Just in case you were imagining that it’s not winter at Bearskin Lodge in late March this year…
New snow this morning made it possible to groom again, possibly for the last time this season unless we get a significant new snowfall. Skiers seemed quite happy with conditions today, and the trails look beautiful.
A few trails are now out of commission for the season, for various reasons. We are no longer grooming the west end of Logging Camp Trail, the BWCA Logging Camp section, North-South link from upper Beaver Dam to Summer Home Road, and Poplar Creek Trail.
Due to the warm weather prior to last week, we are not grooming any lake-crossing trails for the remainder of the season You can ski on the ice just fine, it’s not unsafe for you; but the heavy grooming machines are another story. We don’t want a repeat of the infamous Dave Tittle story of putting a groomer through the ice! The North-South Link trail across Flour Lake has a single lane classic track set by snowmobile to allow for a connection between the north and south halves of the system.
There have been a number of fun animal sightings on the trails in the past week, which is enjoyable for skiers. The moose are very active right now, and appear to love clomping right down the groomed trail. We’ve also had many reports of foxes and otters along the trail–we like them better because they don’t destroy the grooming quite so much.
So far we’ve received about 92 inches of snow this season, not a record breaking winter by any means, but vastly better than almost anywhere else in the state. We are, indeed, in a magical snow pocket here in the med-Trail area. We still have about 15 inches of snow in the woods and a trail base of around 8 – 10 inches. Temps during the day are getting into the 30’s and even occasionally the 40’s, but our snow doesn’t seem to be disappearing at a very fast rate. Skiing is the best early each day, before the snow gets soft.
Spring conditions can change rapidly. Call us if you’re wondering if it’s a good day to ski.
Well the warm temperatures have kept up, even at night and we are slowly beginning to lose our snow. Yesterday it rained in the morning, making the trails even slushier. Despite these less than perfect conditions, a few dedicated skiers have ventured out onto the trails. Snow still covers most of the trails and you can certainly still shuffle around a bit, although you may run into some bare spots and puddles.
We have not been out to groom in about a week, since the snow is so soft and in some places nonexistent. We’ve been encouraging guests to snowshoe over ski since the trails may just be a bit too soft. Although not perfect for skiing, the trails are still beautiful and they make you feel like you’re out in the wilderness. They are a great place to witness this early change of seasons.
It does seem like spring is just about here, but it’s definitely possible that we’ll see another big snow fall in which case we’ll be back on the groomer and eager to get the trails in top condition for late winter skiing. Check back to see if winter makes a come back!
All of the trails were groomed early this morning. With temperatures well above freezing for over a week and trace amounts of new snow, we were unsure how the trails would hold up, but the grooming was a success and all of the trails are in very good shape. We still have an 8-10 inch base in most places and the tracks are very hard. The warm weather during the day followed by freezing temps at night made some of the trails a bit icy so we used the power tiller today to break up the ice that was starting to form. It did the trick and most of the ice is gone.
This afternoon the thermometer reads 50 degrees and the skies are blue and sunny. Skiers report that the trails haven’t gotten too soft in the sun and that it’s very comfortable skiing weather. We all have to take advantage of the warm weather and the surprisingly good skiing conditions, since skiing might not be much of an option if this warm streak keeps up!
Over the past two days we received 5-6 more inches of snow, which made an already busy weekend even busier. A lodge full of guests taking advantage of the long President’s Day weekend and an entire trail system to groom tested the limits of our staff. Thankfully all of the guests were taken care of, all of the cabins were cleaned, and all of the trails were groomed. Right now the ski trails are in excellent shape. We just finished grooming the section of North South Link that connects to Aspen lake today as the big hill down to the lake needed a little bit more work than the rest of the trails. That part of the trail has a tendency to form a large bump at the bottom of the hill just before the trail goes over the lake, rocketing skiers onto Aspen in midair. But every once in a while we remember that not everyone appreciates a cross-country ski trail that also incorporates ski jumping and then we go smooth it out. So now is the time to take advantage of a jump-less North South Link, the mild weather (it’s been in the 20s all week), and the other freshly groomed trails!
There’s lots of sun and a big blue sky here at Bearskin today. The snow is sparkling on the trees and the temperature isn’t too frigid. It’s a great day to be out skiing. A few days ago we received a couple more inches of snow and we’ve groomed all of the trails since then. They are in very good shape now and we will probably take a couple more passes to straighten out the skate lanes before the busy President’s Day Weekend that lies ahead of us. By tomorrow all of our cabins and lodges will be full and there’s no doubt that the trails will be packed with skiers and the lodge will be bustling with those just in from the trail enjoying hot chocolate and chili.
