Blue Hills Trail CONDITIONS
Good hiking on trails that have been cleared of debris from the December 2022 ice storm. When hiking, bring gloves and please remove some tree debris (branches etc) leftover from the ice storm. Trails involved in logging last fall have a dirt surface rather than grass (see logging notes under 'Important Updates').
NOTE: The December 2022 destructive ice storm limits the number of trails cleared of tree damage. Click here for maps showing cleared trails.
Bug activity has been high: bring a hat and bug spray.
1-There's active logging on the West Side between intersections Y & Z, avoid that area while they're logging.
2-Autumn 2022, loggers cut a large timber sale on the East Side. It's probably wise to avoid hiking those trails in all but very dry weather. Click here for a map showing the involved trails.
April 30: damp leaf top dusting
grooming & MOWING
Mowing Report / Plans:
We usually begin trail mowing in late June. Check back for updates.
Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc.
May 12, 2016 7:05 PM
Meeting called to order
by Dave Olsen, president, at 6:05 p.m. at Burdy's Bar and Grill (Weyerhaeuser, WI)
Officers: Ron Jasperson, Dave Olsen, Tom Paulsen, Dave Putnam
Members: Dan Bale, Steve Gest, Jan Paulsen, Steve Porn, Steve Schleppegrell, John Ziemer
Motion by Jan Paulsen, second by Steve Gest, to dispense with reading of the prior minutes of May 2015 and to accept the May 2015 minutes without changes. Unanimously carried.
The fiscal year runs September 1 to August 31 inclusive. An interim budget report was presented by Tom Paulsen. Revenue ($25097.75) exceeded expenses ($14314.17) by $10783.58. Overall expenses were below budget; revenue was above budget thanks to steady support from business/individual donations, memberships, banquet fundraising, and trailhead receipts. Our bottom line shows a positive balance at this time (available cash) of $37676.83. Discussion was held. Motion was made by Steve Porn to approve the Treasurer's report as presented, and seconded by Steve Gest. Unanimously carried.
1. Election of officers
2. Old Business
3. Membership Fees
4. New Business
5. Designate committee members for the upcoming year
Election of Officers
Dave Olsen has completed six consecutive years as an officer, and was thanked for his many years of support. Ron Jasperson and Tom Paulsen agreed to serve another one-year term. Tom Paulsen nominated Dave Putnam for vice president, seconded by Jan Paulsen, and passed unanimously. Dave Olsen nominated Ron Jasperson for president, seconded by Steve Gest, and passed unanimously. Steve Gest nominated Tom Paulsen for secretary/treasurer, seconded by Steve Schleppegrell, and passed unanimously.
Fall banquet: held at Lehman's Supper Club in Rice Lake. Attendance was good (56), the food was delicious, attendees enjoyed Bob Inman's presentation "Wolverine Biology and Conservation". Thanks to Nels Curnow and Patty McGown for hosting Dr. Inman. The banquet was financially successful (raising $2381 from sales of silent auction items). The method used for prize distribution was hectic as usual, but worked well (primarily silent auctions).
Fundraising: fundraising was very successful this past year. Donations from businesses ($7325), individuals ($4560), and at the trailhead ($2268) were either at or above budget. Memberships were steady at 94 households ($5434). Sales of raffle tickets ($1080) were right on target as was the revenue from silent auction items at the fundraising banquet ($2381). We sold our gas caddy for $300. Interest income from our on-line savings account improved after switching banks.
Winter Fun Day: no attempt at hosting a race this past year, the costs to host a small race remain prohibitive. A "Fun Day on the Trails" (a potluck moonlight ski) was held Saturday January 23, 2016. It was well attended, temps and snow conditions were good, food was great, a roaring fire and a drum circle added to the mood – however the moon was a no-show.
- Our 2014 John Deere Gator with Camoplast tracks was our major equipment expense this past year, primarily involving preventive maintenance (e.g., we replace all four hub bearings each spring). April 2015 we installed front flood lights ($500) that work GREAT.
- During the grooming season, monthly periodic service of the Gator was handled in an off-site heated garage by volunteers Steve Gest, Ron Jasperson, Tom Paulsen, and Steve Porn.
- The new goose-neck hitch (on the medium G2 implement) worked very well, improving the snowmobile handling and traction. Ron Jasperson and Tom Paulsen created a tree mounted hoist at the trailhead to simplify the process of connecting the goose-neck hitch to the snowmobile.
