Birdshot and backlashes - ski trails

by Bob Cary

One of the best kept secrets involving ski areas is the new cross country trail system on the Wilderness Golf Course at Fortune Bay. There has been, for a couple of years, talk among Bois Forte tribal elders that a ski complex would be instituted when the golf course became a reality. This summer, the golf course was in operation and this winter the ski trails opened up.<BR><BR>We were out there the day after Christmas and found the trails excellent. The problem was finding where the trails started. We were informed at the casino that the ski trails originated at the clubhouse for the golf course. OK, so where is the clubhouse. <BR><BR>There is a sign on the road leading to the casino that says the golf operation lies ahead. But ahead where? It took some searching, but we finally discovered that the road which bisects the main parking lot and goes to the rear of the casino ends up at the golf course clubhouse. <BR><BR>It is a fine combination chalet and restaurant overlooking the golf links and the ski trails.<BR><BR>There are three groomed and tracked ski trails leading from the clubhouse - one kilometer, three kilometer and five kilometer. The one-kilometer is an easy, beginner’s trail. The other two have some hills but the curves and run-outs are easy. The trails are laid over the blacktop lanes used by golf carts in the summer. They are thus very smooth, with no humps and bumps. Makes for easy skiing.<BR><BR>The nice thing is, skiers can whip around the trails and then come into the restaurant for hot coffee or a moderately-priced hot lunch. Then ski some more or perhaps wander over to the casino to seek their fortune (or misfortune, as the case might be). There is a large parking lot available which is adjacent to the clubhouse and casino back door.<BR><BR>This is a brand new program at the golf course and when we were there, no other skiers were present. None. Obviously, few people know about it and perhaps those who do have a hard time locating the clubhouse and the trailhead. We intend to go back there this week because it is a fine facility; but we hope the tribal elders get around to posting another sign or two indicating which way to go for skiing.<BR><BR>HIDDEN VALLEY/TREZONA<BR><BR>Both of Ely’s in-house ski trail systems are groomed, tracked and in operation. Hidden Valley is drawing crowds on weekends and has the high school ski team practicing there after school in late afternoon. It was also the site of the 2005 Wilderness Trek Ski Race last Sunday. A goodly number of Ely skiers are using the Trezona Trail. This is popular with people who take a half hour or 40 minutes from their lunch hour to whiz around Miner’s Lake. <BR><BR>Both Trezona and Hidden Valley are groomed for classical and skate skiing alike. The Ely Nordic Ski Club and area merchants put up the funds for trail grooming at Hidden Valley. The Ely Snowmobile Club grooms the Trezona Trail even though it is zoned for skiing. It is a cooperative community activity with snowmobilers and skiers working together.