Blue Hills Trail CONDITIONS
Sunday - morning update
Packed powder conditions, very good skating, excellent striding.
A very destructive December ice storm (visit our blog for photos etc) initially shut down our skiing. Despite the December ice storm, about half of our East Side trails are open; Excelsior Road is open on the West Side. Click here for helpful maps that show our open trails.
Snowshoers: we prefer you use the Ridges Snowshoe Trail as your first option. If snowshoeing on the groomed ski trail, please snowshoe well to the side. On January 26, a great new loop was added to the Ridges Trail - the 'Highland Loop' - it climbs to the Ridgeline near intersection #12. The 'Highland Loop' doesn't yet show on our maps, but it's well marked in the field.
Autumn 2022, loggers cut a large timber sale on the East Side in the vicinity of the Otter Slide and Far East trails (those trails are the furthest 'east' trails). In late January, when the ground is well frozen, loggers will haul those logs to market using a route to the east and mostly separate from the ski trails. Click here for a map showing the involved trails.
January 27: 2" fine grained dry snow
grooming & MOWING
Grooming Report / Plans --- note: due to December 15 extensive ice storm damage, grooming is currently limited to about half of the East Side trails and Excelsior Road on the West Side. These are some of our favorite trails. Click here to see where we're grooming.
January 28 evening: touched up the skate deck
January 27 evening: groomed all the open trails - including fresh classic track
Blue Hills Trail Association Inc.
June 21, 2011 8:05 PM
Meeting called to order
by Dick Pebler, president, at 7:05 p.m. at the warming house at the Blue Hills Trail
Officers: Dave Olsen, Tom Paulsen, Dick Pebler
Members: Dan Bale, Nels Curnow, Steve Gest, Frank Lowry, Jonathan Stanley, Jerry Wilkes
Motion by Jerry Wilkes, second by Dan Bale, to dispense with reading of the prior minutes and to accept the May 2010 minutes. Unanimously carried.
The fiscal year runs September 1 to August 31 inclusive. An interim budget report was presented by Tom Paulsen. Revenue ($26,998.89) exceeded expenses ($26,770.68) by $228.21. We incurred major expenses this fiscal year (big items included replacement of the transmission in the 2007 snowmobile, purchase of a new Skandic SWT snowmobile to replace the 2007 model, furnace repair of the pilot mechanism, purchase of a leveling tube and snow scratchers for the grooming implements, and various equipment repairs). Fortunately, multiple fundraising appeals produced generous donations, and we were able to sell the repaired 2007 Skandic snowmobile for $5000. Our bottom line shows a positive balance at this time (available cash) of $14,931.35. Discussion was held. Motion was made by Jerry Wilkes to approve the Treasurer's report as presented, and seconded by Dave Olsen. Unanimously carried.
- Election of officers
- Old Business
- Membership Fees
- New Business
- Designate committee members for the upcoming year
Election of Officers
Dick Pebler was nominated by Jerry Wilkes for president, seconded by Frank Lowry, elected unanimously. Dave Olsen was nominated by Jerry Wilkes for vice president, seconded by Frank Lowry, elected unanimously. Tom Paulsen was nominated by Jerry Wilkes for secretary/treasurer, seconded by Frank Lowry, elected unanimously.
Fall banquet: held at the warming house. Tom Paulsen reported that attendance was low, but the attendees were enthusiastic and enjoyed the evening. The banquet was more financially successful than many past years (showing a net profit of $1500). The method used for prize distribution worked well (primarily silent auctions).
Blue Hills Ascent: Frank Lowry reported that the race was canceled because active logging disrupted the race course. There were no costs incurred.
Website: those in attendance agreed the website remains very functional. With the extensive assistance of his daughter's professional web design skills, Tom Paulsen upgraded the website to a more modern design. We continue to provide business links (free of charge) to local donors in the business of ski/bike sales, and lodging. Suggestions for further improvement are always welcome.
Fundraising: very good results despite the ongoing major economic recession. Thanks to several $1000 donations, business donations increased significantly (29%). Individual donations decreased mildly (7%), and despite logging disruption of the trail system, the number of memberships increased (6%).
Equipment: the transmission in the 2007 Skandic SWT snowmobile failed during a December blizzard and was replaced at a cost of $2600+. We then purchased a new (2012) Skandic SWT snowmobile from Hayward Power Sports at the discounted price of $10,000, and the 2007 snowmobile was sold for $5000. As part of the annual snowmobile service work in the future, we plan on draining the transmission fluid and looking for excessive metal filings that would indicate the need to check the idle gear bearing. Major purchases for the Tidd Tech grooming implements included a leveler bar ($202), and a set of snow scratchers ($474). For emergencies our groomers might encounter, we purchased a rescue device ($100 SPOT messenger) that uses satellite communication. As usual, equipment repairs were a moderate expense. Fortunately, Dan Bartels continues to handle a significant portion of the equipment repair work. Storage of the grooming implements and our mower is done off site as a donated item.
Grooming and trail maintenance:
- No dozing could be attempted in 2010 due to the very wet trails.
- Mowing of the Westside was performed by County employees in July. Mowing of most of the EastSide was performed in July by Dan Bartels and Steve Brockman (contracted employees of BHTA). Unfortunately, the mower became stuck in a mud hole and required two ATVs for removal. With the trails remaining wet and soft, the second mowing of the EastSide was postponed by Dan Bartels until November after the ground began freezing.
- The work day in early October was very well attended. Unfortunately, a windstorm on October 27 littered the trails with a large number of new downed limbs and trees. A December 4th work day cleared this debris.
