Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Gunflint Trail Winter Tracks Festival Kicks-Off Today

The Gunflint second annual Winter Tracks open to day. Amount the first day of event are -Introduction to Ice Fishing at Tuscarora Lodge, Introduction to Snowshoing and a Snowshoe Obstacle Course at Golden Eagle Lodge. This evening Boundary Country Trekking will host, their Mongolian Firepot Dinner while Golden Eagle Lodge will offer a guided Snowshoe trek followed by a Tipi Campfire.

Friday's events include a Shuttle to the end of the Banadad Ski Trail, learn to ski lessons, snow Sculpure, a wildlife Seminar, the Snowshoe obstacle course and Fish Fry. Events schedule for Saturday include; the Banadad Shuttle, snowmobiling, Dog Sled Rides, Broom Ball and more!
The festival ends with a outdoor barbecue and awards dinner dance at Gunflint on Saturday night.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Trail Association Hires New Information Center Manager

The Gunflint Trail Association announced that Heather Mantsch has been hired as Manager of the Gunflint Trail Travel and Information Center in Grand Marais. According to Lynn Pauloski of Clearwater Lodge and member of the Gunflint Trail Trail and Information Center Committee (GTIC), "Heather will have a busy few weeks in front of her learning her new job, helping out at the Winter Tracks Festival, going to Canoecopia in Madison for the Gunflint Trail Booth and getting to know the Gunflint Trail businesses."

Heather is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and has lived and worked in the Madison, Wisconsin area. She enjoys the outdoors and the Gunflint Trail for both winter and summer sports. She is looking forward to living, working, and playing in the area.

The GTIC Manager is a new role set-up by the Gunflint Trail Association. Heather will reports to the GTIC Committee (which is also new). The GTIC committee is currently comprised of Bruce Kerfoot, Lee Kerfoot, Shari Baker, Sue Prom and Lynn Pauloski.

Monday, February 20, 2006

This Winters Coldest to Date

Temperature dropped with lows on February 15 of -15.8, February 16 of -21.1, Februay 17 -21.6 and February 18 of -25.2. These were the lowest temperature record this winter. Last winter's coldest was -34.

Cold yes but certainly not in comparison to most past winters where -30s to -40s were common. Coldest we can remember was during the late 1970's with -54. Who said there is not something to "Globe Warming!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bill Needham- Furniture Builder, Carver, Artist, Woodsman

Dan Nelson, recently wrote to this blog the following;

"With the interest in a museum and the blog as a forum, I was
thinking it would be interesting to put a call out for information about the
classic furniture builders of the trail. As the child of Lee Nelson
Zopff, I am familiar with Billy Needham's diamond willow furniture at
Clearwater Lodge and his great Totem Pole. Some furniture builders
were referred to in the book, A Taste of the Gunflint, also."

Good idea! Does anyone else out there know where any other of Billy's works are located?

Among my recollections of Billy are that he lived in a small cabin on what is now called Needham Road. The cabin was next to the creek and canoe portage from Hungry Jack to West Bearskin
Lakes. I can remember many times stopping to see Billy at his cabin. Usually I would find him busy working on a new wood carving for someone- the floor of his cabin littered with wood shavings. The coffee would appear and we would sit down for a good neighborly conversation about the deer he was feeding, his days working forTommy Banks, the weather or whatever.

Much of Billy's art work still graces many of the cabins and lodges of the mid Gunflint Trail area-you can find his hand drawn map on the walls of most of the cabins on Hungry Jack and at Trail Center. While much of the furniture he built was destroyed when Hungry Jack Lodge burnt down in the 1970's, there still are pieces, in addition to Clearwater Lodge, at the old Swanson Lodge and several cabins on Hungry Jack Lake. His stone work can still be seen at Ilg's and Tommy Bank's cabins on Hungry Jack also.

I am sure there are many other works by Bill around. If anyone know of other works we would certainly be interested in hearing from you.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

February Temps Back to Normal

Thus far this February the average temperature at Poplar Lake on the Gunflint Trail is 12.2 degrees. This is a bit below the ten year average of 14.6 degrees. After the balmy January weather, February's lower temps are a welcome relief.

The Gunflint's ski trails are holding up well. Currently there is sixteen inches of snow in the woods, and 12-14 of snow bass on the Banadad Ski Trail. The entire Banadad is tracked and ski conditions are excellent.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Trail Grooming Can be a Big Problem

February 2, another warm day, Jim Raml, set-out with the snowmobile and tracksetter to lay-down a fresh set of tracks on the Banadad Ski Trail. The tracking was going fine. Approximately 5 kilometers from the western trailhead, Jim turned out onto a beaver pond as had been done many times early this season. However, this time the snowmobile broke through the pond slush-ice plunging the snowmobile and groomer into two feet of slush. Wading in knee deep and at one time waist deep water for over an hour Jim was finally able to free the equipment. He then tracked the remaining western end of the trail. By the time he finished, needless to say, he was wet and cold.

Whether it was the warm January weather or the fact he choose to cross the pond to close to the dam or mostly likely a combination of both we are not sure of yet. But the trail groomers as they go out on the trail are now checking the other two beaver ponds along the Bandadad before tracks are set.