1.23.2020 More snow, more grooming — same old story

Skate ski tips

Quinn and Kate have been out with the video camera lately, taking videos of trails, grooming, and ski techniques.

 

We have so much snow. The regular cycle of snow, groom, snow, groom, snow, groom, etc. continues. The groomers go out after every significant snowfall, and the trails are in excellent shape. So far this has been a snowy winter with relatively mild temperatures, but we haven’t experienced any temps or weather conditions that degraded the snow — no iciness, no sleet, no “mixed precipitation,” just lots more snow.

At this point we’ve received about 73 inches of snow this season.  (There have been years when that was the snow total for the entire season — 2020 will obviously be a high snow winter.) Our trail base is averaging 14 inches. Skiers are very happy with conditions.

In other news, Quinn and Kate have been using our Go-Pro to create videos about trails, grooming, and even ski techniques. Videos are usually posted to the Bearskin Facebook page and to the Bearskin Wilderness Outfitters Facebook page, but here are links to all the videos so far. Next on the agenda (as soon as they get some better after-work daylight!) will be a video of ski tips for classic skiers.

Skate ski tips

Ski along with us on Upper Beaver Dam Trail

How we groom the short BWCAW section of our trail system

A fast tour of the Poplar Creek Trail

The much-improved Bearskin wax room 

Keep watching.  We will start to post their new videos directly to this blog in the future.

Meanwhile, we probably won’t be blogging trail reports constantly because, face it, these are reruns — we are in a pleasant, repetitive winter pattern. Should conditions change dramatically, we will definitely post here. For the most recent grooming information, please contact Bearskin Lodge (1-800-338-4170) or Golden Eagle Lodge (1-800-346-2203).

 

 

1.3.2020 Long overdue ski update

Snowy drive to Bearskin

Driving into Bearskin Lodge this week. Photo by our massage therapist, Christal Stone Kelahan.

Time flies over the holidays!  An update to our trail conditions blog is much needed. For as long as we’ve delayed, we still don’t have much to say. It snowed. We groomed. It snowed again. We groomed.  Repeat cycle almost every day.  To get an idea of snow conditions, check out this Video of the Poplar Creek Ski Trail.

Much of the North Shore experienced ice and rain over the past two weeks. That didn’t happen here, it just snowed. Constantly. On New Year’s Day, Quinn and I walked out of the lodge in the afternoon as it started to snow…again.  “Oh no, ” we both said simultaneously.  “Oh no” should not be the normal response to snow when you run a cross-country ski resort, but after grooming, plowing, and shoveling as often as we have over the past weeks, “Oh no” is probably the normal reaction.

According to the official measuring stick at Golden Eagle Lodge, we’ve already had 53.875 inches of snow this season.  This last storm added almost 14 inches to an already impressive early season total.  The groomers have been out almost every day, and they will continue to go out whenever it snows significantly.

The negative side of all this snow is that the weight of snow has created a great deal of slush on all the lakes. Slush does not mean the ice is unsafe. Heavy snow pushes lake water up through cracks or edges, creating a layer of watery slush under the snow that sticks to your skis, snowshoes, or boots with every step you take.  Lake crossings are not consistently good right now, so we advise using trails that circumvent the lakes until this stage of winter is over.

The weekend forecast is good, we’ll have soup and chili on in the lodge, and the skiing should be fantastic.  Come up to visit us soon.

Snow Totals from Golden Eagle

October/November Total 2019 – 24.0 inches

December 2019
Dec 1 – Dec 7:  1.0 inches
Dec 8 – Dec 14:  13.0 inches
Dec 15 – Dec 21:  1.125 inches
Dec 22 – Dec 28:  0.0 inches
Dec 29 – Dec 31:  13.75 inches
December Total 2019 – 28.875 inches

January 2020
Jan 2:  1.0 inches
January Total 2020 – 1.0 inches

Total Snowfall 2019-2020 – 53.875 inches

12.14.2019 So much snow!

BE03C97F-EC39-494A-8BB2-6BD5C7A80306We’ve added a great deal of snow since our last post. We’re back to our cycle of snow every few days, and many of those days have seen significant snowfall.

Both sides of the system have been groomed multiple times now.  Skate decks are firm, classic tracks are setting up nicely. Everything was groomed again today, after an 8 inch snowfall overnight. It was still seriously snowing while the groomers were out, so they expect they’ll redo many sections of trail again over the next few days.

At this point there are only a few sections of the trail system that aren’t entirely open.  All trails are groomed except except Poplar Creek (always the last to open because of water issues, but should be ready to go this week); some lake crossings; and the BWCA connector on the west side, which can’t be groomed with the Pisten Bully.  These are the usual last pieces of the trail puzzle and should gradually fall into place over the next few days.

