2016 – 30 years!?

Oooomph!! That’s a hard thing to believe!

30 years since this little guy showed up in our long winter’s night dreams, and helped us embark on this interesting venture. And …

“what a long strange trip it has been”! Telegraphic!

As Enn and I head into our 30th year as keen ambassadors for back country telemark skiing – (all right, it’s an obsession!) we are a little surprised to find ourselves still here! Well, of course there have been a few close calls, and yes, we’ve lost some dear souls from the slopes along the way, but … really? How incredibly lucky we are, even with this kind of behaviour out there in the wilds! Kudos to us!

Oh, hey, remember it wasn’t all easy like it is now, you young ‘uns have it all handed to you on a board now – we had to make our own gear up as we went along!

Skinny noodle wood skis…

 

…in Enn’s case ones he made himself, while working with Mauri Luomeranta at The Superior Ski Company.

…and these really REALLY long poles were needed to fend off the snow snakes and keep wild porcupines at bay … all sadly now extirpated from the woodlands …and the extensions also helped to test the depth of the snow in those deep drifts.

However there was this one time they weren’t long enough! – my pole was extended as far as it would go beneath me and there was no ground to be found! …if not for a trusty dog friend that came under my armpit and rescued me I would have suffocated. 😦 It’s every man (and woman ) for themselves out there – and laughter is the best medicine they say! Even at the risk of your friends’ precious lives and limbs…

snowy grave….anyways maybe that will help you understand my mantra “Levity gets you up, and gravity gets you down”!

Oh, and what about those wonderful little leather slippers that were all the rage for backcountry? About as useful to a telemark turn as a plastic spoon is to ice-cream … the old leathers

But back then, things were simpler.

Your mom made you a hat, based on your favourite design Robin with Emme hat on …..and if you had lots of hair –

well,  then you didn’t need one!Enn with HAIR

Of course that was back in the day when it would snow for forty days and forty nights, and the power would go off for a week and there were no roads, only skis and horses…..and all the men had hair.

The one thing you do always need; to keep the mantra going around, the trails navigable, and remind you what you looked like back then – is your FRIENDS!

So hey out there, everyone – hope you’ve enjoyed this little celebration of the path we’ve been on together. Perhaps you can come on out to the 20th Annual Snowflea Telefest, February 19-21st 2016!  We will spin some yarns and tell tall tales of all the routes we’ve taken and the ones that we did not , still out there for us to discover.

Ski you on the slopes!

 

 

 

Trail Clearing October 24th, 20th Annual Snowflea coming soon!

 

 

 

October 8th, 2015the overlook, Goulais River

 

Dearest ___________,
I regret to say I have not dropped by this blog in a while.

Time not only slips – He stomps! …and all those quick links, like Facebook and tweets and Messenger are sad but useful substitutes still able to keep up to those seven-league boots that Time stomps around in.

So “here’s to” this obsolete yet good ol’ Lodge Blog. Please pretend it’s an honest to goodness letter, one with a stamp and a faint scent of the northern woods hovering about it. The mysterious stain at one end of the envelope is from being dropped in a puddle en route to the mail ladies’ van. You can even see where I started to write “CAN” instead of “USA” under your street address. That was your first clue that within lies a chain letter, mimeographed with a space left blank where I have written your name in by hand. That personal touch, you know! 😉

However, even while aware that others are reading these same words, you are pleased to belong to an appreciated and important group of people who are friends of this little piece of paradise, home of Bellevue Valley Lodge. And Enn and I hope you are still interested in hearing our news; we relish yours, even if the postcards are few, and far between arrivals!

There is a cold wind in the air today – and rain, beautiful rain. The grey skies and mist are enhancing the palette of crimsons and flame orange of the forest, at peak colour right now. Our fall season is a month late, and I apologize for blithely telling people who inquired in the summer that the best colour to view this wonder is in September. I’m so sorry, but for thirty years it WAS! As well as slow in changing, this season has been gentle, no storms or wind to tear the trees apart, or make log-jams of the trails.

