Blue Hills Trail CONDITIONS
Tuesday - morning update
Click here for helpful maps that show our open trails.
Spring is here, there's lots of snow remaining.
Yesterday morning (Monday), the classic track was fairly well defined, with a mild-moderate amount of litter deposited by brisk winds over the weekend. Good classic skiing if you can tolerate the trail litter. As a spur-of-the-moment decision, the skate lane on the modified East Side Core Loop was touched up early Monday morning and provided good skate skiing. The side trails on the East Side (and Excelsior Road on the West Side) also had good skate skiing Monday. Beautiful first day of Spring with temps reaching the upper 30s.
A very destructive mid December ice storm (visit our blog for photos etc) shut down our trails for a short time. Fortunately we've been able to open 60% of our East Side trails, and Excelsior Road is open on the West Side.
Snowshoers: the Ridges Snowshoe Trail is cleared of tree damage, we prefer you use that as your first option. If snowshoeing on the groomed ski trail, please snowshoe well to the side. Click here for a blog post regarding the new 'Highland Loop'.
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). This winter loggers are hauling 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.
March 17: 1" from blustery snow showers in the evening
March 16: 1/4" rain, then 1" windblown snow
grooming & MOWING
Grooming Report / Plans: Click here to see maps of the open trails
March 20 (Monday morning): touched up the skate lane on the modified East Side Core Loop.
March 17 (Friday evening): groomed the skate deck on all the open trails, and set classic track on the frequently traveled trails.
Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc.
May 26, 2022 6:00 PM
Meeting called to order
by Sam Behrends, president, at 6:15 p.m. at the warming house of the Blue Hills Trail
Officers: Sam Behrends, Tom Paulsen, John Waldron
Members: Ben Behrends
Motion by Tom Paulsen, second by Ben Behrends, to dispense with reading of the prior minutes of May 2021 and to accept the May 2021 minutes without changes. Unanimously carried.
The fiscal year runs September 1 to August 31 inclusive. An interim budget report was presented by Tom Paulsen. Expenses ($63872.62) exceeded revenue ($46417.99) by $17454.63. Overall expenses were above budget due to $42130 for purchase of our 2020 Honda Pioneer with Mattracks; $2718 for equipment repair of the Arctic Cat Bearcat; $1500 to replace the engine on our trail mower; and a significant increase in the reimbursement scale for our groomers. Revenue was above budget thanks to record setting donations from businesses and individuals; the number of memberships tied the previous year’s record; good results from the online ‘banquet’ auction; record number of raffle tickets sold; very good trailhead receipts; and $14375 from equipment sales. Our bottom line shows a positive balance on April 1 (available cash) of $36082.03. Budget for 2022-23 was presented. Discussion was held. Motion was made by Ben Behrends to approve the Treasurer's report as presented, and seconded by John Waldron. Unanimously carried.
- Election of officers
- Old Business
- Membership Fees
- New Business
- Designate committee members for the upcoming year
Election of Officers
Sam Behrends has completed 3 years as president, and is willing to serve as president again this next year. John Waldron has completed 2 years as vice president, and is willing to serve as vice president this next year. Tom Paulsen agreed to serve another one-year term as secretary/treasurer. Brief discussion of the need to encourage ‘young’ members to become more active in the workings of the association. Tom Paulsen nominated Sam Behrends for president, John Waldron for vice president, and Tom Paulsen for secretary/treasurer, seconded by John Waldron, and passed unanimously.
Fall banquet: due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the annual fall fundraising banquet was canceled. Instead, we held an online auction that lasted one week and was quite successful as judged by monies raised ($3204) and member participation.
Fundraising: fundraising was again very successful this past year. Donations from businesses ($6786) and individuals ($7447) were either at or above budget. Trailhead donations ($3892) were very good – despite a very cold winter. Memberships ($8761) tied the previous year’s record of 133 households. Sales of raffle tickets ($1635) set a record. The revenue from the online silent auction items ($3204) was very good. Interest income decreased significantly to $129 (current interest rates are very poor).
