Skiers will be excited to hear that Bearskin already received about 10 inches of snow. We’re happy to report that it melted right away, because even though we love snow, nobody here is ready for ski season to begin in mid-October. Perhaps the upside of having a rainy, cool fall is that this weather may bode well for the coming winter. Sooner or later this incessant rain ought to turn into snow.
Bearskin had a prodigious amount of snow last winter. It arrived early and stayed late. We started grooming trails in early November last year, and that first snowflake was still here in April. Melting was never a thing during the 2019-2020 ski season. Skiers were thrilled with the snow conditions. Bearskin is in the mid-Gunflint Trail snow belt, so we reliably have snow even when nobody else does. But last year’s snow might have been over-kill — it just never quit coming down. Forecasts for this winter predict more of the same for us.
Both resorts that manage the Central Gunflint Trail System, Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge, have been out mowing and trimming on our trail system since late August. It takes a great deal of off-season work to maintain a top-notch ski trail system like ours — the forest makes a vigorous effort to encroach on our trails every summer.
We are a little envious of the ski centers that can just mow trails back and forth through the grass in preparation for winter. Here on the Gunflint Trail, five-foot tall trees sprout up in the skate lane over summer, colossal pines routinely come tumbling down on the trails, and young balsam trees seem determined to over-run the trails. Giant rocks the size of a cooler appear out of nowhere, thanks to frost heaves and muscular bears. Driving the Tiger Mower down some of our steep hills can be death-defying, especially if the trail is wet It’s challenging to clear our trails, but the end result is extraordinary skiing through the heart of the pristine Superior National Forest.
The last section of mowing on Poplar Creek should be finished later this week. Our Work Weekend trail trimming crew will hand-trim and nip branches on many of the trails in early November. And then we will wait for the first snow.
The first trail to open is always the Summer Home Road/Campground trail section that leads out of Bearskin. Because it’s a road in the summer, it doesn’t require copious amounts of snow to cover the trail well enough for grooming. Kate and Quinn are usually antsy to get out skiing ASAP, so the pressure is always on here to get trails open! We will post on this site and also on the Bearskin Facebook page as soon as the first grooming happens.