What a day for a tour …..

February 7th, 2012

It was an incredibly sunny,  blue, gold and white winter day today!

What a change from the past few weeks – and so overdue ~

I know it’s silly to feel responsible for the weather, but I always feel anxious when the weather doesn’t put on it’s best face for guests who are enjoying a hard-won holiday here in the north country. But sunshine is not always a precursor to a fine day – just received a wonderful note from our guests from last weekend  – and am happy to publish it here.

Thanks so much, Craig, for taking the time to write about the joyful day you and Terri experienced, and sharing your inner sunshine!

…Craig wrote:

“Terri and I had a wonderful tour.  We followed the tracks from the day before and instead of heading down onto, I believe Hemlock Lake, we stayed south and climbed the south side of the bluff at the east end of the lake.  What an incredible view from the top.  We could see the beaver dams, Hemlock Lake, and it was clear enough to see Whitefish Point from there looking out over the “North Face”, and Lake Superior.
We then skied and laughed our way down the north side from the bluff.  The snow was firm and we were able to stay on top even though we were skiing on thinner 160cm skis.  We learned to get our weight back if we came to a small compression, or skied next to a larger tree, if not, we would break through and come to an immediate stop.  The brush wasn’t too bad, so we were able to find some gentle lines.  We got out on the east end of the lake and crossed the center to the tracks from the day before. 
Sure enough we came across the tracks of a snow snake.  Two of them.  Quite fresh.  I think we just missed those otters, or they heard us coming.  Awesome to see and I am not sure I would have guessed at what made them had you not described the tracks to me that morning.  I wanted to take chase and Terri wanted to let them be.  I know they were close, but we left them in peace. 
We then headed up to the North Face and then to the “Look Out”.  Had two ravens putting on a show for us in the breeze before we headed back around.  As we came down Lois Lane, we came across a grouse strutting across the run.  Terri skied to within 6-7 meters and tried to get her camera phone out before it strutted away.  It never took flight.  As I had mentioned, the snow had firmed up.   Once we were below the steeper pitches, it was a fun ski to the bottom.  No falls.
We had been out for over 3 hours and Terri had a wonderful time.  What a transition from her first descent two weeks ago.  She has become so comfortable on her skis as long as we stick to the gentle slopes.  She mentioned that this is her favorite type of crosscountry/backcountry skiing and is looking forward to the next outing.  It will be tough to beat yesterdays adventure of the Algoma Highlands and Bellevue.
Thanks Robin and Enn.  Hope our paths cross again soon.

Announcing SNOWFLEA TELEFEST Feb 24 – 26th

Dear Free-Heelers,

Better late than never, right?

Yup – it’s that time of year again!
Although winter took a while to commit, we are now full snow-shovels ahead for the 16th Annual Snowflea Telefest!
February 24th, 25th, and 26th – zoomin’ up on us with its’ rapper coat a’ flapping!

Please check out the web site for details – we hate to break with tradition (it works so well!)
This is a weekend of free-heel frolic, food and frivolous fun upon and in the snowy landscape here at Bellevue Valley Lodge, Goulais River Ontario.

If you are a snowshoer or beginning tele-skier you might be pleased to know we have terrain and tours available close to the main lodge. Prices for the weekend still the same – ! …..NO INFLATION in 16 years! Where will you EVER see that….

AND ~ We are extremely pleased to announce the talented musicians we have appearing for your entertainment on Saturday night – www.pattemple.com/music.cfm

(….dear local friends, please note that if you wish to come only for a part of a day, or the concert and evening’s festivities on Saturday you are very welcome – price for dinner and concert is listed separately on our website.)

PAT TEMPLE has thirty years of performing experience under his belt. A mainstay in the Canadian music and art scene, Pat has performed in venues such as: Massey Hall, The National Art Gallery and Ontario Place Forum He has appeared on MuchMusic, and CBC’s “Swingin’ on a Star”.Graced with a BIGGG theatrical voice, each of Pat’s songstories are the kind that you want to stay up late with – and contain a short novel’s worth of ideas and the musical styles that are truly diverse. They are not to be listened to – they are to be experienced!
Accompanying Pat is Spencer Evans, on keyboards, accordion, clarinet and comic relief. Spencer also sings, and has been known to Prance Around. You will never win a round of “stump the piano – player” with this talented man. A professional musician for 20 of his 33 years, Spence has played Bermuda to Bosnia, New Orleans to the North Pole, and has recorded and toured with The Cowboy Junkies, Sarah Harmer and Pat Temple, and performed with Jeff Healey, Dan Aykroyd, Willie P. Bennett, Jack Mahieu, Alex Pangman, Maria Muldaur, and Toronto’s Swing Gang, among countless others.

