1.28.2016 No shortage of snow here

pisten bully on right of picture, trail on left

After a few much-deserved quiet, calm days it snowed like crazy on the Gunflint Trail again on Wednesday. Apparently it turned to icy rain along the North Shore, temporarily creating a sheet of ice on Highway 61 and causing a number of small accidents.  Up here on the hill all it did was snow and blow all day and most of the night.

We entertained ourselves at lunch on Wednesday by watching chickadees blow off the bird feeder. The snow on our back deck is normally covered by an elaborate trail system pounded down by our overtly-friendly pine marten and our 2 excessively chubby red squirrels, Fatso and Mean Fatso. (No, they shouldn’t all co-exist in our deck ecosystem, but that’s another story.) Snow was blowing horizontally across the deck all morning, and still those furry critters braved the storm to collect their share of the birdseed; but by afternoon they’d given up and for the first time in weeks all footprints were erased by the blowing snow.

The groomers were working on the ski trails very early Thursday morning, and by the time the sun broke through the clouds later in the day we had the entire system done and ready to go. Mid-week afternoons tend to be very quiet here, but the skiers who were out returned from their skiing almost giddy with joy over how beautiful the trail conditions are.

Here are the latest numbers from the official Central Gunflint Trail snow measurers at Golden Eagle:

Central Gunflint Ski Trail Conditions on 1-28-16

  • New Snow Last 24 hours:  4.0”
  • New Snow Last 7 days:  5.85 inches
  • Trail Base, Staked:  Average 9 – 10 inches
  • Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 16 – 22 inches
  • Groomed with classic track:  68 K
  • Groomed with skate lane:  56 K
  • Surface Conditions:  Fresh packed snow
  • Last grooming day:  1-28-16
  • Total snowfall since Nov. 1:  52.30”

 

moose pasture sign.jpg

 

1.22.2016 Best ski weekend of the season (so far) coming up!

Summer Home Road ski trail

Summer Home Road ski trail

What a weekend this is going to be!  Fantastic snow conditions, pleasant temperatures, and we even have sun in our forecast.

Bearskin does have a few openings this weekend.  Cabin 2 had a last minute cancellation, which means one of the all-time favorite little log cabins is now available.  Several of the larger cabins, well-suited to a group of 4 or more friends, are also available.

If you are a local day skier or coming from one of the hotels along the North Shore with so-so snow conditions, we recommend that you come early this weekend as this is clearly going to be one of the nicest ski weekends of the season. That always means our small parking lot will be crazy by lunchtime.  An early start gets you a full day of skiing as well as a decent place to park.

Don’t forget that Bearskin serves soup and chili for lunch. Warm up with a big mug of hot chocolate, or treat yourself to a fresh-baked chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookie.  We sell a wide variety of Minnesota beer brands in the lodge, or you can sit by the fireplace to enjoy a glass of wine.

Our musher, Erik Simula, also has dog sled trips available this weekend. Sometimes he heads out on trips where the participants need to be seriously bundled up to stay warm, but this is not going to be one of those weekends.  Great conditions!

Here are the latest ski trail measurements, as reported on 1/21/2016 by Golden Eagle:

Central Gunflint Ski Trail Conditions on 1-21-16

  • New Snow Last 24 hours:  1/2” (and still snowing)
  • New Snow Last 7 days:  4.5 inches
  • Trail Base, Staked:  Average 7 – 8 inches
  • Snow in Woods, Staked:  Low: 13”  /  High: 18”
  • Groomed with classic track:  68 K
  • Groomed with skate lane:  56 K
  • Surface Conditions:  Fresh packed snow
  • Last grooming day:  1-18-16
  • Total snowfall since Nov. 1:  46.95”

Comments:  The excellent skiing and trail conditions continue! As an added bonus, we are expecting very comfortable weekend temperatures starting around 15 degrees on Friday and warming to the mid 20’s by Sunday. Throw on some light layers and enjoy some great skiing!

