2013 Newsletter

For a pdf version of the newsletter, see this link.

Ski Club Update

Cordell Manz, President– 11/16/2011

Hello skiers!  This has been an exciting off season for the ski club.  One of the goals we voted on last year was to extend and finish the existing classic only ski loop.  With an abundance of help from the Brule River State Forest and club volunteers, we have been able to do that – adding an additional 2 miles of ski trail that is ready to be groomed as soon as we get enough snow.  I really think the additional distance to the classic loop is going to be fantastic and make this a much more enjoyable loop for skiers; it adds some more interesting, skiable, and variable terrain and topography during its meandering twists and turns, and gradual climbs and descents on its way back toward Hilltop Junction.  As a plus, we were able to do it just under the cost of $3,000 that we had budgeted for the project.  I really think it is a great accomplishment for the club this year, and we can take what we learned from this project and apply it similarly to future projects.  Next year for example, we hope to widen the Entry Loop trail from near the bottom of the “difficult” downhill entry, out to where Maple Trail turns right.  This will make a better, more usable area for Learn to Ski Days and for mass-starts for our ski race.  Again, thanks to all the State Forest staff, contractors, and ski club members who volunteered to help work on this in order to get it done in time for ski season!

Last year we added a Facebook page called “Brule Valley Ski Club & Afterhours Ski Trail”. The page began picking up more traffic during the winter last year – and was a good place to look for information regarding ski club events and trail updates.  I encourage everyone to “like” it, and spread it around still to your friends.  It is my hope the Facebook page is one area that can generate interest in our club and more memberships.

We also voted this fall to have an overhaul done with our web page (http://www.brulexcski.com/).  We have contracted Scott Nesvold for this project.  Scott is an active member of our cross country ski community who has given us a fantastic deal we couldn’t pass up, and has professional experience in website design – including cross country skiing sites!  He has already done a lot on the project, which will make our website more functional, in addition to updating its “looks”.  Users will be able to post trail updates, make comments and respond to topics/threads, post photos, as well as search for ski club info and content when we are done.  Stay tuned and keep checking out the site which should be ready soon.  I would personally like to extend the ski club’s thanks to Paul Haltvick, who for many years had maintained the ski club website.

We also have several changes to the ski club board. Myself and Gary Rutledge are back in the same positions, but Greg St. Onge will be the s Treasurer, swapping places with Bob Cragin, who will serve as the Vice President. Linda Hobbs stepped down as Secretary and at the time of our meeting we hadn’t as yet found a replacement.  However, I’d like to welcome Rondi Watson from Duluth, who has offered to be the new Secretary for this coming year.  Rondi was instrumental in helping create our Facebook page and in considering what type of platform to use for our new website to make it more user-friendly.  I think she will be a great fit for us as Secretary for this year as we continue to add content to these sites.  Also, my thanks to Linda for the past few years of service as Secretary, and for a lot of work well done and much appreciated!

Well, hopefully we are going to have a much better snow year than last year.  While we were probably lucky in Brule to be on skis most of January through the first week of March, the lack of snow had some impacts on our events numbers and season in general.  For example, there really wasn’t much snowshoeing last year – who needs snowshoes for a few inches of snow on the ground?! We had hoped to lay out an additional snowshoe loop down towards the river for some scenic views and add some extra variety to the existing snow shoe loop, but lack of snow hindered this somewhat.  If anyone wants to volunteer for this or other trail projects, our ski race, or other help much needed – or if you have ideas, questions, concerns, please feel free to contact me.

As always, the club again thanks the skiers, volunteers, Brule Lions Club, those who make extra financial donations and the Brule River State Forest staff for everything you do to contribute in making Afterhours a great place to be and ski.  See you soon on the trails!

 New START and RACE for 2013 Riverview Loppet, March 2nd

Since we started our event, we have always used interval starts to separate racers and keep the ‘mayhem’ at the starting line to a minimum. Especially back in 1995, much of the trail was narrow and several corners were tight.

It’s obvious that there have been significant trail improvements to the Afterhours Ski Trail over the past years. The trail is longer and generally wider.   Corners have been redesigned.  Beginning with the March 2, 2013 Riverview Loppet, we will have a new start format and an additional race. We have gone back to 12K & 24 K events in both classic and freestyle. We will still have separate starts for our races, but the race starts will be gender specific. The 24 K skate has traditionally been our largest event, so we will separate skaters by gender but men will have two starts split by age groups 35 and younger  and 36 and older age groups as a method to keep the groups small.

With this change, skiers will start within their competitive group for each event, as a wave with its own time slot and start. Groups should be relatively small and the trail should handle the separate events well. We think this format should also help to bring out the competitive nature of racing because now everyone in a specific race will have the same start time and winning times and individuals will be more apparent at the finish.

With this change, we will have slightly more time between events, but we will finish our event in the same time frame as we always have.

We think these changes will provide a safe and more fun event. We welcome your comments and questions. Check out our website and this year’s race brochure.

 Afterhours Trail – DNR Annual Update

Dave Schulz, Superintendent Kevin Feind, Ranger Brule River State Forest staff, in cooperation with the Brule Valley Ski Club,  created two additional miles of Classic Trail this fall to extend the classic trail  that used to end at the south west corner of Loop Trail.  Now, skiers will be able to ski through a variety of cover types, and topography changes and come out at Hilltop Junction.  This new trail should be very popular as it winds its way through a very pretty area of the property.

Ranger Kevin Feind layed the route out last March when much of the woods still had snow.  This allowed that trail to be routed in areas that maintained its snow cover, thus limiting the problem with areas thawing off and creating a maintenance issues with lack of snow.   Staff worked diligently during the early fall cutting trees to rough in the trail.  Excavators were hired to remove the stumps and clear the trail.  A DNR bulldozer then levelled areas of the trail, and a skid steer was brought in to complete finish grading.  Many thanks go to the Brule Valley Ski Club for funding the excavation work as well as the finish grading.

Thanks to the hard work of Brule Valley Ski Club members and DNR staff, many hours were spent cutting trees, removing roots, pruning limbs, raking, and removing debris, skiers will discover this to be a very nice trail.

According to GPS, measuring from where Classic Trail branches from Maple Trail, to where Classic Trail rejoins the pre-existing trail at Hilltop Junction, the Classic Trail is 7.5 miles long.

Efforts were made to improve the quality of mowing the trail system this fall.  With the help of a new brush mower with wing, and an operator that knows what is needed for later grooming, we should see better conditions even if we have limited snowfall.  Staff also filled in along the right side of the trail immediately after one crosses the easy exit bridge.  Historically, a crown has formed at this location, making it difficult to properly place classic track without sliding off the trail.  This refinement should make it safer for skiers and easier to properly groom.

The DNR purchased a John Deere Gator this year.  The 800cc machine has been widely used for grooming in other areas of the Midwest when equipped with rubber tracks.  The machine looks like a small “Snowcat”, and has already proven to be a very versatile UTV.  It has a power dump box, so is very easy to hall rock and gravel.  It also allowed us to have on person stand in the box to prune branches up to 14’ up off the edge of the trail.  Staff was able to haul chainsaws, fuel, bar oil, safety equipment, and sharpening/saw maintenance box while making the new trail.  This greatly added to work efficiency.

The Brule River State Forest looks forward to another great ski season at the Afterhours Trail.  If you have a need to contact us, please call Ranger Kevin Feind or Superintendent Dave Schulz at 715-372- 5678.  Look for ski trail condition updates on skinnyski.com, norwiski.com, or the Brule Valley Ski Club’s FACEBOOK page.