- In January, the frame on the big G2 fractured and was repaired by welding at Classic Auto in Bruce.
- While grooming with the Gator and the medium G2, a part of the goose-neck hitch was bent when the G2 high centered on a hidden frozen rut – a replacement was purchased for $66.
- Recall that one of the Gator's Camoplast tracks broke in February (fracture of the hub spindle). The part was covered under warranty, and Camoplast insisted on replacing all four hubs in case any of the other hubs might be defective as well. Camoplast believes the failure was due to a bad part from their supplier (possibly bad steel). The old hubs were returned to the supplier for their inspection as part of their quality control process – Camoplast does not expect any feedback from their supplier.
- The Gator's cooling system briefly overheated in April 2016, the result of a broken coolant temperature sensor. This was diagnosed and repaired on site by Ron J, Tom P, and Steve Porn.
- Thanks! again to Mark Bittner for allowing the use of his heated garage where we were able to thaw the Gator’s tracks and perform necessary maintenance.
- Summer 2015 the Forestry Department contracted for removal of beavers on the Westside – this was successful and reduced trail damage from beaver dam diverted runoff.
- The County Forestry Dept mowed the Westside and limited parts of the Eastside where trails were dry enough to withstand the weight of their tractor mower; softer Eastside trails were mowed using the Gator and our trail mower. The Gator with Camoplast tracks easily floated over soft/damp/muddy areas without leaving much of an imprint. The mowing crew of BHTA volunteer members included Sam Behrends, Steve Gest, Pete Grassman, Ron Jasperson, Tom Paulsen, and Steve Porn. Using volunteers for the mowing saved about $1000 in contracted labor costs.
- Anticipated logging of the Eastside ridgeline didn’t materialize until well into late summer and fall when rains moved in, thus dozing of the new trail (2A to S-curve) was not possible.
- Work day in October was very well attended and cleared most of the trails.
- Illicit truck traffic (October 2015) caused extensive trail damage between #24-3-4-5 and was partially repaired by Gary Sarauer (DNR dozer). Within a couple weeks, similar truck damage occurred on a half mile of the beginner trail after the culprit gained access by cutting the chain that held the cable at #22 – this damage was partially repaired by hand and with traffic from the Gator’s tracks.
- A heavy rain in late September 2015 severely damaged two bridges; one bridge was repaired with major help from two of our club members; the other bridge was beyond repair and necessitated rerouting 200 meters of trail between 1-23. This required trail flagging, placing silt fence, dozing by Gary Sarauer (DNR), rock picking, then seeding of the trail – thanks! to our many volunteers, Gary Sarauer, and Rusk County Forester Paul Teska.
- After a very wet summer and fall and December, we finally started grooming on December 29. Grooming was handled mostly by Steve Gest with help from Jesse Wimer, Adam Brockman, Mike Cragg, Ron Jasperson, Tom Paulsen, Steve Porn, and Dave Putnam. The strong El Nino created perhaps our lowest winter snowfall total in the past 17 years, and contributed to a short ski season. We were able to enjoy very good conditions for about two months – thanks! to Steve Gest for his meticulous grooming that was able to hide most of the eroded sections of trail.
- The season came to an abrupt end in early March. A big warm-up quickly melted the base.
- An unusual issue was the extensive damage to the groomed ski trail that occurred when the Bruce Rescue Squad used their tracked ATV for a rescue on the Eastside ridgeline on a day when the trails were wet saturated and soft – the same day as the Birkie.
Signage: Tom Paulsen replaced the few trail signs & maps that went missing. He also purchased inexpensive sheets of blue plastic that were converted to blue squares that now clearly label the core loop. We spent $342.50 on useful signage for the snowshoe trail.
Snowshoe trail: The two trails (they start near the warming house) were further improved by John Kann & Dan Bjugstad. This included addition of GPS accurate maps at the beginning of each trail, and placement of many directional signs on the two trails. Visitors genuinely seem to enjoy the snowshoe trails.
Warming house: Ron & Tom added an informative welcoming signboard to the parking lot (just to the left of the donation pole). Tom keeps the mice under control using traps and/or bait.
