3.13.2012 Snowshoe a few of our trails

Realistic assessment of snow conditions:  our trails held up OK during the warm, sunny days, but yesterday’s rain and strong winds were very hard on the snow.

We’re opening a few of the trails on this side of the system for snowshoeing.  You’ll still need a trail pass.  Bear Cub, Poplar Creek, and Oxcart can be experienced right now on snow shoes, a fun and different way to get back into a Superior National Forest area that you can normally only traverse on skis in the winter.

This is the Gunflint Trail in far northern Minnesota, so we’ll be fairly surprised if we don’t get another big dump of fresh snow to groom. We’ll turn these trails back into great ski trails again if we get the snow. But the current forecast looks like several more days of discouraging melting. 

Very, very strange weather. We’re lucky–when the rest of MN has been dealing with erratic weather this winter, we’ve consistently had nice snow on the Gunflint. We’re in the sweet spot for snow.  Figuring out what to do in these conditions is not fun, so we’re grateful that we didn’t have an entire winter of solving a snow problem.

2.26.12 Snowing hard again

It’s hard to even see across the lake right now because it’s snowing so hard.  If you were thinking of coming to Bearskin as a day skier, well….yesterday was the day. All our beautiful grooming is quickly disappearing under the rapidly falling new snow and based on the forecast, we could have many more days of this.

When people call to book for March skiing, they often ask, “Are you SURE you’ll have snow?”  The right answer is yes, because historically we have a tough time getting rid of our snow by May, much less March. But we always feel a little hesitancy to absolutely guarantee snow because there have been two winters in recent years where the snow was gone early. This year the weather has been so peculiar that we had a little underlying worry that March, 2o12, could turn into one of those oddball early melt years. Instead,  it’s beginning to look like this will be a snowy March.  It wouldn’t take many more days like this one to give us enough snow to last until June. @@

We have lots of openings in March.  If you live in anywhere in Minnesota other than the Gunflint Trail, you probably didn’t experience much winter this year — come up and remember what real snow is like!

2.10.2012

Conditions: Good to Excellent

According to measuring done by Dan Baumann at Golden Eagle the average packed base base on trails right now is 6 – 6.5 inches — more on Summer Home, Campground and rails that received good snowfall earlier in the season.

He reports that “The warm up last weekend didn’t hurt us too much. We lost a little over an inch on the trail base and the snow in the woods was reduced by a couple of inches, but conditions remain very good. Bearskin was out earlier in the week grooming and Golden Eagle was out today on the other side of the system using the snowcat and renovator. We were just about done grooming when a thick flurry of snow came down! ”

The new snow gave everything a fresh, white look again and according to skiers who’ve been out today, probably improved the skiing by covering a few icy spots. We don’t have a lot of new snow in the immediate forecast, but temps shouldn’t be high enough to cause much melting.

As usual, we’ll have chili, soup, and hot chocolate available in the lodge this weekend. Skiers are gradually catching on to the secret of Sunday soup at Bearskin — until it’s gone, Sunday soup is always the same soup Chef Scott Bergstrom served for the 4-course fine dining on Saturday night. Our usual soup is good, but Scott’s soup is extraordinary. We frequently also have cake or another dessert on Sunday to enjoy with your hot chocolate or coffee. Again, it’s whatever remains from the fine dining on Saturday, so the desserts are beyond good, they’re fabulous. It’s an extra incentive to enjoy our ski trails on the less busy day of each weekend.

We’re occasionally asked if it is workable to ski all day at Bearskin and then dine at the lodge Saturday night, even if you aren’t staying here.  While we offer a 4-course fine dining experience, you don’t need to dress as if you’re in a fancy restaurant. Ski clothes are just fine in our restaurant.  If you would be happier if you changed clothes and cleaned up before dinner, talk to our front desk staff.  We have a couple of options for where you could go to change.  Skiing and dining all on one trip is very doable.

For the latest trail report you can call Golden Eagle at 1-800-346-2203 or 218-388-2203 or Bearskin at 218-388-2292 or 1-800-338-4170.

1.12.2012

It snowed again yesterday afternoon and most of the night, resulting in about 3-4 more inches of fresh snow. According to Dan Baumann of Golden Eagle, he’s measured 4.75 inches of new snow over the last 7 days, with 13 to 15.5 inches of snow in the woods.  Today’s StarTribune claims you have to go to Wisconsin or Chicago to find snow right now. Guess they don’t know about the Gunflint Trail!