Winter Fun Day: due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there were no attempted group gatherings.
- April 2021 we purchased a 2020 Honda Pioneer 1000 from Zacho Sports Center in Chippewa Falls for about $29000. John Waldron trailered it to Winter (Wisconsin) where Dan Schauder installed a set of industrial strength Mattracks ($13000). Then the Pioneer was trailered to our trailhead.
- April 2021 we sold our 2014 Gator with Camso tracks for $13,500 to an individual from Superior, WI.
- April 2021 we sold our ABR roller to a private party for $875.
- The Pioneer worked well during the summer mowing. It was a dry summer, keeping the tracks clean was fairly easy using the pressure washer occasionally.
- The Pioneer worked well during winter grooming. In November, Ron Jasperson and Tom Paulsen installed a rear view camera that greatly helped the Pioneer operator. The one significant problem with the Pioneer was an electrical issue – front and rear LED lights shared a circuit with the actuator motors on the G2 implement, and the rear view camera is on the same circuit – that circuit would briefly cut out periodically while grooming. The Pioneer is undergoing an overhaul of the wiring to separate the aftermarket items onto multiple individual circuits that will have their own fuse box and only draw from the supplemental battery.
- 2017 Bearcat snowmobile needed multiple repairs during January and February, with total repairs costing $2718. First the drive belt needed replacement; then it began running rough and underwent step-wise diagnostics at Days Power Sports with repair work including adjustment of the exhaust valves that were measuring tight – and finally getting it running well after replacing the faulty computer. Then it developed a coolant leak which we couldn’t repair without returning to Days Power Sports. It had intermittent issues with overheating most of the winter, and Ron B and Ed G replaced the thermostat and thermostat housing and at first it ran fine. However, it again overheated during the final grooming of the season – apparently due to the fan starting up but turning off prematurely. Ron and Ed replaced the relay for the fan, the fan operated as expected, and there was no more overheating. Hopefully, the Bearcat is all set to go for this next winter.
- Our new Yellowstone roller performed well. The old Yellowstone roller continues to work well.
- The G2s worked well. Each G2 has a trailer jack that is used when hooking/unhooking. One of the trailer jacks needed replacement, and we bought a spare to keep on hand.
- Throughout the year, a lot of the equipment repair & preventive maintenance was done on site using volunteer labor – big savings. During the grooming season, periodic service of the Honda Pioneer was handled on site in our heated storage shed by Tom Paulsen, Ron Beebe, and Ed Gauthier.
- Ron Beebe’s mechanical expertise is extremely helpful.
- Sam Behrends uses our small G2 (G2-4) and track setter for grooming a trail for the Bruce High School team. Various parts were replaced 2017. If we run into a situation where we need a backup, Sam will return the G2-4 to our trailhead.
- Bob Wieckowicz provided his welding expertise last spring to cleverly modify the long Last summer, we again used our portable pressure washer (low pressure) and cleaned the tracks after each summer mowing operation. This added extra time to each mowing operation, but obviously was helpful in keeping the tracks and brakes cleaner. We are using a 50-gallon drum (blue plastic) to store water outside the storage shed. Members of the mowing crew bring 10+ gallons of water for each mowing operation – the extra water is added to the tank. Bleach is added to the tank to suppress algae etc. Batteries for the pressure washer are either recharged in the shed, or by Tom taking them home.
- For the third year in a row, we were fortunate that heavy rain and wind events mostly missed the trail system last summer.
- On the East Side, C6-C7 on the Far East Trail was dozed and seeded summer 2019 and has good grass cover, and provides very good skiing. The future segment from 18-C4 is within a large timber sale that awaits logging – 18-C4 will be dozed after the logging is done. Once that same timber sale is completed, the eroded segment of C3-C2 will need to be repaired.
