Archive for the ‘Grooming’ Category.

Bandad is Ready to Track

Packing the Banadad this year took three “back-breaking” days of hand cutting and removing many down trees across the trail. Most of these tree were on the east end. Thanks to Tom’s crew which, this fall, hiked the entire west end  removing the down trees as the went there was not many trees across the trail on west end.  Finally the Banadad is packed and open. The grooming crew is ready to go as soon as we get another couple of inches of snow.

The Lace Lake, Tall Pine, part of the Banadad’s eastend and the Knopp Trail are tracked.

First Skiers of the Season through Banadad

Three intrepid skiers from Duluth were the first to ski the entire Banadad this winter season. After spending a night at the Tall Pine Yurt the trio skied the 19 kilometers to the Croft Yurt where they stayed their second night. The weather cooperated the first day’s ski and the track was fairly good. However by the second day’s ski the temperature rose into the thirties and it began to rain. The trail which had some center stubble showing through even before the rain began to deteriorated.   One of the three skiers remarked that until there is fresh snow on the Banadad, “skiers should plan on using their old skis.”

Snow is forecast for today.

First Tracks

tracks 12.

First tracks of the season- 7 km. from the Banadad’s eastern trailhead to Meads Lake Portage.   We have about 6 inches of snow in the woods and about 2-3 of base. But  it it is snowing today.

Meeting with Gunflint Ranger District

Meeting with USFS

Banadad Trail Plan 2012June 29, 2012, 10:00 a.m.

Poplar Creek Guesthouse B & B

Present: Ted Young, John and Barb Bottger, Kate Kelnberger, Pete Harris, Jon Benson (USFS Wilderness Manager), Tom Kaffine (USFS Forestry Technician), (Suzanne Cable,  USFS Asst. District Manager)

John opened the meeting with comments that Ted knows the trail and we’ve had a good format in presenting our plan in past years.

Ted reported that, even with the shortened season (March 18 was last day of skiing), the Banadad had  900 skier days.  Ted tracks the numbers by counting the day permits and adds 10% for those who don’t fill out day permits.  In 12 years of tracking, this is the 3rd highest year.

Jon asked that Ted turn in the day permits to the USFS.  The USFS has started preliminary discussions of making the Banadad the primary entry point but that will be a ways off.

Ted reported that the big project of 2011 was building the bridge between Banadad and Rush Lakes done last  fall.  Three 30’ power poles were put in with the old cedar decking on top.  Volunteers also worked opening the trail in that area.  We had 174 hours of volunteer time by North Star Ski Club and Minnehaha Academy Ski Team.

Jon asked that we turn in the volunteer hours to the USFS as they are tracking as well.

Power equipment is used outside the BWCA, including the Tim Knopp trail, which is an access trail to the first part of the Banadad.

2012 Plans:

West End Reroute Mike and Sue Prom bought property on contract for deed with permission from landowner to proceed.  We will move the trail off the “Rib Lake Rd” but it is unclear how snowmobiles and fisherman will access Tripp Lake.

We have flagged and GPSed the tentative trail.  The south end has already been moved about 50’ to avoid wetlands according to county regulations.

We still need to have the corridor appraised.  The BTA will have to pay for this out of pocket.  The BTA must also provide 25% of grant provided.  A total of $3-4,000 will be the responsibility of the BTA.  Our grant deadline is June 2013.

Can the USFS provide a cash grant of $1,500?  Suzanne made a note to check this out.  This could be under a challenge cost share agreement. Timing – this fall to pay for initial appraisal requirement.

Suzanne would like a letter to Dennis to frame a request for funding to occur on Forest land.  If this funding could happen it would have to come from 2013 fiscal budget  which starts on October 1, 2012.

The BTA will meet on July 9 and will have made a decision on fundraising.  John will contact the USFS with our plans.

Tom has taken on trail responsibilities in this zone.

Jon will ask if Dennis needs to submit a letter of support in this effort.

Volunteer Crew: Within trails remote interior 70-90 hrs. of volunteer time is required to widen 1 mile of trail.

Request:  We could use help along with the MCC.

Prescribed Burn Areas: The burn area is a problem, both Ham Lake and the prescribed burn around Meeds Lake with downed, burned trees.

Request:  That USFS provide a crew to take on this project. Jon suggested that USFS fire people get in there to see if they can clean some of that out.

Remote Trail Widening: MCC crews are lined up to do this work in July.  Ted will make sure this crew gets in to the portage.  Tom is working with Chad on this project.  Tom will have this crew check on the bridge due to recent heavy rains.  This could be delayed due to calls to fires out west.

