12.15.2017 Lots of newly groomed trails open!

After an amazingly early start to the ski season, a few days of warmer temps and blowing snow created very icy conditions.  We didn’t lose much snow, but the snow that remained had more in common with ice cubes than with snow flakes.  It was possible to ski, but the trails weren’t great.

Lots of fresh snow this week made a huge difference!  Quinn took the Pisten Bully groomer out on Summer Home, Campground, the Lit Loop, Upper and Lower Beaver Dam, Ridge Run, Oxcart, and Bear Cub trails.  Summer Home and Campground are the best of course, as they already had a very firm base from several weeks of previous grooming. The other trails all have a few spots of stubble and in places the tracks are a bit on the soft side, as usual for a first round of grooming; but everyone who has skied on the newly opened trails has been very pleased with the conditions.

All other trails are being packed and prepared. More trails should open soon.

The trees are coated in snow, so all the trails are very photogenic now. Bring your camera!

Ski passes for the Central Gunflint Trail system are available at Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge. All pass fees go towards the grooming and never-ending maintenance of trails through the deep woods.

The Central Gunflint Trail system is the only area ski system groomed and maintained by long-time, experienced groomers. We own some of the best and newest grooming equipment in Minnesota. The groomers at both Bearskin and Golden Eagle are good skiers, both classic and skate, and they often head out after a grooming session to test the trails themselves. Their expectations for the quality of our trails is very high.

Come on up and enjoy the experience of skiing on our beautiful, north woods trail system. We’ve done a lot of work to make your ski experience here one of the best you’ll ever have.

Current conditions — icy!

Our ski season got off to a great start.  We groomed Summer Home and Campground on November 3rd, possibly the earliest grooming date ever.  By November 15, Quinn and Kate had already skied 100 k on natural snow. Conditions were surprisingly good. And then the warm temps of November 24 arrived.

kate ski november 2017

Kate skiing on the trails before the warm temps created ice on Friday. With a little fresh snow we should return to these conditions. We didn’t lose base, but it’s rock solid snow.

 

We did not get the hard rain that most of the North Shore experienced, but we had periodic bouts of light rain during a 38 degree day.  Then, during the night, the temperatures plummeted.  Our world today is covered in a sheet of ice.

This resultant icy block of snow on the trails needs to be tilled, but we simply don’t have enough snow to safely do that.  Bob went out and groomed, but reported that conditions didn’t recover super well.  Now we need more snow.

The post grooming ski report from Bob:

Classic track:  Solid ice.  Not possible to set new track with our limited base.  Fast and fun for experienced skiers.  No fun at all for beginners.

Skate deck:  OK, once you get to Campground and Summer home.  Still icy and challenging.  Summer Home hill is dangerously icy.

Best choice today might be skied in tracks on ungroomed trails through the woods .

 

9.16.2017 Looking forward to winter

Fall trail trimming has started, preparing our ski trails for winter. It takes a great deal of work beforehand to create 40 miles of beautiful ski trails through our dense woods. The Gunflint Trail area had a great deal of rain during the first half of summer, and vegetation grew phenomenally well this season. The ski trails look like trails through the jungle at this point. There are 5 foot tall shrubs growing in the middle of many trails now.

It will keep our staff busy for all fall mowing down the vegetation with the big Tiger Mower, cutting out fallen trees, trimming rocky areas by hand, and nipping back trees branches that have grown over the trails.

Meanwhile, click here to remember what winter is like on our trails after all the trimming and mowing is over!

 

 

3.28.2017 Nearing the end

We still have snow — lots of snow, actually. However, grooming for the season is realistically over.  Quinn groomed the trails south of Flour Lake on March 24 – 25 after a new snowfall and that will be the last time the Pisten Bully goes out this year.  The strong sun and spring-like temps during the day are too warm to keep the trails nice now.  It’s been a great season, but we are ready to see all this snow go!

You can still come up to ski, as long as you have realistic expectations.  We usually open the ski trails to snowshoeing at some point.  We’re not there yet, but perhaps soon.

Next step:  Watch Facebook for the ice-out contest. Our ice went out on this date several years ago.  Not this year, for sure!

3.18.2017 We’re still skiing and it’s pretty darn good!

We groomed much of the system today. It’s surprisingly nice.  New snow the past few days created a fresh surface to groom.  Quinn said it was a pleasure to groom new snow instead of continuing to try to shape the older, icy stuff into a skiable surface, as he’s been doing for the past few days.  Looks pretty out there too, with a nice froth of snow on all the pine trees.

How long will this last?  At this time of year we never know.  When the snow starts to go it usually disappears pretty fast.  But right now the only sign of spring we’ve had is hearing a few spring bird songs.

Cabin rates are at their seasonal low point right now, “Value Season” rates.  Come up and get a taste of winter in 2017, before our winter is gone for good.

