Thursday, October 30, 2008

Getting the Banadad Trails Ready for Skiing

According to Ted Young co-owner of Boundary Country Trekking and Banadad Trail Coordinator, “opening the 39.8 kilometers of the Banadad Ski Trail System is no easy undertaking. Twenty-seven Kilometers of the trail system are located within the BWCA where only hand tools can be used to cut the summers accumulation of brush and down trees and crews are only able to travel to the work site under their own power-by foot or canoe. The remaining portion of the trails, outside the BWCA, power equipment including mowers is allowed and when possible used. Annually some 500-600 of labor is require to open the trails for skiing each year. This year’s maintenance will be no acceptation.”

Over the pasts two weekends nine volunteers from the North Stars Ski Touring Club and thirteen volunteers from Adventure Vacations, a Twin Cities based adventure travel company logged 332 hours cutting brush and down trees along the Banadad and hand cleared the Tall Pines Trail. Prior to this volunteer effort, Boundary Country Trekking, staff had cleared and mowed the Lace Lake, and Seppala Trails outside the BWCA. Earlier this summer a group of eight youth and staff from the Minnesota Conservation Corp spent two days widening approximately 1.2 kilometers of an overgrown portion of the Banadad around Moose Kill Hill.

As a result of these efforts, to date the Lace Lake, Tall Pines and Seppala Trails and the first 1.6 Kilometers of the Banadad now only needs snow to be opened for skiing. Along the 32 kilometer Banadad, most of which is within the BWCA, crews have cleared 21 kilometers.

Minnehaha’s Academy’s High School Ski Team is scheduled to work on the trail in mid-November. They will round out this years volunteer maintenance effort. Then, as in past years, the remaining clearing of the Banadad will occure when snow arrives and the trail packing by snowmobile groomers can take place. These groomers, as they pack, will hand-cut the remaining brush in the remote interior sections of the trail, which volunteers could not reach.

Young when on to state that, “normally there is enough snow to start skiing on the Lace Lake, Tall Pines, Seppala and the eastern end of the Banadad by Thanksgiving. Packing and tracking of the full length of the Banadad is usually completed and the trail opened for skiing by mid-December.”

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