Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Years Eve on the Trail

This New Year's Eve the Gunflint Trail is blanketed with seventeen inches of snow including a couple of inches of new powder. All the ski trails are open and busy. So you skiers enjoy it!
The skiing is great!!

Most of the Gunflint Trail Winter Lodges are filled. Here at Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B. everything room, cabin and yurt is booked including fourteen skiers from Minnehaha academy's ski team and their coach who will be spenting New Years eve at the Croft Yurt Camp. Biggest group this Yurt Camp has ever held.

As the New Year approaches this evening, the restaurants are gearing up for a big night. At Old Northwoods Lodge, Gunflint Trail chef par excellence is preparing the dinner. According to Gale they have reservations for seventy but they still have some openings. At Gunflint Lodge, according to Lee Kerfoot, "We are planning a five course gourmet dinner; then we have a bonfire from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM. And from 11:00 PM to midnight we will be having appetizers and a champagne toast." At Hungry Jack Lodge, for New Year's, Forrest is cooking- up a steak and champagne dinner.

Windigo Lodge is planning a traditional prime rib dinner special and then of course for late night New Years celebrations Windigo is the place to be! Also just got word from Sarah at Trail Center that they will be featuring an all-you-can-eat crab dinner from 5-10:00 PM. Then, according to Sarah, "it is off to bed for everyone over 40." Hah! No one on the Trail believe this.

Reservations are required at all these restaurants except Trail Center.
The Krauses of Poplar Lake are planning to ski first, then meet a group of friends and going to dinner at The Landing on Devil Track.. They plan on being home early, watch a little TV and go to bed. According to Jo Ann, "we need plenty of rest for skiing. The conditions for skiing are perfect here at Mid-Trail!"

However I believe most Gunflinters are celebrating with quiet get-togethers with friends and relatives. On Hungry Jack Lake, John and Barb Bottger are doing just this- their oldest son and his family are up and they plan to not only take in New Year's but also celebrate their son's birthday.

At the end of the trail the Proms, of Voyageur Outfitters are planning a quiet get together with friends and relatives. Their festivities include a game of poker- Texas Hold Em and some other games. Sue Prom states that, "I imagine we'll try and eat all of the treats tonight so we can start the traditional new year's resolution of losing weight!"

A special New Years treat can be found at the Pattens where they offer sleigh rides. According to Mark Patten, "We'll be doing 5 sleigh rides this night. On the first ride it will be a couple that will be getting engaged at the 'kissing tree'. Our last ride will be 14 people of which 7 will be from Robbinsdale High School class of '69......'kids' that I haven't seen for 36 years! Should be great fun! The last two rides of the evening are large enough that we'll have to use two teams of horses at once, should be very interesting."

Joining the Pattens on one of their rides will be Barbara Young and Rochelle Staley from Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B along with some old friends and long time Hungry Jack Lodge guest Steve and Jan McCrady and their family.

As for Barbara and I it is off to dinner with Rochelle and neighbor Dave Smith, a short stop at Windigo and then after sending the sleigh riders off and running it is off to an early bed as usual for this one. So here is wishing you a great big Happy New Years! And life goes on along the Trail.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

First Through Over Christmas

Late morning on Christmas Eve with the tempetature hovering around thirty, Ken & Andrea Chartier from, Stevens Point, Wisconsin stepped into their skis at the Banadad's western trailhead. Their first nights destination was the Croft Yurt followed by the Tall Pine Yurt the second night. Two days, thirty kilometer, two nights at two yurts and sauna at the finish of their ski the pair became the first to complete the entire Banadad Trail this ski season. Upon completing the trip they said trail was good and the skiing great.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Yurt to Yurt Skiing appears in the Times

Boundary Country Trekking's Yurt to Yurt Skiing programs appeared in the New York Times' Travel Section on Christmas Day. The yurt program was written up with four other hut skiing adventure including the Ten Mountain and Catamount Trail hut adventures.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Banadad Trail Ski Conditions

DATE: December 25, 2005
GROOM/TRACKED TRAIL: 33.8 kilometers- Banadad and Lace Lake Trails
ADDITIONAL COMMENT:Good- Excellent Skiing!
Snow Report Brought to You By the Gunflint Trail's
Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B, Ski-in Cabin and Yurt- on the web Boundary Country Adventure Trips
Ski Yurt to Yurt and/or Lodge to Lodge- on the web

Monday, December 19, 2005

Banadad Trail Ski Conditions

DATE: December 19, 2005





GROOM/TRACKED TRAIL: 9.6 km. groom from eastern trailhead to logging camp


ADDITIONAL COMMENT:Good- Excellent Skiing!