We have been taking advantage of these halcyon days, and working on many repairs and upgrades to the buildings and immediate yard. We are replacing the upper deck on the main house, and have installed a full cooking range in the chalet. Good news for the squirrels and the chefs! ….new front stairs, and a more gradual approach to the pond will make the sauna crowd happy, and new cupboards, counter and sink in the main kitchen make me a happier breakfast host! We’ve built a bonfire and seating area where Clancy used to hang out. Some other 21st century improvements include a better HearthStone wood stove in the chalet, and the ability to take payments by credit card or debit, instead of those paper things that came in a book… what was that called, anyways?
I still have to repair this website, but being outside is more enticing. We are excited to be going into the winter months mostly prepared and rested, anticipating our snow friends, old and new, and continuing to add to the ranks of the Telemark Tribe! Even Searchmont has caught the Tele-ski virus, the new management has great plans unfolding for the mountain, and is creating off-piste glades for the powder-lovers.

And appropriately, here at Bellevue Valley Lodge, the 20th Annual Snowflea Telefest is planned for February 20th, 2016. (…synchronistic or WHAT? 😉
Reserve early, it’s a milestone for sure. It has been 20 years, and we are still counting …!
Coming up even sooner – at this time of year we go tromping the woods, clearing downfalls, branches and other snaggy things to make this incredible trail network for backwoods skiing one of a kind.
Please join us if you can in two weeks time – Saturday October 24th for our Lopp-It-Good weekend! Wield a saw, axe or armload, and we’ll provide the bed and board in return.

…and if you want a real life report – call or email ….we would love to hear your news in real time too! Until then, thanks for reading!
Have fun, keep well, and prepare for the snow flies,
Yours,
Robin and Enn (with Suvi and Heikki)Enn steps into spacerobin and suvi

Countdown to Snowflea Telefest 2015! February 20-22

Our Winter of Contentment = A Snow Day, Everyday! 🙂

Hello Lodge-Blog!

It’s been SO long since I’ve stopped by to have a cup of tea with you, I was very happy to see you still sitting here, patiently waiting for a Bellevue update. What a loyal little blog you are!

It’s been a beautiful winter for back-country skiing – cold bluebird days, with powder conditions on top of a huge base, and every few days a few freshies to clean the slopes. Global warming seems to mean “colding” in this region – or perhaps it’s just that La Niña has switched places with her little brother for a seasonal holiday. Such a throwback to the “old” winters I keep being surprised by the fact that my knees have not reset themselves to a more bucolic time! However I am extremely lucky that once the adrenalin pumps through those cranky joints I forget I even have knees until much later in the day, when the skis are off, and more mundane tasks remind me how annoying walking can be.

So in this way, December and January just flew by, and now it’s Telefest month!

SnowFlea Poster 2015

 

 

This year will be our 19th Annual Snowflea Telefest, and like this past                  month, nineteen years have streamed by in a blurr. Back in  1996 we planned one little weekend of fun to share an activity we love, and empower people to travel winter landscapes under their own bipedal power    and gain confidence in backwoods adventure on their own.

Hurtling ourselves through the spaces between trees, experiencing pure gravity on skis, riding pillowed slopes of snow, aware of being many feet above the actual    ground was just a side benefit, but one that became the raison d’étre rather immediately! ….well, who could resist, considering adrenalin and laughter go hand in hand!

So many great times with friends over these years, and opportunities to share joyful times. I don’t think anyone in the tele-tribe will stop until we have to. Perhaps while we still have questing natures, we can work on building a senior ski binding that does the uphill step to climb automatically!

It is so much easier to learn the sport and techniques of tele-skiing now, what with the awesome equipment out there, changing with the times and responsive to different conditions. Heck, we started with wood cross-country skis! That was hard. Then cambered metal edges, super long; Oh boy, what a flail-fest! Thankfully Chris Stoppel took pity on us and brought us some old Hexel downhills.  Remember, this was before the days of short fat powder skis, even at resorts. What took us three or more years to learn, an athletic person with good gear can now conquer in a day. It has been amazing to see so many younger folks keen to strap on a new binding, even snowboards …. and EARN THEIR TURNS!

