|February 7, 2016 Volume 2 Issue 1|
Enjoying the Ride
Recently I sat down at a beautiful round oak table to interview long-time resident, avid snowmobiler, and trail groomer, Chris Saunders. Originally from the Muskegan area Chris has been sledding most of his life. Snowmobiling is why he came to the area. My husband and I moved to the area as well based on my husband’s snowmobiling experiences in the Upper Peninsula during the 70’s. So right away I had a connection to Chris’ snowmobile passion. Snowmobiling is something to do in the winter; Chris will be the first to admit that his adrenalin skyrockets when he really opens up that machine. Robin, his wife likes to travel fast too.
Enjoying the RideGo Cross Country eh?EventsHiking the NCT
Thinking of the beautifully groomed trails that I observe along M-123, the Tahquamenon Scenic Heritage Byway, they appear to meander in and around the majestic pines of the national forest, I asked Chris if the trails actually provided him distance to travel at high speeds and he stated that there are straight away stretches within the 120 + miles of groomed trails managed by an eclectic group of trail groomers known as the Paradise Area Night Riders. Chris would know. He too is a groomer, serving as the group’s vice president and writing trail reports on their behalf posted on their website, their Facebook page, and the Michigan Snowmobile Association’s website. Chris’s candor in telling readers with no holds barred the depth of the snow, the clearing of debris, and rating trail conditions from poor to excellent, is good reading.
It is possible to crank a machine up to speeds of 50 or 100 miles per hour, but just because it is built to travel fast, doesn’t mean a driver should. You are not supposed to go so fast. But let’s give it some serious conversation here. Too many people overdrive their machine (travel to fast to be able to steer the sled avoiding stumps or branches or turns). Every driver needs to spend a fair amount of time getting to know their sled. Its fun to ride with a few friends however some experienced riders travel with novice riders and forget to allow time for them to develop their skills before traveling at moderate speeds. Many accidents happen because a novice or younger driver is trying to keep up with the group. Familiarity with the trail is critical should you decide to increase your speeds. When trails are crowded this is not the time to drive fast.
A favorite ride of Chris and Robin’s (She has her own sled.) is a trip to the Upper Tahquamenon Falls State Park. They will ride north to Whitefish Point and travel along Lake Superior’s shore reaching the Crisp Point Lighthouse, then south to the upper falls. Parking the sled, they walk the .4 mile to view the incredible Tahquamenon Falls, then back to Camp 33 next to the parking lot and enjoy a fine dinner, then follow the trail east into Paradise before turning toward their home. They tend to make this trip once a week but another favorite is trip to Pine Stump which could take up to 3.5 hours.
For the beginning rider, it would be best to take a two up sled, one that accommodates two riders. They could then take turns driving and building up their sled stamina. At the beginning, December 1, and the end of the season, March 31, it is real important to check trail conditions. For some reason, nature doesn’t always follow the calendar. In order for the trails to be effective or groomed there needs to be SNOW. It is important to have a trail map. When you are on the trail, a big concern is gas. If you are in the woods and you run out; you are in trouble. Study the map for fuel stops. Most sleds today will go 100 – 120 miles on a tank of fuel; watch the weather. If a storm comes through, you don’t want to be caught in the woods. Make plans for your fuel stops.
A trip to Pine Stump in 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 half hours depends on how often your stop and enjoy the scenery. The main this is to dress properly. Use common sense. Know what the weather is going to do. There are a lot of places out here where cell phones don’t work. Don’t depend on a cell phone or cell phone service.
Don’t ride above your ability, traveling at such a speed that you are unable to control your sled. Amateur riders struggle to keep up with the experienced riders. No drinking. Alcohol will hinder your chances of survival in a bad storm. Don’t litter. The groomers find a lot of water bottles, Gatorade, Monster cans. As an adult you have to have a driver’s license. For youth, 12 and under there is a driver safety course. There are many of these courses offered throughout the state. It is best for beginning riders to stay on a groomed trail. You don’t want to get off the trail and get stuck on a hidden tree stump or fallen tree hidden under the snow. A lack of knowledge of your sled’s capabilities can hinder advancing through ungroomed areas. In the grooming process, the groomer takes the bumps out of the trails. It is a machine and drag that digs down to the bottom of the bumps and relays all of that snow so that it is flat. You could compare the process to laying cement. The resulting flat, smooth re-laid snow is referred to as a ribbon. Just image, 120+ miles of a beautiful snow ribbon glistening in the light winding among the pristine forest.