Outside the BWCA:

1.  Chainsaws are used to clear larger trees.

2.  A tracked vehicle with a brush hog to mow the stubble.

3.  East end of Banadad will be cut with power brush saw.

4.  Moose Trail – 4-1/2 miles mechanically mowed.

5.  East end parking – widen the parking area.

Conclusion: The partnership remains a good one!  Suzanne and Jon will be sure a current letter of agreement is on file.

Delicious “Banadad” cake was served by Barbary Young.  Meeting ended at 11:00 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Barb Bottger



Spring Banadad Bulletin

Greetings from your BTA President!
Ski season ended early this year—but despite a disappointing season for cross country skiers, we saw a lot of activity on the Banadad Trail this year and conditions were pretty good. I hope you were able to get out to the trail for a ski this year. I skied it several times and the conditions were good and the scenery beautiful as always! Ted and Jim did a great job of grooming in tricky conditions—thanks for the great work!
As spring begins, we look to summer and maintenance and planning work.  This issue of the Banadad Bulletin includes information on this year’s grooming report, our upcoming tree planting efforts to offset our carbon footprint from grooming with the snowmobile, an update from our membership committee, and more. Of course the big project we are taking on this year is the relocation of the trail’s western trailhead.
Our organization continues to grow—with the help of many of you! We continue to build our organization capacity and membership base, and will conduct strategic planning this year to ensure our organization has clear goals to ensure we have the capacity to continue stewardship of this wonderful resource, the Banadad Ski Trail.
To all of you who love the Banadad and support our work, a heartfelt THANK YOU!! Please consider getting more involved—we will need volunteers to help with trail maintenance this year, tree planting in May, and are open to your ideas on how to continue to preserve and maintain the Banadad.
Linda Bosma
The 2012 Winter on the Banadad
This past winter the skiing on the trail got off to a slower than usual start. In past years some portions of the trail were skiable by the Thanksgiving holidays. This year serious skiing did get underway by late December.  While ten kilometers of the trail’s eastern end was tracked there was not enough snow on the trail to track the remainder of the Banadad. Then twelve inches of snow fell just before New Year’s followed by another three inches the next night. Following the storm groomers were out and the entire trail was tracked for the first time this season.
On January 6 the first skiers completed the entire trail.  Nicole and Mathew, from Little Falls had that honor. Starting on January 6 from the west end trailhead, the pair skied the 12 kilometers to the Bedew Lake Yurts. After spending two nights at the yurt camp they skied 18 kilometers to the East End trailhead.  After completing the trip they stated that the trail was in good shape and they had a great time.
Unlike most of the state, the ski trails on the Gunflint had great snow and skiing through the winter. Then the week of March 1l came and it all ended! The temperature went-up into the 50’s seemingly over night. On March 18 the last two skiers, clad in t-shirts and shorts were spotted near the eastern trailhead. When ask how the skiing was they stated that, “they were able to ski about 3 km to the first Beaver Pond, but encountered many bare spots.” By the next day with temperatures hovering in the sixties there was little snow left.
This was the first year within the twenty nine year history of the Banadad that there was not enough snow on the Trail to ski into April.  With the Trail’s late opening this makes this year’s season one of,  if not the shortest ski season ever.
Even with the shortened season groomers, Jim Raml, and Ted Young still put-in 124 ½ hours and traveled some 486 miles grooming and tracking the trail this past season.
Trail Highlights- the Midtrail Junction
This is the first of a series of “trail highlights” on interesting features you will find along the trail. Additional trail highlights will be featured in future Banadad Bulletins and we hope to incorporate into future trail maps.
The Mid Trail Junction is located at the northern end of the old logging road that connected the Birch Cliff and Tucker Lake Logging Roads with Finn Lake Logging Road.  The Mid-Trail Junction is the spot were these old logging road came together. The site is located approximately midway along the Banadad.
Members of the Minnehaha Academy Ski Team at the trail’s Mid-Trail Junction- first week in March 2012
Some additional history – Following the 1964 Wilderness Act and 1978 Boundary Waters Act, logging within the Wilderness where these roads were located was prohibited. Beginning in 1982 these road were reopened as a Nordic Ski trail. The purpose of the new 28 kilometer wilderness trail was to link the Gunflint’s Central and Upper Nordic Ski Trails.
The first skiers through this new trail were in 1983. They skied from Borderland Lodge (now Cross River Lodge) to Windigo Lodge. First called the Ski Thru Trail, Artery Trail or Tucker Lake Trail, depending to whom you asked, the trail was officially named, by the Gunflint ski resorts, the Banadad in l984.
More then an Average Number of Skiers on the Trail this Season
With a lack of ski-able snow on most other ski trails in the state and even with the ski season’s slow start it appeared that the Banadad was off to a recorded number of skiers for the Season Then came the mid-March thaw and the season was over. The final total number of skier days for this year was 908. This compared to a past seven year average of 856 skier days.
The number of skier days is tabulated from the BWCA Permits filled out during the season. However, many people do not bother to fill out this permit, particularly “locals.”  To compensate for skiers not filling out permits the number of skiers that fill out permits is multiplied by 10% and this is then added to come out with the yearly estimated total number of skier days.
Banadad Trail Green-Up May 5 and 12
For the past four years the carbon produced by the equipment used to maintain and groom the Banadad Ski Trail has been sequestered in tree planting.  According to the Linda Bosma, BTA President; “tree planting is our way to insure that the maintenance and grooming of the trail remains carbon neutral”.
This year’s Banadad Tree Planting is scheduled for 10:00 AM, Saturday, May 5 and May 12. Planting will last about four to five hours. Meet at the Poplar Creek Guesthouse, 11 Poplar Creek Drive. Tools, tree seedlings and supervision provided.
For those needing lodging for the Tree Planting, Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B and Cabins is offering a special rate of $89/person plus taxes for two nights lodging, Barbara’s famous breakfasts each morning and a trail lunch. If you need overnight accommodations or would like more information, go to lodging or call 800-388-4487 or if in Cook County call 388-4487.
This Year’s Major Project- the Re-route of the Trail’s Eastern Trailhead
Assisted by a Minnesota DNR grant the Banadad Trail Association is working on obtaining easement and relocating a quarter- mile of the trail’s western end. Easement is required on this portion of the trail since it will travel across private land. The current owners of the property are interest in facilitating the easement and trail re-route.
This May Tom Rice, Andy Jenks and Ted Young plan to work on laying out the new trail route. The new route is  expect to be move east of the old trail. As part of the project the parking area will be enlarged and moved off the Gunflint Trail. We hope to have the project completed by next year’s ski season.

