Monday, February 25, 2008

Winter rolling along

I've gotten so used to squeezing in ski times when the weather allows, in those wondrous days in January or February when we finally get some snow. This year, I've been able to stop that panicked feeling of "if I don't ski today, I won't ever ski again." We've been skiing in Duluth for over two and a half months.

Here is a picture of the Piedmont ski trails in Duluth, my regular haunt.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ach! The tragedy! Der Pisten-Bully ist kaput

The groomers at the city of Duluth have been doing a great job turning "luge run" trails, frozen over by time, rain, and 30-below nights, into reasonable ski trails again with their deep-tilling groomer. But, according to the ski trail hotline (218-730-4321), the groomer is broken. Badly. It won't be back out for a while.

Which gets me thinking. How important is this technology to my pristine outdoor experience? Not only do I drive my high-tech car miles to the trailhead, but I really like the trails that have been run over first by the even higher-tech groomer.

Back in the day, when I was working up in Ely at Camp Widjiwagan and skiing on the trails out the back door, it was a huge deal to go out and snowshoe the trails after a big snow, then ski them afterward to set the track. But mostly they all got skied in. "Skier-groomed" is the term, I think. Then I discovered the thrill of groomed trails and nearly never looked back. My kids have learned on groomed trails and hardly know what to do with themselves without an even set track.

Well, yeah, it was nice. But City of Duluth groomers, get that part or whatever it is you need quick, okay?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Lots of snow...we need snow

According to the weather folks, we have about 12" of snow on the ground here in Duluth, or about average in terms of percentile. I've been skiing for two months already. But we need, fresh snow. Yesterday the forecasters tempted us with visions of 4-6" of new stuff, but only a half-inch fell. Tragedy.

Maybe drive to Brule and the Afterhours Trail?

Two websites you gotta bookmark for monitoring winter conditions in Minnesota:

This is updated every week (on Thursday) and gives you snow depth statewide. One map gives you the current snow depth, and the other shows you how this week's snowdepth compares to snowdepth historically, i.e. what percentile this amount of snow falls into compared to other years.

This shows Lake Superior conditions. Click through to the latest "Great Lakes Surface Environmental Analysis." It combines lake surface water temperatures with current ice coverage. Yes, Lake Superior is frozen over as far as my eye can see, but there's still open water in the middle. The crazy ice anglers are headed out from the mouth of the Lester River.