Monday, December 29, 2008

First Skiers Through the Banadad This Winter

Gunflint Trail-With the temperature hovering above freezing, the ski conditions on the Banadad Ski Trail were not great, as Erik and Karl Hoeg became the first skier to complete the entire 31 kilometer Banadad non-stop this winter. The two boys time was about 4 hours. They both are very good skiers and they explained afterwards that had the ski conditions been better they certainly would have made the trip much faster. Their parents shuttled a car to the western end of the Banadad then skied in from the western trail head, about 7 kilometers, where they met-up-with Erik and Karl. The pair were staying at one of Poplar Creek Guesthouse’s cabin with their parents.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ham Lake Fire Claims First Fatality

Ted Young, Gunflint Trail- Stephen Posniak, the person charged with starting the fire took his own life just prior to his trial. According to his attorney Mark Larsen said of Posniak, "He was charged with a very serious felony offense for conduct that we would have proven, at worst, was an accident, and I don't think that helped his outlook." Larson also stated that, ”The area was very dear to Posniak, who had visited every year at the same time for 20 years. He was a kind, gentle, 64-year-old former federal employee who found himself on the receiving end of a very serious criminal charge that, in our view, was an exercise in overcharging by the U.S. attorney,"

At the time of Posniak's October indictment, his brother, John Posniak, 62, of Alexandria, Va., said he found the allegations hard to believe. "This would be the first time in his 64 years that something like this has happened," John Posniak said of his brother. "To my knowledge, he's never been in anything more than a traffic ticket."

It is likely that Posniak did start the fire, it is quite clear that he did not start it on purpose. If so it was accident. On May 5 the day the fire started the forest was extremely dry and very windy, lighting any campfire, under such conditions, was a stupid mistake. However, it was not the only stupid mistake that likely contributed to starting the fire.

The day before the fire started outfitters in the forest were surprised to receive the following email from the USFS:

Sent: Friday, May 04, 2007 10:17 AM
Subject: Fire Restrictions

There are no fire restrictions in place for this week in the BWCAW, so
what that means is visitors can have a campfire.

Gunflint Ranger District
2020 W. Highway 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604

The email was sent despite the fact everyone living in the forest was will aware how dry the forest was and that over the next few days high winds were predicted. Lighting any campfire was certainly stupid but what about the actions of the USFS to even allow fires under such conditions? What were they thinking?

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Monday, December 15, 2008

The Nordic Ski Season Starts on the Gunflint

The cross-country skiing season has begun along Minnesota’s famed Gunflint Trail as the snow piles up- over nine new inches of snow fell yesterday. More is expected this week. With yesterday’s snowfall, area lodge owners along the Gunflint report eighteen to twenty inches of snow now on the ground.

Beginning in the village of Grand Marais, Minnesota, on Lake Superior’s North Shore, the Gunflint Trail is a paved pathway winding 60 miles through the Superior National Forest to Saganaga Lake on the Canadian border. In winter the lodge owners cooperatively operate the 216-kilometer Gunflint Nordic Ski Trail Network. This trail network consists of three interconnected ski trail areas; the Central and Upper Gunflint Trails connected by the Banadad. Both classic and skate skiing opportunities are offered amidst an unspoiled Northwoods wilderness backdrop.

According to Bearskin Lodge and Nordic Ski Center’s Bob McCloughan, which along with Golden Eagle Lodge maintains the Central Gunflint Ski System, “the groomers are out on the trails. We expect the trails at our end of the Gunflint Nordic Ski Network to be open for great skiing by this weekend.” Those responsible for the Banadad and Upper Gunflint Ski Trails expressed similar optimism.
Nordic Skiing is by definition an eco-friendly sport but the Gunflint area ski trail managers have taken this one step further. Last year, the Banadad Ski Trail became “carbon neutral” with the purchase of carbon credits to offset the emissions of grooming. This year, the Central and Upper Gunflint ski trail systems are adopting carbon neutral strategies. The cost to sequester the carbon released into the atmosphere from the maintenance and grooming for the Gunflint Nordic Ski Trails will be invested in planting of trees along the Gunflint Trail.

Along with their investment in the environment, lodges along the Trail catering to skiers are offering some new amenities this winter. At Bearskin Lodge, the dining room, which has been closed for a number of years, will open under the direction of noted local chef Judy Barsness of Chez Jude in Grand Marais. Bearskin is also offering dog sled rides this winter.

Skiers skiing the Banadad Ski Trail will find a new Olga’s Hut at Croft Yurt Camp and at the Trail’s eastern end the Tall Pines Trail has been extend to form a new 3.5 kilometer loop trail. Gunflint Lodge is adding a broomball rink. At Gunflint Pines a lighted ski trail is planned. While at Moosehorn Bed and Breakfast skiers will be greeted by new owners.

Winter Events- This winter Gunflint ski lodges are jointing with lodges throughout Cook County in a new winter ski event called Volk ski Festival - planned from January 31 to February 8. Later, Gunflint Trail businesses will celebrate the snowy season during the annual Winter Tracks festival February 26 to March 1.

For more information call Gunflint Skiing at 800-338-6932 or go to Gunflint Skiing.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Duluth Magazine feature B&B Owners

The December issue of Duluth Superior Magazine feature Boundary Country Trekking and Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B owners Ted and Barbara Young. The article authored by Chris Godsey, writes of the Youngs early live prior to moving to the Gunflint Trail and their later life when they moved to the Trail. You can view the article at "A Wild Couple."

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow Continues on the Gunflint Trail

After three to four inches of new snow the last few days on the Gunflint Trail, Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B now has a measured eight inches of snow on the ground. More snow is predicted for Saturday and Sunday. While the Banadad Trails are yet to be tracked, local skiers have been out. It is expected tracking of the Banadad Trails should be getting underway by next week.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Gunflint Trail- Weather Cold Snow on the Way

This morning with clear skies the thermometer dipped to –20 our coldest reading since last winter. However the wind is expected to shift to the south bringing in warm air and most importantly some “lake effect” snow. The National Weather Service (NOAA) in Duluth is forecasting 3-7 more inches of snow starting late this afternoon.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Packing of the Banadad Ski Trail Underway

With about four inches of snow now on the ground, the final stage of maintenance of the Banadad began yesterday. This stage is the packing, which is done by snowmobiles running back and forth along the trail to compact the snow in preparation for setting track. During this process any remaining trees and brush blocking the trail are cleared with handsaws and nippers. Usually the packing takes about of week. After that as soon as another four to six inches of snow falls tracks can be laid down and the Banadad will be opened for skiing.