January 23rd, 2010

afternoon light on the cabin

This fine grey afternoon finds me at Searchmont, poaching a quick internet connection to get this page updated! It has been almost a month since the last time I wrote, and strangely we still have the same snow that we had then! It’s getting a bit worn and grimy, but luckily we had a huge snowfall before Christmas and it has carried us through. Of course, skiing in the backwoods is a bit hair-raising …. personally I prefer a softer pillow and less skitter -skiing as a rule. We are hopeful that the weather system promised for this week will bring us a new fresh layer to play in.

However conditions here at Searchmont are excellent – we’ve been tele-darting downhill a lot these past few weeks, and also the trails at the Stokely and Kinsmen areas are well-groomed and very fast. Gentle reader, if you have waffled about getting your skiis waxed, and heading north, cease all indecision and head out. Even on a grey day, being outside breathing in some crisp clean air is better than any attraction the couch may offer!

Things are gearing up around here for our annual Snowflea Telefest …… February 19th – 21st! I’ll be updating you about that weekend in a few days.

Now, since I have already told you about Cedar Snowbounder’s strange illness, here is an update. For a few weeks her back legs were totally paralysed; if not for the optimism of our wonderful doctor at Black Road Veterinary Services I think we would have felt things were hopeless. But as she was not in any pain, we opted to wait and have hope. And little by little over these weeks Cedar has regained feeling and motion; although not yet able to stand for long, it looks like she will continue to recover! Along the way she has also developed some incredible new skills in furry facial expression and table-leg surfing. The sound of a piece of toast being crunched is the utmost in incentive for her to push herself to a crouch and “frog” walk to the table ….. where she gets the crust of a reward, of course!

three feet and still falling ……

Friday December 11th – the pattern repeats again. Although four weeks behind in schedule, the storm we are experiencing this week is much the same as last year’s first and decisive snowfall. Started off with a quiet few days of intense cold – and then once the snow started four days ago there was no looking back!

Searchmont is doing a happy dance – they had to reschedule their Snowarama snowmachine races to this weekend – however now there is a chance the storm will keep everyone at home! Not every cloud has a silver lining.

……..our personal clouds are pretty heavy at the moment – Cedar Snowbounder is in the hospital. She has suffered a very serious and extremely strange immune reaction which has caused a paralytic condition …… we are hopeful that once the swelling in her spine decreases the paralysis might be reversed. In the meantime – if any of you out there have an “in” with the God of Good Dogs …. please put in a good word for our boon companion.
We sure hope she will be able to break trails with us again soon. In the meantime, to keep busy when we are not at the vets kennel, we have been strapping on the snowshoes and grooming out the trails. Enn went up the hill last weekend with Connor and Tom and finished up the top of the Chat Noir and the bottom of the Red and Green Junction. If this weather system continues as expected – looks like there will be an amazing base by Christmas! Best of luck throughout the holidays to everyone.

Cedar and Griffin share a secret….

“There’s got to be a morning after …..”

Strangely enough, the weather this past weekend did NOT include snow, rain, hail, freezing sleet or howling gales. However in the air there were a few flying dogs, one spooky white rabbit, and lots of wood! Thanks again to many of the usual suspects, and especially our youngest club members, Courtney and Ashley, who stuck it out on the North Face all Saturday and lopped a lot too!
Fueled by chocolate, much laughter and the usual copious amounts of food and liquid courage, once again we enjoyed ourselves immensely.
The only limbs lost belonged to a few unfortunate trees – although Sir Lop-a Lot Everts did try to chew through his leg with a rusty blade. Sir Walk-a Lot Stopple also tried to ditch the tractor and escape solo into the wilderness but the trusty Kubota followed him home, with a little help from our kindly neighbor.
Our mentor, Heikki Lunta was appeased, and assures us that our various obeyances will insure there will be a great winter, and it is coming soon! So take a deep breath, because the Pyramid of Denial is twice as big….. and if you hold your breath while descending you WILL pass out!
Thanks again, everyone – it was a very productive and fun weekend and the backhills are once again in great form. We can’t wait until we are once again in your company.
Snow is coming!!
robin and enn

Trail Clearing date set for November 21st

One of these days all this rain will turn to snow – and then where will you be? Still emptying out those last flower pots on the porch, vainly trying to find your winter mitts, wishing you had washed the dog while the outside hose still was working.

We’ve had our wake-up call with the first snowfall last weekend, so although the seasons have had us lulled into a false sense of security, we are turning our minds towards the next 8 months – and realised that it’s time for our annual trail clearing!

Short notice, for sure – but a lot more fun than washing the dog – so if you need any info, or want to come and check out our trail system, give us a call.

Fall ’09

…Whew … finally got some time to figure out how to be a bloggette! I hope to post news here on a fairly regular basis – when life doesn’t get in the way! New around the lodge these days is a guy named Heikki – he’s a friend for Cedar, same breed mix of lab and retriever. We are enjoying his playful nature and escapades.
Our annual trail clearing weekend is still undecided – but we expect to have an impromptu weekend near the end of November.
more news soon – I promise!