Freshly groomed lake trail. Photo taken from the pisten bully.
Well the snow fell, the temperature dropped, and the trails have been groomed. We now have an additional 12 inches of snow and this morning the thermometer read slightly below zero. This is more like the January we know. With such little snowfall and temperatures in the low to mid 30s, the last few weeks didn’t seem like the frigid, snow covered January we’re used to, but instead seemed like the more mild and sunny March. But not any more. The forecast for the next week calls for more scattered snow showers and temperatures reaching just above zero during the day.
Yesterday, the groomer was out all day. The snow was so heavy and wet when it fell that it made for harder work for the groomer. The wet snow weighed down many of the small tress and branches that lined the trails causing them to bend to just about the right height to give anyone skiing in the tracks a few good slaps in the face. It made for slow grooming since we had to stop frequently to clear the trail. Nevertheless, the trails look much better. We now have 10-12 inches of base. There is no more stubble showing and areas with large rocks are no longer as much of a problem. The Campground Loop, Summer Home Road, Beaver Dam, and Bear Cub were groomed yesterday and the rest of the trails should be groomed in the next day or two.
We’ve woken up to flurries the last couple of days, and while they are certainly pretty to watch out the window or while skiing the trails, they haven’t done us much practical good. These dustings haven’t added much to our total snow accumulation and we’ve had about the same amount of snow since our Christmas snowfall. Nevertheless, the skiing is still quite good. Many skiers enjoyed the trails over the long weekend (and the warm weather). Oxcart and Poplar Creek are being groomed today and the rest of our trails should be groomed within the next couple of days.
If you are going to be in the area this Saturday January 23rd you can be part of the Volks Ski 400. The Volks Ski 400 is an event in which relay teams will ski the entire 400 K of Cook County’s gorgeous wilderness ski trails. Stop by the lodge and join the Bearskin team to help us ski our section of trails. You don’t have to be fast or strong to participate! Ski even a few K in the relay and you will be part of the team. Proceeds from the Volks Ski 400 will support pancreatic cancer research.
The groomers have been out over the past few days after another dusting of about 1-2 inches of snow. Summer Home Road, the Campground Loop, and parts of Beaver Dam were groomed two days ago and Bear Cub and Oxcart were groomed today. We’ve been having temperatures in the 30s and today was above freezing, but the ski trails are holding up well and the warm temperatures have made skiing a bit more pleasant.
Our last little snowfall has exposed all of the different critters that scurry across our trails. The new snow made it easy to see and identify animal tracks. Rabbit, fox, squirrel, and all sorts of bird prints were etched into the snow. This morning a section of Oxcart was covered with wolf tracks. A pack must have passed through, maybe in an attempt to check out Erik’s sled dogs that are currently living in the bay of East Bearskin Lake. Seeing all of those different animal tracks mingled with ski tracks makes you realize that you’re not the only one out enjoying the trails.
We received a dusting of snow yesterday. It only added about another half inch of snow, but we’ll take anything we can get. The trails haven’t changed much since our little Christmas storm, but the lack of snow hasn’t stopped skiers from enjoying themselves. The last few days of sunny skies and more mild temperatures are making for very pleasant skiing despite the scant snowfall.
Quinn’s out straightening up some of the ski trails right now. The Campground Loop, Summer Home Road, and parts of Beaver Dam and Logging Camp will have fresh corduroy. Hopefully he’ll have a bigger grooming job ahead of him soon and he’ll be packing new snow, not just straightening up the old.
The flurries this morning gave us a glimmer of hope. Maybe we’d finally get the snow we need for a fully functioning trail system. But sadly the snow has stopped, leaving us with little more than a dusting. This lack of snow has prompted us to get a bit creative. The Campground Loop and Summer Home Road are the only trails with enough snow to ski. They are both groomed for skate skiing and do not have any tracks yet. To expand our limited selection of ski trails we’ve begun to think outside of the box, or at least outside of our (now uselessly extensive) trail system. To expand our skiing options we’ve groomed all the way into the north arm of the lake where it turns into the BWCA. Some intrepid skiers have been taking advantage of the snowy lake to venture into the Boundary Waters. But hopefully more snow will come soon and we can rely on our tried and true trails once again.