So here it comes, our annual weekend that marks the full circle of our passion for so many things that go hand in hand to make us happy. Music is a big part of that too – like skiing, another language to enjoy life with! This year we welcome Dana Whittle as our featured performer. Dana is a whirlwind of song and musicianship – we are very excited to welcome her energy and enthusiasm to Snowflea! Please drop by her band site to read about her many accolades and musicalwork – http://www.dentdelion.net/dentdelion-english/dana-english/

…and if you are planning on joining us ~ drop us a knee – oops I mean a line !! See you on a snow-day!
bellevuevalleylodge@gmail.com

Annual Fall “Lopp-It-Good” – happening November 8th 2014

Hi folks,

A lovely little nip is in the air today – you can smell snowflakes in the stratosphere. Yes, you can! 😉

All the maple and poplar leaves have been set free, swirling in huge drifts over the yard. Raking has been a chore with these huge northeasterly blows happening all week. Only the rubrous oak and citrine tamarack are stubbornly holding on to perk up the hillside views.

Enn is walking the mountain this weekend, making note of large windfalls and areas that need some saw work to keep the turns safe this winter.

mike marie conner loppet

We’ve planned the big trail clearing on November 8th and 9th … if you can join us, we would love to have you!

And ……..Snowflea Telefest is planned for February 20th – 22nd 2015.

This will be our 19th Annual! I hate to admit how many more years we have been tromping these woods, clearing deadfall and limbs to make this incredible trail network for backwoods skiing one of a kind.  Lopp it Good weekend asks for your participation in exchange for room and board … it’s a great way to get a deer’s eye view of our ski area, and become a part of the tribe, whether you love to make Telemark turns or prefer to snowshoe! Give us a call or send us an email for more information, or to reserve a bed – hope to see you soon.

Fall is Featured!

Fall maplesGosh, that summer just flew past – even though it was a difficult one to enjoy.
Global warning has made an impact on us here in the Great Lakes region, it was cool and wet, and not a warm summer season. However we did have enough rain for the gardens, and the ground water levels are high. And there is no denying that the higher water levels in Superior have made The Big Lake happier – no long walks necessary to get to a swim in the shallows of the sandy bays, and lots of great wave viewing opportunities from the rocky cliffs! No, it was the amount of biting insects that made this summer rather a hellish one.
We often host guests who cannot believe that we have so few people per square mile – and that prices for cottage land are relatively low. Those are the poor misguided souls who have never had to run screaming for their lives – from hordes of mosquitos! June and July are screen-porch months – and smoky fires during the day. The happiest way to enjoy a day out-of-doors in June is from the surface of a lake! Thank goodness for kayaks and canoes – offshore travel that keeps you out of the bug-lands.
…I have been thinking a lot this year about the effort it takes to live north of the 49th parallel – it can seem at times that the amount of effort, money and planning is not commiserate with the rewards of where we live. As I get older and become more discerning about what I put my energy towards, it becomes obvious that at least half of our resources and time goes towards staying alive in this aggressive climate! That extends not only to gathering fuel and food, but also to creating activities and arts in an underpopulated and remote region of the country, necessary to build and maintain culture and community – things that people in a more urban environment take for granted.
Missing out on the simple rewards of a good summer growing season, and weather suitable for basking in the sun can really make you feel overextended and bitter in the face of all that effort.
Viewing the sudden blaze of autumn somehow helps us reflect on our thoughts and centre our mood – akin to hearing a church organ swell with a huge note of praise, or being given a gift of worth no money could buy …. our spiritual reward for the “sow, toil and reap”  –  of collecting food, heat and habits to get us through those cold dark months. This land really comes into its own celebration in September and October – harvest season is always spectacular, with the maple forest ablaze in colour, and the clear clean air allowing for views that sparkle! Visiting a new farmers’ market venture, or taking part in organising a community festival makes you realise that the rewards are sometimes gained through the process, not the outcome.
So after a few trying months, we greet the blessing of Indian summer like an old friend – we have given up on tanning, and gardening, I hear Doris Day singing “what will be, will be”! – and we can open our hearts to the bittersweet few weeks of fall. One week of warmth and t-shirt weather in this season is worth two months of fickle summer – our northern afternoons are warm with possibilities, thick with golden light and rich in sensations. Crisp apples and carrots, the last monarchs and sandhills heading south, within the startling contrasts of the colour wheel. Nordic blue of sky and water, set against mustard yellow fields and vermillion woodlands becomes a therapy session for your soul. Driving into the Sault from Goulais River is a feast for the eyes, soothing and uplifting, a euphoric better than any mood enhancing drug. You forget all about the trials and tribulations of the summer season, and swear to one and all that you live in a paradise and feel sorry for anyone unable to share in this glory – and even wax poetic about the best yet to come, yes, SNOW! 😉
Cleaning the skis and planning some gatherings to enjoy your friends, old and new, helps out too!