Experienced riders tend to like the off-trail experience. In the Paradise area there are miles and miles of the finest back-country, un-plowed two track-roads.
The Paradise Area Night Rider trails are highly rated as to the quality of the groomed miles. County Road 412 will no longer be plowed but will be groomed. If you want to ride to the tip of Whitefish Point, take Trail 453. If you are in Grand Marais, take Trail 8 to Paradise. Trail 8 heads east then south again on its way to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. If you are up to the trip, you can take Trail 8 West to Copper Harbor and further to Minnesota. Yes, Trail 8 travels east and west through the entire Upper Peninsula. Several miles west of Paradise, you’ll connect with Trail 452. It winds north and takes you to Whitefish Point. If you are headed to Tahquamenon Falls, take Trail 45 off of Trail 8. Trail 45 continues southwest toward Newberry and Curtis. Catching Trail 9 from Newberry will take you to Trail 2 which takes you toward Naubinway at the top of Lake Michigan. The trail map can be a challenge when you are sitting with your coffee in the morning, but make no mistake you need a map as GPS signals can be inhibited in many of these remote locations. You definitely want to identify and prepare for fuel stops. So how many miles will you put on your sled today eh?
Editor’s Note: A special shout out to Chris Saunders for taking the time to speak with this sled green-horn and a genuine appreciation to all of the Paradise Area Night Riders for their diligence in battling extreme weather conditions, lowlands, and time to provide pristine trail experiences! Tip your helmets to them when you pass by a groomer as these guys truly are knights of the trail!
GO CROSS COUNTRY Eh?
By Eino Pine
Well, hello there from out on the trails!
This is Eino Pine in Paradise, looking forward to another winter sports season. When the wife Nonner and I moved here from the Keweenaw five seasons ago, we were hoping to continue our passion of cross-country skiing. Hoo-boy did we ever luck out, eh. We’ve got the Paradise Pathways right in town and Tahquamenon Falls State Park surrounding us, so we’re in hog heaven! We joined the new Tahquamenon Country Pathways Association to support our local trails and promote them to skiers everywhere. But, now, how do we get ready for the up-coming cross-country ski season?”
Seems kinda funny to be talking about the ski season in the future even though it’s well into December month. Kinda hard to start ski season with no snow. Hoo boy.
But, maybe this late start to the season is a Godsend. I know I’ve been able to cross quite a few items off my “Honeydo” List for the outdoors. A few more sunny days above freezing and I should have my squirrel-proof bird feeders ready for action. But, I digress, what’s this late snow got to do with ski season? Well, everything.
For one thing, it’s a great time to get out the equipment from wherever it got stashed last Spring and make sure it’s ready for action. I usually have all my cold-weather ski clothing stored in a couple of duffles, and it’s a good idea to empty everything out and sort and then make sure everything is washed, dried, and ready to go. It’s a good time to cull the holey socks, weed out the overstretched fleece, and make sure you’ve got enough layers to head out into any weather. (More on ‘layers’ next time.)
You also want to check out your main ski gear: skis, poles, bindings, and boots. I know I’ve got to do some gluing and clamping to do on my #1 pair of “Rock Skis”(more on this later); and I’ve got to replace the leatherwork on one of my ski-pole baskets. These are the kind of things you want to fix NOW—Later, when the flakes are flying, you’re gonna want to get out there and that’s a bad time to remember your gear isn’t ready. Check it out and fix it now!
Okay, so much for the basic stuff, and on to addressing THIS season, such as it is with a notable absence of the white stuff. As I mentioned before, when the flakes DO fly, I for one am gonna want to be out there skiing. But, we all know it takes a lot of snow to make a good groomed trail and the first snows are gonna need a lot of panking down before you can expect to cruise OVER logs and limbs and rocks and such safely with your beautiful high-tech ($) skis. That’s why I advocate for everyone to have a pair of “Rock Skis”. (I can’t claim ownership of the term as that would go to Matt Keranen “back in the day” at Cross-Country Sports in Calumet. Thanks Matt!)
