News & Stories
Beyond Perfect- Loppet Ski Club Travels Up North
March 19, 2012
With Mother Nature determinately swaying the season towards spring- the Loppet Ski Club made a final dash to the netherlands of the state to ski the last stronghold of snow. Despite skeptically hitting the trails, the anticipated void of unknown snow-cover gushed with bountiful opportunities to ski, slog, and splash one’s face with water from open streams. What evolved was a movement in skiing joy; a persistent and passionate effort involving two days of free spirited exploration of the Gunflint trail system.
Personal Account of the Loppet Ski Club Trip
Written by Foundation Member, Loppet Volunteer and Classical Group Facilitator: Tony Mommsen
How the Loppet Ski Club Weekend Was Born
As a result of Cook County’s sponsorship of the 2012 City of Lakes Loppet, Loppet Ski Club members were invited to stay the weekend at one of the lodges along the Gunflint Trail. The club occupied one cabin at Bearskin Lodge and a cabin, a short ski away, at Golden Eagle Lodge.
Friday Night (Northern) Lights
6:00 PM, We arrived at Bearskin Lodge, ejected our gear, and were on the trail before dark. Over the next three hours we skied the Poplar Creek Trail, which had pretty good coverage expect for a large open field where we removed our skies and walked. As we skied, we watched the sun set and stars come out. Refusing the use of headlamps, we glided on into the darkness stepping around the newly exposed elements of spring in the path. Looking up, we exhausted our knowledge of constellations but noticed a subtle display of the Northern Lights in the distance – which began to shift and grow in splendor. We wrapped up the evening with pesto/pasta/oatmeal stout and a finger-wrinkling soak in the hot tub.
Whet the Appetite
Saturday morning the McCloughans at Bearskin Lodge provided us with fish scale skis and suggested trails on the northern side of the network. Our first stop was a snowball ambush of the Golden Eagle cabin where other Club members were roosting. With wax thermometers pushing beyond the red klister zone, the “Eagles” opted for a trail run. Our expedition took us around Poplar Lake, over Moose Meadow, along Ridge Run with rocky, elevated views of Poplar Lake and Golden Eagle Lodge; a total of six hours on skis plus a peanut butter and jelly picnic. Along the way we ran into Birkie elite skier Cheryl DuBois with her family, and invited them for potluck. With friends form Grand Marais, Golden Eagle and Bearskin, we enjoyed a spread of chili, veggie hot dish and really home made brownies. Like all meals, we ate on the deck over looking East Bearskin Lake and talked into the night.
Ski + Swim – The New Duathon
Sunday morning we were skiing on the Banadad Ski Trail by 7:30. Amazingly, we still had good snow coverage and were able to stride between the tunnel of trees that had protected the trail from the accelerating snowmelt. We listened to the streams and watched steam rise from the ponds as we glided along this historic trail. After skiing we wrote our account in the lodge journal, said our thank yous and packed. Driving away, we acknowledged the “god of season’s end” (and asked for more snow next year). We stopped in the harbor of Grand Marais where we, according to an earlier signed pact, were required to take a swim in the slightly warming waters of Gitchi Gummi.
- Thank you to the Cook County Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring the Loppet and for inviting the Loppet Ski Club up to the beautiful Gunflint Trail.
- Thank you to the McCloughans of Bearskin Lodge and the Baumanns of Golden Eagle Lodge for hospitality, trail suggestions and loaner fish-scale skis.
- Thank you to the Nordic Ski Foundation and the Loppet Ski Club for making this weekend happen.
- And, in advanced, thank you for next year’s Loppet Ski Club weekend. And the year after that…