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!

2.25.2017 Lots of snow on the Central Gunflint Ski Trails

There’s still skiing in northern Minnesota.  Like most of Minnesota, we had warm temps and rain at the beginning of this week, but luckily we had so much snow that it didn’t matter much. We still have more snow than we know what to do with, as you will see by the high snowbanks and narrow roads around Bearskin.  No sign of winter letting up here.

The consistency of the snow changed — it’s icier, for sure.  But continuous grooming all week by both Bearskin and Golden Eagle has created some pretty good conditions.  We’re guessing this may be the last good skiing left in Minnesota at this point, as most of the north shore lost their snow base in the warm weather.

Parking in the Bearskin Lodge parking lot has been an issue in the afternoons Friday and Saturday.  You can go up to the next road and park at Golden Eagle, which lets you start on the north side of the ski system.  Ski to Bearskin to enjoy your chili or soup lunch!

We have soup and chili every day, hot chocolate with cookies, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, and a nice array of wine and beer. Spend some quality time in our lodge, sipping a glass of wine and watching the birds and squirrels at the feeder.

Here are the latest snow measurements, as taken by Golden Eagle on 2/24.

Central Gunflint Ski Trail Conditions on 2-24-17

New Snow Last 24 hours:  0.0”
New Snow Last 7 days:  Trace
Trail Base, Staked:  Average 7 – 10”
Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 10 – 14”
Groomed with classic track:  70 km
Groomed with skate lane:  58 km
Surface Conditions:  Tilled snow
Last grooming day:  2-24-17
Total snowfall since Nov. 1:  64.23”

Comments:  We still have snow and we are still grooming and skiing! Expect fast conditions, abrasive snow, and a solid base. Skate skiing is particularly fast now; double up on the kick wax for classic skiing. All trails are continuing to be groomed with the tiller. According to the 7-day forecast, it looks like we are done with the fluctuating freezing/thawing temperatures for a while. Possible snow is predicted after the weekend, which will only improve things. Conditions aren’t perfect, but skiing is still very good and very much alive yet. Trail base is now averaging between 7 and 10 inches; areas that receive a lot of sun have less. Snow in woods is still between 10 and 14 inches, on average.

2.4.2017 Great ski conditions, more snow to come

 

As always, Bearskin has lots of snow.  We have not experienced the snow loss this winter that closed most of the cross country skiing trails along the North Shore and at lower elevations.  Our new Pisten Bully did a fantastic job of telling and renovating the snow after our days of warmer temps, and trail conditions were back to “excellent” in no time.

But even with all this snow, we are excited about the big snow forecast for the week ahead.  By the end of this coming week we could have an additional 10 inches or more of fresh new snow on top of the big base we already have.

Quinn groomed many of the trails today, and it’s snowing quite hard now. He reports that the trails are in excellent condition, but with fresh powder on the surface.  We have a snow globe effect going on out there right now!

feb 4 snow outside lodge.jpg

Snow outside lodge today

1/26/2017 You betcha we have snow!

It’s that “Yes, we have snow!” time of year again. While the rest of the state wonders what happened to winter, Bearskin still has ample snow.

Step outside any cabin right now, and this is what you’ll find:

boot-in-snow

Those are 11 inch tall mukluks, pretty deeply buried in the snow. So while we’ve lost a little snow over the last week of warmer temperatures, we had so much to start with that it didn’t matter that some disappeared.

Which brings us to our yearly warning:  try not to worry about the snow as you drive up north and see brown grass and splotchy snow cover along the way.  Most ski trails along the north shore have closed.  As is becoming increasingly typical, rain and warm temperatures along Lake Superior decimated much of the snow cover.  Keep the faith! When you go up the hill to the Gunflint Trail you will see the winter wonderland return. Panic averted; yes,  you will be able to ski!

Which is not to say our snow is as perfect as we’d like it to be.  A week of warm temperatures made it icier than normal.  Our new Pisten Bully is well equipped to renovate icy snow, so Quinn and Bob have been out on the trails repeatedly for the last two days, tilling the snow and forcing it to behave nicely. A few inches of fresh snow on the surface over the next few days would really be appreciated. Try to see if you can make that happen for us, OK? 🙂

Here’s a Golden Eagle measuring  report from earlier this week.

Central Gunflint Ski Trail Conditions on 1-23-17

  • New Snow Last 24 hours:  Trace”
  • New Snow Last 7 days:  5/8”
  • Trail Base, Staked:  Average 10”
  • Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 14”
  • Groomed with classic track:  70 km
    Groomed with skate lane:
      58 km
  • Surface Conditions:  Old snow
  • Total snowfall since Nov. 1:  47.25”

Comments:  Despite the warm weather this past week, we still have a lot of snow and good skiing! No green grass or brown dirt here!

The trail base did shrink a little during that stretch, from average of 12 inches to an average of 10 inches. Skiers are reporting good skiing still, with wax-less or red wax for the best results for classic. The classic track is also holding together well.

Almost everything is being re-groomed for the upcoming weekend. Skaters seem very happy with the surface.  Quinn reports that he thinks the classic tracks are B to B+ — not as perfect as our tracks usually are, but not bad considering the warm temps we’ve had. If you’ll be here this weekend, skate skiing might be your first choice for the conditions but both skate and classic skiing should be quite good..