Poplar Creek trail, our last trail to be cleared from the damaging snowfall in December, has now been re-carved from the wilderness and is groomed and open! The North-South Link across AspenLake now has enough ice beneath it that we have been grooming it with Snow Cat. Flour Lake still has only 10 inches of ice – 2 more inches are needed for crossing with the big groomer – so we are still grooming that short section by snowmobile, with a classic and skate lane.

Overall, trail conditions are fantastic! We are only 3 inches of snow short of where we were last year at this time, with a season total of 46.95 inches as of this morning. There is no shortage of snow up here in the great Northwoods!

For the most up to date grooming information, as well specific trail conditions, please contact Bearskin Lodge (1-800-338-4170) or Golden Eagle Lodge (1-800-346-2203). Central Gunflint Ski Pass required.

1.12.2016 Grooming update

Here are official snow measurements from Zach Baumann today.  Needless to say, as soon as you read these stats they will be out-of-date.  We’ve got more snow in Thursday’s forecast. For those of you traveling along the North Shore on Thursday to be up here for the long weekend, expect possible lake effect snow all along the North Shore on Highway 61.  Drive slowly; we’re fine with whatever time you get here, just so you arrive safely!

  • New Snow Last 24 hours:  1/4”
  • New Snow Last 7 days:  2.25”
  • Trail Base, Staked:  Average 6 – 8 inches
  • Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 11 – 14 inches
  • Groomed with classic tracks:  60 k
  • Surface Conditions:  Fresh packed snow
  • Last grooming day:  1-9-16
  • Total snowfall since Nov. 1:  42.45”

Comments:  We’ve had cooler temperatures these last couple days compared to the weeks before, but that hasn’t stopped the skiers or hindered the fun! Trail conditions remain excellent and the trees are still glistening with that beautiful snow cover. More snow is in the forecast again for Thursday and Friday.

An update on ice:  Aspen and Flour Lake are now safe for travel. We have been able to snowmobile pack the section of North-South Link that crosses Aspen and Flour as of last week; we anticipate being able to groom classic tracks into these trails as well after the next new snowfall. We still want a bit more ice before we go out there with the big groomers.

An update on the Poplar Creek ski trail:  Most of the Poplar Creek ski trail is now cleared but unbelievably, we’ve run into a section that’s still completely full of water.  How can this happen when it’s -20 below?  Weird winter.  So it’s groomed up to that point, and you can ski out on Poplar for many miles, but then you will hit the end of the grooming.  You need to turn around around there, since swimming in skis is really awkward. ;)   Poplar Creek is a lovely trail, so skiing back on the same route is no hardship.  Just don’t expect the usual complete circle.

 

 

1.7.2016 Still great skiing, still snowing

skis on corduroy by Travis Notvitsky

Photo on Summer Home ski trail, by Travis Notvitsky

Skiing on the Central Gunflint Ski Trail system is still fabulous.  Bit by bit we’re getting the little connecting trails cleared that weren’t critical to finish when we cleared the bent-down trees from the primary trails.  Old Logging Camp on the east side through the BWCA is done finally, so you can travel around to Golden Eagle Lodge on both sides of the system now.  The North-South link is cleared and packed; Aspen Lake has about 8 inches of ice and can be safely crossed by skiers.  A large group is going out on Friday to see if they can even find Poplar Creek Trail, the last major trail we have left to clear of trees.  It probably can’t get done in a day, but they should get a good start.

