The Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department, the group of well-trained area volunteers who would rescue you if you were ever lost or injured up here, conducted a training session on our trails last night. The good news is that they “found” Jen, so she didn’t have to sit endlessly by the lake in campsite 5, pretending to be lost. The bad news is that all the trails will need to be regroomed after all the “searching.” Current conditions give new meaning to the trails being “tracked.” We suggest that you don’t come skiing this morning, so you don’t have to ski through the footprints of a dozen searchers. Trails should be good again later this afternoon.
In general, skiers have been quite happy with the trails over the past few days. “Surprisingly good” is what we’ve heard repeatedly. We will still need more snow to open most of the trails, but Summer Home, Campground and even the Lit Loop all offer a good “first ski of the year” experience.
First trails groomed this weekend. We’ve had 8-15 inches of snow, depending on where you measure, and it has continued to come down daily. Most of our trails are being packed and rolled–they’ll need more snow before the big groomers can get out on them. But we were able to get out on Summer Home and Campground with the G2 groomer. Skiers reported back yesterday that they thought conditions were quite good after the first grooming. Tracks should have set up a bit overnight and should be even better today.
Winter arrived on Thanksgiving night. A light rain gradually turned to steady snow in the late afternoon. We expected a couple of inches, so we were surprised to find 8 – 10 inches or more on the ground by morning. This is a great start to the ski season.
Friday was spent plowing, shoveling, and generally digging out. The first snowfall of every season is always a challenge. The ground is not especially frozen underneath this snow, which makes plowing and shoveling much tougher.
If all goes well, Bob may go out on Saturday and try to roll the Summer Home Road Campground Loop Trail. Meanwhile, it is back-country skiing at this point. We had guests who skied out there today and reported having “first snow of the year” fun on the trails — not fast, not groomed, just fun to be out in the fresh powder.
Season passes as well as daily ski tickets for the 2012-2013 ski season are available at both Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge. We share the proceeds equally between both lodges, so it doesn’t matter where you purchase your pass. The funds from your ski pass go to pay a portion of the maintenance and grooming on the ski trails; passes don’t cover all of our costs, but they make it possible. The US Forest Service/Superior National Forest takes a fee , as does the Minnesota DNR for the small portion of the trail on state land. You are supporting excellent skiing on the Central Gunflint Trail System when you buy your pass.
At this point in the season we watch and wait and wonder when the snow will fall. We have perhaps an inch of snow cover at the moment, but that could last for the rest of the winter, or be gone tomorrow. It’s an unpredictable time of year.
We had a great turn-out for trail trimming weekend on November 2nd & 3rd. We’ve learned the hard way that small trees and branches which appear to be well off the ski trail often turn into trail nuisances after a heavy coating of ice or snow bends them over the trail. The trail trimming crew did a great job of trying to spot those potential problem branches and trees beforehand, then cutting them off.
Because our trails go through the rocky, hilly woods instead of over mowed grass paths, we need more snow than some other ski resorts do in order to make a nice base. We’re fortunate to be in a “sweet spot” that almost always gets snow even when the rest of the North Shore area ends up with rain or sleet, but it’s still difficult to predict when we’ll have enough snow for a base. We are lucky to have the G2 snowmobile groomer in addition to our pisten bully groomer, so we can get out on some of our trails with fairly minimal snow.
Last year skiing was good at Bearskin beginning in late December, and it stayed fairly decent even when the Twin Cities news channels were claiming there was no skiable snow in all of Minnesota. No, we did not have as much snow as we normally do, but in many years the amount of snow we get is far in excess of what we need to provide awesome skiing. The Central Gunflint Trail had decent snow until the big melt in March. By our standards, that was short ski season–many years some of the best skiing occurs in the month of March. But we were happy to be able to provide good skiing for that long in 2012 and because there was almost no snow again on the North Shore, many new skiers were introduced to our great trail system.
We’ll keep you posted on this site as the snow begins to accumulate. For more frequent updates, you can also check out our Facebook page for info; updates to that page are also sent to @BearskinLodge on Twitter, if Tweets are your thing. Those updates involve almost no time commitment for us, so they happen more frequently than the blog updates do. As always, if you are wondering about snow conditions, just call us directly at 800.338.4170 during business hours.
The 2012 Trail Crew at dinner, after a good day of trimming the ski trails.