Friday, February 27, 2015

Lodge Guests

Hard to believe we are in the last week of February. Despite the low snow year, it has been a great season of skiing at Maplelag. Basically we had two bad weeks the end of December which happened at a bad time of year. But January and February have been great, all things considered. From a grooming perspective, it has been ideal. A solid base and just enough dustings now and then to freshen things up. Sure, it would of been nice to have a 4-6" snow fall but can't complain at all. I'm on track to put in a "normal" year of grooming hours and kilometers wise. 
It has been a special year with the guests. Hard to put a good explanation on it but the people have been incredible. I think we have received more gifts than we ever have and everyone has been super friendly and appreciative. Makes long days and the not so fun moments like unplugging you know what and dealing with frozen lines etc. not so bad. 

We've had a lot of guests from all over the US and a good number of visitors from Canada. Earlier this month we had the family from the Falcon Ridge Ski Area I didn't know much about the ski area until they came but the moment they arrived we made a connection. Good talking with them about resort operations etc. Jonell and I are hoping to go up and check out their place later in March after we close for the season.
 Single digits no issue for ski apres outside.
 Out on the trail.
Introducing Fargo Brew.
Jonell and I have had more people ask this year if any of the kids will ever come back. Got a kick out of this comment card from a few weeks ago. Good stuff.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


We were host to the Section 8 Nordic Ski Championships this year at Maplelag, after being asked the first part of January. The scheduled venue, Camp Ripley near Little Falls, did not have adequate snow the time decisions needed to be made so we agreed to host. We have hosted Sections 5 other times, 4 for lack of snow at Ripley and last year because of a scheduling conflict. We hosted the DL Invite on January 15th, running just a skate race with not enough snow to run a classic race. With the base we had, just a couple inches would allow for a different classic course and figured we would have to get that much in a 3 week span. Didn't happen.

 Between January 15th and Sections on February 3rd, we had maybe 1" of snow. With no new snow, a lot of shoveling and snow transporting was on order. With 6 days above freezing, keeping the deck from getting rock hard icy, daily grooming was required, 2-3 passes each day. The end result was some super fast and fun skate skiing. Springlike conditions for over 2 weeks! Personally the best skate skiing you can have. 

 With not enough new snow to run a separate classic course, we ran the classic race on the same loop as the skate course.
To set a full depth track, had to shovel about 60% of the course on the side to set that track.

 Jack raced for Detroit Lakes. Getting last minute encouragement from mom.
 Jens and Jon watched the morning race cheering on their brother.

Leading a group up Suicide Hill. Jack had his best race of the year, having a solid classic race.

 Jon with his buddy Austin who qualified as an individual from DL.
 Pursuit start. The day went great. Fun to host the event and the energy, enthusiasm is inspiring.
 I did all the shoveling solo other than Cade Benson helping out Super Bowl Sunday afternoon for 4 hours. He worked the day shift in the kitchen and I asked him if he wanted to shovel in the afternoon and he said "sure, I don't really have anything else to do". Cade has been a great worker at Maplelag, complete pleasure to have on staff. He plays high school hockey. All in all I figured I shoveled about 30-35 hours on the course.

 Jack coming down Kamikaze hill. I put a couple pickup loads of snow on Kamikaze when the snow was damp and it set up like concrete. It got a bit icy and the only section of course I didn't feel real good about as too many people went down on the sharp corner. Looking back, I should of put another load of drier granulated snow so it would of been more forgiving.

 We had a number of teams come out before Sections to ski the course. All the skiers were most appreciative and friendly, going out of their way to say thanks. It was motivating and made all the work the worth the while.

 The Alex skier on the left, can't remember his name really went out of his way and took pride being one of the skiers that skied on only two courses in the state that competed on natural snow.

The St Cloud and Mora schools came up the day before with the long drive. Great seeing the smiles and again, most appreciative.

Local skier Berit back out after Sections putting in training. Berit has logged a ton of k's at Maplelag, skiing the entire trail system at Maplelag the end of the hs season. 

I put about 50 pickup loads of snow on the course over 5 weeks. Worth every dollar. 
Just Ski.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rochester Nordic Ski Team

Over the course of the season, we have around 25 high school teams come to Maplelag for training camps. For 7 years now, the Rochester Nordic Ski team has come up. It used to be called Rochester Area Ski Club. The first year there might of been 30 students but this year was all time high of almost 150 students. One thing neat about this group is there are kids from all the Rochester schools, including Mayo, Century, John Marshal, Lourdes and one other private school. Rivals in other sports, they all come together as Nords to form a team.  It is awesome to see and be a part of the growth. The energy and enthusiasm of the kids is inspiring.
 Team assembled for the Saturday morning ski.
 The kids have the option to go out in the morning. Every weekend it is fantastic to see so many kids out on the trail before the sun comes up. Regardless of the temp as evident by this skier.
 The kids are super nice. Friendly, respectful, courteous. Jonell and I spent a hour of so Saturday night talking, basically a Q and A, with some of them over a big bowl of popcorn. Great stuff.
It was a lot of work getting skaters waltz in good shape before having 150 skiers doing countless laps. But watching the time trial Saturday afternoon was all worth it. With classic tracks not common in Rochester, the team primarily focuses on skate skiing but will take a group of 20 or so out classic skiing Sunday morning.