Hope to have some of you join us on this auspicious weekend – we’ve been holding it together now for 16 years, who knows how much longer?!
…remember ” Levity Gets You Up – Gravity Gets You Down!!”

LO(d)G(e) update ~ Star date 12/08/2011

Finally a REAL snow fall out there today to kick-start the winter. It’s about time! Although some canoe friends are muttering about paddling the Goulais this weekend – I think they are just hanging on to old habits. There has to be a better way to enjoy a snowstorm!

As soon as the snow started last week the phone calls and emails inquiring about our lodge accommodations increased – always takes a bit of the inevitable to get people thinking about their ski holidays! I’ve noticed a lot more snowshoe fans there too – and it’s not just indicative of an aging population. Lots of people are discovering the joys of the lowly snowshoe!

We have always had snowshoes here to kit people out with – but last year we could have used a few more pairs. I’m still a big fan of our favourites – Northern Lites, they are really light and easy to wear and virtually indestructible. They inspired my “Trekkie” title to this post because they are made out of a specific type of aluminum frame and Hyplar fabric certain space satellites are composed from….. feel like feathers on your feet, very unobtrusive. Great for warmer days too because snow won’t stick to the bottoms, or ride on top of the platform.

Snowshoes enable us to walk in deep snow – therefore no “trail” should be needed! I find it strange that many resorts map out, sign and encourage their guests to march along hard-packed trails that other snowshoers have made – it is so much more comfortable to make your own trail through deep snow, less percussive and after a while because of the lack of resistance it feels as if you are floating.  Yes, it’s always helpful to have a small group of friends along, to take turns being the leader, as it can be a tiring exercise in deep snow to make a fresh track .. but here’s another upside to the exercise of making your own path – you will never get lost! Just turn around and follow yourself home.

Time to wax the skiis …..!

A picture taken up the road in Heyden a few mornings ago …..it’s a local joke around here that it is “always snowing in Heyden” – perhaps true home of the Gods, Heyden, the Hallowed Halls of Humidity ! (…supposedly a name found in  old mythologies, either greek or norse, can’t remember. Anyone got time to Google it?)

So, November is almost over.  I say it’s time to get our heads out of the cupboards, root cellars and woodsheds.  If “It” hasn’t been put away, put up, preserved, pickled, placed, packed or procured yet, you are **** out – of-luck!

Enjoying winter’s imminent presence is a lot easier if you are prepared, mentally and physically. For me, surviving November’s sombre gloom means an extended week of  hibernation inside the house, investigating all the cupboards, and making sure my Smart Wool is all to hand.  “Be Prepared!” …. that old Scout’s motto ….perhaps most people who suffer this affliction need to feel in charge of an environment that is controllable – unlike Mother Nature’s willful world.

Having food and firewood in the house is a big warm security blanket.  It is immensely satisfying to set yourself a goal of using one item a day out of the deep freeze – and to open that freezer and see all the jewels of summer waiting for you there.  It is a promise that these darker days at the years’ end will give way to sparkling days of sun and snow… and so return to spring once more.

As the world outside turns white and cold, the luxurious bounty of summer’s preserves found deep in the cellar reminds us that all perspective is subjective. Our November navel-gazing days help thicken our blood, (and perhaps our waist-lines) in preparation for the outdoor activities of the best season of the year!

A “pome” for Winter

Why do so many people cry and act with dismay,

When beautiful winter  settles in for a stay?

The landscape is cozy and all put to bed,

No more gardens and yardwork; the woodstove is fed.

A time to reflect on all that’s collected,

Through human spirit,  hard work, and lifetimes reflected.

So, pay homage to seasonal change and renewal,

Please don’t disparage winter and call weather cruel.

Remember that old  tune about life’s seasons’ turning,

And trust every change gives us chances for learning.

I do believe our collective unconscious has power,

Perhaps to even change global warming at this very hour!

Like the myth of the Internet, (…who thought up THAT deal?)

Our belief and enjoyment can conspire to make real!

So strap on those snowshoes, wool hat and a pack,

Schuss onto the ski-slopes or to the trails out back!

Our world is diverse, and deserves our respect

And exists solely for us,  so let’s partake, and protect!

….and a wonderful weekend it was …..

Lop – It – Good, 2011 …although strangely deficient in the usual litany of expected environmental assaults, present at most gatherings of this stubborn tribe – tribulations such as severely cold rain,snow-storms, sprained ankles and sticks-in-the-eye, our hardy band of companions braved the benevolently weird weather and made good use of the weekend! (perhaps those Old Tricksters have realised they’ve been throwing too much at us lately – and are wooing us with kindness … whatever the reason, we’ll take it!)