Website: those in attendance agreed the website remains very functional. Costs increased as follows: we now are paying a yearly fee ($190) for use of the Adobe Muse website design software (previously this was donated by Kristine Paulsen); we also pay an annual fee ($50) for website hosting (we use Bluehost.com); and we pay an annual fee ($60) for website scanning & repair (website security company called SiteLock). Ongoing thanks! to Kristine Paulsen for her savvy & artistic involvement with the website and it’s various complexities. The website remains very useful in providing info for members and visitors, and we also use Facebook and Twitter to communicate news regarding the Blue Hills Trail. 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 of our Internet presence are always welcome.
Ski clinic: no ski clinic this past December, the weather wasn't favorable.
Current annual dues are $45 for individuals, $65 for families. Dues were increased by $10 in October 2014, and the number of memberships has remained stable at 94 member households. After a brief discussion, Steve Gest moved to keep the annual dues at $45 for individuals, $65 for families, this was seconded by Steve Schleppegrell, and passed unanimously. Trail head fees were discussed briefly, with the decision to leave them unchanged (encouraging users to donate based on their level of enjoyment – suggesting a $5 daily donation per person as a minimum). By not raising daily fees, this will allow many diverse individuals to access the trail system and help fulfill our mission as a non-profit organization. We trust that businesses and individuals doing well financially will continue to provide generous donations.
Fall Banquet: the approach for the annual fall fundraising banquet was discussed. We again will offer many silent auction items, and one or two major raffles. Patty McGown has agreed to again head the banquet committee; Ron Jasperson offered his help. Those in attendance agreed Lehman's Supper Club (Rice Lake) would again be a suitable location for the fund raising banquet. This year’s banquet will be held on Saturday, November 5, 2016 and we have a commitment from bestselling author and humorist Michael Perry as our guest speaker. Sites other than Lehman's were discussed; a potluck at the warming house remains an alternative approach for future fundraisers.
- Tom Paulsen will again spearhead the fall fundraising in the Ladysmith area, with help from Dick Pebler representing the Rice Lake area. As in the past, fundraising appeals will focus on supportive individuals and businesses, and BHTA members.
- Tom Paulsen requested help stuffing envelopes for the August mailing - Steve Gest and Dave Olsen volunteered.
- We discussed options for distributing banquet prizes (silent auction items & raffle winners) in a less frantic manner. Tom will consider the pros and cons of splitting the silent auction tables into several groups with winning items to be distributed at various times throughout the evening.
- Brief discussion of using Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour film(s) for a future fundraising event. Locally, the Ruffed Grouse Society (Eau Claire) has typically shown this film in November/December.
- Ron Jasperson suggested we more widely 'advertise' the fact that the Westside of the trail system is dog friendly by communicating this to the Midwest skijoring association. Those in attendance were in agreement. Prior to Ron spreading the word, Tom Paulsen will ask Paul Teska (Forestry Department) to arrange for dozing at the Westside trailhead to enlarge the available parking area.
Winter Fun Day: Officers will try to coordinate 1-2 "Full Moon" potluck ski events as a good way to socialize while attracting members/visitors. We discussed a simpler approach of limiting refreshments to coffee/cocoa, but the group prefers the potluck approach while welcoming anyone to join the fun.
- The 2012 Skandic SWT snowmobile has about 6400 km on its odometer – adding only 400-500 km per year because the Gator handles the bulk of the grooming. At this rate, the snowmobile won't need to be replaced for another several years.
- We have no idea of the life expectancy of the Gator, but plan on providing periodic maintenance per the manual (lubrication of drive line and Camoplast tracks at 50 hour intervals, oil changes at 100 hour intervals) and thorough annual maintenance to include replacement of the Camoplast hub bearings.
- Bob Wieckowicz (one of our members) has welding skills and has volunteered to evaluate/repair our grooming implements each summer.
- Our 2002 Tidd Tech G2-6 implement ("medium G2") probably needs to be replaced. Its frame has many areas of corrosion and/or cracks that would require up to 40 hours of welding. Tidd Tech has offered an end-of-season 10% discount on their one remaining new G2-6 implement (standard price is $3945 for the G2-6; $1350 for a tracksetter). Brief discussion was held. Motion by Jan Paulsen to buy a new G2-6 implement plus tracksetter, seconded by Dan Bale, passed unanimously.
