The Gunflint Trail's annual winter festival - Winter Tracks begin today and run through Monday, March 3. The event is put on by the lodges and people of the Gunflint to celebrates the "best of winter." This year along the Gunflint Trail you will find snow sculpture carved by local artist at Swamper Lake, Trail Center, Laurentian Divide and Gunflint Lake Overlook. Snow "huts" are displayed at Bearskin and Trail Center.
You can find local artwork for sale during Winter Tracks at Bearskin Lodge, Trail Center, Gunflint Lodge and Gunflint Pines Resort. The festival's grand prize is Nancy Seaton's orginal art work- "A Snowflake" a copy of which is on this year's Winter Tracks button (above). Seaton's painting will be award at a drawing from Winter Track participants following the festival.
Events begin at Golden Eagle Lodge at 10 am today with an introduction to snowshoeing and a guided trek followed by "knit by the fire" at Heston's Lodge from 2-4 pm. One new event this year is Boundary Country Trekking's - Volk's Ski and Firepot Buffet scheduled from noon to two pm on Saturday.
See all the events scheduled for Winter Tracks at http://www.wintertracks.com/schedule_2008.doc
Skiing the Banadad, Firepot Dinner at a Yurt, Sleigh Ride and Snowshoeing featured on this morning's "Good Morning America." To view go to "winter on the Gunflint. and then click on "weekend window" on the upper right hand side of your screen.
Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail were recently selected by Good Morning America to be a featured destination for their Sunday morning program segment, Weekend Window. Following the theme of “Winter Destinations – Off the Road”, the production team came to discover the arbor village of Grand Marais and the historic Gunflint Trail. The shoot took place February 12th and 13th , and notification came today that this segment will air during the last 5 minutes of the hour-long program this Sunday, February 17th .Producer Jennifer Pirone selected three activities up the Trail for the project. The cross country ski adventure features five skiers –skiing the Banadad Ski Trail to the Tall Pines Yurt for a Mongolian firepot dinner. The skiing activity was hosted by Boundary Country Trekking. Next was the nostalgic sleigh ride with 2,000-pound Belgian horses and a lantern-lit trail at Okontoe Family Campground. It was a “wrap” with snowshoeing at Pincushion Mountain, with its Lake Superior backdrop. Local citizens provided the “talent” for the activities as well as the narrative to describe just how terrific a winter in the area can be.
The Grand Marais/Gunflint Trail segment, in addition to being aired this Sunday morning on ABC, will also be vailable for viewing on www.abcnews.com, (click Good Morning America,then scroll down to GMA Weekend). See for yourself why our winter wonderland is among Good Morning America’s choices for “one of the most beautiful places in America”.
A three-person production crew from the TV show Good Morning America video filmed on the Gunflint Trail and along North Shore this week.
The production crew’s first stop was at Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B where they filmed skiers traveling along the Banadad Ski Trail to the Tall Pine Yurt. The crew then filmed the skiers arriving at the yurt and next inside the yurt enjoying Boundary Country Trekking’s Mongolian Fire Pot Dinner. Local skiers who served as models for the production were Jan Sivertson, Peter Monkres, Jan Lemke, Debbie Benedict, and Barbara Jean Meyers.
The crews next stop was at the Mark and Nancy Patten’s Okontoe for the filming of a horse drawn sleigh ride followed by hot chocolate at the Patten’s 1903 log homestead
The following day the production crew were guided on a snowshoe hike up the North Shore’s Kedunce Creek by Kelly Dupre and Judie Johnson. The hike took them along the creek’s scenic deep gorge and past “caves” and water falls.
It is expected that Good Morning America will be airing the production sometime within the next two
The Twenty- fifth running of the Beargrease Sled Dog Race is now history. Jason Barron of Lincoln Montana came in first followed by Duluthian John Stetsen. The only musher from Cook Country finishing the race this year was Rita Wehseler of Tofte who came in ninth.
What this years race will perhaps be most remembered for is the mid race rain. When the race started on Sunday the snow conditions were good and the weather was mild. Monday, the second day into the race, sometime after 9:00 p.m., depending where you were along the race route, it began to rain- correction it poured. According to the crossing- guard stationed at the Lima Grade’s turn onto the Little Ollie road enroute to Trail Center over an inch of rain accumulated in his upright plastic sled. The result was of the twenty-seven mushers that started the race fifteen “scratched” –most, seven, at Trail Center during the thick of rain. Following the rain the temperature plummeted to below zero. One musher pretty much summed it up, “I had to quit, it wasn’t because the dogs and I were completely wiped-out, it was because I was soaking wet and cold and not sure how in the world I was ever going to warm-up enough to continue the race”.
At the Trail Center, the race “turn-around,” Sarah Hamilton, even with the rain, was up beat about the race. “It was a great boost- financially and emotionally but” according to Hamilton, “ we would be open for the race even if we did not make any money.” Hamilton noted she served over three hundred meals during the race and estimated the turnout of spectators, racers, handlers, Beargrease officials and the media at Trail Center was over six hundred people. Trail Center remained open all Monday night as the musher came in, rested and headed back to Duluth.
Along the Little Ollie Road Jim Ross spent most of Monday night manning a campfire and watching the musher as they passed by his cabin Further down the road, Joannie Nickols rather then disrupt the race by driving her car from her cabin to Trail Center, skied over. As she approach Trail Center with her headlamp lighting her way she was mistake by the awaiting crowd as one of the dog teams arriving. However the spectators could not figure out why this “team” was traveling so slow. When she shouted at them that she was a skier, the crowd jokingly booed. And at Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B handlers for one of the mushers waited for his arrival.
Post Scribe by Ted Young- Barbara and I arrived at Trail Center shortly after 8:00 p.m., on Monday several of the teams had already came in. The rain was beginning to fall. There was a great festive crowd including many of our Gunflint Trail neighbors. It is clear that the Beargrease really is an important addition to the Gunflint Trail each winter. We are lucky to have this exciting event and to have Trail Center as the turn-around.
Also it should not be forgotten that the historic inspiration and organization of the Beargrease goes back to the Gunflint Trail Mail Run Dog Sled Race held along the Gunflint from 1977 until 1980.