Most of the Central Gunflint Trail System ski trails are groomed for both skate and classic skiing. Conditions are great! Skiers seem very happy.  Trail tickets are available at both Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle.

12.3.2019 More trails opened

Oxcart was groomed for the second time with the Pisten Bully on Monday afternoon.  Bear Cub was packed and rolled last week and was also groomed Monday afternoon, so if you love hills, that trail is now available.

Summer Home, Campground, the Lit Loop, and Lower Beaver Dam continue to be in good early season condition.

12.2.2019 Great early season skiing

ski sign green sign with snow

We are happy to say Bearskin didn’t get pummeled with more snow when Duluth received 20 inches this past weekend. The storm did not make it this far north. We added a little more snow to our already substantial base, which is just the way we like it. It’s easier to create a firm base when we are repeatedly grooming smaller snowfalls constantly instead of dealing with a huge amount all at once.

At this point we have excellent early skiing conditions. Many trails are open, with more to come. We have quite a few inches of firm base already, and the trails that are open are groomed for both classic and skate skiing.  We were very busy with skiers all weekend, and they were quite pleased with conditions.

It’s quiet at the resort for the next 2 weeks, so we decided to offer an early season ski special. Rent 3 nights and we’ll give you one of those nights for free. Right now we’re in the cheap season, “Value Season” rates, so getting one night free makes it a super bargain. We’re deep cleaning cabins at the moment and completing some major projects, so not all the cabins are open for this rate.  Early December is always a hard sell, as everyone is so busy with holiday events, parties, programs, and shopping.  If you can make the time for a quick getaway we’ve got the snow, we’ve got the groomed trails, and we’ve got some cozy empty cabins just waiting for some guests. Bonus: moose are everywhere on the ski trails lately!

Bearskin Lodge, voted #3  in the USA Today “2019 Best Cross-Country Ski Resorts” Readers’ Choice Awards.

11.21.2019 Winter is officially here — 12 inches of new snow!

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Yes, it snowed! We received about 12 inches of great snow overnight, on top of a few inches that we gradually accumulated over the past week. So the answer to the question of the day = soon. Not yet, but soon. Almost all our staff is on vacation this week, and Bob is the sole groomer/plower/shoveler/snow-blower on site. Today was a “digging out” day.  The road and driveway are plowed, steps are shoveled, paths have been snow-blown — it’s possible to get to Bearskin now.  Next we will concentrate on grooming.

Normally we pack these trails over and over with the snowmobile roller first, to firm up the base, then we go out with the Pisten Bully afterwards to create our beautiful trails. Bob will start in on the trails Friday and see what happens. We will post on Facebook and on here as soon as we have groomed trails ready for you to try. The season has started!

 

 

11.14.2019 Gradually accumulating snow

 

snowy lake 11.14.2019

Snow cover on East Bearskin lake on the morning of 11/14/2019.

It snows a little every day at Bearskin.  Of course, soon we will get the huge snow dump that signifies the true beginning of the season, but meanwhile we seem to get an inch or two on a daily basis.

The first trails to open are always the Summer Home and Campground Trails. Quinn gave it a shot with the groomer a few days ago, but it was too soon.  We’ll  post on Facebook and on this site as soon as he makes the first successful grooming run.  It won’t be long.

11.4.2019 Work weekend trail trimming event

“Work Weekend,” Bearskin’s annual ski and snowshoe trail trimming party, was held this past weekend and it was great fun. These groups covered so much ground, and were in high spirits while they did it.

Our trail trimmers attempt to spot the branches that are likely to hang out into the trails and annoy skiers. It’s tricky to do because many of the branches that will be at trail level after we receive tons of snow are 6 or more feet up in the air now. We have a large number of guests who keep this “Work Weekend” tradition every year, so they’ve mastered pine tree nipping.

All of our trails have been mowed at this point, so we’re just waiting for snow.  We usually have a few November gales that will send us back out on the trails to clean up fallen tees, but currently the trails look great. We’ve a few inches of snow over the last few days, so Quinn is eagerly waiting for enough snow to accumulate that he can get out and groom Summer Home. We’ll keep you posted. He groomed for the first time last year on November 7th.

Next year’s “Work Weekend” will be held October 30 – November 1. Yes, Halloween weekend. We promise you’ll still get some Halloween candy and if your heart is set on wearing a costume, you are welcome to come to the Saturday dinner in full Halloween dress. The weekend books up fairly far ahead of time, so it’s never too soon to make a reservation.  All cabins rent at the same price, $115 person for the full weekend, including the Saturday dinner.

Fun pictures from the weekend.

 

10.21.2019 Coming soon: Winter!

Waiting for snow. Newly mowed Beaver Dam Trail

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.