Getting the Trail Ready- This Year’s Maintenance Highlights

  • The highlight of this fall’s maintenance occurred on October 17 and 18 when eight volunteers rebuilt the Trail’s old dilapidated thirty-six foot bridge over the Banadad Creek between Banadad and Rush Lakes.  The bridge was in such bad shape that after the crew arrived at the bridge a portion of it collapsed as one of the volunteers walked across. Since the bridge was located in a remote area of the Trail, the construction crew canoed in, spent a night camping  on the trail and canoed out the next day. According to Ted Young, maintenance supervisor, “the old bridge certainly would not have supported the grooming equipment this coming winter.”
The bridge construction crew-Front left to right- Pete Harris (Grand Marais), Len Voit (Gunflint Trail), Lee Wenzel (Eden Prairie), Tom Rice (Shoreview), and Steve Lenius (Woodbury). Back- Ted Young (Gunflint Trail) and Karla Miller (Duluth).
Other maintenance projects this past fall:
  • West end of the Trail Cleared – Again this year five members of the Minnesota Conservation Corps widened one and half miles of the trail’s west end and then walked the entire eight miles of the west end trail clearing down trees as they walked.
  • Half Mile of East end Widened, – BTA’s regular trail maintenance crew member Jim Raml and his dog Blanca “ATVed” up to the BWCA line at the Meads Lake Portage. From there he hiked-in three and one half miles, clearing down trees as he walked. Jim camped on the trail and spent four wet-buggy ten-hour days widening about three-quarters of a mile of the brush-blocked trail. Great job Jim!
  • LaceLake, Tall Pines and Knapp Trails – Located outside the BWCA where mechanical equipment is allowed, chainsaws were used to clear all the summers’ accumulation of down trees. Later the center brush was mowed with a brush hog equipped track Bobcat on the trails outside the BWCA. “The swampier” sections of these trails we plan to clear by hand with a brush saw.
  • Volunteers – working over two weekends twenty-five volunteers from the Banadad Trail Association, Minnehaha Academy Ski Team and North Star Ski Touring Club logged 174 hours clearing  2 ½ miles of brush and down trees at the trail’s two ends. This year volunteers worked exclusively within the BWCA which required that all work be done by hand.
Note from the Membership Committee
If you haven’t become a member, please consider joining to support the trail you love. Annual membership categories range from $15 upwards. Please see the Banadad Trail Association’s website at for more information and to sign up to become a member. We need your support, your muscle, and your pocketbook! The Banadad Trail Association is a 501 (c) (3) organization and your donations are tax deductible.
Support the Banadad Ski Trail by Joining the Banadad Trail Association! Click on membership to join

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Banadad Closes for the Season.

