3.28.2021 Last snow, last grooming — for real

Grooming with the Pisten Bully on Summer Home Road early this morning, Sunday, March 28. Final grooming for the season.

It snowed again yesterday and because Bearskin is full, we decided to groom the trails one more time. Bob was quite happy with how it turned out. He groomed Summer Home and Campground Ski Trails, so we have about 6 miles of newly groomed spring skiing. As usual for this time of year, your best skiing will be very early in the morning before the snow softens from the warming temperatures.

Next week’s forecast is fairly warm and non-stop sunny, so the strong March sunshine will probably be the demise of this new snow. If you are a guest or season pass holder, you are welcome to continue to use the trails for as long as they last. Forewarning to season-pass day-skiers: the blue porta-potties that got us through this weird winter are scheduled to be picked up soon. Plan accordingly, as there is no other open restroom on the trail.

We want to thank our guests, season pass holders, and day-ski visitors for working together so well to get us through the Covid-19 ski season. We know it was an inconvenience to have the Main Lodge mostly closed, but people were fabulous about it. Those blue porta-potties weren’t anyone’s idea of a good time, especially during the cold snap in February, yet most visitors were very understanding of the situation. We are grateful to you. Our goal was to get our staff through the season without anyone becoming sick, and that goal was accomplished. Thank you! We look forward to having the lodge open, a cozy fire in the lodge fireplace, our little bathrooms open and available, and a more normal ski season next year. See you then!

3.25.2021 One last trail grooming for the season

Just when we thought it was over, it snowed again!

Groomers report that the snow depth from this little spring storm was quite variable, probably due to gusting winds. There was less snow on the side trails than we wished for, but a good amount on the primary Summer Home section of the trail system. Bob groomed Summer Home and Campground, then groomed across the lake westward to the service road. The service road is groomed to East Bearskin Road, at which point the grooming ends. He added in that service road grooming to get a little extra skiing, but there was not enough new snow to continue grooming towards Oxcart or Poplar Creek. The side trails off Summer Home Road did not receive sufficient new snow for Bob to venture out with the Pisten Bully, so on our side of the trail system there is probably a 7+ mile stretch of skiing for a few more days.

On the Golden Eagle side of the trail system, they did Logging Camp and Deer Mouse, so that’s an additional ski option for you to try.

The bright March sun is already causing our new snow to melt. While the Gunflint Trail usually has excessive amounts of snow well into April, we now have almost the only snow left in Minnesota. It’s spring and 50+ degrees for most of the state, so we think this was likely to be the last trip out in the groomer for winter, 2021. It is is a gorgeous time for guests and season pass holders to get in one last day of skiing, but our snow may not last long. We have spring skiing conditions, as always in late March, so plan to ski early in the day before the snow softens.

3.23.2021 Enough snow to groom again!

It’s snowing! Theoretically we could get 4″- 6″ tonight, and then our temperatures stay a bit wintery for a few days. Bob will groom Summer Home and Campground ski trails in the morning, both of which still have remaining base in most places. Then he will decide if he can travel onto some of the side trails with the groomer. We shall see. Most likely there will be at least 6 miles of skiing open for the next few days, perhaps even more.

Bearskin is still full and busy, but most of our guests made peace with the possibility that skiing had come to an end and they were just going to enjoy being out in our beautiful woods. Well, surprise, surprise, pack your skis.

Bring your camera, too. We have regular late March guests who always make a point to check on the eagle’s nest. They report that the eagles are back. Quinn skied out to see for himself and had a great view of one of the eagles perched near the ski trail. The eagles’ return doesn’t often overlap with the ski season, so this is a cool opportunity to ski by them on the nest. Ask at the front desk if you don’t know where to look, and we will show you the place on the ski map.

Plus, we have a good northern lights forecast Sunday – Tuesday. It won’t be ideal conditions for a light show because the moon will be full, but it’s still worth a try.

3.20.2021 Summer Home and Campground are your best bet

We took a quick trip to the Twin Cities and realized that essentially the Gunflint Trail has the only snow left anywhere. It looks like April all over the state, including the North Shore and Grand Marais. It’s not until you have gone up the Gunflint Trail hill some distance that you start to see the first signs of snow.

Bob groomed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings. On our return back to the area, it looks like most of the side trails have seen better days and have some bare spots. Summer Home and Campground are still good, about 6+ miles of skiing.

We have rain or rain/snow in the upcoming week’s forecast, depending on which forecast you believe. If it’s a hard rain, that might be the end for ski season 2021. If it’s snow, we’ll try to groom again.

3.16.2021 Still skiing, but trails are winding down

Our trails are holding up well in light of the low snow. We did not receive the snowstorm that hit southern Minnesota yesterday. There are some bare spots developing on the trails where the sun hits, especially on south-facing hillsides. Summer Home and Campground Trails still have a significant base, 8-10 inches in most places, and they should hold up for quite awhile longer. That equals about 6 miles of good skiing; we will keep it going as long as possible.

Bob groomed Summer Home, Campground, Beaver Dam, and Ox Cart Monday morning, and did a quick run again on Summer Home/Campground today. Skiers are pleased with the results.

Conditions are typical of spring skiing — hard trails in the morning, then the snow softens up when the sun hits it later in the day. With our warm sunny forecast, conditions will probably deteriorate unless we get more snow. We will just have to see what happens. It looks like the wrap-up to a very strange winter, but this is the Gunflint Trail — one never knows what the weather will do next.

3.13.2021 Wrapping up the season

Trail leading to Oxcart on Friday afternoon, March 12

So yes, the ski reports got away from us this year. For some reason, ski reports stopped right after Kate & Quinn’s new baby was born. 😊 Busy times. Everything will go more smoothly next winter. Meanwhile, here’s the situation as we near the end point of the 2021 ski season.

We have snow! We are skiing. It was a little dicey for a few days. The trails held up fairly well in warm temps until Monday afternoon, when the snow structure started collapsing. The lake appeared to be gigantic puddle — with 30 inches of ice underneath, but nonetheless, not skiable.

Wednesday night, when the Twin Cities had rain, thunderstorms, and tornadoes, Bearskin received 6-7 inches of fresh snow. More would have been even better, but this amount saved the day.

So now what? This buys us time. We’ll see what happens with the daily temperatures, and we will make the trails last as long as possible. The lakes might still be caution zones. The water that was on top of the old ice has frozen, but not very hard. Bob went through to water with the Pisten bully on a spot on Aspen today, which was not a fun moment. Unless you weigh 8000 lbs like the PB, this is less likely to happen to a skier — but pay attention on the lakes, as that top layer of ice is not as solid as the rest of the lake.

We have some highs in the 40s next week, and no snow in the forecast. Trails can survive that, but if the trails do become unskiable, we will open trails to snowshoeing, fat biking, and hiking. For many people who don’t ski, this is a very cool way to see the trails without skis. We are not ready for that change yet, but unless we get another big snowstorm soon then the 2021 ski season will come to a slightly early end.

It was fun to have such a warm winter (excluding the streak of the 10 coldest days ever!) but we didn’t receive as much snow as in most winters and this is the time when it’s starting to show.

We will update this blog as the season winds down, but also feel free to call or email (stay@bearskin.com) the front desk to ask about current conditions. They always have the up-to-the-minute view on what is happening.