We are again blessed with a fantastic Voyageur Canoe Outfitters Crew. We are very lucky to have so many amazing people working with us at the end of the Gunflint Trail. Each year we think how fortunate we are to find such hard-working, friendly, easy going individuals to be a part of the crew.
We hope you will come see for yourself how wonderful and capable these folks are. We have a number of crew back this summer from previous years including Elsa in the kitchen, Tony, Maddy, Sarah and Joe. They are getting along perfectly with the new additions Rachel, Alex, Brad and Kenika. Matt and Cassidy who have been here since last Fall are doing a terrific job keeping everyone on track, not an easy feat.
We’re looking forward to introducing you to this crew, we know you’ll love them as much as we do.
6/12/16 - School is out and the summer session is in full swing at Sawbill. Now that our last crew member has arrived we are eagerly gearing up for a busy, fun-filled summer.
If you have a love for the wilderness and are looking to get more involved in the BWCA we have a great opportunity for you. The Northwoods Volunteer Connection is looking for volunteers to help clean and restore popular portages. Each wilderness project will involve installing log and rock bars and checking dams in order to reduce erosion and create a more sustainable tred. The Gunflint Forest Rangers will be leading a portage rehabilitation trip July 13th-July 17th. This is an excellent opportunity to give back, relax and enjoy the pure wilderness of the Boundary Waters.
For more information, visit their website or facebook page:
Whether you're planning your first trip up north, helping restore portages with other Northwoods Volunteers, or leaving for your annual fishing adventure, remember to slow down, take a step back and appreciate the unique beauty of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Enjoying the beautiful sunset over Sawbill Lake this past weekend.
Have you made it up to Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center yet this season?
What are you waiting for!!
Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center has been a very busy place this season. With the addition of the Nature Center you can always find something going on.
Jacqueline our Nature Program Director is showing this little girl what a wood tick looks like under a mini microscope.
Here some families are learning about loons and various bugs that make the Gunflint Trail their home.
Speaking of loons: our nesting pair finally set up home around June 3 we should be seeing some little babies by the end of this month.
Sunday Afternoon Presentations for the month of June.
All presentations are located at Chik-Wauk Nature Center from 2 – 3 pm and free to the public.
Donations are appreciated.
June 19 – spend an hour listening to a PBS special that was taped back in 1992 on Justine Kerfoot. Justine talks about her life.
June 26 - Amanda Weberg, the Cook County Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator. Learn how these invaders affect you, what they look like, where to find them, and what you can do to become a clean water superhero.
Tuesday’s starting June 21 until August 16 we will have our Kids’ Day Programs from 11 am to 4 pm.
Children under age 18 can visit the Museum and Nature Center free of charge. Chik-Wauk staff will offer a variety of hands-on activities all related to the unique history and nature of the Gunflint Trail, as well as stories, hikes, journal making, and craft projects. A parent or guardian must accompany children at all times at the Nature Center.
Tuesday from 2-3 pm we have a special presentation by local U.S. Forest Service naturalists. Each week is a different northwoods topic.
You can view all of our activites for the summer at www.chikwauk.com/event.
The difficult thing about photographing the night sky in the summer is staying up late enough for it to get dark. We’re lucky on the Gunflint Trail because it does get dark and we can see the Milky Way. Have you read the news that 80% of Americans can’t see the Milky Way because of light pollution? Just another reason to visit the Boundary Waters to photograph the night sky and the Milky Way.
May 27, 2016
Category: Recreation by Andy Porter
Andy Porter is a professional photographer based out of Seattle, Washington. Browse his photography online or sign-up for one of his several classes.
How dark does it have to be to capture a good photo of the nighttime sky, and what about other factors, like altitude, humidity or air pollution?
To capture clear images of stars and the Milky Way you need a very dark sky. Sunlight reflected by the moon is so bright that it obscures visibility of the stars. Time your efforts to match the New Moon (when the moon is not visible at all). Then visit a location away from the lights of cities and towns, such as our National Forests!
What type of camera equipment do you need for good nighttime pictures? Can a cellphone camera or point-and-shoot do the job?
