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Nothing is as easy as it looks

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The Blue Hills Trail Association Inc pursued an aggressive agenda for trail work this summer.  Now in mid August, we feel we've reached most of our goals.  Many thanks to the Rusk County Forestry Department, the Wisconsin DNR, and the Rusk County Wildlife Restoration Association (WRA) for their help.

When enjoying these trails while hiking/hunting/skiing this fall and winter, take a moment to consider the work that goes into taming mother nature. The past couple days I gained a new appreciation of the difficult task of mowing our trail system. Club member Steve Porn operated the skidsteer-mower donated by the WRA, and I cleared debris ahead of him while scouting for hidden rocks. A few hours after starting the mowing, Steve's skidsteer slipped off a steep embankment and was stuck in a perilous spot. After Steve cautiously exited the machine, we phoned for help and were rescued by one of our highly skilled local DNR dozer operators. Three hours after the skidsteer left the trail, we were back in action.

Mowing continued into the next day. Thanks to the drying conditions this summer, we felt fortunate to reach our goal of negotiating and mowing about ten typically soft muddy wet sections on the most distant trails of the Eastside. As we were completing the final hour of mowing operations, we found one of the many hidden rocks the Blue Hills has to offer. The head of the bolt securing the mower blade was sheared off, the blade went flying like a piece of shrapnel -- and fortunately humans and equipment survived without significant injury. Hard work, but enjoyable time in the Hills.

As stated earlier, I have a much greater appreciation for those that have mowed these trails the past 30 years. And I'm excited about the other trail work that was accomplished this summer. A lot of dozing of eroded areas was performed in July, then seeded within the past couple weeks. Grass has sprouted, those newly greened trail sections look inviting, and should provide good bird hunting habitat in addition to improvements that will enhance our winter cross country skiing.Thanks to the following for help with summer trail maintenance/improvement:

  • Rusk County Forestry - major culvert planning, provision of the culvert, tree clearing in anticipation of mowing, mowing of the Westside trails and portions of the Eastside trails, and provision of grass seed.
  • DNR (Ladysmith Center) - planning and dozing of multiple trail segments to enhance erosion control, dozing for insertion of the culvert, guidance with placement of the culvert silt fence, and rescue operation of the immobilized skidsteer mower.
  • Blue Hills Trail Assn Inc. - $300 fee for DNR culvert permit, gas for mowing operations.
  • Rands Trucking (Ladysmith) - two rolls of silt fence (donated).
  • BHTA members Frank Lowry, Jan Paulsen and Tom Paulsen (bridge repair); Tom Paulsen and Jonathan Stanley (trail inspection); John Carr, Tom Paulsen, Jerry Schneider (install silt fence around new culvert and spread grass seed); Dan Bale and Tom Paulsen (spread grass seed); John Ziemer (donated use of his ATV); Dan Bale (use of his truck); Steve Porn and Tom Paulsen (mowing); Steve Porn and Jerry Schneider (clearing of the Westside Trails); Dan Bartels (mowing).
  • Ladysmith Driftbusters Snowmobile Club member Tom Haasl - instructions in use of the WRA skidsteer mower.
trail mowing summer 2012
Trail mowing during summer 2012
skidsteer slipped off the edge of the trail
Tall grasses made it difficult to identify the edge of the trail
bulldozer pulls the skidsteer back onto the trail
DNR dozer rescues the skidsteer mower
orange driveway markers delineate the edge of the ski trail
Same corner where the mower dropped off the side of the trail. There's a deep ravine to your right.
grass sprouting on recently dozed ski trail
Grass sprouting on recently dozed trail - East Side of the Blue Hills Trail
silt fence installed at site of new culvert
New culvert and adjacent silt fence
adding rock rip rap to protect upstream side of a new culvert
John Carr adding rock (riprap) to help protect the upstream side of the new culvert
2 volunteers celebrate installation of new culvert
John Carr and Jerry Schneider celebrating a job well done

Image information: If you want to save any images from this blog post for yourself, simply right click the full size image to obtain the original. Higher quality images are available by contacting our website.  To avoid copyright infringement, reprints must credit the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc.

Nothing is as easy as it looks

HomeDouble right arrow iconMowingDouble right arrow icon

The Blue Hills Trail Association Inc pursued an aggressive agenda for trail work this summer.  Now in mid August, we feel we've reached most of our goals.  Many thanks to the Rusk County Forestry Department, the Wisconsin DNR, and the Rusk County Wildlife Restoration Association (WRA) for their help.

