and Roof Rakes

  1. Pingback: All the snows. We skied all the snows. | A Skier and a Sled

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