Camera-wise you need a basic DSLR camera and a wide angle lens to get started. Cell phones and point-and-shoot cameras will not work because they don’t capture enough light. Ideally you would have a full-frame DSLR and a wide angle lens (10 – 16mm) along with a tripod and cable release.
For optimal composition, do you want anything in the foreground or just the night-sky itself?
Any images of the Milky Way are stunning. Just seeing the dense band of stars and the mottled colors of stellar gases glowing is enough to excite.
Adding elements in the foreground creates a layering effect and depth. Some of my favorites are tents and fire lookout towers; seeing them glow with light before the Milky Way is quite stunning.
It takes some experimentation to get the right amount of illumination inside them, for example with a tent image I have my friend in the tent turn on the flash light for one or two seconds while I have the shutter open for a full 30 seconds. I have seen incredible night sky shots using barns, roads, statues, waterfalls, trees and rock formations in the foreground. Be creative!
Do you ever use a flash?
I never have used a flash for the night sky images, though many photographers will use headlamps, flashlights or other light sources to “light paint” the foreground. This helps brighten an otherwise dark foreground so that its details will show up in your image.
How important is computer editing when taking photos of the night sky?
When you are out under the night sky in a dark place the strip of the Milky Way is clearly visible. But to make the arc of the Milky Way pop out the images will need some editing. When I edit I am working to make the stars brighter and add contrast to the sky. At the same time I often brighten the foreground somewhat, and lastly I use noise reduction software to reduce the graininess of the final image.
What are some of the biggest challenges when taking night-sky photographs?
The biggest challenge, by far, is simply to have a night when there is no moon and no clouds! Focus is also an issue. The auto-focus on a camera/lens will not work at night. You must set your lens to manual focus. Before you head out take time to set your lens on manual focus and experiment so that you know exactly where to set your focus ring for infinity. More often than not the infinity setting for focus is NOT where the infinity symbol is on the lens, so it’s very important to get this figured out first.
Do you have any special tips for photographing the Milky Way?
It takes some practice to get it right, so be patient. Get out nearby on a clear night and do a test run, work on getting your exposure and focus right.
Find a lunar calendar and mark the New Moon each month so you’ll know when to head out. If you are within 2 days, plus or minus of the New Moon, you’ll be fine. Next, make a list of possible locations see if you can make a visit during the day to scout for the best shooting locations. And lastly, find some like-minded friends and have a blast under the stars!
What are some of your favorite places on National Forests to shoot the night sky?
- Washington Pass Overlook (on Highway 20) in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
- Park Butte Lookout in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
- Artist Point and Picture Lake (on Highway 542) in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
- Winchester Lookout in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Learn more about Andy Porter and his photography at AndyPorterImages.com.
It looks like it will be a beautiful day to get outdoors. Hopefully you’ll paddle a canoe, catch a fish or hike a trail to celebrate National Get Outdoors Day.
Teenagers live in a world that is more stressed than ever before. They get overloaded with pressure at school, conflicts at home, relationship problems, and career choices. Many have to deal with divorce, moves, financial struggles, jobs, and blended families. When stress builds up, teens cope however they can. They may drink, drive aggressively, get high, overeat, go shopping, spend hours on the computer or playing video games, or take out their frustration on others.
This is why we see increased bullying, isolation, depression, obesity, eating disorders, inappropriate sexual activity, violent outbursts, cutting, intolerance and hate crimes, suicide, and many other destructive choices.
Kids need new and better choices. They need help unwinding and handling pressure in positive ways. Recreation is a powerful antidote to stress.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is working in partnership with communities and bicyclists from Grand Portage to Saint Paul to identify, designate and promote a new bicycle route: U.S. Bicycle Route 41. Once completed, the bicycle route will connect existing roads and trails between Saint Paul and Grand Portage State Park.
Participate in the Tofte open house next week to help refine the draft route, name the route, engage in conversations about bicycling and more! There will be a brief presentation followed by an open house with activities to gather your input. Kids activities and light refreshments provided.
