MAPLE CITY — Streets in this Leelanau County town are piled high with snow, some so tall that houses behind them are hidden.
At the downtown center, bigger buildings rise above the snow banks, and locals seem unburdened by the snow and pack themselves into Pegtown Station, a favored restaurant.
“The ice and snowstorms haven’t hurt us. It’s definitely been busy,” said Pegtown owner Mary MacDonald. “It feels like my husband is snow-blowing every other minute, but we walk to work so it hasn’t really affected us that badly.”
It's been a harsh winter, to many a good, old-fashioned Up North winter. But perhaps no mainland Michiganders have taken the brunt of it more so than the people of Maple City. The unincorporated community recorded the highest snowfall in lower Michigan this year, said David Lawrence, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gaylord.
A total of 217 inches of snow has fallen on Maple City thus far this winter, according to NWS records.
Maple City is surrounded by Lake Michigan on three sides, and can get lake-effect snow from the south to the northeast. Usually, the wind blows from one of those directions.
Local businesses don’t seem to mind. The area marks the end of a snowmobile trail, and Winter 2013-14's constant snow translated into a steady stream of riders.
Many stop for fuel at the Mobil station before heading to Gabe’s Country Market to grab jerky or sandwiches.
“It’s perfect for putting in a backpack and just going,” said Mike Gabourie Jr., whose family runs the business.
Locals also frequent the store more often when bad weather keeps them closer to home, Gabourie said.
“It does make a difference in where you go. You maybe wouldn’t hop in and drive to Traverse City. You might change plans a bit, especially when the winds on 72 can be so strong,” said Paul Christiansen, a Maple City resident who had breakfast at Pegtown Station on a recent morning.