- Dan Bartels handled the bulk of the grooming chores. Assistant groomers included Steve Brockman, Steve Gest, and Jay Howard, Tom Paulsen, and Adam Brockman. It was an unusually challenging winter for grooming due to
- the frustrations imposed by the logging disruptions on the EastSide;
- ATV damage on the far loop of the WestSide;
- three separate heavy snowfalls of 10+ inches each
- frequent snowfalls that totaled a near record amount. Despite these challenges, high quality skiing conditions were present on most days - although pole plants and trail surfaces were not as solid as in years past.
Snowshoe trail: no action on this the past year.
Signage: Rusk County printed and laminated the necessary replacement maps. Dick Pebler replaced the WestSide maps/signage, Dan Bale and Jerry Wilkes replaced the EastSide maps/signage.
Warming house: to save money, caulking was deferred this past year. In November 2009, Kevin Westlund placed fiberglass insulation in the interior to seal visible gaps. A rusty pilot mechanism in the furnace was repaired at a cost of $182. Since that repair, we've decided to operate the pilot throughout the year.
After fairly lengthy discussion, those in attendance agreed the membership fees ($35 for individuals, $55 for families) and trail head fees ($5 daily donation) should remain unchanged. We hope to attract those skiers that skied elsewhere during this past winter's logging disruption. By not raising fees, this also will allow many diverse individuals to access the trail system despite the sluggish economy. It's our hope that businesses and individuals doing well financially will continue to provide generous donations.
Fall Banquet: the approach for the 2010 fall fundraiser was discussed. We again will focus on a limited number of major prizes and silent auction items, and one or two major raffles. Jerry Wilkes volunteered to head the banquet committee. Perhaps Burdy's (Weyerhaeuser) would again be a suitable location for the fundraising banquet.
Blue Hills Ascent: due to recent low turnouts, Frank Lowry recommended we not hold a race in January 2012. Those in attendance agreed unanimously. Frank Lowry volunteered to explore options of 'fun days' on the trail to replace the race option.
Website: Tom Paulsen's goal is to keep it functional, straight forward, and to update frequently during ski season.
- No new grooming equipment is needed at this time. We anticipate replacement of our 2008 Skandic snowmobile November 2012. An option at that time might be a John Deere Gator 825i (tracked, workhorse ATV).
- The five batteries in the storage shed remain periodically connected to a solar powered trickle charge system.
Fundraising: Tom and Jan Paulsen will again spearhead the fall fundraising with help from Dick Pebler representing the Rice Lake area. As in the past, their appeals will focus on supportive individuals and businesses, and BHTA members.
- Jonathan Stanley will refer to Carolyn Chatterton's 'Trail Timeline' when addressing overall trail maintenance needs.
- Two separate timber sales were successfully logged on the EastSide this past winter. Those loggers will be responsible for dozing (smoothing) the impacted trails, including a new trail that on the revised map runs from 29A to 30A. Rusk County will seed all of those trails.
- In conjunction with Paul Teska and Gary Sarauer, we will tour the EastSide this summer to determine additional dozing needs.
- In conjunction with Paul Teska and Dave Williams (ATV club rep), we will coordinate a day to tour the WestSide to evaluate and plan repair of ATV damaged areas.
- Rusk County has agreed to mow the WestSide, and portions of the EastSide that can withstand the weight of their tractor. For the damp (soft) areas on the EastSide, this will be contracted in a manner similar to past mowing contracts.
- Later this summer, Frank Lowry will coordinate EastSide bridge repair at #31.
- Grooming and mowing implements will again be stored by one of our club members (name withheld from website) as a donation to the club.
- A timber sale will impact a central portion of the Eastside of the trail system in the near future. Paul Teska has openly worked with us to minimize the impact of this and all future logging on our wintertime skiing conditions. Preferably the logging will occur in the summer months if dry conditions are present.
Grooming team: Dan Bartels and Steve Brockman will share the bulk of the grooming, with expected frequent assistance from Steve Gest and Jay Howard. Frank Lowry, Tom Paulsen, and Jonathan Stanley will remain available for backup grooming. Our goal remains quality grooming of the entire trail system with major emphasis on the core loop. A fall meeting between officers and groomers is anticipated.
Warming house: exterior caulking needs to be accomplished some time in the next few years. Officers will work out the details by speaking with Kevin Westlund and Bjorn Hanson (with Bjorn discussing purchase versus donation of materials and labor).
Work Day: to be selected this fall.
Ski Clinic: Tom Paulsen will check with Mark Bittner to see if he is interested in working on this. We certainly continue to welcome the ski clinics conducted by Steve and Jyneen Thatcher.
Signage: three individuals (Dan Bale, Dick Pebler, and Jerry Wilkes) were selected to handle the fall replacement of maps and trail signs.
Snowshoe trail: no discussion.
Warming house propane heat: we switched to Sheldon Coop as the provider June 2010, they are delivering a good service.
Website: Tom Paulsen reported that no significant changes are anticipated.
To be carried over with additions as highlighted in bold
- Banquet Committee: Jerry Wilkes (chair)
- Blue Hills Ascent Committee: Frank Lowry (chair), Tom Paulsen
- Equipment Committee: Dan Bartels
- Fundraising: Jan Paulsen, Tom Paulsen, Dick Pebler
- Grooming and Trail Maintenance Committee: Jonathan Stanley (chair), Frank Lowry, Tyler Gruetzmacher
- Ski Clinic Committee: Mark Bittner
- Snowshoe Trail: seeking volunteers
- Website: Tom Paulsen
Motion to adjourn by Dave Olsen, second by Tom Paulsen. Adjourned at 8:20 p.m.
Taken by Tom Paulsen, Secretary
A Listing of Active Committees
- Banquet Committee
- Blue Hills Ascent Committee
- Equipment Committee
- Fundraising Committee
- Grooming and Trail Maintenance Committee
- Ski Clinic
- Snowshoe Trail
- Website Committee