Thursday, June 16th, 4-6 pm
Bluefin Bay Resort, Tofte Room
7192 W Hwy 61, Tofte, MN
Can’t make it? Learn more and provide your feedback online at http://www.dot.state.mn.us/bike/usbr41/.
The last few weeks have been fun at the News-Herald as we try to attend all the last minute school functions— the awards program, project fair, DARE graduation, guitar program, writers’ tea, and coming up as I write this, Baccalaureate and graduation.
The flurry of activities follows on the heels of our work to put together the Class of 2016 booklet. That is always a daunting task, trying to get the busy graduates to fill out an interview form and turn in a picture. We try really hard to include everyone, but occasionally we just don’t catch up with a busy senior.
I don’t think the members of the Class of 2016 mind too much. The memento booklet is more for parents and grandparents. As is this column, which has become a tradition for me.
I try really hard not to repeat myself in Unorganized Territory. In the almost 16 years I’ve written this column there have been times when similar ideas have been expressed. I’ve never intentionally run the exact same thoughts on the exact same topic.
But I’ve come close with the column I’ve written for parents of graduating seniors each year. It’s become a tradition to write this column, which almost writes itself.
The soon-to-be graduates are too excited to look to the News-Herald for sage advice. They are busy finalizing travel and housing plans for college or getting in shape for the physical training they will be met with when they enter the military. They are spending these final spring days with the dear friends to whom they will soon be saying tearful farewells.
It’s an amazing time for the Class of 2016 and they don’t need any more advice from caring community members.
It’s different for parents. It’s a bittersweet time for them. Parents are filled with relief that all those battles over homework and curfews are over. They are proud that their child has fulfilled the requirements of graduation and will make that dramatic entry in his or her cap and gown.
But there is also that looming goodbye—the one that every parent dreads from the time their son or daughter takes his or her first steps, shyly waves goodbye on the way to preschool, or gets behind the steering wheel for the first time. Graduation is a final rite of passage, one that comes all too soon.
It’s impossible that the tiny baby that changed your world could turn into an adult so quickly. It’s hard to believe how fast all those years of teacher conferences, spring concerts, sporting events, and last-minute grade concerns, flew by.
The last few months are the craziest, with the final chaos of invitations and open houses. I think the parents are the ones who need the pat on the back right now.
So, I hope they take a few minutes to sit down and read this column. They need a little time for themselves right now. They need a break between cleaning house for the party and figuring out where visiting relatives will sleep, between buying decorations and calculating how much cake will be eaten. They need a break from concerns about “Plan B” for when it rains. Hopefully this Unorganized Territory gives them a moment of quiet amidst the chaos that comes from planning for graduation.
Truly, it is good that there is a lot to do—it makes the fast-approaching farewell a bit easier for mom and dad. At least until the graduate packs up his or her belongings and leaves them to the empty nest.
For those parents, I’m ending with a longer than usual quote. It was a gift from my mom when my first “baby” graduated in 1997. I’ve shared this Erma Bombeck quote in Unorganized Territory every graduation week. It still makes me tear up when I read it, but I still find comfort in it.
I hope the parents of the Class of 2016 do too.
Children are like kites. You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground. You run with them until you’re both breathless – they crash – you add a longer tail – they hit the rooftop – you pluck them out of the spout – you patch and comfort, adjust and teach. You watch them lifted by the wind and assure them that someday they’ll fly!
…Finally they are airborne, but they need more string – you keep letting it out and with each twist of the ball of twine, there is a sadness that goes with the joy, because the kite becomes more distant and somehow you know that it won’t be long until that beautiful creature will snap the life line that bound you together and soar as it was meant to soar – free and alone.
In hopes of helping future paddlers better understand their camping options in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness we are going to be periodically releasing reviews of the campsites in our vicinity. As with any review some subjectivity comes along with the territory, but there are also some basics that can be easily measured; the number of tent pads, the canoe landing, the fire grate area and the view from...
Nine years ago today the eastern section of the Boundary Waters canoe area was raging with fire. 75,000 acres of pristine land was burning wildly out of control. Houses were lost. Lives were risked. Smoke filled the air all the way down to the Twin Cities.