Much was Done, and It was Good. All of the North Face Runs were well-swept, with just a few blow downs to clear. (Gee, must have been because the “wind was blowy”, eh Mike?) …and the messy tangle at the bottom of Snakey Jake was reconstituted, to re-claim a gorgeously long run!
Marky-Mark found us a new and easy route over the top of Lois’ Lane that will go a long way to saving our knees, (or what’s left of ’em) as well as our precious winter daylight time in climbing over to Big Music and the rest.
Thanks to Tom, Moccasin Mike, Alar, Eerik, Ryan, Mark, Chris, Sandi, Ginger, Mike, Aaron, Brian, Bruiser, Kirby, Lois, Mike E., Luna, and Dan for staying safe and Lopping it Good!
Many thanks also to the stylin’ support team of Betty, Bert, Carolyn, Rick, Deven, Kevin and Jeff who helped the after party glow even brighter.
And to the rest (you know who) – we spoke of you fondly and missed your presence, although we know you were with us in spirit. Thank you – we’ll see you soon.

By the way – whoever heard me musing about how much I wished I had a feather-light and warm fall jacket, preferably fire-engine red, and made by Spyder – thanks for leaving it here for me. You must be my Secret Santa! whoo-hoo!

Lop-It-Good ~ on November 5th 2011!

Hey there!

Sorry for the short notice – Enn and I have been a bit pre-occupied lately. However announcements are never too late – unless there are not announced, right?  So for all you lurky loppers out there, this here’s yer official notice of the annual Lodge Lop-It, November 5th, 2011, (ye…eess, 10 days from now!)

Calling all trusty trashy trail trimmers!

Finest accomodations, plentiful food and woody warmth  are all provided, and you can bring your silliest stories, loftiest ideals, and sturdy souls. Hard liquor is strangely popular with the gurrls.

Better yet….. a few saws are always welcome. Don’t forget an insurance policy naming Bellevue Valley Lodge as the beneficiary – and you can always use an extra pair of socks. We’ll use your old wet ones to deodorize the sauna. They come in handy to scare the bears away, too!

Please let us know if you can come –  we sure look forward to seeing you!

Cedar Snowbounder

 When I wrote last, I felt keenly aware of the myriad of  reasons that I look forward to Thanksgiving as an  occasion on the calendar, especially here in Canada where it sits in the first weeks of October.  These are the  days, when the whirlwind that is our friend Summer gets  a chance to hunker down, and gather all her apples up in preparation for leaving us to face the bitter wits of old man Winter.  Still enjoying some deep golden days and heady wine-sap air, we sit in the tired sunlight on Summer’s velvet cape of autumn, and breathe deep with satisfied thoughts of all the riches we have gathered in; of harvest, of lifetimes of incident and experience, and of family and friends.

Earlier this month we were enjoying spending these last  long days before Summer shrugs with our best friend, Cedar.  She had been feeling a  bit strange for a few days, I would catch her  gazing inwardly at secret thoughts, although  she said she really didn’t want us to be  concerned.  So to shake off our trepidation we  rolled like puppies in the field, where the grasses are whispery with wheaten dryness, and smell like the best roasted Ceylon tea in the world.  Heikki chased his frisbee-flipper and Cedar got to chew upon the very best beaver sticks.  We spent a day in the landscape truck, doing errands in town and delighting in the smells at familiar places and of seeing friends both biped and quadruped.  We stole apples and carrots from Clancy’s breakfast, and crunched them up on the grass where the dew was slippery and sharp on the tongue like the ghost of  snowflakes.

And then, on that last day of thanksgiving when Summer gathered her cape to move on, Cedar Snowbounder decided to travel along with her.

….it’s been two weeks now, and the wet grey clouds that settled in on that day have still not found a better place to be. We who are left here at the lodge to await Winter are feeling bereft, but thankful that our friend did not have to suffer pain, or  feel fear when faced with travelling her last journey onward without us.

Good girl, Cedar.

You were our best companion, a dog like no other, and we will miss you always.

October always follows April.

Gosh darn, the world has just been rotating too fast again. October is here!?

However I refuse to  feel embarrassed about being so remiss about posting to this blog; good ol’ gal Summer was so verdant and bounteously beautiful this year I even found it difficult to come inside to sleep.  If it’s possible the Mayan calendar is right about what’s coming in 2012, well then, this surfeit of natures’ abundances must be the fireworks finale!

Not that Nature acted alone – we worked hard in our garden this year, coddled the tomatoes with enhanced heat keepers and waged war with the blister beetles to keep the potatoes safe. Several hours of serious picking rewarded our freezer and jam shelves with wild blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. Haven’t seen my bear all summer – they are all too fat to navigate the evils of the ‘burbs.