- Because of erosion problems south of C3, we haven’t groomed C3-C2 the past two winters. The Eastside trail that runs from C3-C4-C5-C6-C7-C1 (the Far East Trail) receives frequent skier traffic.
- Erosion blankets were placed in two locations on the East Side summer 2019: just north of #4, and between #6-#7. Those blankets have helped control erosion. It’ll be interesting to further assess the results this summer.
- On the East Side, there was no significant illicit motorized traffic this past year.
- On the East Side, the small culvert several hundred meters north of Letter L was plugged and washed-out last summer. We scavenged an old culvert that had been stored by the pit toilets – dragged that culvert to the parking lot, and Scott Gudis used that culvert to repair the damaged, washed out culvert. The Forestry Department paid for Scott’s time.
- On the West Side, in early autumn we paid for Scott Gudis to repair a small washout between Letters K and J where the trail has a steep down/up section. That’s the same area where Scott replaced a culvert the previous year. This spot is always susceptible to high water erosion.
- Rusk 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 Pioneer and our trail mower. The new engine on our trail mower worked well. The Pioneer with Mattracks easily floated over soft/damp/muddy areas without leaving much of an imprint. The mowing crew of BHTA volunteer members saves about $1000 in contracted labor costs.
- The workday in late September was attended by 10 hardy volunteers. Among other things, they picked rock on the recently dozed and seeded Rut Road, they brushed the trail margins, performed chainsaw work on the West Side, and tidied up the warming house.
- Beaver problems again were an issue on the West Side just west of Letter I – immediately west of the spot where we installed a small bridge October 2020. A 200-foot length of trail was wet and nearly impassable all summer thanks to water seeping through the parallel beaver dam. In late fall, we breached the beaver dam on several occasions, allowed the water level to drop a couple feet, and installed a small beaver deceiver device – this is a 30-foot length of 4" drain pipe with one end in the bottom of the pond, then the pipe passes through the breach in the dam, and runs under the small bridge. That pipe was still in place and draining water when inspected in April 2022; and the beavers have begun patching the breach around the pipe.
- In October 2017 Tom P and Steve P created a PVC ford on the small creek on the Westside southeast of Letter F. Six 4" diameter heavy walled PVC pipes (10' in length) were cabled together to create a corduroy crossing that would permit water to flow through the pipes and snow to accumulate on top. This PVC ford was removed (and disassembled) last summer. In its place, we can consider creating a log corduroy crossing each fall prior to the winter ski season.
- December early snowfalls were encouraging, then we received a near-record 14-inch snowfall on December 10th. We spent about $400 grooming that snowfall, skiers enjoyed it for a few days, then the weather gods were cruel enough to give us rain, tornadic winds, and a major meltdown. The weather shifted in our favor just after Christmas, and by late December we again were busy grooming. January and February were cold, and during those two months we received about 20 inches of snow, with 7 of those inches on Tuesday February 22nd just prior to the Birkie. The overall snowfall for the winter measured 67 inches, but only 26 inches fell when we could use it. Much of the grooming this past winter was done in the evening – producing nice firm trails to start the day – and skiers were uniformly happy throughout the winter. Logging of the West Side ‘Lollipop Timber Sale’ in the late fall necessitated removal of those logs after the ground froze. As a result, the logs were hauled on the ski trails up until mid January. We weren’t really able to ski the involved trails until late January after enough snow accumulated. On the East Side, a small logging operation near the warming house in late February was minimally disruptive thanks to a cooperative effort to minimize equipment crossing the ski trail. The trails were in great shape at Birkie time.
- Warm weather moved in a week after the Birkie, including ice and rain on March 5th (actually the first rain since late December). The last grooming was March 19, but cold weather allowed skiing until late March.
- We groomed a total of 49 times this past winter. 13 times in December, 16 times in January, 17 times in February, and 3 times in March.
