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

Afterglow among the drifts and dregs….. Telefest 2014 retrospective~

Monday 12 pm.
Hard to deal with the empty space once the last car has been pushed out of the driveway.

All that remains is the warm glow in our hearts and the large drift of detritus; all that is left of this past weekend’s large bubble of friendship, fun and adrenalin!
Although that was quite the joke Mother Nature played – after this long winter of super snow and cold, (giving us not only a mild case of early cabin fever but luckily also the best snow conditions  in years), two days before Telefest we had above freezing temperatures, a bit of rain mist, and then the barometer plummeted to a whirlwind of a winter storm, with wind and snow, keeping several people from arriving here once both the Michigan Mackinaw Bridge and the highway south to Sudbury were closed. Yet not deterred, just delayed, all persevered and held fast to their plans.

Troopers! … all those who braved those odd elements and kept on the path that leads to our door!

Quite a large contingent from Canada this year, perhaps pumped on the good showing of medals and two awesome gold medals in hockey, we numbered over 50 participants by late Saturday evening. (Dear Americans, sorry for all the teasing. We do love Hockeyville here in Canada!)

Hugely missed were members of the clan Stoppel .. our thoughts were with all of you and especially your patriarch Roger as he battles his way through his own perfect storm.

Part of Saturday’s crew in the outback was happily captured on film by Marcus Quintillano – you can see many olympic-worthy aerial snow ballet maneuvers here –
https://vimeo.com/m/87455819
Many thanks, Marcus!

Safely returned from the film-shoot, more energy was expended on saunas, eating a huge home-made lasagna dinner and enjoying a musical interlude with guest performers Roger Marin and Rochelle Risling. Local musicians Rick Charbonneau, Britta Wolfert, Jeff Hinich and friends continued to entertain until the evening’s end….

Woods conditions improved mightily on Sunday, as the storm resolved into a snow-event, laying down almost two feet of fresh fluff for Sunday’s skiers. Enn said it was his best ski this year – and out of 48 epic days, that is high praise indeed!

More marathon eating took place after Sunday’s ski, as we went through the drift of leftovers and made short work of Mike’s amazing apple tart, a BBQ turkey breast, tenderloin slivers, Marie’s incredible assortment of cheeses of the world, Goulais Garden goulash et al – to power up and send folks back out into the storm to their homes in Owen Sound, Collingwood, Sudbury, Toronto, Ann Arbor, Petoskey, Traverse City, Grayling, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Detroit, Moncton NB and further afield.

My personal thanks go out to everyone above who pitched in to help, my friend Sheila Aho who gave up her Sunday last week to help me prep food, cousin Terry who schlepped gear all week, the wonderful Ms. Emily Gardiner who eschewed a dreamboat day of skiing to help me in the hospitality department – Em, you rock AND roll, Saturday would not have happened without your energy and investment of time – I sure DO owe you ONE! (but just one 🙂 )

Thanks also to our local sponsors, who provided over $800 dollars worth of great swag – everyone who participates for the day on Saturday gets to take a gift home with them due to the generosity of our local supporters and merchants ~
Velorution
Your one stop shop for everything Bike and XC Ski in Sault Ste Marie ON.
The Duke of Windsor Sport Shop
Dedicated to the sales and service of all skis, ski gear, and bicycles.
Algoma Bicycle Company
Not just bikes but skis and snowshoes, along with clothing and accessories
Searchmont Resort, Searchmont ON
All season resort with 700′ vertical, four chair lifts and condos for on mountain accoms.
and the Timberland General Store, Goulais River

Thank you to everyone who contributed to making the 18th Annual Snowflea Telefest a fabulous weekend !

Tele- stalkers, please feel free to post and comment here!

FREE HEELS OF THE WORLD, UNITE! …and we will see you on the next run!

…yers in powder,

Robinski

Mike Tefest 2014:photo by Marcus Quintillano …..this is a picture of Mike Everts tree-skiing on Saturday. Photo by Marcus Quintilliano.

18th Annual Snowflea Telefest – Feb. 21-23 /14

…just reposting my emailed letter from a few weeks ago here in the blog- in case we missed anyone! See you soon!

“Hellllooooooo!!! …..a reminder to join us for a fluffy and fun-filled weekend, our 18th Annual Snowflea Telefest, February 21st-23rd!
Hi folks! Well, you just can’t keep a good deity down, and our personal buddha, Heikki Lunta, a.k.a. good ol’ Hank Snow has been flurrying us with his attention for a few months now!

Back-country conditions are amazing at present. It started snowing in early November and it just hasn’t stopped. Super cold temperatures have kept the snow very dry and deep, and every day there’s new powder to enjoy, on top of a base of 1.2 metres (that’s 3.5 feet for you southerners!)
But then of course, most of the middle of the continent is enjoying the same awesome conditions.

A few sad under-shovelled people are groaning about too much of a good thing – but not us Snowflea- ers!
…and hey, what’s with – “Polar Vortex”? ….didn’t we just used to call it winter?

Some of the excessive effort needed to survive this” Vortex”; (not to be confused with The Vortex of Pain on our trail system) – include catching your breath after a supreme 50-turn flight down the newest pitch, Lone Pine, slogging in a fresh access trail after every nights’ snowfall of 24 cm (10 inches) … and of course deciding what type of beer to reward oneself with after a thirsty day!