- To be able to perform wintertime maintenance for the Gator on site, we've received bids to remodel the storage shed that we built in 2007: the total cost would be $6664. The three components of the bid are: Firstly - to accommodate the Gator, larger doors would be installed ($3300 for two sets of double doors at $1300 each, $700 for labor); Secondly - 3" of spray foam insulation on the walls and ceiling would cost $1899; Thirdly - installation of a small furnace would cost $1465. To help offset the cost of the remodel, in March, Tom Paulsen applied for grant monies from the Rusk County Community Foundation GiVE 365 program and we received a $500 grant. Fairly extensive discussion was held - especially about the possibility of cutting back on the extent of the remodel. Steve Schleppegrell moved to proceed with the full scope of the remodel, this was seconded by Steve Gest. The motion passed with 8 in favor, 2 opposed (Ron Jasperson, Dave Putnam).
- While performing the spray foam insulation of the storage shed, we will also add 1" of spray foam insulation to the ceiling of the shipping container to hopefully control the tendency toward condensation.
- Ron Jasperson suggested we consider selling the small Tidd Tech grooming implement (G2-4) since it receives so little use. Discussion was held with most comments in support of selling the G2-4. Tom Paulsen counseled that we keep the G2-4 as a backup. Motion by Steve Porn to sell the G2-4, seconded by Dan Bale, motion passed with 9 in favor, 1 opposed (Tom Paulsen).
- We have permission from Paul Teska (Forestry Department) to place another shipping container at the trailhead. This would be used for storage of our grooming implements etc. Our officers will explore the costs and consider site location.
- To reduce the likelihood of illicit truck traffic on the trails at points #1 and #22, we would prefer the installation of forestry gates to replace the current chains/cables. Rurup Metal Fabrication (Birchwood) can make one gate for approximately $560; Bob Wieckowicz (club member) is not an option for this job. If we pay for the gates, the Forestry Department is willing to install the gates. Adding more game cameras on these and other trail segments would be a cheaper alternative. The officers will further discuss this issue and make an executive decision.
- Spreading of grass seed (near #23 on the October 2015 trail revision) may be needed in June – Tom Paulsen will seek volunteer(s) if seeding is necessary.
- Rusk County usually mows the Westside in July, and portions of the Eastside that can withstand the weight of their tractor. For the damp (soft) areas on the Eastside, we plan on again using volunteer labor operating the Gator pulling our trail mower. Tom Paulsen will check to see if the same mowing crew (volunteers) is available this summer. Nels Curnow plans to mow the Westside a second time in the fall.
- Deep tractor ruts from the Forestry mowing operations exist on the Westside between points D&F and need repair – Nels Curnow is willing to perform the repair.
- Sam Behrends has volunteered to evaluate erosion damage between 29-29A-10 and recommend repair to possibly include some of his students from the Bruce High School Ag Department.
- We hope summertime logging will complete the active Eastside timber sale on the ridge line, then we'll need to coordinate dozing (Gary Sarauer - DNR) of the planned new trail that will run from 2A to top of the S-curve between 2 & 20 (to include culvert placement by Dave Putnam).
- The southern 2/3 of Eastside trail 30-30A is badly eroded. Tom & Jan Paulsen flagged a revision for that trail last fall. Tom will look at this area with Paul & Gary Sarauer on June 23rd when also evaluating other areas (see above) for dozing needs.
- The persistently wet area just inside the gate at the warming house needs repair. Paul Teska has agreed to evaluate that spot for possible dozing, culverting, and placement of fill.
- In late summer, Frank Lowry is planning on dismantling the slumped bridge near #23 & will need a volunteer crew then. Hopefully he can also address the settling of the small bridge between #1-#23 (the bridge closest to the warming house). Also, one board needs replacement on the bridge at #2.
- We need to select a fall work day – our officers will do that later this summer.
- Tom Paulsen showed a map from Paul Teska (Rusk County Forester) showing active and future Eastside timber sales
- When planning year round trail maintenance, Tom refers to ‘Trail Time Line’ outlined by Carolyn Chatterton (this file is named "Trail Time Line" and is available on Tom's computer ).