- Ron Beebe again was the head groomer, this was his third season as head groomer, and his fifth season overall. He received assistance primarily from Ed Gauthier, Ahmyn Masci, Sam Behrends, Ryan Vreeland, and Steve Porn. Ron is very willing to try different techniques, and again performed far more evening grooming than in years past - this allowed the grooming to set up by the time skiers arrived in the morning. The classic track was generally in good shape most of the winter. Thank you Ron!
- The Arctic Cat Bearcat snowmobile spent way too much time in the shop this past winter – this was a major frustration for our groomers and officers. Problems included the need to replace the drive belt; intermittent overheating; running rough due to tight exhaust valves and a faulty computer; and a coolant leak. Repairs cost about $2700. Fortunately, Ron Beebe and Ed Gauthier were very flexible in dealing with the mechanical problems, and often grooming with the Honda Pioneer alone.
- After selling our 2014 Gator April 2021, this was our first winter using the Honda Pioneer 1000 as our workhorse machine. Other than some electrical issues, the Pioneer worked well and the Mattracks were trustworthy. The rear view camera was a nice addition – although its visibility gets blocked when grooming in deep snow with the Pioneer kicking up a lot of snow.
Signage: Tom replaced the few trail signs that went missing.
Snowshoe trail: maintained by Dan Bjugstad and John Kann. Visitors clearly enjoy these snowshoe trails, the number of users continues to increase. With the February logging operation near the warming house, the ‘Rolling Oaks’ trail was wiped out. John and Dan put up snowshoe trail detour signs during the logging. Many thanks to Dan and John!
- November 2021 Tom replaced the ski glides on the floor of the blue shipping container with wider ‘Super Glides’ – this made it much easier to enter and exit with the Bearcat snowmobile without worrying about the ski carbides damaging the wood floor.
- The Honda Pioneer is wider than the Gator. The operator needs to be very careful when entering/exiting the storage shed.
- Northwest HVAC modified the warming house furnace pilot light in April 2018 to minimize the offensive gas odor. Tom now cleans the pilot 1-2 times per year – using compressed air and a brush. This seems to keep the interior gas odor to a minimum.
- Eric Ringstad evaluated the warming house interior/exterior for necessary repairs summer 2019. With his recommendations, during each fall work day we stuff sheep’s wool in multiple interior and exterior gaps. Perhaps because the gaps are fairly well sealed, there was no evidence of bat activity inside the warming house the past winter two winters.
- After pressure washing the exterior in August 2020, we noticed obvious signs of powderpost beetles on the exterior logs (powder dust trails below their ⅛" diameter holes). After some quick research, Tom obtained a special boric acid powder that was mixed with water, then sprayed on the exterior before Dave Roth applied the stain. Later during the fall 2020, the holes and dust trails were still noticeable. At that time, Tom injected the boric acid solution directly into the holes. The beetle holes were again noticeable autumn 2021, and Tom again injected the boric acid solution. We’ll monitor the beetles each year, but the potential beetle damage seems like a small issue not worth stressing over.
- Since we don't need to insulate the warming house as tightly as a private residence, Lee Westlund (the warming house builder) has recommended we not bother caulking the entire exterior of the warming house. Instead he recommends 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 have a supply of sheep's wool (wool ropes to repair any insulation gaps) in a bin in the storage shed.
- Tom keeps the mice under control using traps and/or bait located under the furnace.
- Those in attendance agreed our website remains a highly useful portal in providing info for members and visitors. Tom regularly distributes email messages that update trail conditions, grooming plans, and pertinent happenings. This email message list has grown to 290 contacts. About 60-70% of the subscribers open those messages. We occasionally distribute messages using our Facebook and Instagram accounts. We have a Twitter account, but haven’t been using it. We appreciate our members providing trail condition updates to skinnyski.com
- In December 2020, we switched the host and software for our website – using Webflow. The new website was designed by Kristine Paulsen who continues providing expertise as needed. Thanks Kristine! Tom Paulsen continues handling the website, frequently updating trail conditions and other pertinent information. We pay a yearly fee ($192) to use Webflow, and this includes the hosting at Webflow.