When enjoying these trails while hiking/hunting/skiing this fall and winter, take a moment to consider the work that goes into taming mother nature. The past couple days I gained a new appreciation of the difficult task of mowing our trail system. Club member Steve Porn operated the skidsteer-mower donated by the WRA, and I cleared debris ahead of him while scouting for hidden rocks. A few hours after starting the mowing, Steve's skidsteer slipped off a steep embankment and was stuck in a perilous spot. After Steve cautiously exited the machine, we phoned for help and were rescued by one of our highly skilled local DNR dozer operators. Three hours after the skidsteer left the trail, we were back in action.

Mowing continued into the next day. Thanks to the drying conditions this summer, we felt fortunate to reach our goal of negotiating and mowing about ten typically soft muddy wet sections on the most distant trails of the Eastside. As we were completing the final hour of mowing operations, we found one of the many hidden rocks the Blue Hills has to offer. The head of the bolt securing the mower blade was sheared off, the blade went flying like a piece of shrapnel -- and fortunately humans and equipment survived without significant injury. Hard work, but enjoyable time in the Hills.

As stated earlier, I have a much greater appreciation for those that have mowed these trails the past 30 years. And I'm excited about the other trail work that was accomplished this summer. A lot of dozing of eroded areas was performed in July, then seeded within the past couple weeks. Grass has sprouted, those newly greened trail sections look inviting, and should provide good bird hunting habitat in addition to improvements that will enhance our winter cross country skiing.Thanks to the following for help with summer trail maintenance/improvement:

  • Rusk County Forestry - major culvert planning, provision of the culvert, tree clearing in anticipation of mowing, mowing of the Westside trails and portions of the Eastside trails, and provision of grass seed.
  • DNR (Ladysmith Center) - planning and dozing of multiple trail segments to enhance erosion control, dozing for insertion of the culvert, guidance with placement of the culvert silt fence, and rescue operation of the immobilized skidsteer mower.
  • Blue Hills Trail Assn Inc. - $300 fee for DNR culvert permit, gas for mowing operations.
  • Rands Trucking (Ladysmith) - two rolls of silt fence (donated).
  • BHTA members Frank Lowry, Jan Paulsen and Tom Paulsen (bridge repair); Tom Paulsen and Jonathan Stanley (trail inspection); John Carr, Tom Paulsen, Jerry Schneider (install silt fence around new culvert and spread grass seed); Dan Bale and Tom Paulsen (spread grass seed); John Ziemer (donated use of his ATV); Dan Bale (use of his truck); Steve Porn and Tom Paulsen (mowing); Steve Porn and Jerry Schneider (clearing of the Westside Trails); Dan Bartels (mowing).
  • Ladysmith Driftbusters Snowmobile Club member Tom Haasl - instructions in use of the WRA skidsteer mower.
trail mowing summer 2012
Trail mowing during summer 2012
skidsteer slipped off the edge of the trail
Tall grasses made it difficult to identify the edge of the trail
bulldozer pulls the skidsteer back onto the trail
DNR dozer rescues the skidsteer mower
orange driveway markers delineate the edge of the ski trail
Same corner where the mower dropped off the side of the trail. There's a deep ravine to your right.
grass sprouting on recently dozed ski trail
Grass sprouting on recently dozed trail - East Side of the Blue Hills Trail
silt fence installed at site of new culvert
New culvert and adjacent silt fence
adding rock rip rap to protect upstream side of a new culvert
John Carr adding rock (riprap) to help protect the upstream side of the new culvert
2 volunteers celebrate installation of new culvert
John Carr and Jerry Schneider celebrating a job well done
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How to view images: To see larger versions of the thumbnail photos above, click on the thumbnail. If you want to save the image for yourself, simply right click the full size image to obtain the original. Higher quality images are available by contacting our website.  To avoid copyright infringement, reprints must credit the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc.

