1.23.2023 Grooming News

January has been good to us. We’ve had warmish temperatures, a little new snow but not a deluge, and winds have been calm enough that our trees have remained nicely coated with snow. The temperatures are forecast to go down later this week, but we’ve had a good run of weather so far.

The down side of our consistently warm temperatures is that the ice on all our local lakes froze weirdly. We had a skim of ice, then two feet of snow, then warm days and more snow, then a few cold days — and the resulting ice is peculiar. This seems to be true all over Minnesota this year.

As some of you may have heard, the Pisten Bully belonging to our partners on the trail system, Golden Eagle, did go through a weak spot on the ice. Don’t worry, nobody was hurt. This was not on a section of the ski trail system, so it didn’t happen in a place you routinely ski. We have decided to only groom our lake trails with snowmobile groomers for now. Our Tidd-Tech snowmobile groomer actually grooms a pretty nice trail on the lake, so you may not even notice that the Pisten Bully hasn’t been out on the lake. The lakes are perfectly safe for you to ski across, as long as you don’t weigh 15,000+ pounds.

Until GEL figures out what happens next with their PB, we are sharing our new Pisten Bully with them. So far that’s working fine, but if we get a big snow then it may take us a little longer to groom the entire system.

Coming up: Colder temperatures! (But not terrible.)

1.6.2023 The New Year is a perfect year for skiing

Bearskin’s new Pisten Bully

The Central Gunflint Trail System always has ample snow; we have the perfect location for constant winter snowfalls. But some years the snow is pretty good, some years it’s great, and some years we get walloped with snow. 2023 is looking like one of those “walloped” years. We already have more snow than we sometimes have by March. Ski conditions are outstanding.

We are often asked how frequently we groom the trail system, especially when it snows so often. The Central Gunflint Trail system is groomed by Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle with state-of-the-art Pisten Bully groomers. (For those who have been thinking about PB’s lately because of a news story, don’t worry–both of our machines scream quite long and loud if the door is opened when the brake is not engaged.)

We don’t groom on a set schedule. We are out grooming after every snowfall and whenever a section of the trail is not perfect. Even on days when the entire system isn’t groomed, the groomers are often out renewing well-used trails. Both resorts have made a huge financial investment in top-quality equipment to maintain our trail system, and guests are super happy with the excellence and frequency of our trail grooming.

Bearskin just took delivery on a new PB to replace our 2014 (which replaced a decades-old machine.) We’re training in a new driver. When he’s not preoccupied with eating goldfish crackers, he can tell us exactly when the PB is going “UP!” or “DOWN!” He should be ready to take charge of the grooming operations by 2043.

Preparing to take over in about 20+ years.

All trails are in excellent condition now, with the exception of some slushy lake crossings (due to heavy snow) and the well-loved Poplar Creek Trail. Parts of Poplar Creek that cross swamps have not totally frozen yet. Poplar Creek is usually the last trail to freeze up, but this year might be going for the record. We’re happy to say Oxcart Trail’s wet spots have frozen now and that trail is open.

Here are the latest snow measurements and the report from Golden Eagle, on January 2:

New Snow Last 7 days:  3.75”
Trail Base, Staked:  Average 12”
Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 21-24”
Total season snowfall:  59.00”

Comments: The snow is great! The trails are great! Near perfect skiing conditions right now! With temps holding in the upper teens and 20’s through the week, expect fast conditions and great glide. The skate deck is excellent, holding firm while still allowing for a good ski bite. The classic track is deep and solidly set. The debris from last week is also gone, buried under the 4 inches of newly groomed in snow that has since fallen.

While Poplar Creek Trail remains temporarily closed, Oxcart Trail and the BWCA section of Logging Camp Trail are both open. If you haven’t been out skiing in a while, this is the perfect time to get back in! We can’t say enough great things about how happy we are with the skiing right now!

Grooming frequently occurs between the release of new trail reports. For the most up to date grooming information, as well specific trail conditions, please contact Bearskin Lodge (218-388-2292) or Golden Eagle Lodge (218-388-2203). Central Gunflint Ski Pass Required.