Lodge attendance has escalated this year as everyone bows down to old Heikki – and once bent over past their knees I see most using their mittened hands to strap on those trusty skis and snowshoes. What can ya do – the only seasonal alternative is Hawaii, mall-walking or anti-depressants … or a radical option, like medical hibernation. (?)

So wouldn’t it be more fun to set your compass for some snorkel-skiing at The 18th Annual Snowflea Telefest 2014? Seventeen years so far – every single one of them a blast!

Check out the snowflea page on our website here:

http://www.bellevuevalleylodge.ca/shome.html

Here’s our fancy new poster courtesy of Ryan Creagh http://www.bellevuevalleylodge.ca/telefest2014.jpg

…. we would like to remind all local friends with time constraints we still offer a special rate that includes the Saturday afternoon tour on snowshoes or skis, full dinner and concert.
This year our featured performer is Roger Marin, a very talented alt-country singer-songwriter ~ www.rogermarin.com – ( you may remember seeing him playing guitar and pedal steel in Fred Eaglesmith’s band a few years back.)

Thanks to those of you who have already registered!

Anyone else? ….just drop us a line and let us know if you will be pitching a tent, staking a chair, or reserving a room ! (Yes, we are contemplating building a snow cave just for you, Mr. “Timex” Hill!)

…yers in a big white-out,
Robin

That time of year again!!

…….announcing The 17th Annual Snowflea Telefest!

FEBRUARY 23RD & 24TH, 2013

….sorry, been too busy skiing and enjoying a REAL winter to even think about writing to all you folks. Besides, most of you have been so eager to get out on the slopes I have talked to all of you personally over the past 6 weeks – yes, it is winter in Northern Ontario once again!

Since Christmas, several heavy and prolonged snowfalls have given us a great base, and even with our two days of warm weather and rain this past week we are still enjoying great conditions in the back-country! It is snowing right now, and the forecast is calling for over 20 cm of freshies by tomorrow morning – and the long-range shows significant snowfall for the next five days – well into next week!

So all systems go for Snowflea Telefest 2013!

This past fall the “Lopp -It – Good” crew plotted and cleaned up two MAJOR extensions to the bottoms of Northwest Passage and  Undertaker runs – giving us some longer ski-able terrain closer to the lodge. A new line was cut returning skiers from The North Face – and was christened “The Lone Pine” – it circles the mountain and gives us a new choice for a sweet downhill line on the tour home. A lovely loop and very relaxed!

……so hey, if you are planning on coming for Snowflea and have not called to confirm – please do so. We are already full here at the main lodge but Bert has offered a few rooms for overnighters –  and if you are local and thinking of coming along for Saturday, you know you are very welcome, I would just like you to confirm so I can plan meals – THANKS!

Yours snowingly,
robin

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!!”

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?

robin

 

Retro Night at Searchmont

The sad part about my retro – costume … it’s all items of apparel or sport that I still use! Mostly. The goggles are historic, I have to admit – but they are  mine. I used to wear them ski-racing back in “67.The sight of them still engages a lot of the memories and dreams of my 8 yr. old self … so I’ve never been able to throw them out.

Enn still wears these double leather boots – they are the best!

However, to the downhill crowd – it’s all Retro, Baby!

Monday morning musings

What a Telefest! …and it’s over! …..boo hoooo!

How can I say what this past weekend was like? We were inside a happy kaleidoscope – the kind that has millions of coloured crystalline shapes on a brilliant white background. When you tumble the tube the images are always familiar and beautiful, yet never once the same.

We were treated to a surfeit of sun, snow and fun, and primo back woods conditions. There was a lot of laughter and no one choked; much playing with sticks and no one cried. Skis were broken yet not one leg. Several people even jumped into the deep end after a humungous lunch  – and did not drown. Some just came along for the gallop and never once growled. What more can one ask for!

Our weekend community included expert and beginning tele-skiers, adventurous  backwoods snowshoe-ers, photographers, singers, musicians, vinophiles, foodheads, sensible canines, and our wonderful local community of friends and neighbors who contribute and participate in so many ways.  An Olympic finish line was provided by the afternoon sun-worshippers on Saturday who cheered home the (s)wet and weary as they skittered the last few yards towards the sauna and beer kegs…..

Snowflea Telefest is privileged to have great sponsors who provide good swag for the raffle and prize awards (serious stuff – such as gear bags and packs, apparel, equipment, ski tickets, waxes, packs, and head lamps). Thanks to Dave Robinson at Mountain Equipment Co-op in Toronto. Thank you to our local independent sports 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 of Velorution, and Dan Missere at Searchmont Resort 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 SCB Skier and Conor Mihell for their recent article about Snowflea – and the wonderful photos that Tarmo Poldmaa always makes available as needed. You only become a legend in your own mind if you have visual reminders to jog the memories! We will post a new photo gallery soon to mark the weekend.

We enjoyed music Saturday night from The Rick Charbonneau Band, Coppermine, Devin Creagh, Scapegoat, and Kelly McGillivray. Thanks for the tunes!

And last but definitely first, thanks to the friends who against all odds (and even with some odds) continue to come out and play in the backwoods of Algoma. We wouldn’t do it without you!

…the challenge goes out – please post your highlights here on the blog …. lowlights welcome too!

‘til later,

robin