Groomers went out on both sides of the trail system, so by the end of the day the entire system was newly groomed. The North-South link has had serious slush problems and hasn’t been groomed in awhile, but the prediction is for below freezing temperatures tonight.   We’re thinking that should put an end to the slush so we can start to work on the link Friday. 

With this new snow, much of the stubble on Beaver Dam, Ridge Run, and Bear Cub is disappearing and select trails have improved from conditions of good to great. Poplar Creek is mostly good, but continues to have one section through an area that is swampy in the summer that would benefit from a little more snow. 

The pine tree boughs are once again coated in glistening snow — perfect for taking pictures.  Should be beautiful skiing this weekend.

1.8.2012

It’s a gorgeous sunny day on the Gunflint Trail! Groomers were out this morning on both sides, so the trails should be at their best.

Dan at Golden Eagle was out measuring this morning and reports that we have an average of 13-15 1/2 inches of snow in the woods. The packed trail base seems to be coming in at between 4 – 5 1/2 inches.

Golden Eagle groomed this morning and reported conditions to be good on Upper Ridge Run with west end Lower Ridge Run fair; Upper Beaver Dam is good with some stubble still showing on those trails. Moose Pasture, Wolf Point, West End Logging Camp, Deer Mouse, Cross Fox, Red Pines, Moose Ridge, and Logging Camp on the north side of Flour Lake are in excellent shape.

On Saturday, Bearskin groomed Lower Beaver Dam, Summer Home Road, Campground, Lit Loop, and Ox Cart.  Those trails have had good snow for the longest time and have been groomed the most often, so they are in great shape. Bear Cub was also groomed Saturday and is in good shape. Poplar Creek Trail was groomed this morning.  Most of the trail is nice, but there is an area that is swampy during summer months that could still use more snow.  As long as you expect that section, it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Lots of skiers out there today and they all seem very, very happy to be out enjoying the snow.

11.27.11

We received between 4-6″ of snow on Saturday. Quite a few Thanksgiving holiday guests went out on skis Saturday afternoon just to try an early season ski.  They reported that breaking trail through the fresh snow was fun, but not exactly a speed skiing experience.

Andy took the Tidd Tech G2 out today on the Campground loop and made a nice corduroy surface.  Perhaps it would be OK skiing with rock skis.  It’s a start. We eagerly await the addition of more snow.

Winter season begins!

We’ve received 4 – 5 inches of powdery snow over the past few days. Naturally, Bearskin staff members were out attempting to ski in the areas with the best accumulation — but it’s not very doable yet. 

The lake is beginning to freeze.  The ice is far, far from safe yet, but is getting more solid by the day.  The first ice formations were immediately covered by falling snow, so unless the ice melts and refreezes later (which often happens), it looks like we won’t start with a totally smooth ice surface.

Bob has started packing the Summer Home/Campground Loop, but there is still some potential for Summer Home owners to still drive in on the trail.  We probably won’t block it off to them until after Thanksgiving.   Bottom line is that it looks like we’re off to a good snowy start for the season!

Season ski passes are available for sale now at Bearskin and Golden Eagle.

 

3.18.11

As March wraps up, we are dealing with typical late season conditions on our trail system.  We just returned from a Twin Cities/Duluth trip, and it’s obvious that we haven’t had a fraction of the melting and rain that those two cities have experienced recently.   We still have ample snow here and, in fact, it is snowing lightly right now.

But daily temperatures in the afternoons have been getting warm enough to create slush and icy conditions.  We also had some rain.  When the temps cool back down each evening, the wet snow freezes into a very hard surface.

Trails were groomed on 3/14.  The classic tracks at this point are hard and icy, with a small amount of powder coating.  Skaters, on the other had, are having a great time skiing on this surface.  Morning skiing, as is typical of late March, has been quite good but afternoon skiing can be wet, depending on the temps and amount of afternoon sun.

We haven’t decided what our next grooming step will be. We may wait to see what happens with the weather. If it continues to melt and slush up every afternoon, we probably won’t try too hard to fight it at this point.  However, a good dump of snow could make grooming the trails again more realistic.

3.7.11 Gentle snowfall, no wind, trails groomed

Beautiful, soft snowfall right now with large, fluffy flakes.  The center sections of the system (Beaver Dam, Summer Home, etc.) were groomed this morning after yesterday’s snowfall.  Quinn is heading out to do Poplar Creek and Oxcart this afternoon with the G2, even though it is snowing at the moment, as he’d like to stay ahead of it.  Some forecasts indicate we could have a full week of this type of March snow.  We’ll be out there.