Sorry folks, it is all over.  On March 18 the last two skiers of the season skied on the Banadad. They were able to ski about 2 km to the first Beaver Pond, but encountered many bare spots. By the next day with temperatures hovering in the fifties there was little snow left.

This was the first year within the twenty nine year history of the Banadad that there was not enough snow on the Trail to ski well into April.  And with the Trail’s late opening this makes this year’s season one of if not the shortest ski season ever.

Year’s First Thru-Skiers on the Banadad

Two skiers from Little Falls, Minnesota, Nicole and Mathew were the first to ski the entire Banadad this season. The pair started on January 6 from the west end trailhead and skied the 12 kilometers to the Bedew Lake Yurts. After spending two nights at the yurt camp they skied the 18 Kilometers to the east end trailhead.  After completing the trip they stated that the trail was in good shape and they a great time.

New Years Day- Plenty of Snow on the Banadad

Twelve inches of snow now on the Ground after another three inches fell last night. The Gunflint’s Nordic trails are open. Along the Banadad Ski Trail System ten kilometers of trails are tracked on the eastern end. The BWCA longest tracked trail the Banadad has been packed and plans are to track the entire trail early this week  The snow is beautiful!

Great Spring Skiing- April 5

Late Spring Skiing

Eighteen inches of snow, including eight fresh heavy wet snow over past weekend.  East end of the Banadad, Knapp and Lace Lake Trail tracked Monday. The snow is beautiful!  And of course do not forget “crust skiing” – you can travel anywhere.

Spring Banadad Bulletin

Current Ski Conditions on the Banadad

This past weekend three parties skied the entire trail. Along the way they stayed overnight in the Croft Yurt at Bedew Lake. Reporting on conditions along the trail, each group stated that the trail remains in excellent shape. While the track early in the morning was frozen hard, the light snow that has been occurring overnight during the past few days has mitigated the potential icy conditions.