Snow Report Brought to You By the Gunflint Trail's

Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B, Ski-in Cabin and Yurt- on the web Boundary Country Adventure Trips

Ski Yurt to Yurt and/or Lodge to Lodge- on the web

Saturday, December 17, 2005

First Tracks- Banadad Opens

December 16- The clearing and packing of the Banadad Ski Trail was completed and the trail opened for skiing. Tracks were no sooner set before the first skiers arrived. The trio skied from the Tim Knopp Trail on to the Old Logging Camp on the freshly laid tracks.
Current conditions are twenty inches of snow on the ground. Eight to ten inches of snow base on the Trail. Trail tracked from eastern trailhead to the Old Logging Camp. Lace Lake Trail packed and will be tracked on Monday, December 19.

Friday, December 16, 2005

What it takes-Opening a Wilderness Ski Trail- the Banadad

Ski trails just do not appear tracked and ready for you to step into your skis and head out. Many hours of labor are required before the first tracks can even be set. In the case of the BWCA's Banadad Ski trail this is even truer!

Twenty-six kilometers of the Banadad lies within the BWCA Wilderness. Within the BWCA all maintenance must be done with hand tools. And this takes time- lots of it!

This year Boundary Country Trekking (BCT), which maintains and tracks the Banadad logged 604 person hours of labor, just to get the trail open for skiing. Within the wilderness portions of the trail all the work was done by hand and usually required crews to walk and in two-instance canoe many miles just to get to their work site on the trail.

According to Ted Young, trail administrator from BCT, "opening the Banadad is always demanding due to the Forest Service's restriction on the use of power tools within the BWCA. However, this year it was particularly difficult as a result of several sever windstorms that wiped through the area in mid November. In the storms' wake the trail was littered with down trees. But as always, we got the job done. The Banadad is open and is now tracked.
This year's Banadad trail work began in early fall. The first maintenance crew was a six person team from the U.S. Forest Service who canoed into Rush Lake where they set-up a base camp and from there they worked on a remote 1/2 mile section of the trail. Because of the remoteness of this section, it had been years since it was last cleared.

Then over the weekend of October 21 twelve members of the Twin Cities' based North Stars Ski Touring Club augmented by BCT's staff put in over 200 person hours working on the trail. The North Stars first assignment was another remote interior section on the trail's west-end. To get to this section the North Stars first canoed one and one-half miles down Tucker Lake. Near the west-end of the lake they landed their canoes. From here they "bushwhacked" through the woods along an unmarked section line 3/4-mile climbing over trees and through the thick brush to the trail.

By noon it began to rain.

On the trail the North Stars' divided into two groups- the larger group, armed with loppers, hand saws and a pole saw headed east to cut the side brush and trees that was slowly choking off the ski trail's right-away. The smaller group headed west - their assignment was to cut out any major trail brush or down trees.The crews worked all day; the rain continued. By the end of the day the soak crew had successfully widened 1/2 remote mile and opened another mile and one-half of the Banadad. Then it was "bushwhacking" back through the woods to the lake, paddling back down the lake to the canoe landing and return to their home base. Needless to say the crew was wet and cold upon their return. The next day, Saturday, with the rain still coming down the North Stars crew's assignment was to widen the most heavily skied section of the Banadad from the eastern trailhead to the Lizz Lake Portage. Another wet day with another socking wet crew but by day's end the job was completed.

Locals also pitched in on the trail. On November 11 a group of local skiers removed several large trees and cleared brush from the Banadad's western end. The crew also hand carried in six heavy loads of railing material 3/4 of a mile to the new Dawkins Creek's bridge and then assisted in install the railing.

The Minnehaha Academy High School's Nordic Ski Trail, took on another maintenance assignment. They arrive on November 11 and worked a day and one half logging one hundred plus hours of labor. The first day the team cleared about a mile just east of the new bridge on the trail's west-end.

The next day, November 13, the Gunflint was hit with its first major winter snow storm, when the blizzard conditions stopped at the end of the day five to six inches of new snow was on the ground.The new snow, however, did not stop the Minnehaha Academy's crew from continuing the clearing of the brush from the Banadad. The six girl their coach and another parent spent the better part of this day in the snow working on the trail's eastern end.
By mid November with enough snow on the trail to begin the final opening process BCT's staff took over. BCT crews began packing the trail with snowmobiles towing compactor bars and removing the remaining brush and down trees as they went. This year BCT logged another142 hours during this final trail packing/opening process.

According to Young, " I think all skiers planning to ski the Banadad this year should give a special thanks to the efforts of the North Stars, the Minnehaha Academy Ski Team, and the other volunteers for their help in getting the Banadad open and for the many other years they have volunteer their time on this trail." Young continued, "Without these volunteers I am not sure how we would ever be able to maintain this beautiful wilderness ski trail. Next year if you are planning to ski the trail; how about lending a hand and pitching in on the maintenance."
The Banadad is a 30 km. public tracked ski trail connecting the Central and Upper Gunflint Ski Trail Systems. Most of the trail is within the BWCA. The trail was built 1982 by the USFS under a provision of the 1978 BWCA Act which mandated the creation of new BWCA ski trails and authorized the grooming of some of these trails by snowmobiles. Only two BWCA snowmobile groomed trails, the Banadad and a short portion of the Central Gunflint's Old Logging Camp Trail have been so designated by the USFS.