- Kirk Paulsen remains our consultant for our highly accurate georeferenced maps that are used in the field and on our website. Based on occasional trailhead conversations with visitors, more and more trail users are taking advantage of the Avenza Maps App on their phones – both our East Side and West Side maps are available free for visitors to follow themselves on their smartphones. Thanks Kirk!
Ski clinic: due to the Covid pandemic, there was no ski clinic this past December.
Current annual dues are $50 for individuals, $75 for families. Dues were increased by $5/$10 in October 2018, and the number of memberships remained stable at ~ 90-95 member households each year – then in 2019-20 topped 100 for the first time, reaching 108 memberships for the year. In 2020-21, memberships grew to 133! We reached the same number of memberships (133) again this past year. Very significant inflation is now a factor throughout the economy. The inflation currently affects us in payments to groomers, gas and heating prices, and equipment purchases and repairs. Tom P (treasurer) recommends we raise annual dues for 2022-2023 to perhaps $60/$90. Brief discussion. John Waldron moved to raise dues to $60 for individuals, $100 for families, seconded by Sam Behrends, passed unanimously.
Our current daily trailhead fee was increased three years ago from $5 to $10 (encouraging users to donate based on their level of enjoyment – suggesting a $5 daily donation per person as a minimum). Since we are a non-profit operating on County land, we cannot require a specific trailhead fee. And our longstanding philosophy encourages many diverse individuals to access the trail system and help fulfill our mission as a non-profit organization. Tom wonders if we should remove the $5 daily minimum and simply request a $10 daily donation. Tom Paulsen moved to keep the daily fee as a requested $10 and remove the $5 option, second by John Waldron, passed unanimously. Tom will create wording for the trailhead that still leaves the option to donate based on level of enjoyment.
- Assuming the COVID-19 pandemic is under control, we expect to have an in person banquet, and hope to take advantage of what we’ve learned about on-line auctions. We have reserved Saturday, November 5, 2022 at Lehman's Supper Club in Rice Lake for this year’s banquet. For an on site gathering, we would again offer many silent auction items, and one or two major raffles. We discussed options including - wait until early-mid August to make a final decision; survey our membership to check their level and interest in gathering as a large group; check with Lehman's Supper Club regarding the last possible date to cancel; consider combining an online auction with an in-person auction at the banquet; consider ending the auction a day or two after the banquet so banquet attendees could lay their hands on some of the items; perhaps replace a group gathering with an online auction similar to the auctions we held November 2020 and 2021.
- We need a volunteer to chair the banquet committee and serve as emcee. Tom will send out an email looking for a volunteer.
- For this year's November banquet, Tom is lining up Jared Munch to be our guest speaker. He's a stand-up paddle-board (SUP) professional that would share his summer 2019 adventure traveling from Duluth to Hudson Bay on a SUP, and introduce attendees to the sport. At the May 2021 annual meeting, we approved a motion to approve Jared's requested speaker's fee of $250. Tom is communicating with Jared to get a firm commitment.
- We would like to see the kids’ Nordic Rocks ski instruction program further developed in Bruce. Using loaned equipment from Ladysmith, a one week trial the winter of 2018-19 was well accepted in the PE classes for the elementary grade students. The next step would be the purchase of 30 pairs of skis & poles at a cost of $1995. At our May 2019 annual meeting, we approved the donation of $1000 from BHTA if the Bruce community and Rusk County were able to match this amount. We discussed the Nordic Rocks program, we all agree it's a good idea for the Bruce School. The PE teacher is important to the success and needs to be very supportive. There is a newly hired PE teacher, Sam Behrends will communicate with this teacher, and continue to champion the Nordic Rocks Program in Bruce. Sam may also communicate with Avery Newman (one of our members in Bruce), and look for partner funding and grant opportunities.
- Tom Paulsen will again spearhead the fall fundraising; Mike Cragg has moved to Eau Claire – Tom will contact Mike to see if he wants to remain involved with Rice Lake contacts. As in the past, fundraising appeals will focus on supportive individuals and businesses, and BHTA members.