3.10.2017 Come on up to ski! We still have over 70K of skiing on the Central Gunflint Trail Ski System

All week people have been calling with the same two questions: “Did the rain on Monday ruin your snow?” and “Are your trails closed yet?”  The answer to both questions is a resounding “No!”

It did rain long and hard here Monday night; it sounded like being in a typhoon. We wondered what we would find in the morning and we were pleased to see we still had lots of wet snow left. Then the temperature dropped.  Our wet snow quickly turned to ice.

Fortunately, both Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge have good, heavy-duty equipment and very experienced groomers. Snow is our winter business. We’ve been working on the trails all week and conditions are surprisingly good.  We’ve had a very large group of experienced Twin Cities skiers here all week who seem quite satisfied with the trail conditions, especially in light of having had so little snow all winter back at home.

Expect spring skiing conditions; the trails are remarkably good, but they aren’t as fantastic as they were in February. In some places the tracks are better than in other spots. Sometimes it’s icy.  Like all of Minnesota, we’ve had phenomenal winds all week so drifting appears in places on the trails.  But we still have a good base on most of the trails, with no sign of the snow disappearing anytime soon.  There is absolutely no sense of an impending spring up here, except for the longer daylight and brighter sun.

We’ll be serving soup and chili in the lodge all weekend, as well as hot chocolate, wine, beer, and pop.  Plan to have lunch in the lodge during your day of skiing.

If you are a local resident coming to ski for the day, consider driving a little farther up the Gunflint Trail to our partner on the ski trail system, Golden Eagle Lodge. The Bearskin parking lot tends to be full by about 11 AM on weekends, while Golden Eagle often still has space.  If you want lunch at Bearskin, just ski over and enjoy hot chocolate or chili — it gives you a nice little break midway through your day of skiing fun.

The weekend forecast for Northern Lights is not exceptionally good this weekend, but if you are coming next week you have an excellent chance of seeing Lady Aurora dance. Wednesday, March 15 – Friday, March 17 look highly probably for a light show. The International Space Station will also be visible for a few minutes every morning this week; our guests always enjoy being able to see this in our very dark skies at Bearskin.

Here are Golden Eagle’s snow measurement stats from this week, as well as their summary of conditions:

Central Gunflint Ski Trail Conditions on 3-9-17

New Snow Last 7 days:  2.0”
Trail Base, Staked:  Average 7”
Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 12”
Groomed with classic track:  70 km
Groomed with skate lane:  58 km
Surface Conditions:  Tilled snow
Total snowfall since Nov. 1:  68.48”

Comments:  Trail conditions remain good, even after yet another week of bizarre weather. A couple of inches of new snowfall allowed us to re-groom fresh snow back into the base again. Trails are still being groomed with a tiller, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Conditions are fast in some areas and slow in others. Surface conditions are a mixture of frozen snow mixed in with fresh powder; areas that had the new snow blown off will see less powder mixed in. Trail base is still hanging around an average of 6 – 7 inches in the majority of areas and is very solid. No glaze-ice spots are present the next day after grooming, though some trails have been requiring a couple passes with the groomer to get the trails to a quality we are happy with.

Tracks in snow, photo from Zach Baumann at Golden Eagle

3.2.2017 Another weekend of excellent skiing –plus, a good chance of northern lights!

2-28-2017-to-oxcart

Trail to Ox Cart, taken on Tuesday.

Skiing at Bearskin is great again!  Actually, it was always quite good.  The rain and melting two weeks ago affected the quality of our snow, making it icier, but surprisingly the quantity of snow was not greatly diminished. We had so much snow to start with!  Now we’ve added a new layer of fresh snow, and conditions are quite nice again.

We have had about 64 inches of snowfall so far this year, and still have a base on most trails of around 7 to 10 inches. We see reports from local snowmobile trails that they are down to dirt in spots, but that certainly is not the case on the ski trails.

The sun is having a bigger effect this time of year, so as is typical with spring skiing, the snow consistency will change from shady to sunny spots.  After quite a cool-down mid-week, our weekend forecasts are a little warm again so the best skiing will be in the morning.

If we would offer one piece of advice to anyone staying here this weekend, it would be to bring your Yak Trax or any contraption or boot that helps you walk on icy surfaces.  Walking conditions are a bit better than they were last week, but the fresh snow on top of the ice is a bit deceiving.  That ice in the parking areas is still there, you just can’t see it as well.  There’s not much we can do about this, other than to warn guests to be careful. You’ll find this to be a problem in parking lots down in Grand Marais, also; in fact, the G & K delivery guy from Duluth today said ice in the parking areas is a problem from Duluth on.  Be careful whenever you step out of the car on your trip up!

Are you a fan of the northern lights?  The aurora forecast is very promising through Saturday night.  Bring your camera and tripod, and if we have clear skies, which seems possible, perhaps you will get a stunning aurora photo!