The Banadad trail system is supported, in part, by the State of Minnesota's Ski Pass. However this State support covers only about half of the actual annual operating expenses of $11,000-$13,000/year and the state contribute nothing toward the cost of plowing the extra parking spaces required to accommodate day skiers. The funds that are receive go to help support the volunteer expanses including, lodging, food, supervisory staff etc. and BCT's staff and equipment.

To help defray costs of providing parking space for day skiers a parking fee is charged at the Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B parking area. Day skiers parking fee is $10/day car. However, parking is free for all volunteers who have worked on the trail this year, members of the North Superior Ski and Run Club and Sugarbush Trail Association members.

Parking at the Banadad's western trailhead located 1/4 mile south of the Loon Lake Public Landing is free. Parking here is limited to 2-3 cars. Access to the trail is also available at the Swamp, Lizz and Meeds Portages from Poplar Lake.

Banadad Maps can be purchased at the Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B for $5; free printable online maps are available at

Large Lakes Freeze and Lots of Snow

The snow started on December 14 and it continued and continued, two days late there was twelve inches at Little Ollie Lake. Closer to Grand Marais from on top of Maple Hill to the Greenwood Road close to two feet of snow fell. This area is traditionally the Gunflint snow-belt. Further up the Gunflint near the end of the trail somewhere around six inches came down.

Currently at Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B there is 19" to 20" inches of snow on the ground.

According to Lee Kerfoot at Gunflint Lodge, Gunflint Lake finally froze over sometime between December 11th and 12th. No word yet about Sag, one of the last lakes to freeze. Meanwhile the smaller lake include Poplar are now safe for winter trail.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Snowshoe Trails Open around Ollie Lake, Ski Trails Not Far Behind

Boundary Country Trekking announce that there now is enough snow on the ground, 8-10 inches, around Ollie Lake for snowshoeing. The snowshoe trails are open! Snowshoers this year can travel on six and one half miles of trails in and around the Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B and the Little Ollie Cabin.

The picture is of the snowshoe bridge across the Poplar Creek.

According to Barbara Young co-owner of Boundary Country Trekking, "this year we added over a mile of new snowshoe trails. You can snowshoe the entire glacial esker ridgeline from the Little Ollie Cabin to Poplar Creek on a new short trail section completed this summer. It is a beautiful view from this ridgeline. Also new this year is a snowshoe trail connecting the Banadad with the Tall Pines Yurt. We already have enough snow to snowshoe. So plan to join us this winter and try your hand at this quiet sport."

Meanwhile, Boundary Country Trekking's staff are clearing the last few miles of the Banadad Ski Trail. They expect to complete their work by December 15 and officially open the entire Banadad for skiing. While not yet tracked the first six mile in from the eastern trailhead is clear and rated as good skiing.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas Letter from the Gunflint Historical Society

Dear Members of The Gunflint Trail Historical Society…Friends and Neighbors,

The winter’s snow has been blanketing Chik-Wauk Lodge in the long-shadowed Superior National Forest. If your thoughts drift to The Gunflint Trail Historical Society’s dream of establishing a historical museum there, you might be wondering if we have made any progress.

The short answer is "yes."

You probably are all aware that in July we had our very first meeting, in September we incorporated, and in October the committee reports were due for our Business Plan. In November the letters of support arrived and the details of the Business Plan were finalized and mailed to the US Forest Service. Our application to the IRS for the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status was also mailed in November.

We had many reasons to celebrate Thanksgiving. Another reason to give thanks was that all of you supported The GTHS with your memberships and donations. Without your continued support, the historical museum will remain only a dream and never become a reality.
You might also like to know that our Grant Writing Committee is busy researching possible areas of support. They have a formidable task and any suggestions would be welcome (contact person: Bruce Kerfoot:

Now it’s time to wish you peace of the season and the hope that the US Forest Service will give us the present we are waiting for…a positive answer to our proposal to partner with them on creating a historical museum in the Chik-Wauk Lodge building.

Blessings of the season,
Betty Hemstad, President
The Gunflint Trail Historical Society

Monday, December 05, 2005

Trail Association Changes Direction

The Gunflint Trail Association (GTA) has voted to eliminate the job of Executive Director and created a new position of Gunflint Travel and Information Center (GTIC) booth Manager. According to Shari Baker, GTA president stated the purpose of the move is to trim salary expense. Ms Baker went on to state that, "we will be streamlining the staffing of the GTIC along with some of the administrative needs. We will be creating the new position of GTIC manager to operate full time out of the GTIC booth. "