- Tom Paulsen will need help stuffing envelopes for the August annual mailing. Tom will seek helpers (via email messaging) later this summer.
Winter Fun Day: Officers will try to coordinate 1-2 potluck ski events as a good way to socialize while attracting members/visitors - perhaps during a full moon if the weather cooperates and the COVID pandemic isn’t active. To enhance attendance, we’ll use a Saturday as the most likely day for the event. Members seem to prefer a potluck approach.
- Purchased in 2012, our trail mower is in good shape and with its new 2021 engine should last another 10-20 years. Annual preventive maintenance on the mower is performed each spring before we start our summer mowing.
- Our 2020 Honda Pioneer 1000 is undergoing some important electrical upgrades, as well as annual maintenance. Thanks to John Waldron for trailering the Honda back and forth!
- The actuator motors on our G2 grooming implements need to be greased prior to this next winter. Tom will see if Bob Wieckowicz can help with this.
- The new West Side trail will be developed this summer. It will run 1.3 km from map points Y to Z. Only about 250 meters of that distance will need bulldozing. The rest of the route is an already existing logging road. We installed a new gate at Letter Y on May 16th (thanks to volunteers Sam B, Kent M, Tom P, Steve P, and John W). Bob Hauser (DNR dozer operator) has already agreed to handle the dozing – he will meet with Tom some time this summer to finalize the dozing plans. Once dozed, we’ll throw down the grass seed.
- Rusk County Forestry will seed the trails that were bulldozed bare as part of the Lollipop Timber Sale that was completed last fall. The circle of the Lollipop will need touch up dozing later this summer once conditions are dry. Hopefully Bob Hauser can supply the dozing – ideally this will include water bars and culverts where appropriate.
- The first bridge (small) between 1-26 has settled and may need to be replaced with a new bridge with longer stringers - set further back from the edge of the small creek. If The sagging bridge east of #25 needs periodic evaluation of its support. Summer 2018 we removed part of the decking so large riprap could be added to fortify the west side of the creek. Sam B has expressed interest in jacking up and supporting the BIG stringers. We'll further evaluate this bridge when mowing this summer - and our officers will consider options. Tom will remind the Forestry Department to evaluate this bridge as a potential site for replacement with a flatbed trailer (which would require DNR permits).
- This past fall/winter, Steve Poethke used his engineering background to evaluate our bridges. He feels that our weakest bridges are capable of handling a load of 4000#, and that our stronger bridges can handle a bigger load. Our Honda Pioneer probably weighs 2500# when loaded. Our big G2 weighs 440# before it accumulates snow.
- The area below the Westside beaver dam north of Letter F remains a grooming/skiing challenge. Options include a major reroute north around the lake impounded by the dam (this area was scouted by Tom P and Jerry S the summer of 2017) vs building a 72-foot long ‘floating’ boardwalk below the beaver dam in the wet area where the Jump River Electric Cooperative (JREC) power line is running. JREC has agreed to flag the power line at that site if we make the request. The Forestry Department is willing to offer advice on locating/building a boardwalk. Tom’s estimate for the cost of a 12' wide boardwalk is $4200 (as of March 2021). In March 2021, Tom applied for a $1000 grant to help cover the cost – that was rejected. Note that JREC rejected our request to donate toward the cost of building this boardwalk. And note that recurrent beaver activity may flood the spot where a boardwalk would be located. This past winter, very cold temps froze the moving water and allowed our use of the lower route below the beaver dam. Ron did get stuck in deep snow on that lower route on one occasion. Currently, we will continue to use the bypass path that runs right next to the beaver dam. Ron Beebe suggested we erect a snow fence north of the beaver dam each winter, this would help minimize drifting that periodically blocks the trail next to the beaver dam – we’ll consider that option as the winter develops. We also will be able to use the plow on our Honda Pioneer to help deal with the drifts. Another thing to consider: with the development of the new trail that will connect Excelsior Road to the Lollipop Loop, we may consider limiting the grooming of the far west loop on the West Side – and groom it only when snow conditions are ideal.