December 08 TeleFest News

This years’ “Lopp – it- Good!” participants did a great job on the newest North Face runs – we have a new ravine run that starts at the apex of an interesting geographic feature named by Mark Stopple “The Pyramid of Denial” – not sure if you answer all the questions if you will get 64,000 ski runs – but hey, we digress.

The hardy crew suffered a bit through a rainy sleety day November 8th, the sauna was a welcome treat after the long but very productive day. The Vortex of Pain saw an expansion to the east side -a lot of raspberry and elder canes to cut at the top of Big Music, and Chris Stopple entertained us with his very adept log rolling antics! A few big trees on Season’s Pass that came down in the spring gales were hastened on their way to becoming forest floor material – a good effort by all!

Cedar came home after a few hours – she smelled the lasagna cooking – but Kirby stuck it out and channeled her wolf genes. Thanks to the crew – Chris Mark and Joel, Marie and Scott, Mike, Alar, Enn, Robin, Lois, Sandy, and fresh air inspector Sheldon “this is a ski run? ” Jaaskelainnen.

Sadly, Robin’s mother passed away this fall on the last still day before the deep snow began – on November 16th. Dorothy and her husband Eoin had collected several fine paintings by Canadian artists, and we have incorporated several into the chalet, in particular one amazing oil painting of Coppermine Point on Lake Superior, painted by Tom Roberts in the 1950’s for the Seagram Collection. The downstairs “Superior Suite” was completed in December just in time for the celebration of Kim and Connor’s Mihells’ wedding. Enn was leaving the chalet with his tool bucket and shopvac just as 50 guests rolled in for the afternoon reception. Kim was resplendent in a strapless wedding gown of cream satin, with a cranberry red sash traced with a vinery of seed pearls that wrapped the top of the bodice and flowed down the back into the train. All the little girls were wide eyed with wonder – such a beautiful snow princess! I think the bride and groom wanted to wear their touring ski boots under the finery but their mothers of course had the final say! The wedding party spent the day of the event and three days subsequent tele-skiing the back trails and touring the Goulais peninsula.

We were grateful to have such a happy and joyous event become the christening party for the completed chalet. Best wishes Kim, and Connor – and may the happiest trails unfold before you!

The Aftermath!

What a fest this year! There were 45 full weekend participants and several other “day and party partakers” over the course of the weekend. Our God of All Things Snow, Heiki Lunta, smiled upon on us benevolently – his transgressions against us mere mortals forgotten. Many of you will remember that he had slunk off to the south after a sweet voiced “telemark-ET-er” who he had thought was promising the ski trip of his lonely lifetime on the sand dunes of the south. Anyways we got him back to his senses in time and the powder snow he provided made for awesome conditions in the back hills.

Thanks to Mountain Equipment Co-op in Toronto, and our own Duke of Windsor Ski Shop here in the Sault we had some marvelous prizes to award. The Wild Turkey Outfit kicked off our party on Saturday night with their highly enjoyable brand of spaghetti western operatic high-jinks …. what, you haven’t heard of them? Gotta check it out –

www.thewildturkeys.com The concert led to some strange goings-on out in the snowbank – a mysterious Tunnel of Re-Birth was formed and several people came back inside much the worse for their trip through. Heck, Mr Hill ‘s Timex just last week emerged from the drift … and of course, still keeps on ticking …..

Thanks to Teija Aspegren’s wonderful food sensibilities we ate like out of control snowplows which of course we are. Scott and Marie brought a huge amount of a very succulent lemon chicken and greens soup which kept all the late arrivals on Friday warm and happy. There were several milestones to remember – Lois bounded into another dimension with smooth, quick, linked turns … which just goes to show that if your husband builds you your own ski Lane you WILL succeed! Of course The Pyramid of Denial was a treat to ski – it is such a strange anomaly of the landscape – a huge dome at the bottom of the North Face Runs which is severely steep and very uniform. It was formed eons ago by the water melt from these old mountains …. probably full of gold nuggets under all the tumbled silt. Trees can’t grow on it – too steep! ….but the intrepid Snowfleas skip down the slick sides with a hop and a whoop!

Thanks to everyone who came out and made the 13th annual Snowflea Telefest much more than a blast – it was an Explosion! Hope to see you all next year – till then, keep the waxed side down and the visuals on the third turn!

TeleFest news 2007

Three good weekends of trailwork this fall really got us in the mood for some ripping runs! So COME ON SNOW! The trails haven’t looked so good in years – and there were some great new routes mapped and trimmed. The Undertaker summit area was extended and there is now a new run off the south-west side of that peak. The top of the Chat Noir finally got brushed out – it was getting very whippy with a lot of young growth. Good for the moose but not for the downhill ride! One crew helped Enn build a new bridge linking the new cliff “dive” at the bottom of the South Ridge – this bridge puts the rumoured one at the end of the world to shame and might very well BE The Bridge at the End of the World – tell us if you see Charon hanging around there checking your trail pass!

