High school ski weekend at Bearskin

Cold but happy!

48 loaves of French bread. 72 pounds of chili. 60 pounds of pasta. 50 Sven & Ole’s pizzas. 20 cases of water. 500 cookies.  High school ski weekend is over.  They came, they skied, they ate (and ate and ate), they raced, they skied some more, and they left, exhausted and happy.

The forecast was for bitter cold and indeed, the temperatures hovered in the minus zone for much of the time.  But the sun was brilliant, the sky was clear and thankfully, the threatened wind chills never really materialized.  

At one point we seriously doubted that we should do this weekend. Tales abound on the North Shore and the Gunflint Trail of the infamous “ski teams that wrecked the resort.”  In fact, we had talked ourselves out of it until Adde, event organizer supreme, came to us with her sheets of notes, measurements and ideas to convince us it was “doable.”

So on Friday dozens of Nordic skiers and their parents streamed off the buses carrying their ski bags, high tech boots, wax kits, and gym bags loaded with lycra — as well as pink pillows, fuzzy blankets, light-up socks, junk food and stuffed armadillos. Within an hour there were colorfully clothed clusters of  teenagers out on the trails everywhere, skiing in little groups through the woods. 

Sven & Ole’s pizzas delivered to the cabins on Friday and a Saturday evening dinner in front of a blazing fire at the awesome Old Northwoods restaurant gave them a reason to come in from the cold; otherwise, most of the skiers were out on the trails for hours.

When the buses pulled away Sunday afternoon, we fearfully assessed the damage.  A cabinet door that pulled away from a hinge. A crack in a window that grew a bit. Yellow snow over the edge of a deck.  (Boys. @@ Need we say more?) Flash frozen spilled red Gatorade outside a door. Truckloads of filled trash bags.  And many sparkling, clean cabins, obviously carefully tidied up and vacuumed.

By Saturday night at Old Northwoods, parents were already asking whether Bearskin would be willing to host this weekend again.  At that time, a low point on the exhaustion curve, we weren’t certain the answer ought to be “yes.”  The kids were obviously having a great ski experience; however, one had to wonder if it was worth all this trouble.

But here’s one occurrence that made me think that perhaps our efforts had value. A tall, articulate young skier came into the lodge late one evening in search of some tea bags. We started to discuss the cold and the clear night and the stars.   “You always hear and read about how great the stars are supposed to be,” he said, “but I’ve never really understood why stars are such a big thing. You look up in the sky at home and they’re nothing much.  Then I got up here and looked up at the sky and the stars are incredible. It was really amazing to see.  Now I get it.” 

Ski weekend was a lot of work for what amounted to a few days of skiing. But maybe skiing was only a small part of what high school ski weekend at Bearskin was really about.

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