With over twenty inches of snow on the ground, and more snow on the way, it is likely that the Banadad will remain open and ski-able well into April. For current trail conditions go to the Banadad Trail Associaiton’s website.
Then Don’t Forget about Spring Crust Skiing
If you are on the Gunflint Trail this time of year, it is a good time to get out and cross-country ski on the crust of the snow. It’s almost effortless skiing, especially if you use the skate-skiing technique. Crust is best after a few days of thaw conditions followed by cold nights. Every day is different, so just go out and see what it’s like. Crust sets up best in the mornings, and sometimes the sun will soften the crust too much by midday or early afternoon. If you hit the right conditions, it’s great going.
Crust skiing takes place on the Gunflint from the end of March through early April. When conditions are right the lakes are turned into giant flat ski trails enabling skiers to travel from lake to lake and to get into remote BWCA lakes.
January –  Banadad Ski Trip
Karla Miller, Banadad Trail Association Board Member (BTA) I love the woods and I love to ski, but I was still a bit apprehensive about the Banadad trip. While I’ve worked on this trail, walked it, and skied parts of it, I hadn’t gone end to end until this year. The first day we would go 19k between the two yurts and the second day 12k heading out to the trailhead. The trails I frequent locally are short, or they allow me to cut back if I’ve had enough skiing for one day. With this linear trail I would most certainly be committed and totally immersed in the northern wilderness.
The four of us women (two veteran Banadad skiers- Linda Bosma, Trail Association President, and Chris Matter, Trail Association Board member, and two newbies- Linda Whitehead and I) embarked on our adventure, skiing two kilometers from the Poplar Creek Guest house parking lot late Saturday afternoon to the Tall Pines Yurt. It was a short but wonderful ski through the woods as we enjoyed the trail and chatted along the way.
That night at the yurt we had invited Barbara and John Bottger and Ted Young to join us for supper. It was an evening filled with laughter, conversation and fine cuisine. We enjoyed Linda B’s awesome shrimp pasta, salad and garlic bread, along with and delectable almond cheesecake dessert provided by our guests. The trip was off to a great start.
Low temperature Saturday night was –32, but the yurt stayed warm (some would say HOT), especially for Linda W who drew the short straw and the top bunk. She was awfully quiet, on top of her sleeping bag in shorts and a t-shirt. When asked if she was ok, her relaxed response (without even opening her eyes) was, “yeah, I’m imagining I’m laying on the beach.”
From the two women, Linda and Chris, who had been doing this trip for 16 years now, we were given good advice: “Remember to pack moleskin, layer up with wicking fabric, and no cotton!” Those veterans wisely refused to let me join them if I didn’t get rid of the cotton I packed, and even gave me the shirt from their pack.
Before breakfast (and before the mercury had reached 0) on Sunday morning, I walked down the path to Hooker Lake. Standing there, bundled up, taking in the view, my eyes watered as I stood in awe, with the pink sky beyond the pines and the silent snow-blanketed lake. No usual swooping Gray Jays looking for a handout, but at a closer look there were signs of prior activity, including the trail of an otter who had been hopping and sliding along the edge.
Fresh fruit, oatmeal, coffee and juice made for a good ski breakfast. (See Yurt Cooking with Chris on You Tube for a closer look.) We headed out about 11 a.m. for our first full day of skiing, with temps at about 7 degrees. Really it was perfect weather! Hard to believe I’m saying that after finding myself normally shivering in those conditions as I run between house, car, and office. Once in a while, skiing the trail, I would get cold fingertips, but that seemed to pass quickly as I’d just clench them together in my mitten for a few minutes.
It is like a soul massage – – gliding down the Banadad trail through the Boundary Water wilderness with snow draped trees on either side. Exhilarating and breathtaking views all the way as we passed thick pines, peeling birch, high areas with lakes in the distance, low swamp areas, and evidence of past “blowdowns” and burns. We shared the trail with a few grouse running across the trail in front of us and then watching us pass from behind a tree. While the four of us skied apart at times, we were careful to join up for water breaks and a quick lunch on the trail, sitting on a space blanket with a banquet of venison, cheese, fruit, trail mix, bars & crackers.
On that initial east end section of the trail I didn’t seem to have a lot of gliding going on, which was probably due in part to the conditions and a somewhat level trail. As we neared the Croft Yurt we were able to take advantage of some downward slopes. You can’t help but squeal “whee!!!” gliding down those hills – some of them are best snowplowed half way down first.
We arrived at the Croft Yurt around 5 pm just as the wind was really starting to pick up. Ted was there with the fire going already and had transported our gear via a separate snowmobile trail access. Creamy wild rice soup, grilled cheese and a cold Leinie’s rounded out a perfect day. I had the top bunk that night and was quite comfortable laying there listening to the fire crackle and the wind howl outside the yurt.
The next morning after another hearty breakfast of oatmeal, we left the Croft Yurt about 10 a.m. and headed out on freshly groomed trails. Initially, the trail goes up what seemed to be an endless hill. It was obvious my wax had a bit to be desired this early as I labored up the hill, working hard not to slide back down. I learned the danger of duck walking up that hill at one point when the tip of my ski caught on a young birch tree, shaking loose the snow on its branches directly on to me.
That trek uphill was well worth the effort and provided a good warm up, even though I was complaining all the way. While there were some additional upward inclines to tackle, for the most part it seemed most of the trail on the west end was downhill. At 17 degrees, it was perfect skiing weather. It was too short of a ski, as we reached the car shuttled to the trailhead within about 3 1/2 hrs.
Yes, I skied the Banadad and I realized the cost of the trip and my BTA membership are quite a deal. Back in this busy life of civilization I’m still reliving the vivid memories of gliding on that wonderful single-track groomed trail through the BWCA wilderness.
The Greening of the Banadad- Tree Planting
For the last three years the carbon produced by the equipment used to maintain and groom the Banadad Ski Trail has been sequestered in tree planting. This carbon offset will continue this year. The Banadad Trail Association will be planting 400 red and white pine trees along and near the Banadad.
If you would like help in the tree planting, give us a call at 218-388-4487. The Banadad Tree Planting is scheduled for 10:00 AM, Saturday, May 14. Meet at the Poplar Creek Guesthouse, 11 Poplar Creek Drive. Tools and supervision provided.
If you need overnight accommodations, go to Green-up Specials.
Depending on the weather there should be about two weeks or so of skiing left this season on the Banadad. And of course don’t forget “spring crust skiing!” For current conditions and the latest news tune into the Banadad Trail Association’s website.