Archive for March 2011

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.