The official measurers at Golden Eagle have been out checking their rulers again.  Here are the latest numbers, although it’s been snowing again all day today so the numbers are already a little too low:

Central Gunflint Ski Trail Conditions on 1-6-16

  • New Snow Last 24 hours:  0.0”
  • New Snow Last 7 days:  1.0”
  • Trail Base, Staked:  Average 5.5 – 6.5 inches
  • Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 11 – 13 inches
  • Groomed with classic tracks:  60 k
  • Surface Conditions:  Fresh packed snow
  • Last grooming day:  1-4-15
  • Total snowfall since Nov. 1:  40.20”

Comments:  The ski trails are in great to excellent shape offering a firm base and fantastic glide. With just under 32 inches of snowfall in December alone, most of which fell after the 16th, the low snow effects of an “El Niño” winter are a thing of the past. Temperature wise, the benefits of such a winter are still present; we’ve had moderate temperatures this last week with most days being in the teens and lower 20’s; it is expected to continue into next week with more snow also predicted. We are full swing into winter cross-country skiing!

For the most up to date grooming information, as well specific trail conditions, please contact Golden Eagle Lodge (1-800-346-2203) or Bearskin Lodge (1-800-338-4170). Central Gunflint Ski Pass required.

 

 

12.30.2015 Great skiing on the Central Gunflint

12.25.2015 kolarich creek with snow around it v.2

The creek along the Beaver Dam trail.  Photo by Jane Kolarich.

It’s been fun for all of us at Bearskin to talk with skiers at the end of a day on our ski trails.  Skiers are ridiculously happy with the snow conditions, almost giddy about how beautiful it is out there. Decent weather has made it even better–temps have been cold enough to begin refreezing thawed lakes, but warm enough that nobody needs hand-warmers or extra clothing layers.

We keep advising skiers to take a little camera along, because the trails have never been more photogenic.  If you took a beautiful trail picture this past week, please send it to stay@bearskin.com so we can share it with others to enjoy.

Here are the latest snow numbers measured at Golden Eagle, home of the official Central Gunflint Ski Trail ruler.

 

Central Gunflint Ski Trail Conditions on 12-30-15

  • New Snow Last 24 hours:  Trace”
  • New Snow Last 7 days:  8.6 inches
  • Trail Base, Staked:  Average 4 – 5 inches
  • Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 11 – 14 inches
  • Groomed with classic tracks:  ~58 k
  • Surface Conditions:  Fresh packed snow
  • Last grooming day:  12-30-15
  • Total snowfall since Nov. 1:  39.20”

Comments:  The skiing is fantastic! We have made very good progress on trail clearing this week with only a few “closed” trails remaining. The groomed trails, thanks in part to the heavy and wet snow we received prior to all this, set up great and the classic tracks are holding in excellent. Trail bases are comfortably firm and are averaging about 4 to 5 inches. If you don’t include the amount of trail cleanup we’ve had this year, condition wise, the ski trails are in as good a shape as any other year this time of the season.

Important note:  Due to thin ice on Flour Lake and questionable ice on Aspen Lake, the North-South link trail is closed north of Summer Home Road. We are checking ice thickness often and will groom a trail via snowmobile as soon as safely possible.

For the most up-to-date grooming information, as well as updates on trail clearing progress, please contact Bearskin Lodge (1-800-338-4170) or Golden Eagle Lodge (1-800-346-2203). Central Gunflint Ski Pass required.

Snow Totals

  • November Total 2015 – 7.25 inches 
  • December
    Dec 1 – Dec 6:  2.55 inches
    Dec 7 – Dec 13:  2.53 inches
    Dec 14 – Dec 19: 18.0 inches
  • Dec 20 – Dec 27:  7.62 inches
  • Dec 28: 0.25 inches
  •  Dec 29: 1.00 inches
  • December Total 2015 – 31.95 inches
  • Total Snowfall 2015-2016 – 39.20 inches
12.25.2015 kolarich roger in bend down

Roger and Jane Kolarich ventured into one of the few remaining uncleared areas.  We’re happy to report that after a great deal of hard work,  very few trails still look like this.

12.23.2015 Trail condition update

Here’s an updated ski report from Golden Eagle. This is a pretty good summary of all that we’ve accomplished and what we have left to do. It’s snowing again right now and we have the potential for another large amount of snow in the next 24 hours.