Head lamp skiing in the early morning while out grooming.
John Ressman is one of the coaches/leaders I work with setting up the trip. He along with the other coaches and organizers are a big reason the group has grown and remains vibrant. Big shout out to them. It blows me away to see a group this size from Rochester take off like it has. Fargo/Moorhead is a comparable size, close proximity but has had a hard time gaining momentum.
A fun weekend. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


 Another Holiday season has passed. Like always, it goes by super fast with things cranking up at the resort and kids activities in the mix. Family shot at Grandma Judy's on Christmas Eve.

 I didn't feel like Christmas this year with browngreenish grass the day before Christmas. Yikes!
 The boys with Santa.
 My awesome wife, celebrating 22 years of amazingness.

 Snowmaker Christmas present from Bruce and Margaret Adelsman. I waved that wand like crazy and then it snowed 6" in the cities. Thanks Ha! Priceless gift though and like Bruce said, sometimes you just have to laugh.
 We kept active a bit different this Holiday season. Fun times with boys, lots of skating, ping pong and mountain biking. The skating on the lake was epic the day after it melted than started to freeze.

 Nothing stronger than flowing water, even if a trickle despite subzero temps.
 Preparing the plunge hole.
 Jake's time at home was short as he competed in US Nationals the first part of the New Year. (photo
 Jon waving the flag at Kent Freeman at last home game before Christmas break. (photo Brian Basham)
 Jens skating up the ice in home game.
 Jack cranking it at Mt Itasca before Christmas break.

Night plunge with the boys. Since we got the hole open, we've plunged over a dozen times this year. Good way to get rid of some of the gunk going around.

Snow returned in small batches with a great New years day gift of 4" on New Years Day. Ice thick enough to support vehicles and equipment and making it much more efficient to transport snow.

As of this week, over 30 loads on Skaters Waltz and considering only 5-6" of snowfall since the "melt off" skiing isn't too bad.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Snow Farming Meltdown

Last weekend was not a good weekend weather wise for snow retention. Before this past weekend, we enjoyed about 4 weeks of early season skiing. The base remained constant but provided some great skiing. About 2 weeks out from the meltdown, I saw some indicators that it could get warm. Maybe it wouldn't but had to assume it would. I beginning clearing snow from fields, the basketball court, our deck, our patio not before starting with the ice rink that had snow from Thanksgiving that hadn't been cleared. Focused on about 5km of trail that was mostly skaters waltz. I wasn't going to blog this but Jonell said I should document it and hopefully I can look back down the road and say "glad I don't have to do that again".

God willing, I will never own a snowblower. I can't stand the things. When I clear the ice rink, I use my skates and 3" or less can knock out in 20 minutes. It's a great workout and I get the ice relatively "clean".
With the snow that was on the rink, I was able to get three pickup loads.

The pickup loads went near the start and big south facing slope hill "kamikaze" on skaters waltz.
Pulling snow from a field.
 Don Camp (above) passing through from West Yellowstone training camp to Michigan. During the four weeks we had skiable snow, just a few people came out to ski. Quite honestly, it was disappointing how few people came out skiing. The majority of people were from out of state!   We had just one skier from Detroit Lakes and no ski team members. Quite a change from years past where local hs kids would be ecstatic to be skiing on the snow we had. With Detroit Mountain opening up, the ski team has been skiing there and also pulling local skiers.
Hard not to look back to a year ago. Grooming exactly one year ago from the photo above of Don.
Taking snow off the court. Taking advantage of the moonlight during the short day.
Spreading another pickup load on kamikaze hill.

Grooming it out later in the day.

Building up the start area.
After a week of hauling snow in the truck, I walked along 80% of the trail, shoveling what snow there  was to the middle.

Where there was more snow to work with, I used sleds.

Fog and frost moving in. The frost was beautiful on the trees before it got to warm to convert the frog to frost.
Taking snow from the deck.
Istevan from South Dakota driving up 6 hours one way for a day of skiing.
Saturday morning the coverage was still very good and had a awesome Saturday morning ski. But from 10am that morning to Sunday evening, the temp only went up and never cooled down.

We had to cancel a ski camp with 200 kids from four different teams. Major bummer. It was tough to stomach the warm weather after all that shoveling but thankful for the good skiing days before the melt. Jens's home hockey tournament and a lot of ping pong games with Jon helped ease the torture. Ha!

Monday morning after it finally cooled down, went out for a run to check out the scene. It was not pretty. The upside is that that some of the melt froze to a solid base.

This slope had a lot of snow transport but just couldn't hang on.

Next night we had a dusting but not enough to groom or even ski. At least it is white!

Weather pattern looks bit more favorable next 2 weeks. All it will take is 3-4" to get gliding again. Soon it will come!! Think Snow!!