Monday, February 27, 2012

Munising Ski Trip 2012

While our ski trip to da U.P. didn’t technically involve water, (at least in its’ liquid form) we finally found some Michigan snow that was skiable. Many of our group met on Friday for an afternoon outing at the Munising Ski Trails that abut the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Volunteers there groom 15 miles of trail for classic skiing and the terrain is magical. The snow was a little heavy and sticky and was coming down in flakes the size of quarters, but with a little of Dave Lyons’ secret blue wax formula, we got a good glide going and enjoyed a couple of the outer loops.

After the day’s skiing, Mark from Midland and Bruce from Saginaw joined us and we journeyed to the quaint Brownstone Inn in Au Train for some wonderful whitefish and sweet potato fries. Overnight, we got about 3” of fluffy snow, which made the skiing at the Valley Spur National Forest Trails a dream. If you’ve never skied there, I believe the area rivals Stokely Creek in Canada , The Vasa trails near Traverse City, or any other Michigan ski area for variety of terrain, and certainly for the quality of grooming. The ski area is taken care of by a cadre of dedicated volunteers. They invited us to share their chili and soup that was slow cooking for lunch on the woodstove in the toasty warm log day-lodge. Valley Spur has over 30 miles of groomed trail (both skating and classic) and we followed the groomer for most of our morning loop so it was almost like skiing across the frosting on a cake, except some the hills were not quite as sweet. There are enough trails in the area so you could ski for hours without seeing another soul. It was peaceful and, with the sun peeking through, a delightful morning. Lunch in the lodge was everything we hoped it would be, and the afternoon ski on different trails was great also. The memorable “Stairway to Heaven” trail was a gut-wrenching climb, but the reward was coming back on “Heaven”, a mile-long downhill glide back to the lodge. Before this trip, most of us didn’t have many miles under our skis because of the poor conditions downstate, so no one was wanting for more skiing by the time we decided to leave for the day.
The evening’s entertainment was a bluegrass band at the Falling Rock Coffeehouse. The band gave us two hours of fun and good music on a cold winter’s night.
On Sunday, the plan was to travel 30 miles west of Munising to see the 100’ high Laughing Whitefish Falls. The wind and snow was blowing around and it turned out that what we thought was the road would have made a better snowmobile trail. We had most of our vehicles stuck at various times. Thanks to Mark P’s four-wheel drive and with the ladies pushing, everyone got out alright. Laughing Whitefish Falls were great to see and worth the effort to get back there. The nearby little burg of Eben features some ice caves that we explored. The mile long walk out to the caves was pretty treacherous at times, what with steep hills covered with ice, but we made it out to see the caves and got some wonderful pictures.
I think everyone would agree that the ski trip was a success. Next week is March, the days are getting longer, and we’ll soon have our paddles in the water again. See you on the water.

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