And that is when Sue and Bob McCloughan signed the purchase agreement to buy Bearskin Lodge, in the midst of a fire that threatened to burn down the business.
We spent our days at school with one eye on our students and the other glued to the internet news about the fire. Eventually I just gave up and said “Kids, let’s go off topic and learn something really interesting about fire, that will also explain why your eyes are watering now.” We all watched the changing fire maps and ravaged pictures.Photo courtesy Gunflint Trail Fire Department
As the fire came closer to Bearskin, Bob & I tried to ascertain what precautions were being taken by Bearskin. The owner wanted the lodge sale to remain a secret from his employees, yet from afar we were wildly concerned that “our” property would burn down and wished we could dare ask the employees what was happening. We called the owner, who said everything is fine, the sprinklers are going, and it’s so little to worry about that we’re flying to the tulip show in Iowa.
We already had enough history with him to think perhaps a second call was in order. I called Bearskin and got Dee, who would later turn out to be a dear friend. I said I was concerned about the Lodge and wondering what they were doing. Dee assumed I was another one of the many concerned members of the Bearskin fan club, and talked about the preparations to leave. “Are the sprinklers on?” I asked. It was evident that homes and businesses with the fire suppression sprinklers were surviving. “Um, no, we, um, won’t be using the sprinklers,” she said. “We don’t think we need them.” She was respectful enough of her current boss that she didn’t say, “No, we won’t be using the sprinklers because the FEMA sprinkler system was never maintained and is now in a thousand broken pieces, and actually we all think our boss believes it is in the best interest of the resort to burn down.” (She saved those truths for later, in the many re-tellings of the story.) Dee said other staff would be leaving for town with trucks and equipment, that the managers had left long ago to get a motel in Silver Bay to house their secret dogs and cats. The owners? Flying to a tulip show in Iowa. (Although we later heard they did show up at the lodge at some point, so good.) As we heard this on the phone, it was all we could do not to drive up ourselves and start pulling together sprinklers and trying to save the place.
Most Bearskin employees went to shelters in Grand Marais. Being low-level employees who ended up totally responsible for the stressful decision- making while the fire advanced towards Bearskin was very traumatic for some of the staffPicture courtesy Mn IncidentCommand
One of them had a seizure outside the shelter, changing his life for years to come. Another just cried and cried. The youngest employee, Adde, rose to the occasion and figured out how to be the adult in the group, a skill she can still muster up regularly in her real life today.
Of course, we only heard these stories after the fact. All we knew was that we just put a lot of money down and signed a pile of papers to buy a resort where no preparations were being made to keep the resort from burning down momentarily.
And luckily, it didn’t. A tongue of the fire made its way towards our area, but was kept under control. The physical beauty of our area remained untouched by fire and the cabins and resorts around us continued to be safe. This time. There’s a long history of fires in these big woods and we understand that our turn could come. We hope not soon.
The Ham Lake fires started because of one camper. Conditions were right to spread a fire very quickly – as they are today. The individual who accidentally started the fire was identified, demonized, persecuted, prosecuted, and basically dragged through hell until he eventually committed suicide. Politicians tell us we live in a Christian nation, but if so, we ought to be able to do forgiveness a little better instead of always focusing on retribution. He made a mistake. Any of us could. There’s a fine retelling of his sad story here.Photo by Sue Prom
The lesson is please, please, please be careful with fires up here. It’s dry and windy today. There are thousands of branches down on the ground from this winter’s bend-down. Keep fires small. Some of you folks —is this a southern thing?—who like their pile of wood to be in a 5 foot tall tipi shape when it gets lit are just asking for trouble with those giant fires. Small, under control, and always watched is the way the pros make a fire. Above all, don’t walk away from the fire. We see this all the time in the campground: raging fire in the pit, nobody around for miles—or even worse, obviously tents full of sleeping people. You can do better than that.
