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.
May 8, 2012 7:35 PM
Meeting called to order
by Dick Pebler, president, at 6:35 p.m. at the warming house at the Blue Hills Trail
Officers: Dave Olsen, Tom Paulsen, Dick Pebler
Members: Jan Paulsen, Jonathan Stanley
Non-members: Dan Bartels
Motion by Dave Olsen, second by Jan Paulsen, to dispense with reading of the prior minutes and to accept the June 2011 minutes. Unanimously carried.
The fiscal year runs September 1 to August 31 inclusive. An interim budget report was presented by Tom Paulsen. Revenue ($19,052.98) exceeded expenses ($11,564.61) by $7488.37. Overall expenses were below budget due to the mild, dry winter (reduced grooming). Revenue was above budget thanks to successful fundraising, our many donors, and steady support from our members. Our bottom line shows a positive balance at this time (available cash) of $22,419.72. Discussion was held. Motion was made by Jonathan Stanley 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
Jan Paulsen nominated Dick Pebler for president, Dave Olsen for vice president, and Tom Paulsen for secretary/treasurer. Nominations were closed, and these individuals were elected unanimously.
Fall banquet: held at Burdy's in Weyerhaeuser. Tom Paulsen reported that attendance was low, but the attendees were enthusiastic and enjoyed the evening. The banquet was financially successful (showing a net profit of $1700). The method used for prize distribution worked well (primarily silent auctions).
Blue Hills Ascent: Frank Lowry canceled the anticipated fun day (first Saturday in January) due to poor snow conditions. There were no costs incurred.
Website: those in attendance agreed the website remains very functional. The December 2011 blog included a video slide show of past years that was well received. 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: overall good results despite the ongoing major economic recession. Business donations decreased by about $1000, individual donations were relatively stable, and despite one of the warmest driest winters in memory, the number of memberships decreased by only 11%. This winter (2011-12) we had snow when other ski areas were bare, and we set a record at the donation pole ($2800+).
Equipment: we spent a total of $2500 on our equipment, mostly on maintenance/repair. We purchased a track renovator for $300, but never had a deep enough base to use it. The biggest repair item was a malfunctioning speedometer on the 2008 Skandic snowmobile ($300). Various other repairs generated not atypical labor costs that were split between Dan Bartels (BHTA mechanic), and Stodola's Precision Performance (Rice Lake).
Grooming and trail maintenance:
- Dozing of recently logged trails was finally performed autumn 2011 during a dry spell. It was still too wet to install a culvert on the new trail 29A-30A. After completing the dozing, it was too wet to perform seeding.
- Mowing of the Westside was performed by County employees in July; they also were able to mow a limited portion of the Eastside. Mowing of most of the EastSide was performed by Dan Bartels (contracted employee of BHTA). Dan's mowing of the Eastside was interrupted by wet weather and storms, and was finally completed late in the fall.
- Frank Lowry designed a new bridge to replace the deteriorating bridge at #31.
- The work day in early October was very well attended. Mike Plachetka brought his tracked Bobcat to handle earth moving chores for the bridges at 31 and 25; and for the creek crossing on the new trail 29A-30A.
- In November, Tom Paulsen and Jesse Wimer used chain saws to level the brush used to fill five low spots on trail section 7-30A.
- As the grooming season began, Dan Bartels used hay to fill a gap next to the bridge between 5-6.
- Dan Bartels handled the bulk of the grooming chores. Assistant groomers included Steve Brockman and Jesse Wimer. After experimentation, Dan found that the leveling bar - and snow scratchers - (purchased the previous winter) worked very well. Despite an unusually dry warm winter, high quality skiing conditions were present on most days - most visitors were favorably impressed. More and more skiers are enjoying the ability to ski with their dogs on the Westside.
Snowshoe trail: John Kann (assisted by Jerry Schneider) created a well enjoyed snowshoe trail that began at the warming house. He brushed, signed and flagged the trail as well. This is a great addition to the trail system - and John plans on expanding the snowshoe trail in the near future.
Signage: Rusk County printed and laminated the necessary replacement maps. Dick Pebler and Jonathan Stanley replaced the WestSide maps/signage, Tom Paulsen 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 gas leak near the pilot mechanism in the furnace was repaired (May 2012) at a cost of $165.
After discussion, those in attendance agreed the membership fees ($35 for individuals, $55 for families) and trailhead fees ($5 daily donation) should remain unchanged (motion by Dave Olsen, second by Jonathan Stanley, passed unanimously). By not raising fees, this 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 2012 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 has agreed to head the banquet committee. Perhaps Burdy's (Weyerhaeuser) would again be a suitable location for the fund raising banquet; other options include the Blue Hills Inn, Lehman's (Rice Lake), and the warming house at our trail head.
Blue Hills Ascent: due to recent low turnouts, Frank Lowry recommended we not hold a race in January 2012. Those in attendance agreed unanimously. We'll ask Frank Lowry 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, although our head groomer (Dan Bartels) suggested we consider purchase of a second big G2 to cover more trail width when two individuals are grooming - Tom Paulsen will investigate the cost of a used model. We anticipate replacement of our 2008 Skandic snowmobile November 2013. An option at that time might be a John Deere Gator 825i (tracked, work horse ATV).
- Our trail mower needs to be replaced. After discussing various options, we decided to purchase an AcrEase MR55VE mower ($4500) to include a wetlands kit ($500) and a remote switch to operate the clutch (motion by Dick Pebler, seconded by Jan Paulsen, and passed unanimously).
- 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.
- Trail sections in need of dozing include 29A-30A where a culvert is needed; Rut Road nead #3 where a culvert is eroded; section 5-6 where a bridge needs repair work, and dozing is needed.
- In conjunction with Paul Teska and Gary Sarauer, we will tour the EastSide this summer to determine additional dozing needs.
- Frank Lowry will supervise placing fill for one wall of a bridge near #23 that was repaired in late April.
- Rusk County has agreed to mow the WestSide, and portions of the EastSide that can withstand the weight of their tractor. On the WestSide, we'll also request clearing (sickle mowing) of the narrowed brushy area 200 meters east of Letter K. For the damp (soft) areas on the EastSide, this will be contracted in a manner similar to past mowing contracts. We are also communicating with the Wildlife Restoration Association hoping they might be able to help with mowing.
- Steps to the women's pit toilet need repair - Tom Paulsen will look for a volunteer.
- 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 Gest will share the bulk of the grooming, with expected frequent assistance from Jesse Wimer, Adam Brockman, Jay Howard, Frank Lowry, Tom Paulsen, and Jonathan Stanley will be available for backup grooming. Our goal remains quality grooming of the entire trail system with major emphasis on the core loop. The usual fall meeting between officers and groomers is anticipated.
Warming house: hopefully this summer, exterior staining can be accomplished. Tom Paulsen will look for volunteer labor for washing the exterior and staining (perhaps Bruce fire department could wash the exterior, and Boy Scouts could apply the stain). Exterior caulking also needs to be considered. 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: John Kann plans extension of the snowshoe trail.
Warming house propane heat: we switched to Sheldon Coop as the provider June 2010, they are delivering a good service. We plan on filling the tank this summer (June) when rates are the lowest.
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: open
- Snowshoe Trail: John Kann
- Website: Tom Paulsen
Motion to adjourn by Tom Paulsen, second by Dave Olsen. Adjourned at 8:25 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