- To provide winter shade for certain portions of the trail system, tree planting has been suggested by a couple of our members. John (Rusk County Land Conservation Dept) suggests the use of spruce (more deer resistant) or red pine. The County Land Conservation Dept sends us an email in January with details regarding available trees –they are available in the early spring as 12"-18"-24" trees; perhaps the Forestry Dept would pick up the cost? After planting, they would need timely watering the first year; as well as grass control twice monthly. To date, none of our members have shown interest in taking on this tree project. None of the attendees at tonight's meeting were enthusiastic about this type of project.
- An exposed culvert just east of #7 needs to be re-situated – hopefully that will happen as part of an upcoming timber sale.
- The Rusk County Forestry department is in the process of removing beavers on the Eastside near #25 where beaver dams are beginning to impact the trail.
- Grooming and mowing implements again be stored by one or more of our club members (names withheld from website) as a donation to the club.
Grooming: Steve Gest expects to be our chief groomer again this next winter. We have commitments from the same group of available groomers. Our goal remains quality grooming of the entire trail system with major emphasis on the Eastside core loop. We will consider a fall meeting between officers and groomers if it seems necessary.
- Annual replacement of missing or faded trail intersection maps needs to be done late fall or early winter. Each fall, Tom Paulsen contacts the Rusk County Extension Office to arrange printing of current maps. If help is needed, Tom will seek volunteers for map replacement this fall.
- We also discussed the possible future revision of the numbering/naming system for the Eastside trails. One suggestion: renumber the core loop so all the numbers follow sequentially; then provide all the branch trails with names (e.g., Hemlock Canyon, Washout, Beginner Trail, Florida Loop, etc). This would be a big project that should be deferred until current dozing plans and trail revisions are completed.
Snowshoe trail: John Kann and Dan Bjugstad will continue to maintain and/or revise the snowshoe trail. They have plans to add a third (more challenging) snowshoe trail to the east of the beginner trail (#22-#23).
- Since we don't need to insulate the warming house as tightly as a private residence, Lee Westlund (the warming house builder) recommended we not bother caulking the exterior of the warming house. Instead he suggested the use of sheep's wool (available on the internet from log house building suppliers) to plug any obvious gaps. The sheep's wool has good insulating properties, it wicks moisture, and it isn't itchy like its fiberglass alternative.
- We need to find a ‘carpenter’ to evaluate and repair minor problems on interior/exterior of the warming house as well as placement of sheep's wool. No one responded to Tom’s email message when this issue was approached one year ago. Those in attendance support Tom's idea of hiring a carpenter to evaluate and perform necessary warming house maintenance this summer.
- There is a large outdated sign in the parking lot that is unnecessary. Tom will ask Paul Teska if the forestry department could remove the sign.
- Dave Olsen has perpetually been in charge of pit toilet 'cleaning' - and volunteered to continue.
- We switched to Sheldon Coop (Heartland Coop) as the propane provider June 2010, they are delivering a good service. We fill the tank during the summer (July) when rates are the lowest.
Annual Fall Work Day: to be selected later this summer.
Website: No changes planned for the coming year. Tom Paulsen's goal is to keep it functional, straight forward, and to update frequently during ski season. Tom enjoys handling the website, but would welcome an interested volunteer (member) taking over the website.
Ski Clinic: those in attendance appreciate the occasional ski clinics conducted by Steve and Jyneen Thatcher. Hopefully they can continue offering these teaching sessions.
Insurance: no changes anticipated, no discussion of this item.
Position of secretary / treasurer: Tom Paulsen has held this position for 10+ years and would appreciate the right person taking over. Tom will send an email to the membership seeking interested individuals.
Other: no comments.
To be carried over with additions as highlighted in bold
- Banquet Committee: Ron Jasperson, Patty McGown (chair)
- Fun Day / Full Moon Ski Committee: open
- Equipment Committee: Steve Gest, Bob Wieckowicz
- Fundraising: Jan Paulsen, Tom Paulsen, Dick Pebler
- Grooming and Trail Maintenance Committee: Frank Lowry, Steve Porn (chair), Jonathan Stanley
- Ski Clinic Committee: open
- Snowshoe Trail: Dan Bjugstad, John Kann (chair)
- Website: Tom Paulsen (chair)
Motion to adjourn by Dave Olsen, second by Steve Gest. Adjourned at 7:55 p.m.
Taken by Tom Paulsen, Secretary
A Listing of Active Committees
Fun Day / Full Moon Ski Committee
Grooming and Trail Maintenance Committee