We will have fire on the Gunflint Trail again. We are all a little more prepared for it now, after lessons learned from Ham Lake. Bearskin has invested in an outstanding all – encompassing FEMA fire suppression sprinkler system. We test it regularly, keeping it in perfect shape each year. Bob and Quinn are fire department members, who have been well-trained to assist in a fire or a rescue and best of all, they have fire department radios to be in quick contact in an emergency. And needless to say, if something bad happens Bob, Sue, Quinn & Kate will not be off at a flower show, we will be here every minute to make sure, first of all, that our sweet staff is safe and untraumatized and secondly, to do what we must to preserve all your Bearskin memories here.
But let’s avoid another Gunflint Trail fire if we can. Do your part!Photo by Lee Johnson
Almost everyone who visits Bearskin has high hopes of observing three specific northwoods animals. The number one goal is always to spot a moose, then glimpse a bear (but only the rear end, as it runs away), and maybe, with luck, see or hear a wolf.
So you might be surprised to know that none of those creatures are the animal that Bearskin guests talk about the most during their stay. Foxes are actually the critters that make our guests extra happy. Hundreds of photos of posing and preening foxes are snapped every summer around the Main Lodge. We sell dozens of fox stuffed animals, foxy kids’ purses, fox books, and fox cards.
Bearskin has a long history of having fairly tame red foxes living on the grounds of the resort. When we first arrived at Bearskin almost a decade ago, our employee Adde regularly made meals for a ridiculously tame fox, and even allowed the fox into her apartment occasionally. Foxes have been known to get in canoes, and supposedly a fox can untie a boat from the dock. They peek in windows, pose on deck railings, and occasionally run off with meat intended for the grill. The Shoe Stealing Fox (aka Imelda), was perhaps the most famous Bearskin fox, covertly sneaking flip flops, hiking boots, and tennis shoes off the deck and steps of cabin 7. Many a family combed the woods behind cabin 7, desperately trying to find a missing sneaker so a kid wouldn’t spend the remainder of their vacation limping around with only one shoe.
So here is a story to add to the fox legends: About a week ago, when the ice was still solid, Kate and Quinn observed a fox crossing the bay with something in her mouth. At first they assumed the fox was carrying a rabbit or squirrel, killed for dinner. But as they looked more closely, they realized she was carrying a baby fox kit all the way across the lake. Then she came back for another. And another, and another. By the time she was done ferrying her whole litter across the lake, the fox looked exhausted. It was no small task to move her family. This was peculiar behavior. Quinn and Kate wondered why she would go to that much trouble to abandon a home and move so far away.
Previously, Quinn and Bob had been rebuilding the steps to cabin 7. When they pulled the old steps off, they found chewed boards, broken styrofoam, and multiple signs that animals had been tunneling under cabin 7 for years. So, of course, Quinn and Bob did a top-notch job of resealing every crack and hole, nailing up new boards and filling every possible animal entry point with spray foam. No creature would be getting back under that cabin!
Quinn thought about the fox mother for a few days and then started to wonder if her grueling move might be connected in some way to the rebuilding of the cabin 7 steps. Yesterday Quinn and Bob went back to cabin 7 and pulled off a few of the new boards, attempting to see under the steps.
It was a surprise to discover a sizable fresh tunnel under the steps, circumventing their repairs. At that point it became apparent what must have happened: Bob and Quinn had accidentally entombed the litter of baby foxes. For two days they had worked on the steps, sawing and pounding and probably terrorizing a little fox family. When the job was over and the foxes’ fear subsided, that mother dug an incredibly difficult new tunnel, removed all her babies, and stoically carried all of them as far away from that dreadful Cabin 7 as she possibly could.
We were left with two thoughts:
First, that is an extraordinarily heroic fox mother.
And secondly, deep under cabin 7 there are probably several years’ worth of missing shoes.
Fox photo by Jane Kolarich
Well, the time has come — we are officially calling it the end of the 2015 -2016 ski season. We do still have a considerable amount of snow on the trails and you are welcome to come up to ski or snowshoe. But both resorts decided today that we are now officially done grooming for the season. With 40 – 50 degree temps each day, there’s not much we can do with the groomer to recreate a nice surface. Time to store the equipment away and reflect on our great luck that during a winter when most of Minnesota was snowless, that once again the Central Gunflint Trail System offered great ski conditions all winter.
