Tag, you're it! Tag zone at the 2019 Muffin Sprint Relay at the Cross Country Ski Headquarters. (Photo: Ricardo Lung)
Tech Trails Citizen’s Night Race Series
Michigan Tech Trails, Houghton, MI
Vasa Trail: Arriving at the Vasa this morning and looking at the hard gnarly refrozen snow all around Lombard's Lodge I just about gave up and drove back home. On a gamble I walked down to the TH to see if maybe they had groomed. I bumped into lead groomer Glen, and saw that sure enough they had just returned from grooming. In short they transformed a dangerously uncontrollable hard refrozen skate lane into one that was super-fast and fun, essentially friction-less skating on the 3/4" rills they cut into the top surface that provided more than adequate control in that loosened top surface. Glen passed along some safety cautions, that I put to good use on the 10K loop:
1. Avoid the TH solid ice to the right of the groomers barn, and instead put on your skis and start on the left side of the groomers barn next to the old parked white pick-up truck (as if heading out to the Meadows Loop).
2. Avoid the Ledge [catwalk just before the split rail fence] as it is mostly boilerplate ice and leaves, and instead access the 10K loop by using the 5K Headwaters Trail.
3. Woodchip Hill is mostly a couple of sheets of ice (located 200 yards from the TH), so just pick your line and ride it out as there will be no turning on that section.
With those cautions the rest of the 10K trail remains 90% refrozen groomed snow and 10% boilerplate grey ice. Myself and the other skiers I encountered were thrilled at enjoying speeds rarely achieved. The long downgrade from the Special K intersection to the 7K post will have the trees flying by so fast with so much wind in your face you'll feel you're on a Star Wars Speeder Bike, or motorcycle of your youth.
Glen doubted they would continue to groom the 25K due to ice, especially on the uphill sections where their sleds lose traction, debris, and low-use as they only saw tracks on it from two skiers yesterday, and will concentrate on the other loops such as the 10K and 5K Headwaters as long as they are able to.
Lake Ann Pathway: Kathy, Winnie & I hiked the Lake Ann Pathway hills midday since too rough to ski but barely firm enough to avoid postholing, and not firm enough crust to go off-trail, that in-between season.
Hiawatha Highlands: Fresh groom on the Pinder system only this morning. Calling for clear skies and slightly cooler temperatures today!
Huron Meadows Metropark: Please show your support for skiing at Huron Meadows. Come to the end of season party March 30th, 11:45. Huron Meadows clubhouse. This is your chance to pay it back. Try and bring a dish to pass or something to drink (no alcohol). It looks like the Metroparks Director will be there! So, we need to have a good turnout.
In addition to the coveted Golden Hamster award, we will present a variety of other awards; humorous and serious--kind of.
Boyne Mountain: Wow, crust skiing is terrific today and every morning for the next several days. When it gets a little warm during the day to form a layer of moisture on top of the snow and then it gets cold at night, expect crust skiing to be good. Go out on a golf course (avoiding the greens and sand traps, of course) or any clear land and get that free-floating, I-can-go-anywhere feeling:)
We won't be grooming Innsbruck and Deer Run any more this season, but the skiing there is still decent. The shop will be open on weekends only, until the end of the season.
Speaking of the shop: EVERYTHING IS 40% OFF, the deepest discount of the season. Do some early Christmas shopping! Pick up some gear for spring, since XC gear crosses over nicely into biking, hiking, running, kayaking, etc.
Nick and Pat will be grooming the lower trails this morning and we'll post an update when they're done.
Forbush Corner: Larry is out grooming the trails. It will be a little slow going to get things groomed up correctly. We will open the trails as soon as we can. We usually start with Lil' Coaster and then Badlands, followed by Roller Coaster. Temperatures will stay below freezing today until Saturday Afternoon. Skiing should be quite good all weekend. I used my good skis yesterday with no problem.
Cross Country Ski Headquarters: Conditions remain good for spring skiing on the majority of the trails. Snow consistency is primarily ground up snow crystals with some occasionally hard pack, which is best skied on in the morning before it softens up in the afternoon warmth, Groomer Mike will snow comb the Rolling Hills, Mackinaw Cut, Wild Turkey, Trapper's Cabin, and Adventure trails this morning. We will continue to groom every day as long as temps get below freezing at night. While Manitou and Tall Pines are not recommended due to ice and debris, much of the rest of the trail system still offers some great spring ski conditions! *Please walk out past the ice at the trail head to start skiing.
Today’s lunch special is Bob's Favorite Tuna Panini! Albacore tuna, provolone, jalepenos, banana peppers, black olives, spinach, onion and tomato on a Swiss roll, grilled to perfection. Served with Great Lakes Chips and a pickle. Plus, the Spring Sale is on! Shop lots of great sales on hardgoods and softgoods. Keep on skiing, it's good for the spirit!!
Crystal Mountain: Well folks-sorry to say but we are done grooming for the season. There is still snow out there and you're welcome to ski (still need a pass). All in all it turned out to be a pretty good season albeit a late one. Have a great spring, summer and fall and we'll look forward to seeing you next winter.
Vasa Trail: My mid-morning skate of the 10K loop from the TH was 90% on freshly groomed snow-cone material type old snow and 10% on grey boilerplate ice. Caution is required as some of the icy patches are on downhills beginning with much of woodchip hill just a couple hundred yards from the TH. There is quite a bit of leaf and other small debris to avoid, but overall the skate lane offers average speed and good control except for nil control on the icy sections. Much of the catwalk before the split rail fence has also converted to ice and with the fresh leaves you need to carefully pick your way through that "minefield." Until it experiences a hard freeze it might remain skiable by experienced skiers for a little longer, but after the hard freeze forecast for Friday overnight it will probably become uncontrollably dangerously icy unless the groomers are able to get their equipment around the course to scratch up the top surface enough or until softening up with warmer temps.
Boyne Mountain: Its spring. And with spring comes spring skiing conditions, so yes its icy. Barring a return to winter conditions Deer run and Innsbruck trails will no longer be groomed. The store will be open on weekends until the snow is gone. Stop in and check out the 40% off discounts on all goods.
Black Mountain: The skiing has been good as long as the temps dropped below freezing at night. Not so sure we got to freezing last night. We still have base snow, skiing is icy and fast. As I"m sure you would guess the snow is dirty corn snow at this junction so you might want to bring the rock skis.
Cross Country Ski Headquarters: Conditions remain good for spring skiing on the majority of the trails, and in most places the base is holding up quite well. We will continue to groom every day as long as temps get below freezing at night. Conditions are fast and fun, especially in the morning when it is still cold. Groomer Mike will snow comb all trails except Manitou and Tall Pines this morning. A lot of the trail system still offers some really great skiing! Enjoy!! *Please walk out past the ice at the trail head to start skiing.
Today’s lunch special is Bob's Favorite Tuna Panini! Albacore tuna, provolone, jalepenos, banana peppers, black olives, spinach, onion and tomato on a Swiss roll, grilled to perfection. Try it alongside a Bell's Two Hearted IPA for a perfect, post-ski lunch. Plus, the Spring Sale is on! Jackets, skis, boots and more on sale. Stop by to demo!
Forbush Corner: We have started our spring hours and will not be open today, but we will be open Friday through Sunday. We still have lots of base and we expect the skiing to be quite good this weekend.