- Brief discussion regarding beaver control and future modification/revision of the West Side trails. Some possibilities include: no further attempts at repairing areas flooded by beaver activity including the East-West crossover trail; instead of grooming the entire West Side, set aside the beaver flooded areas for a more wilderness experience for snowshoers and skiers; installation of pipe and cage leveler systems across beaver dams to allow our trails to coexist with the beavers; developing a trail to connect Excelsior Road to the Lollipop loop. Tom P will discuss these options (and more) when communicating with the head of the Forestry Department.
- Beavers remain active in the pond south of the ‘new’ West Side bridge located west of Letter I. This is where we installed a small beaver deceiver device November 2021 (refer to ‘trail maintenance’ in Old Business).We’ll continue monitoring this site this summer/fall, and consider modifying the beaver deceiver shortly prior to winter setting in.
- Mowing plans – no change. Rusk County usually mows the Westside in July, and portions of the Eastside that can withstand the weight of their skidsteer. For the damp (soft) areas on the Eastside, we plan on again using volunteer labor operating the Honda Pioneer pulling our trail mower. Tom will need a crew of about 6 volunteers to help with the mowing. Sam Behrends and John Waldron offered to help. Tom will send out an appeal soon to identify the rest of the mowing crew.
- One board needs replacement on the north side of the bridge at A4. The mowing crew should make note of this.
- The persistently wet area just inside the gate at the warming house remains a problem. Hopefully this will be fixed as part of the Red Pine timber sale that is planned for summer logging.
- We need to select a fall work day – our officers will do that later this summer.
- The bridge between #25/#26 is located in a curve of the creek, and will always be susceptible to high water events. While exploring a new snowshoe trail with Dan B and John K, Tom discovered a very desirable new route from #26 to the top of the hill north of #25 that would allow a better creek crossing. Tom has looked at this with forester Jeremy Koslowski – and Tom needs to remind Jeremy to investigate this further – including potential DNR permits etc.
- Three timber sales are active on the East Side, none on the West Side. Maps outlining these timber sales were shown to attendees; discussion followed.
- Ron Beebe remains interested in handling most of the wintertime grooming. This past winter, Ed Gauthier joined our grooming team as his main helper. Ed’s ready availability meant that Ahmyn Masci was needed much less often. If any of our members know of someone interested in grooming our trails, please contact one of our officers.
- Our goal remains quality grooming of the entire trail system with major emphasis on the Eastside core loop, and with the Westside as next in priority – this reflects feedback as part of a survey in April 2018.
- The April 2018 survey showed that favorite trails are the Eastside Core Loop, the Westside, the Eastside trails on the far east (Otter Slide, & Far East), Roundabout, and Roller Coaster. And since its introduction a couple years ago, Excelsior Road (West Side) is a favorite.
- We will consider a fall meeting between officers and groomers if it seems necessary.
Signage: 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 and laminating of current maps. If help is needed, Tom will seek volunteers for map replacement this fall.
- Snowshoe trail: John Kann and Dan Bjugstad will continue to maintain and/or revise the snowshoe trail. John & Dan have already plotted a new snowshoe trail that will run from #26 up into Hemlock Canyon (the area north of intersection A4). This may take the place of the Rolling Oaks Trail that was wiped out during February logging. A new route will be developed through that logging debris that will guide snowshoers to the Ridges Trail.
- We need to discuss options for fat bike trails. John K and Dan B are open to the idea of shared use of the snowshoe trails as fat bike trails – but will need plenty of help from fat bike enthusiasts to make this happen. The Forestry Department supports this concept. John Waldron will communicate with John Kann to see what might be developing regarding this shared use. We also discussed the future possibility of purchasing a ‘SnowDog’ groomer for a fat bike trail.