Golden Eagle did the final wrap up on the numbers for the season. Our total snowfall was 93.46 inches — pretty fantastic for a “no snow” year!
- New Snow Last 24 hours: 0.00”
- New Snow Last 7 days: 2.00”
- Trail Base, Staked: Not measured
- Snow in Woods, Staked: Not measured
- Surface Conditions: Melting snow
- Last grooming day: 3-26-16
- Total snowfall since Nov. 1: 93.46”
Thanks for being such great guests. We love our skiers, both our regular winter guests and our frequent day skiers, and we always miss them over the next seasons. Stop in to say hi!
And don’t forget about our great Fall Work Weekend. For just $99 plus a few hours of fun trail trimming, you can enjoy Bearskin Lodge in another season. Our skiing guests love seeing the trails during another season, plus it’s fun to ski by a location all winter and think, “I certainly did a great job of trimming here!” Find out more by clicking here.
New snow this morning made it possible to groom again, possibly for the last time this season unless we get a significant new snowfall. Skiers seemed quite happy with conditions today, and the trails look beautiful.
A few trails are now out of commission for the season, for various reasons. We are no longer grooming the west end of Logging Camp Trail, the BWCA Logging Camp section, North-South link from upper Beaver Dam to Summer Home Road, and Poplar Creek Trail.
Due to the warm weather prior to last week, we are not grooming any lake-crossing trails for the remainder of the season You can ski on the ice just fine, it’s not unsafe for you; but the heavy grooming machines are another story. We don’t want a repeat of the infamous Dave Tittle story of putting a groomer through the ice! The North-South Link trail across Flour Lake has a single lane classic track set by snowmobile to allow for a connection between the north and south halves of the system.
There have been a number of fun animal sightings on the trails in the past week, which is enjoyable for skiers. The moose are very active right now, and appear to love clomping right down the groomed trail. We’ve also had many reports of foxes and otters along the trail–we like them better because they don’t destroy the grooming quite so much.
So far we’ve received about 92 inches of snow this season, not a record breaking winter by any means, but vastly better than almost anywhere else in the state. We are, indeed, in a magical snow pocket here in the med-Trail area. We still have about 15 inches of snow in the woods and a trail base of around 8 – 10 inches. Temps during the day are getting into the 30’s and even occasionally the 40’s, but our snow doesn’t seem to be disappearing at a very fast rate. Skiing is the best early each day, before the snow gets soft.
Spring conditions can change rapidly. Call us if you’re wondering if it’s a good day to ski.
Add Bear Cub, Campground, and Summer Home Road to the newly groomed list. )xcart, Beaver Dam, and Ridge Run were done yesterday. Poplar Creek will not open for remainder of this March due to water problems.
Bring a camera if you come. The heavy snow stuck to the trees, so we have our Christmas card look back again.
Soup, chili, wine, beer, and of course, hot cocoa in the lodge if you come up for the day to ski. Wish you could stay more than one day? We have a 3 nights for the price of 2 special going on now — ask for it when you call to reserve. We’ve had a lot of “drop everything and drive up to ski” phone calls today. Seems like the novelty of the early spring in the Twin Cities has worn off and people are getting weary of waiting for their grass to turn green!
With heavy heart we must report that we lost Sota early this morning. We will miss her greatly. She was a major part of our life here at the Gunflint Pines Resort. She was the camp greeter and often could be found opening the door to run out and greet the next guest as they arrived.
She often guided guests on hikes to Lonely lake or High cliffs. Many a guest would start off hiking only to find her flushing the path in front of them and waiting at the intersections to be sure they were on the right path. But many a guest would also come back without her, distraught only to have us ask how long they were hiking. We knew that if they had taken a short hike – she found others to hike with before coming home. She was an excellent bird dog, squirrel or chipmunk chaser and mouser. She was smarter than and had more grace than many humans (I swear!) and was nothing but loving to everyone.
