• MIke McGrew

One of many trees that were on the trails this week.

All of western Montana got blown away last Wednesday and Seeley Lake was no exception. The wind was howling, trees were dropping with reckless abandon and some folks were without power for 48 hours. There may still be people without power for all I know.

The ski trails always take a beating when the wind rages. Not only do we get trees falling all over the place, but the amount of debris that blows in is mind boggling. Needles, boughs, limbs, lichen, you name it. It is a colossal mess and the only thing that can fix it is snow to cover it up.

Some of the worst debris.

Fortunately, Lynn knew we were going to be in a world of hurt trying to get the trails cleared after the holocaust and he had the presence of mind to call Matt, our connection at the Seeley Lake Ranger District. Matt hooked us up with three sleds, chain saws and the manpower to go with it. While those guys were cutting out the trails our volunteer groomers were working to make them skiable. After about four hours of intensive logging the trails were open, but far from skiable. It took two teams of groomers the better part of the day to get major debris off the trails by hand and machine. There's still a lot of junk on the snow but it's skiable, even if it's not great.

Limbs on the storage container.

It would be pretty tough to destroy the shipping container where we store one of our sleds and a ginzu, but a well-placed tree could wipe out about $15,000 worth of grooming equipment, plus another $4k for the shed. I'm not sure what this looked like before it was cut out, but the post mortem appeared as though a tree had gone down parallel to the container, leaving limbs on the roof and a mess to the side.

Tree that narrowly missed the shipping container.

The forecast is calling for a couple inches of snow tomorrow and we sorely need it to make things reasonably skiable again. In fact, we could really use about a foot, but not all at one time. If we could get a few inches a day for four or five days in a row, we would be in excellent shape. The boughs and needles and junk would disappear, we'd have the base we need and life would be good. So, if anyone has any influence over the weather now would be a perfect time to exercise it. Thank you in advance.

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I am at the stage of life where I am allowed to be a crank and get away with it. And having my very own personal blog, I get to be a crank in a public forum, a true luxury. I struggle mightily not to abuse this privilege, but it seems like every year my chain gets yanked about something and I take to this page to vent. Last year it was smoke pollution from the yurt stove, the year before it was dogs on the ski trails, and lord knows what else I've pissed and moaned about in this space. Today's lecture will be on the topic of parking.

Anyone who has skied at Seeley Lake on the weekend knows that parking can be at a premium. If it's a holiday weekend then the problem is compounded. Sure, if you arrive early in the morning the lot is fairly empty and you can park wherever you like with very little competition. But, get there around noon and you may find yourself parking on the road. That's why it's important that folks using our parking lot try to be as efficient and thoughtful as possible when they park. That means first and foremost pull head in to your space leaving enough room to the next car that you don't bang doors but you aren't taking up two spaces, either. And whatever you do, DON'T PARK PARALLEL IN THE MAIN LOT!!!!

I'm not sure what the owner of the van in the photo was thinking, but that is a big ass van and took up at least three, if not four, spaces. This was Saturday, January 2, on a holiday weekend that saw as much traffic on the ski trails as I have ever seen, with the exception of OSCR days. The lot was stuffed full forcing skiers to park on the road as well as across the road in the snowmobile area. The exception to parking parallel is if the main lot is full and you park adjacent to the groomer sheds where we can squeeze in another ten vehicles or so parking parallel out to the road. If you have a large vehicle that will stick out too far in the main lot when you park straight in, either park at the east end of the lot or go across the road to the snowmobile parking lot.

When I finished skiing the big ass van was blocked from both the front and the rear, so maybe there is some karmic justice in the world.

As bad as that was, the worst I have ever seen is two trucks with snowmobile trailers attached parked nose to tail the length of the lot. Bad enough that snowmobilers would use what is obviously intended for cross country skiers, but they took up well over 70' of space. Oh, well, sled heads, what do you expect?

Lynn has instructed me that as long as I'm on a rant I should remind snowshoers and walkers to stay off the ski trails and use the roads. I seriously doubt that any of them will be reading this post, but if you are, please, stay the hell off the ski trails. Can't you tell you're tearing up the surface with every step you take? Use the snowmobile trails adjacent to the ski trails. You can even take your dog there and he or she can poop and run to his heart's content.

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  • MIke McGrew

January 2, 2021

Covid has impacted everything and the Seeley Lake Nordic Club and trails are no exception. Here is a quick rundown of what's happening.

The yurt is closed to prevent the spread of COVID. Everyone loves the yurt and we hated to close it, but we hope to have it open next season.

Skiesta and Biathlon have been cancelled, but OSCR will happen as a DIY event. Check the events tab for details.

Our youth ski programs are happening this year, but we won't be racing. The main focus will be getting the kids out on snow, having fun and being safe.

There are three ski clinics scheduled. Check the clinics tab for more info.

The good news is we are grooming as usual and the trails are getting a ton of use. Cross country skiing is one activity we can participate in and not worry about breathing in someone else's COVID cloud. The parking lot may be full but once you get out on the trails you can expect a great deal of solitude.

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