- Thanks to Dave Putnam’s soil removal and leveling the fall of 2020, the approach to the blue shipping container was again more workable this past winter. Ice buildup was not a problem like it had been in the past – the doors could be opened without running into accumulated ice.
- The blue shipping container could benefit from rust removal and painting. Summer 2020, Tom got a bid from Dave Roth (professional painter) that was over $1000. We all agreed that’s too much money to spend on restoring this old container. Instead, we adopted the plan to patch and repair as needed, and consider replacing in the future with a like-new container.
- Jan P is in charge of cleaning the women’s pit toilet. This requires occasional sweeping of the floor and 'dusting' of the shelves; and adding some lye to the toilets. Last year, Sam B volunteered to take charge of cleaning the men’s toilet. He also volunteered to repair the torn screens in the windows of the pit toilets.
- 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. The 'new' propane tank near the storage shed will need to be filled once every few years when the ground is frozen or very dry; that tank most recently was filled summer 2021.
Annual Fall Work Day: to be selected later this summer.
Website: Tom will continue to manage 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.
- Rusk County Forestry is hosting the annual summer tour of the Wisconsin Foresters Association. They’ve invited us to participate as one of the main stopping points. At 10 a.m. on June 2busloads of foresters will visit our trailhead where Sam Behrends will give a 10-15 minute presentation highlighting the relationship between BHTA and the Rusk County Forestry Department.
- After two guys snooped around the trailhead on a Friday night in January, (we saw them on our trail camera), we upgraded the trail camera, and Sam purchased three different styles of motion activated lights that are solar powered. After comparing their operation, Sam prefers the style that would allow an array of six lights that communicate wirelessly (all six light up simultaneously when one is triggered). We decided to purchase six of these lights and set up an array as an experiment this coming fall/winter – and will consider them for use with nighttime skiing and/or trailhead security. Sam will handle this later this year.
- Last summer Tom P created brochures for BHTA. They’ve been distributed inside the warming house, and at the visitor center in Ladysmith. We will ask our membership to volunteer to distribute brochures at their favorite ski shops, etc. Tom will check on printing options (locally by the County Tourism office, or by Jump River Electric Coop; or perhaps UW Eau Claire printing services), and report back to the officers.
- We discussed trying to get a better presence on the skinnyski.com trail reports, and agreed its website is fairly outdated. This coming winter, Tom P will remind our members to submit occasional reports. Our most reliable options for communicating our trail conditions are continued frequent updates on our website, frequent email messages on our subscription email list, and use of our Instagram and Facebook posts. We also discussed the option of our head groomer providing grooming reports to skinnyski.com – Tom will discuss this with Ron B.
- In the past, John Kann wondered about any possible plans for assisting an individual skier that is injured and unable to return to the trailhead. Discussion followed. The critical item is a container that will withstand the weather, bears, porcupines, etc. The kits might include a space blanket, matches, candle, and a map showing areas of possible cell phone service. If we placed a rescue kit at every third intersection on the East Side Core Loop, the kits would be nicely spaced.
To be carried over with additions as highlighted in bold
- Banquet Committee - we need a chair and emcee
- Fun Day / Full Moon Ski Committee - open
- Equipment Committee - Sam Behrends (chair), Bob Wieckowicz
- Fundraising - Jan Paulsen, Tom Paulsen
- Grooming and Trail Maintenance Committee - Jerry Schneider, Steve Porn (chair)
- Ski Clinic Committee - open
- Snowshoe Trail - Dan Bjugstad, John Kann (chair)
- Website - Tom Paulsen (chair)
Motion to adjourn by Sam Behrends, second by John Waldron. Adjourned 8:02 p.m.
Taken by Tom Paulsen, Secretary
A Listing of Active Committees
- Banquet Committee
- Fun Day / Full Moon Ski Committee
- Equipment Committee
- Fundraising Committee
- Grooming and Trail Maintenance Committee
- Ski Clinic
- Snowshoe Trail
- Website Committee