Sota was 11 years old and had a good life. She was loved and adored by many children who returned each year only to ask where she was so they could pet her belly.
Sadly we feel we must also tell you that she was killed by Wolves. At 3am this morning, she had to go to the bathroom. Within minutes we heard them, quickly dressed and scared them off. It was too late. This happened within 30 ft of the building. It is a testament to the severity of the Wolf situation. We understand that this was always a possibility, and that the wolves are just trying to survive. We also know there are those out there who will criticize us for even mentioning the wolf situation, but those who do not live here, have no idea how large the population is.
We used to have a deer herd of roughly 100 on the south shore of Gunflint. This year I have seen fewer than 4. Please understand that we also love the wolves and appreciate there need for balance in nature, but our position has and always will remain this: if you are going to manage the Moose, deer, small game etc populations – you must also manage the wolf population. There is no longer a balance in our area. The wolves are beginning to becoming desperate. How long before they begin starving and become aggressive.
Rest in peace Sota – many will miss you!
When we last posted here, the Banadad Trail Association had just hosted the annual trail clearing day and membership meeting. Several volunteers had clipped and sawed their way through miles of alder brush and fallen trees, readying the trail for the winter. More trail-clearing folks followed in the next couple of weeks, and we all had a good feeling about the upcoming ski season.
How quickly that changed! The much-anticipated snow finally came, but not as the fluffly, fat flakes that we prefer. Instead, it fell heavy and wet, cloaking every twig and tree in a thick coat. Mother Nature mixed in a bit of freezing drizzle, and then added more of that same kind of snow. Someone likened it to wet cement. That was an apt description, for when it solidly froze, just like dried cement, it weighted those trees until they were bowing down to the ground. For many miles, the trail was completely impassable. As beautiful as it was, it created miles of havoc, and a boatload of new clearing to be done.
For the last several weeks, many people, both volunteer and paid, have been working hard to clear the trail so that it is usable this winter. The good news is that at this point, the Lace Lake Trail (4K) and the Tall Pines Trail (1.7K) are both opened and groomed. The snow depth is 18″. Snow still covers the trees, making for a uniquely beautiful trail. Come out and ski it!
The eastern end of the Banadad is once again nearly cleared, with about another day or two of work remaining. As soon as we get fresh snow, this section will be groomed and tracked. The trail will extend to the mid-trail junction, near the yurt. A loop will be possible, utilizing the Moose Trail. While not what we would have hoped for back in October when we were working, at least we have something here to ski. The distance for this section is 15.5K.
Unfortunately, it is not expected that the western end of the Banadad will be open this season. Much work remains on the remaining 12K. As time and funding permit, we will chip away at it, and we welcome your help if you so desire. To that end, a sign has been posted in the parking lot, and two saws are hanging for anyone who wants to snowshoe in on the trail and cut a few things away.
We are so grateful to everyone who has stepped in to assist in the herculean effort to re-open the trail. Mother Nature tossed us some lemons, but we didn’t let that stop us. Join us on the Banadad, the Lace Lake Trail and the Tall Pines Trail, and see how pretty this season has turned out to be.
Barbara Young quoted in StarTribune January 9, 2016.
Happy New Year! 2016 looks exciting and welcoming! This past holiday season was the best we’ve had in many years. The temperatures were great, the snow was plentiful, the ski trails were packed and tracked, sleds were sliding, snowmen were being made, quite the happy winter start!
For Christmas my son bought me a Chinese Checker board, favorite game of mine! I found my marbles so I’m ready to go! Stop by if you want to play a game. Remember we’re a pet friendly destination and I love puppies so feel free to share. This little guy (still unnamed) was only 10 weeks old and looked like a stuffed animal! He was adorable. We offered the names of Sasquatch and Yeti – but they were leaning towards Cesar or similar.
Gunflint Lake froze over late this year!!! The west end out front of us only froze over on the 30th of December. The East end finally froze over the morning of the 4th. With the colder temps the past week we are building ice quickly just in time for the Trout Opener this weekend.