Now, your “Rock Skis” may be an old inherited pair from yours or someone’s dad or grand-dad, or the pair you first learned to ski on, or a pair you happened to come across. My #1 favorite pair of “Rock Skis” I scored at a Garage Sale south of Calumet years back. Cost me ten bucks. Old hickory wood skis with lignastone edges, pine-tarred up, 210 cm. Good –to-go. Yeah, they’ve got nicks and dings and scratches and they’re not pretty. I’m not gonna win no races with them; but for “first-time-this-season” skiing, they can’t be beat. The important thing then is the length, the camber, and the bindings.
The first set of skis I got back in ’77 were Skilom 210 cm for my weight of 165-170 pounds. Now, if you have a pair of “Good” skis like from a sporting goods store, you should know the length of ski you need. For “Rock Skis”, you can fudge a bit on that—I’ve got skis from 205 to 215 cm. For “used” skis, you also want to check for the camber, the ‘springiness’ that allows for you to glide with minimal ski-to-snow contact weight yet still be able to plant your ski for push on the next stride. My unofficial test is to put the skis face-to-face and then squeeze them together so the bottoms touch all along the ski. If it’s a good SQUEEZE that I can barely do with both hands, then there’s a good deal of camber left in ‘em and they’re good candidates for “Rock Ski-dom”. If you can press them together easily, you won’t get the spring for good skiing and will just be slogging along on two planks.
The last item to check is the bindings, Do they match your ski boots? If it’s a real deal and you gotta have ‘em, most ski shops can switch out bindings; so that’s not a big deal as much as an extra step and expense. Everything else in your accoutrements for skiing can then be the same from the ski up. Just dress to match the weather and away you go. The thing with “Rock Skis” is that you love them because you don’t really have to CARE for them that much or WORRY they might get scratched because you really don’t have that much invested in them money-wise. Of course, over time, you may find they turn out to be your favorite skis after all; especially with minimal snow and iffy trail conditions.
So don’t let the dismals get you down in this gray time. Get out and hike the trails, run, suit up and bike. The important thing is to be out there, so enjoy! Next time we’ll talk a little about layering, and maybe get into some pro’s and con’s about modern versus traditional ski materials and components. This can be educational too, I picked up a pair of bamboo ski poles at a garage sale and they have a label saying they were made in Finland….who knew bamboo grew in Finland, eh?
Okay for now, this is Eino Pine signing off until next time we go CROSS-COUNTRY. Don’t forget to tuck on the downhills.
Editor’s Note: The 2015 – 2016 snow season has been off to a slow start in the Paradise area. In 2014 by the end of November those folks that keep records had recorded a total snow fall of 75 inches. In 2016 we reached 75 inches by Jan 22 where by half of that total fell in the prior two weeks. Eino’s advice in preparing to ski is no less critical and we truly appreciate his input. Watch for more wise thoughts from Eino in future editions of the Paradise Area Tourism Council’s newsletter.
Our next issue is scheduled for March 20 and includes information about bird watching,the Michigan Audubon Society, and NOAA.
Hiking the North Country Trail
Contributing Author: Nan Blocher
Every year it seems that there is an opportunity to reflect on the past and set goals for the future. Some people complete that process on their birthday especially if it is a year that falls on five or zero. Still others work through this mental exercise in preparation for New Year’s Day. Well this year promised to be a bit different for me. My mental activity turned into action. The Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter of the North Country Trail (4,600 miles in total length when completed and as my daughter says, “We only need to hike a bit of it!”) organization had completed a few elevated walkways along the mighty Tahquamenon River just south of Paradise. This section of trail is a part of Michigan’s state wide, Iron Belle Trail permitting access from Detroit’s Belle Isle State Park to the western Upper Peninsula’s Ironwood (1,259 Miles through the state of Michigan). Friday, the first of January 2016 the group put together a hike of the section that flows between the Tahqua Trail Road and the river. I made the commitment that I would be there, 10:00 AM.
Up until this day, snow had been a bit scarce this season. But with snowshoes on foot I joined this group and trekked a good couple of miles. I had no idea there were such vistas of grandeur and beauty in the eastern Upper Peninsula but as the snowflakes fell, each bend in the well marked path revealed another stretch of sheer beauty! Some members of the group hiked, cross-country skied or enjoyed snowshoes. The point was well noted; we greeted the New Year with activity, the exhilaration of fresh air, and filled our eyes with the beauty of God’s work.