Blue Hills Trail

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What a fantastic week of skiing it was! Celebrate our week long ‘Virtual Birkie Races’ by visiting our blog. Link in bio ⬆️ #bluehillstrailwisconsin #birkiefever #winterwisconsin #wisconsinwinter
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Fresh snow Wednesday morning, fresh grooming Wednesday evening, then Thursday sunshine and temps in the mid thirties. A perfect Bluebird day in the Blue Hills - another memorable day for Virtual Birkie skiers. Congrats to all! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #bluebirdday
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2” fresh snow Sunday evening, then groomed about 3/4 of the trail system Sunday night. Found untouched fresh corduroy this morning. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #freshcorduroy #skitrails #skitrailgrooming #winterwisconsin
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Mighty fine skiing today. Look at all these smiley faces! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #nordicskiing #kidsonskis #winterfun #ruskcountywi #birkiefever2021 #birkiefever
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Classic classic track. Shady Way trail on the East Side. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #birkebeiner #waxmyskis #snowisfun
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Monday sunrise -25 F was coldest day of this otherwise mild winter. Reached zero by mid afternoon when classic skiing was a kick! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #bluehillstrail #colderthanapolarbearstoenails #winterfun #belowzero
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Cold, sunny days. A good time to explore our snowshoe trails. Human rope tows are a FUNctional assist on the steeper hills. Swipe to see a video example. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #wisconsinsnowshoeing #northwoodswisconsin #ruskcounty #subzerofun
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Come ski the Hills! Virtually! The Blue Hills Trail is excited to be a BIRKIE VIRTUAL VENUE PARTNER. We've outlined three separate race routes for our trail system. A snapshot of one of those routes is shown with this post. VISIT OUR BLOG to see the rest of the routes and get the details. Link in Bio ⬆️ #bluehillstrailwisconsin #birkiefever #americanbirkebeiner
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Single digits Fahrenheit. Toko mint grip wax. A classic day on Excelsior Road. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #skiclassic #tokowax #kickwax #wisconsinwinter
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This is the steep straight down/up portion of our trail that connects our East and West Side trails (located between J and K on the West Side). Swipe to see what’s hiding under the snow. Last fall Scott Gudis Sand & Gravel (Bruce, WI) did a great job of replacing a damaged culvert. Thanks to Scott, we can safely ski this hill. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #culvertreplacement #heavyequipmentoperators #brucewisconsin #skiingisfun
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Excelsior Road and West Side trails: THE place to ski yesterday. Fantastic conditions! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #groundhogsday #classicskiing #skateski
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Another day full of smiles at the Blue Hills Trail. Ain’t winter great! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #aintwintergrand #wisconsinwinter #xcskiinglife
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The equipment that grooms our ski trails takes a beating. We recently were again amazed by the capabilities of a nearby machine shop that fabricated a special washer for improving the durability of our Camoplast tracks. Visit our latest blog post to be amazed: link in bio⬆️ #bluehillstrailwisconsin #cphenterprises #waterjetcutting #ruskcountywi
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Gator rescue! Our John Deere Gator suddenly stalled out on a steep hillside a couple days ago. Yesterday we got it running, and were able to move it back to our trailhead before it quit again. Swipe to see the 5 videos showing the rescue. Now it’s time for Dr. Gator. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #gatorrescue #winterchallenges #skitrailgrooming
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Dynamite grooming. Dynamite skiing. Come Ski the Hills! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #bluehillstrail #covidescape #skiforfun #ruskcountywi
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Video shows our groomer looking ahead while setting classic track behind. Swipe for photo of finished results on ‘Excelsior Road’ trail. Nice to see the sun again. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #skitrailgrooming #powdersnow❄️ #foresttherapy #freshcorduroy #fluffypowder
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Rollercoaster Trail at Blue Hills Trail. Built a dozen years ago, anyone can ski it in the uphill direction. Downhill, it’s a bit of a thrill. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #rollercoasters #rollercoasterride #skicrosscountry #funonsnow
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At the Blue Hills Trail, “what goes down, must come up”. Plenty of hills to satisfy your training needs. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #getoutside #cardioworkout #crosscountryskiing #skateskiing
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January 20, 2021. A very good day. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #bluehillstrail #otterslide #fastskis #skinnyskis #ruskcountywi
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Busy Sunday in the Blue Hills. Skate skiing on the ‘Gravel Road’. Classic skiing on the East Side Ridgeline. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #snowislife #skiforfun #wisconsinlife
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Photo shows our trails midday today. Surprisingly firm and skiable despite warm temps and some rain. We’re gonna try grooming this evening. Please be patient, it might take a few days to get yesterday’s new snow up to snuff. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #bluehillstrail #skitrailgrooming #aintwintergrand #heavywetsnow #wegotsnow #winterwisconsin
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A quick lesson in ski trail grooming: With snow headed our way, this was a good day to use our trail compactor to level the high spots and washboard on a few select trails. Should result in a smoother skate deck. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #skitrailgrooming #snowgrooming #skateskiing #skateski #ruskcountywi #bluehillstrail
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Hoar frost / Rime frost topping on the trails today January 12th. Wonderful skiing - do yourself a favor and SKI THE HILLS January 13th - you’ll be happy you did. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #bluehillstrail #foresttherapy #ruskcountywi #getyourvitamind #iloveskiing #escapetothehills #winterinwisconsin