So yes, I could have written here in early May to tell you about the insistent and obtuse black bear who tried to bite his way into the house one evening – and how I had to vacate a lovely hot epsom salt bath to go and wack it with the porch broom to get it to de-sist …… or about the most amazing meteor we saw one night at dusk in June, possibly it was the space station, so large and bright ….. and I’m sure you would have liked to see a picture of the 2 ft. wide snapping turtle that hung out here in July. Or the huge waves we played in on Lake Superior in August. Or read a thrilling account of what happened to the young Cooper’s Hawk that Bill fished out of Saw Pit Bay that was happily resuscitated with a Tilley hat and a sock (September). In fact, I would have been chained to this keyboard … because something intriguing and beautiful in my favourite world of outdoors happened pretty much every day, all summer long.

But it’s not too late to tell you Fall is now here in full dress – and is continueing to follow the same pattern of excess – leaf colours are so bright and sky is SO blue that it hurts the eyes! …and what I speak of is Right Now – Right Here. (Yay! …Be Here Now!)  So I guess I can say this is my sorry attempt to span the months – but I’m sure, dear Blog,  you didn’t even miss me! Perhaps now that we have emerged from the Age of Dial -Up to the era of Hi-Speed I’ll feel like playing with you more often.

Life goes on (after ski season – “sob’)

Spring has sprung to the Valley …

– it happens in a rush,with a maximum  fuss

a hodge-podge of new creatures, wild winds and stardust

one day you are gliding through the still snowy trees,

the next you find yourself with surprised dirty knees.

The ditch turns into a rushing stream,

Last weeks’ Telebration at Boyne – just a dream!

Payoff comes when the geese

and sandhills land,

Pteradactyl cries competing with the band.

What band, you ask? Why, the one in the lodge

Recording a new EP with vim and “verbage”

instead of early days of powder, we now have a pact

With late nights and pizza, and monitor stacks

Yes, life in the Valley can be quite serene

if you can find any time to catch up with the scene!

Post-Snowflea 2011


In the face of World and Weather Adversity – we pulled it off!

15th Annual Telefest has been and gone!

Thanks to all (32) of you who made it through the Wicked Winds of the West, the swaying Bridges of Michigan County, and the disheartening possibility of bulletproof Crème Brulé Crust on all your favourite backwoods mounds of whipped topping. And to those of you who braved it through the trauma of car packing, work ducking, and bribing the dog, kid, and house sitters, only to be met with total white-outs, road closures and extremely unco-operative border guards – I say to you;

You were missed, and toasted, and your personal sacrifice was duly noted and will be laid out before the feet of the Heikki, Loki and all the other Trickster-spirits to ensure fair play for the next time you venture out into the Elements!

Friday’s storm deposited enough soft skiffs into the forest crevices to allow most of the snow hoppers to enjoy the day. The snowshoe crowd was proudly self-sufficient, and made tracks to all of the lookouts and ridges long before the sunset chased them back to enjoy the sauna. Although most of the south-facing slopes were downright skitter – scary, after lunch we took the lovely flat-land tour to the bottom of the North Face Runs, where the fresh snow had collected in a most gratifying way on most of the tele-slopes.

Teija was our amazing chef of the weekend, and created incredible edibles with a minimum of fuss and bother. Right from the delectable harvest soup – to barbequed turkey wraps, 4 huge trays of pasta shells, and a multitude of free range and local berry pies and scrumptious muffins to complement egg strata on Sunday morning, we fed Iike bears getting ready to hibernate. It’s amazing we could even bend over to do up our bindings.  And to help us digest our Saturday night eating marathon, The Boothill Crooners royally entertained us with many surprisingly familiar yet musically twisted songs.

I believe a good time was had by all – if I’ve missed anything please pipe right up! (This is a blog that allows other comments, by the way ….. 😉

Snowflea Telefest is privileged to have great sponsors who provide generous swag for our participants (serious stuff – such as gear bags and packs, apparel, equipment, waxes, packs, and head lamps). Thanks to Dave Robinson at Mountain Equipment Co-op in Toronto. Thank you to our local independent store owners here in Sault Ste. Marie who go far beyond retail in their mandate to provide support for people who love to be active in the great outdoors. Chris Theriault at The Duke of Windsor Sport Shop, Brad Phaneuf at Algoma Bicycle Company, Jan Roubal and the staff of Velorution, and Brenda at The Country Way Health Food Store all kindly support our telemark ski festival. Please visit these folks if you are in town – they are a wealth of information and enthusiasm.

Thanks to Gabrielle Bourbonnais who volunteered her help, and her fellow students and teachers Steve Foster and Conor Mihel of the Outdoor Recreation and Parks Program at Sault College for their interest and help in making our slopes safe and free of ankle-biting snags and pitfalls!

And last but definitely first, thanks to all of you, who against all the odds (and even with some odds) make it out for Snowflea. You rock(et)!

I didn’t get any photos this year – too busy having fun – so would appreciate any contributions, corrections or complaints. Heck, we’ll even be glad to receive kudos – what do you think?