I encourage everyone to get out to the trails and indulge your senses. The Paradise area is rich with trails within Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Michigan’s Iron Belle that encompasses the North Country Trail. You’ll find a good listing of area trails on the Tahquamenon Country Pathway’s Association website. A friend of mine once said, sometimes you just have to get off the pavement. Whether it is winter, spring, summer, or fall, make yourself a promise to experience the trail in each season. That may be four more times that you will hike in 2016. In fact, identify two of your favorite trails and you will reap even more of the benefits of physical activity for your body, mind, and soul. One can never diminish the value in those steps; take your family with you and plant the seeds for the next generation as well. Indulge yourself, step outside and drink it in.
Our next issue is scheduled for March 20 and includes information about bird watching,the Michigan Audubon Society, and NOAA.
Paradise Area Community Experiences
Music on the Bay
Music on the Bay has scheduled NINE concerts through the summer of 2016. Kicking off the summer at the Paradise July 4 celebration, Music on the Bay has scheduled Seven Bridges, a south eastern Michigan based country/rock trio beginning at 7:00 PM. This evening is the only concert held on Monday evening. All other concerts this summer are Tuesday evening events. You can see the complete listing of their concerts on their website, www.MiMusicOnTheBay.org
All concerts are scheduled to start at 7:00 PM behind the Whitefish Township Community Center next to Whitefish Bay. If the weather is uncooperative it is an easy transition to move the concert inside. Should the concert move inside, performers will be on stage this year and concert attendees will be encouraged to bring their comfortable lawn chairs or blankets inside and have a seat. There are large windows inside the center providing an incredible view of Whitefish Bay. There is no charge to concert attendees, but if they enjoyed the concert, the Music on the Bay Committee is asking the public for donations to continue the concert in 2017. The 2016 music series costs is funded 20% by the 2015 concert attendees.
Our next issue is scheduled for March 20 and includes information about bird watching,
the Michigan Audubon Society, and NOAA
5 Things to Experience in Paradise this Summer
Membership Spotlight | Paradise Inn Hotel
Originally built has a Howard Johnson’s, the Paradise Inn Hotel has all the modern conveniences you would expect from a fine quality motel in any city; clean comfortable rooms to rest and relax. The Paradise Inn Hotel is conveniently located on the north west corner of the blinking light on Michigan’s Tahquamenon Scenic Heritage Byway (8359 North M-123) in Paradise, Michigan. Locally owned and locally managed, this 36 spacious-room facility offers guests in-room phones, a conference room, guest laundry, in-room whirlpool, Free Wi-Fi, and air conditioning.
At this time of year, you might be considering a snowmobile trip. Snowmobile Trail #8 travels right in front the Paradise Inn along M-123. Trail #8 travels north of Paradise connecting with Trails #452 and #453. These two are popular groomed, trails to ride along the southern border of Lake Superior to Pine Stump Junction and then Grand Marais. Just half a mile west of the Paradise Inn is the Michigan DNR trail head connecting Trail #8 with Trail #45 which leads you directly to the Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Camp 33, a microbrewery. Access to four great snow trails just outside your door at Paradise Inn. Your group can schedule a block of rooms and come to Paradise for a few days. There is ample parking for your rig and ease in setting up.
Maybe non-motorized winter activities are more appealing to you and your family. That Michigan DNR trail head conveniently located a half mile west of Paradise Inn also offers Snowshoe enthusiasts and cross-country skiers access to Paradise Pathways. A north loop (1.7 Miles) and a south loop (3.3 Miles) groomed by Tahquamenon Country Pathways Association members provides novice and experienced exposure. For the novice, a short ungroomed trail is located right behind the Paradise Inn at Sawmill Creek Park.
The fun doesn’t stop with winter trails. In 2014, Whitefish Township established ORV/ATV access from May through November into the town of Paradise from the North on the shoulders of State Road M-123. ORV/ATV enthusiasts can ride in to fill up with up fuel or get a bite to eat. Then head back out of town and enjoy the rest of the day riding. Paradise Inn is conveniently located at this access site.
There are a lot of other reasons to visit the area as well, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Whitefish Point, Crisp Point Light House, and Oswald’s Bear Farm. Give the folks a call at the Paradise Inn and make plans for your stay today. Large groups, small groups, or individuals can enjoy their stay in the area at Paradise Inn. Call 906-492-3940.
Our next issue is scheduled for March 20 and includes information about bird watching, The Michigan Audubon Society, and NOAA.