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As Good As It Gets! Two January 10 videos show great skiing on Excelsior Road - Blue Hills Trail in northwest Wisconsin. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #xcclassicski #skiclassic #skateski #asgoodasitgets #januaryinwisconsin #wisconsinwinter
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Another fun day getting my kicks in the Hills. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #xcclassic #xcskier #chasingyourdream
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Not much snow, but our groomers have made the most of it. Two videos showing good skiing on the East Side trails - January 6, 2021. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #januaryinwisconsin #wisconsinlife #wisconsinoutdoors #wisconsinwinter #skateski #ruskcounty
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A ‘Rime Frost’ blue skies sunny day - fun day for skiing the Blue Hills Trail. Pictures are from the West Side of the trail system. Swipe for video taken on the ‘Lollipop’. Trail conditions updated daily at website, link in Bio ⬆️ #bluehillstrailwisconsin #fundayonskis #wisconsinwinter #sunnyski #mansbestfriend🐶 #justenoughsnowforme #justenoughsnowtoski
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Sun burnt off the fog, visitors enjoyed a hoarfrost snowfall on the trails. Great place to socially distance with family & friends! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #sociallydistanceoutdoors #hoarfrost #wevegotsnow #fasterskier #skiwithfriends
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Packed powder skiing on New Year’s Day. Loads of visitors welcomed 2021! Video shows the East/West crossover trail. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #packedpowder #skateski #classicski #welcome2021
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Good skiing through the hoarfrost on New Years Eve day. Get the daily scoop by visiting ‘Trail Conditions’ on our website - link in bio⬆️. Wishing you a happy healthy 2021! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #skinnyski #skinnyskis #crosscountryskiwithkids #xcski
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Excelsior Road (West Side) and The Gravel Road (East Side) were groomed last evening. Skiing this afternoon I was treated to 1” of feathers on top of the fresh grooming! Gonna groom these same trail segments again this evening. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #silentsports #silenceofnature🌳⛅️🗻 #skiingonfeathers #beautyofwinter
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Many of our 20+ miles of ski trails have received initial grooming in the past several days. The best skiing is shown as green highlights on the attached maps. And did you know our West Side trails are dog friendly? Be sure to visit our website where you’ll find ‘TRAIL CONDITIONS’ updated daily: link in Bio ⬆️ #bluehillstrailwisconsin #skijoring #foresttherapy #classicskiing #dogsonsnow
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Christmas in the Blue Hills. Very good skating on Excelsior Road this afternoon; pretty good striding as well. Groomers will be out working again tomorrow. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #christmasski #ruskcounty #skateskiing #skiwithdogs
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After yesterday’s rain, Santa brought snow - enough to start grooming the ski trails! This afternoon we rolled the ‘Gravel Road’ on the East Side trails, and ‘Excelsior Road’ on the West Side. Thanks Santa. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #earlywinterskiing #xcs #xcskiing #skinnyski
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A little more snow and we may be able to do some grooming. Today we moved our workhorse snowmobile to its winter home. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #wisconsinoutdoors #ruskcountywi #weneedsnow #crosscountryskiing
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Lunch time. Even busy beavers need a break now & then. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #busybeaver #busyasabeaver #timber
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Not enough snow to ski the trails. BUT very good skiing on Audie Lake - 2.5 miles northwest of the warming house. Audie is always an enjoyable getaway. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #wisconsinwinter #xcskiingonlakes #xcski #frozenlakes #silenceofnature
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Pictures from our ‘Rabbit Trail’ where bunnies made a fresh appearance on the Blue Hills Trail today. It felt like October today - 48 degrees F - way too warm for December! It’s time to cool down, then Santa needs to bring us some snow. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #whereiswinter #xcskiingwithoutsnow
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Every other year our volunteers replace all the intersection maps. That’s 60 maps, but who’s counting? Combined with excellent signage, it makes it easy to get your bearings on the Blue Hills Trail. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #trailvolunteers #xcskitrails #foresttherapy #findyourselfoutside
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Good hiking in early December. Frost is entering the ground, the ski trails are ready for snow. Photos show the biggest oak tree in the County Forest; hiking on the ‘Far East’ trail; and our Gator doing some trail work on the West Side trails. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #trailwork #hikingwisconsin #weneedsnow
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Big News! Wisconsin's Blue Hills Trail has revised its website, its maps, its blog - and added an Instagram account. Spread the word. VISIT THE BLOG for details – link in bio ⬆️ #bluehillstrailwisconsin #crosscountryskiing #skinnyski #ruskcountywi #ricelakewi #travelwisconsin #tomterrifik
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1.5” big fluffy parachute snowflakes today. Might actually be able to ski on some of our trails — even though the underlying ground isn’t yet frozen. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #winterinwisconsin #crosscountryskiing #xcskiing
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Tight corner. Placed orange driveway markers at the edge. Gotta keep our groomers on track. #bluehillstrailwisconsin
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After unseasonably warm weather in the first week of November, more wintry weather will start to freeze the trails. Hopefully x-country skiing is just around the corner. This photo was taken on the East Side trails - it shows one of our most important bridges. #bluehillstrailwisconsin
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Bridge building in October successfully spanned a small creek that was always a challenge to summertime mowing & wintertime grooming of our ski trails. #bluehillstrailwisconsin
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