HAPPY CANADA DAY!

July 1st 2014 is almost upon us … and it  is hard to believe we are already past our longest day of the year. We marked the solstice this month (….and our thirtieth anniversary of putting up with each other!)  – with a wonderful house concert by Liam Titcomb, who most definately keeps me believing in the value of live performance! Such expertise and spirit, I’m hard pressed to think of anyone who can measure up to Liams’ level, at any age. Listening to his performance, delivered so effortlessly and yet with such intricate guitar work and writing abilities, it is shocking to think he is not yet thirty years old, and has that depth of resource within. I have always felt guilty for not enjoying those shows “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice” … people tell me they get so much pleasure from them – but having been in the music business for so many years it is just so painful to see how “dumbed down” a performance or singer/musician’s message has to be to appeal to the mass population. I find most of those performances so boring and predictable, it is actually painful for me to see the accolades that are heaped on the artists. Music is one of the easiest arts to force a square peg to go in a round hole. Once that happens you aren’t hearing the performers’ voice anymore – just the “star-maker machinery” as Joni Mitchell called it. 

The summer so far has not been kind – we have a surfeit of mosquitos and yet a lack of water. Keeping the garden happy has been a struggle! It is rather discouraging to invest so much time energy and sweat to grow a great crop of lettuces and greens – and then be unable to harvest any for dinner because of attacking hordes of mosquitos! They are lasting so long this year … taking the place of the usual swarms of blackflies. Enn says when he was a child and returned home after a buggy play day, his mom called the blackfly bites his “northern Ontario necklace”! ..and yet I don’t think I have seen one blackfly here yet this year.

But these MOSQUITOS!! We have been so clothed! – this morning is supposed to be the hottest day of the summer so far, up to 30 degrees – yet at six thirty this morning when I rose to water the garden, I dressed in wool socks, undershirt, overshirt, long pants which I tucked into the socks, put on a hat, dove into my bug shirt, zipped the face screen up, nitrile gloves, tucked the sleeves of said bug shirt, …then sprayed citronella, and eau de DEET over all this concoction. Then I opened the door and stepped out into this beautiful day. You think the sight would just frighten them away! Here we are, pasty white and suffering scurvy from a lack of sunlight and fresh food! At the height of summer!  😉

I have to admit I have refused a few bookings here at the lodge, knowing that some people would not be able to enjoy their holiday with us at present. It’s a matter of assessing if people really know what you are warning them about when you say the bugs are horrendous … let’s hope the heat today will take them out, and we can cautiously get on with the short and tank top season, even if it only lasts a few days I will welcome it!

No  one seems to be talking about west nile virus this year – was all that discussion just a flash in the pan? I’m sure most of us living in theses muskeg and cedar swamplands of Ontario have been exposed to it by now. And I don’t want to appear alarmist – but there is a definate lack of warblers, forest birds and bats this year. And that is who eats most of these mosquitos. Most summer mornings at 5 am I am awoken by the beautiful dawn chorus – usually starting with wood thrush, oven birds, vireos, then the robins, warblers and other less solitary birds join in….this past week the whine of mosquitos at the windows is the prevalent song. Bats have suffered in this region from White Nose Syndrome … a fungus that infects them in their winter hibernaculae … and a bat will eat 4000 – 8000 mosquitos in one night. That is an amazing amount! I still have one old friend of a bat spending the days in the cedar shakes above the door, but other resting sites don’t seem to have been used yet this summer. If those bats were alive, they would be here, bats return to the same areas every year just as birds do. 

Mornings that I have this particular style of internal dialogue I just try to remind myself that once we make this planet uninhabitable for humans, either by bad art or bad air and water, other species will fill the niche and perhaps there will be a time when the rise and fall of hominoids will happen with a different set of defining values. 

Happy Canada Day, everyone!  ♥

 

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!