This past year we started posting our future availability by means of google calendars in our blog section. While we still do not have online booking capability and I have to update them manually it can give you a good guide as to what might be available for our cabins, camping cabins or our Lakehome. I have also started relying on the google calendars to make updating our snow report and Ski Trail report easier and more up to date. You can always feel free to call us directly for up to date information 218-388-4454.
Summer reservations are starting to book as people seem to be planning further ahead – don’t wait too long to give us a call and start planning your escape up north!
One word describes how I felt as I watched the helicopters soar over Lutsen Mountain – Thrilled! This investment from leadership at Lutsen Mountains only reinforces the energetic growth felt throughout Cook County. In July, I completed my second year working for Visit Cook County. When I started, I thought I knew a lot about this wonderful corner of northeastern Minnesota. I have now come to realize the depth of the partnerships we share in making life here enjoyable and energized. I am delighted.AN INCREDIBLE SUMMER!
As our summer season closes, I want to highlight a few spring, summer and fall highpoints. We are all aware that Cook County offers some of the biggest and best of the midwest: tallest peak, highest waterfall, most groomed cross country ski trails, largest ski resort in the Midwest, most BWCAW entry points – you get the picture. This list is endless, and keeps on growing. Another “best” came across my desk today – Hwy. 61 from Duluth to the Canadian border was included in Mashable’s “7 Scenic Fall Foliage Drives.” And perhaps the most reputable, the title of “Coolest Small Town in America,” awarded in February to Grand Marais. We would love to hear from other business owners regarding the summer experience of 2015. We know World’s Best Donuts sold more donuts than they have since opening in the summer of 1974! We look forward to hearing many more great sucess stories as we enter the last part of 2015.MEASURING SUCCESS
Safe to say – our efforts in marketing and media relations have paid off. I, along with the Visit Cook County team, serve our tourism related economy tirelessly. Thanks to our partnership with Giant Voices and LINPR we have built a successful marketing and PR strategy that is showing results. These partnerships allow us to build upon great outreach opportunities like sharing a booth with WTIP at the MN State Fair (a complete blast) followed by a live media appearance with KARE 11.
The one true measurement of tourism success for Visit Cook County is our lodging tax. This is always a moving target as we have lodging properties that pay monthly, quarterly and annually. We measure our monthly decreases and gains based on prior year figures which actually allow us to be pretty close on the measurement. And of course, we work extra hard to bring people here in our shoulder seasons of April and November. The County collects the lodging tax and prepares all the reporting. You can see all the figures if you look here: http://www.cookcountychamber.org/charts.php?id=15
That said, Visit Cook County’s fiscal year began May 1. If you calculate the success in the first three months of our fiscal year, the statistics are astounding. A quick snapshot of May-July shows growth in Lutsen/Tofte/Schroeder up 15.9% and Grand Marais is up 15.8%. And on an even bigger scale, lodging sales in 2014 totaled $33Million dollars. In a county that records $150million in sales, we need to tip our hats to the lodging property owners – not only as economic tourism drivers but also as employers.
We hope you have saved the date to celebrate with Visit Cook County and the Cook County Chamber on November 3rd at Lutsen Resort. You can look forward to more information about the event in the coming weeks, but until then, make sure you’ve saved the date!
The Trapper’s Daughter & The…..
The day we have all been waiting for is finally here!!!
It is my great pleasure today, on April 25th 2015, to present to you for the first time,
Wow, isn’t she a beauty??
After their long sail along the Lake Superior coast, the Trapper’s Daughter, Bear & Raccoon are finally able to relax on the shore near a big campfire. With beautiful bright embers floating toward the starlit sky, this print … read more
Day 5! Day 5! Day 5!
Today is the last day of our countdown before we reveal the NEW Trapper’s Daughter print for 2015!!
We kick off today’s countdown with a truly incredible print from 2013,
“The Trapper’s Daughter Crosses the Height of the Land as Winter Fades From the Woods & Waters.”
“The Trapper’s Daughter and the Spring Moose” came into the gallery like a hurricane. We could hardly keep this image on the walls and in the bins after … read more