Bottom line: if you are staying at either resort next week, you will be amazed at our snow and you don’t have to worry even the tiniest bit about snow conditions.

If you don’t have a reservation for next week but are just planning to come up to ski, we would strongly encourage you to come skiing early in the day. When we have a situation like this one, where there isn’t much skiing elsewhere, the small parking lots for both resorts are often full by noon. Rental skis are often gone in many sizes, and occasionally there’s even a line out the front door waiting to buy ski passes right after lunch. Be smart — come early, ski a full day, and make the most out of our beautiful snow conditions!

Central Gunflint Ski Trail Conditions on 12-23-15

  • New Snow Last 24 hours: 0.0” (but it’s snowing again now)
  • New Snow Last 7 days: 15.0”
    Trail Base, Staked: Average 4 inches
    Snow in Woods, Staked: Average 7 – 10 inches
  • Groomed with classic tracks: ~28 k
    Surface Conditions: Fresh packed snow
  • Last grooming day: 12-22-15
    Total snowfall since Nov. 1: 28.33”

Comments: As many may know, with the recent snowstorm 1 week ago, we received 15 inches of snow across 3 days. The weight from the snow has caused many trees and bushes to infringe, and in numerous locations, completely block the ski trails. Work on clearing these trails for grooming has been much more time consuming than originally anticipated; however, Bearskin and Golden Eagle have made good progress this week and are happy to add several more trails to the “Is Now Open!” category. What we have been able to groom has groomed up very well, offering a nice firm base and solid classic track for some great skiing!

Trails that are groomed and tracked are: Summer Home Road, Campground Loop, lower Beaver Dam, Ox Cart, Bear Cub, Red Pines, Wolf Point, Cabin Loop, portions of Logging Camp, and west end of Deer Mouse. A few other trails have been cleared, but not yet groomed; these are packed only.

Important note: Due to open water on Flour Lake and questionable ice on Aspen Lake, the North-South link trail is closed north of Summer Home Road.

Since we are out there working and clearing trees every day, this list of groomed trails updates frequently. For the most up to date grooming information, please contact Golden Eagle Lodge (1-800-346-2203) or Bearskin Lodge (1-800-338-4170). Central Gunflint Ski Pass required.

12.20.2015

We’ve had so many happy skiers over the past few days. Several Loppet winners are skiing here right now, as well as a middle school ski team, plus dozens of local skiers from Grand Marais.  It’s beautiful on the trails and everyone is returning from the trails with wonderful winter pictures.

That’s the good news.  The trails that are open are super.

But then there’s the bad news.  We still have miles and miles of closed trails because of what we call the “bend-down” — somewhat like the 1999 blowdown, but caused by excessive snow.

Many of our trails look like this:

Death door best

That’s Bear Cub.  Nice, huh?  We’re not amused.  We spent all fall mowing, trimming, and clearing those trails. You wouldn’t know it now.

All along the Gunflint Trail this is how every ski and snowmobile trail looks.  The Central Gunflint Trail System has really good people out cleaning the trails all day, and we’re making progress.  We are the only area that has large sections of any type of trail already opened up.  But it’s slow-going and realistically, it’s going to be many days before all 70K of our trails are clear again.

If you’re a local skier and would like to earn a complimentary season pass to ski the Central Gunflint Trail system, you can put in a full day’s work trimming trails to earn a pass.  Be forewarned:  it’s hard work. But it’s pretty darn interesting, too.  Amazing what happened out there! Call Golden Eagle (218-388-2203) if you have a great desire to cut down hundreds of bent, broken little trees.

Ted and Barbara Young are also looking for help clearing the Banadad Trail.  Call 218-388-4487.

We’ll keep working at it every day. Meanwhile, we have more snow in the forecast for mid-week. Hopefully it won’t be so heavy that this happens again.

Summer Home, Lit Loop, Campground, and Lower Beaver Dam are open and at this point offer the best skiing in the state.  We’ll keep you posted as we open additional trails.