Thanks to all who came out; Alar, Tarmo, Brian Anstess from Heyden Adventure Camp, Jorma and Loraine, Andy and Laura, Chris, Lois, Jamie, Cathy, Mark, Jason Chenier, Marie and Scott, Ellen and Dan, Mike Everts, Matt Pierle everyone else I’ve missed and sundry dogs….you folks rock when it comes to loppeting!! Now come on back and ski those hard-won runs, our weekends are lonely without you!

Alar and his students at St. Mary’s College have reconditioned and painted our trusty Alpine “groomer” – Olga The Snow Cow. You won’t believe how dashing she looks. Still chubby but that’s what makes her float! Thanks to Lois and Chris at Advanced Canvas in Traverse City for the great graphics and for fixing up that grotty seat – it’s a cadillac ride now! People are going to be faking sore knees just to get a lift.

TeleFest news 2006

The annual trail cleaing weekend was the last weekend of October. Biggest action ever with 20 fierce participants. Happily our Roofers didn’t have any hold-ups at the border this year – even though they did their best to look guilty of SOMETHING! As well as the regular crowd of hanger -outers and the Beef Island Boys, we were pleased to welcome a new infusion of hearty “bush – loppers” Brad Phaneuf and his intense crew of back-mountain bikers. This mountain bike club has been using our trail system in the scant few months when there is no snow – we see them hurtling down Bellevue Mountain and daring each other to cross slippery logs hundreds of feet above rushing rivers. Lisa and Kim, you go gals! I expect to see the same action on skiis! Local rising stars (and getting taller) Ethan and Julien stayed fueled by enormous amounts of sugar and put the boots to the old guys. Again a beautiful fall weekend to end a beautiful summer. The crew worked on increasing the intermediate area  – it runs right from the top of the Undertaker to the base of the Chat Noir trailhead..
A new competitive activity this year was a quick foray into the thrift shops by a few members of the Assets – the gals needed a few items of clothing for their new stage show. the barbeque rocked under the weight of a huge moose roast that Rick Charbonneau contributed to the cause… there were lots of juicy veggies for the abstainers. A great musical session continued into the wee hours on Saturday night. In other news, the chalet is finished now – and Enn and I are threatening to move into it and leave the main lodge for you guests! The “House in the Woods” is a very comfy space and will sleep up to nine – or more if you are used to living on a boat! We had help from some of the best tradespeople and building contractors on the planet – if you are building ANYTHING in Michigan and need to meet some contractors – just give us a call, we’ll hook you up with the best!

Remember you lurkers out there, a trail clearing weekend absolves you from paying any trail fees – so if you want to put some turns, show up with your loppers! The annual ‘Fall Lopp-it Good’ is a fun way to get to see the crazy ground that makes the best ski runs and snowshoe destinations.

TeleFest news 2005

Trail clearing. Sixteen hearty “bush – loppers” wielding chain saws, clippers and secateurs roamed the woods on Saturday and Sunday, enhancing runs on The North Face and revisiting the Chat Noir. A beautiful fall weekend – a far cry from last year’s forced march in minus 10 degree weather, sleet and snow! After the politics, worries and hopes of the past few months everyone was very ready for a hearty time and we did our best to drown all sorrows, with copious amounts of beer and repeated dunkings in the plunge pool. Jorma boastfully reported bagging first tracks October 19th and had the pictures to prove it – ! Although there were mumblings of sore muscles and heads, a great musical session continued into the wee hours on Saturday night. Although only a few members of the legendary Assetts were present, Rick Charbonneau held the fort with his new guitar and spirits were high! Perhaps the judicious use of the ATV and trailer helped conserve some energies! The winter skies held off until all the trail work was done; then on Sunday night the wind switched to the north and blew the fall away. Two inches of snow this morning and all the water courses are tightening up! Thanks for a great weekend to the Stoppel and Poldmaa clans, and honourary family members Jamie, John, Ray and Chris, and Garrick. Dave, the venison has given me the strength to go on living!

In other news, the chalet is coming along well and all systems are go for having this new space available as a rental unit this winter. We are searching for a good name to call it – tell me, dear renter, would you feel insulted if it was named “The Nuthatch”? We have had support and advice from some of the best tradespeople and building contractors on the planet – if you are building ANYTHING in Michigan and need to meet some contractors – just give us a call, we’ll hook you up with the best! Remember you lurkers out there, a trail clearing weekend absolves you from paying any trail fees – so if you want to put some turns, show up with your loppers! The annual ‘Fall Lopp-it Good’ is a fun way to get to see the crazy ground that makes the best ski runs and snowshoe destinations.