I hope that you all enjoyed “the seasons without snow”, but like me, you are anxious to get back on your skis and enjoy Winter!
Status Summary: Our 15 km of trails are now cleared of trees and have been mowed and edged. If it snows tonight, we are ready to begin grooming tomorrow. Our trails and facilities for the coming season remain unchanged from last season. Our membership prices will remain the same.
The Long Version:
Last season was a success. We began grooming on December 2nd, lost four days of skiing during the January warm-up, then resumed skiing on most trails into March. We preserved snow on some trails such that our last ski day was April 13th!
We expected work on the new Edison High School to begin in May – with expected impact on the 10km trails immediately behind North Star school/United Health – but, for a number of reasons, that work was delayed until it became impractical to begin this year.
We had a successful camping season and hosted campers from all over the U.S. and Canada.
We began Trail Maintenance and Improvements in June, with a goal of widening narrow spots on the trails and improving low (wet) spots. Then, came the Great Storm of 21 July!
Fortunately, we had no campers that night, because we had trees down in most campsites. We had one tree down on the roof of the chalet. Our trails were completely blocked – there were 12 downed trees on the first 100 meters outbound from the trailhead, alone.
We began clearing on 22 July, first priority being the campsites and trail sections that access the campsites. We hosted the campers with reservation that night. Next we moved onto the 5K trail, then Special K and the Biathlon course, and finally into the 10K trails. As we cleared, we mowed and edged. The 5K was completely clear on 30 August, and we got the last tree off the 10K trail on 4 Oct. The bright side to the storm is that it brought down trees that probably needed to come down and, being out there with the chainsaws gave us the opportunity to cut-back saplings and widen some narrow sections.
To focus on cutting and clearing and moving forward, we stacked cut logs and branches on the side of the trails, and we are now removing that debris, mostly by trailering it out for chipping.
With the trails cleared, the other major casualty was our 5K trail lights. They were devastated by the storm. We have hired an electrician to restore the lighting, but the job and costs are such that we will probably not have the full 5K lighting restored this season. Our priority is first to light the parking lots and “Sledding Hill”, then to restore lighting in ever-expanding “loops” outbound from the trailhead. For example a 1K lighted loop out the 5K to the 2nd KidSki cutoff, then back to the Chalet via the 5K return trail. We will expand the lighting as we overcome the problems. We will remain open for night skiing, and encourage night-skiers to add a Headlamp to their gear bag.
Our relationship with the developer remains positive, and we plan to evolve as development begins next summer, adapting to whatever comes and remaining a great place to ski, into the future.
2016/17 Memberships: I confess that all of the trail work has put me behind on mailing-out membership brochures! They are in production and will be mailed/distributed by the end of the month. Our membership prices will remain the same as last season:
Family: $179 * / $239
Individual: $109* / $149
Student: $59* / $97
Over 80: $Free
* = “Early Bird Sale Price if membership is received by 30 November 2016 (We extended this due to the flyers going out later than usual)
Your membership is good until 31 October 2017 and in addition to unlimited skiing, entitles you to 2 nights of camping during the “other” seasons. We are also entering a “Reciprocity Agreement” with a couple of ski areas in Northern Wisconsin, which will entitle our members to a free day of skiing, details to be coming.
With the 5K lighting reduced, we did consider reducing membership prices, however the costs to repair and restore the lighting for this and future seasons weighed against that. We are going to replace broken lights with new, LED lighting, so I hope you will recognize this as an investment in future ski seasons at Snowflake.
- We have hired Jim Wood, a long-time trail-groomer at Snowflake, to the trail maintenance and grooming team this year.
- We are hiring 2 additional groomers, which will give us 5 total, to improve the scheduling of snow grooming this season.
- We have hired a “Website Person” to update our website ( www.skiduluth.com ). New 2016/2017 membership forms available for download from our Season Pass page.
- Our “Website Person” will also get our Facebook page squared away, and I am going to get a Smart Phone, so that we can post regular updates on conditions at Snowflake.
- We have commitments to host East High School Nordic, DXC KidSki, Marshall Holiday Ski Camp, and Northern Lights Ski Program again this season.
- We will again organize a charter bus to the Book Across The Bay ski event at Washburn WI in February.
That’s the update! We appreciate your membership and support in the past, and look forward to seeing you up here this season. I encourage you to come up and take a brisk walk, or a run, on the trails. Bring your ski poles and do some nordic walking! If you see something that concerns you, let us know and we’ll fix it. If you just like what you see, we like to hear that, too. Thanks for your membership.
John Graham ( & John Gould, & the Snowflake Team)