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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Call it a season !

Well it has been one of the longest grooming seasons.  But it has come to an end.  The equipment was picked up and moved to it's summer storage.  We need some snow on the ground to be able to load the equipment onto a trailer.  So things are thawing quickly at the Buffs so it had to be this week.

There is still plenty of skiing to be had on Black Mountain.  The snow will be there for some time to come.,,

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Saturday Grooming Effort



Went out from the Bluffs this a.m., covered those predicted areas mentioned in last night's "What if" tentative report for this a.m.
However, was not able to reset new tracks, so it is just skate lanes that are refreshed with no new tracks set.
Last grooming was this past Wednesday. This a.m., there were no visible signs of anyone having skied classic or skated since then. There were no pole plant impressions along the tracks I set on Wednesday. Nor were there any sign of anyone skatiing since.
So today those same areas have refreshed combed surfaces, but with no new track set.
Had to stop constantly to knock ice balls out of the track drives even at 24 deg, due to yesterday's rain having saturated the trail base with rain water. Also stopped to pick up alot of new wind-blown limbs & tree trash.
Today may have been the last grooming, depending on what happens in the next couple of days.
The snow base is plenty deep, more than I've seen in recent years. Being able to manage that depth in spring conditions in another thing ~
                           Observed several skiers out there enjoying their Spring skiing day.
                                                                                        Jim

Grooming Saturday ???

Snow blowing around here for several hours, looking like mid-winter again~
Not sure how today's earlier rain at 33 deg. affected the trails before it turned to snow.
IF it gets & stays cold enough early Saturday  a.m. for the snow pack to support the groomer's weight without Blazer tracks sinking in too deep like it did Wednesday, I'll take another shot at doing some grooming wherever possible. Most areas the snow is still 2 ft deep out there.
Might  try going out the hilly side of Bluffs loop, down to Twin Lakes & back......up the long hill past the Cheboygan shelter, across the ridge  (bypassing the black hill turnouts), do the upper triangle & rollercoaster loops. If it looks possible, will try going down around the Presque Isle shelter, across to #11 & back up to the rollercoasters......like I did on Wednesday.
 
All of the above is just  guesswork up for grabs...depending on whether conditions will allow without sinking in or clumping ice balls in that older set of track drives on the Blue Blazer.  If temps actually stay below 27 long enough to get that much done, maybe it will work.
If not, there may be enough new snow for anyone interested to just get out there and ski back in the tracks I set on Wednesday, assuming they'll be visible.  If I can do two laps to include skate lanes & set new track on second pass, will do.
If you go and don't find fresh grooming, that probably means I tried but these Spring conditions didn't allow.
I am not sure how many are still interested in skiing at this point of day-to-day?
 
                                                       Jim

Friday, April 4, 2014

Conditions

Sorry for the late update, been traveling.

Jim did some grooming the other day.  His report is below.

Wednesday a.m. grooming wasn't working due to 2 inch thick slabs of solid crust bridging over the softer underneath deep depth of softened corn snow.
Later--4:00 p.m., 34 degrees, left for the Bluffs to try when surface was softer with hopes of setting a track. Bluffs driveway is broken up, muddy gravel & large puddles, icy ruts......it's called Spring Break-up.
Meanwhile, the temp had disappointingly risen to 40 deg starting out from the Bluffs around 5:00 p.m.
We have had too many warm days in a row lately, which is adversely affecting trail's ability to support our equipment.
 
Went out the Bluffs loop flat side, across the ridge, bypassing the hill turnouts, across the road, around the upper triangle loop & rollercoasters. Then went back down from marker #16 past the Presque Isle shelter, taking the #12 cut-off across to #11, and back up to the rollercoasters. Set a track on the second pass around.
 
Grooming result was a mix bag of just about everything...including alot of tree trash, all those wind-blown leaves that were buried in the last snowfall are exposed again in most areas.
The weight of the equipment was sinking more on every pass, especially where we had earlier blows with alot of deep drifting this winter. This required keeping a death grip on the wheel, with the outer front tracks randomly & suddenly sinking a foot, making it very hard to steer & not to get sucked off the trail edges into the trees. Found out snow has become very porous corn beneath, apparently thawing from the ground up in places. This gave the impression of riding in a boat undulatiing over waves.
Repeated passes over the same areas resulted in sinking even more with each pass, so the skate lane is still a mixed bag of dirty tricks. Tracks are set full depth with alot of leaves, twigs, bark all smushed into them.
 
Gave up on the idea of going down to the south end PI parking lot after having several narrow escapes nearly getting sucked off the trail. Stopping to knock ice balls out of those older track pods wasn't helping.
                                                    Jim
** If I were looking for best skating, I would choose time of day to skate crust wherever you have it at home or nearby fields.
Dog hikers had been out postholing down the middle when it was warm & soft, hard to cover those.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday Grooming

Still plenty of skiing left on Black mountain.
Jim was out this morning and filed this report.


Left home 8:00 a.m. at 20 deg to go groom some trails.
Got to the Bluffs, it was already 30 deg. there.
Went out with Blue to see what could be done, hoping to avoid clumping in the track drives.
It worked well enough with tranformed snow & by going faster than normal, setting full depth tracks on both sides of the Bluffs look, down to Twin Lakes & back, up the long hill past Cheboygan shelter, across the road, including all 4 black hill turnouts, upper triangle & rollercoaster loop. All has set track but not groomed full width for skating. It was too warm to be skating by then anyway. Saw several skiers out on classic skis. It was 36 deg. when I got back to the Bluffs, all in the nick of time.
                                               Jim

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Grooming

Still plenty of sking left on the mountain.Jim  was out grooming yesterday and posted the following
Yesterday afternoon I drove up top on County Line Rd. with pick & shovel,  hacked down & flattened the chunks at the steep plowed icy berms both sides at the road crossing.....about 30 minutes worth of hacking & whacking.  The trail surface snow is 5 ft higher than the road surface on each side but easier to get across now.
Then to the Bluffs,  took Frankenstein out flat side of the Bluffs loop, across the ridge trail & across the road to do the upper triangle & rollercoaster loop I never made it to because of the road crossing fiasco.
Next trip might go down past John's Rock, take the cut-off 12-11 back to 13 at the Rollercoasters if anyone thinks it's worthwhile?
 
It is what it is, looked skiable to me wherever I looked behind. How long this lasts is anyone's guess, but there it is for now. Tracks are full depth most places, other places that are icy underneath, not as good but maybe good enough. More weights on the groomer would have been better. Picked up alot of sticks, there was a stiff wind blowing (more leaves too) from the NW.
Out there over 3 hrs, saw no one.
Back at the Bluffs 6:00 p.m., the place was closed up for whatever unusual reason (?)so I couldn't refuel me or the Blue Blazer nor the two empty gas cans from the gangbox. I brought them home to refill....just in case, ya never know when need arises.
                                         -4 below here this a.m.
                                                                    Jim
 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pic & Video from Sunday

Denny Paull was out skiing the 10 k skate trail Sunday and recorded the picture and video below.


video