For North Shore nordic skiers, this has been a tough week. A big thaw settled in over the region and melted away probably half of the snow in the woods. Cross country ski trails will be hard-packed and icy until we get more snow.
Fortunately, there are places on the North Shore where there is still plenty of snow, and where they have big machines to grind up the crust and create soft, ski-able conditions. The ski season has gone downhill...literally.
And let's face it, downhill skiing is a blast.
Lutsen Mountain should have very good ski conditions this week. The Big Wu is playing at Papa Charlies Saturday and Sunday. Lutsen says you can "let the Big Wu loosen the straps of your daily burden with real vibrations."
Spirit Mountain is also in fine shape, with four to five feet of snow on the slopes. If you can wait until March to get your fix, there's a great deal to be had: buy your first-time season pass for next year for cheap, and it's good all this spring too. One year, our family skied five or six times in March on this deal alone.
North Shore downhill skiing doesn't have to be super-expensive. Spirit Mountain has family deal Monday through Thursday evenings, where a family of four can ski for $25. Check out Mont du Lac in far western Duluth (actually in Wisconsin). A family skis all day there for $39. For the ultimate bargain, check out Chester Bowl in the middle of Duluth, where day passes cost around $6.
It's still snowy winter, despite the thaw. Make the most of it!