In the last e-Newsletter (January 2019), our Webmaster, Chris Richmond, provided an excellent introduction to the Forums section of our amazing website entitled “The Joy of an Impromptu Outing”. As she indicated, members who might like to at least be made aware of, and possibly participate in, various outdoor activities being arranged at the last minute to take advantage of ideal conditions should register their interest in the appropriate “Meetups” (e.g. “Winter Activities”) section under Forums on the website. It’s easy and very efficient.
Well, in the hope that you downhill skiers might have liked a ride to experience something we haven’t really had so far this year i.e. snow, I posted the opportunity on Monday, January 7th that I would be leaving about noon the next day to take advantage of a discounted Stay/Ski program at Boyne Highlands in northern Michigan. As expected, only one person, Lori Clancy, even responded indicating that only a prior commitment prevented her from joining me.
My drive took only about 4.5 hours covering about 550 km in almost perfect weather and road conditions. I didn’t spot any snow until after about 3 hours when it also started raining. One of the best parts of this drive up the I-75 freeway is the very clean Rest Areas spaced about every 40 miles on average, as well as lots of places to stop for food or gas.
When I arrived at the Resort, snow conditions could be best described as slushy – less than ideal for skiing. However, they say “timing is everything”. It turned cold and so snowy overnight and the next day that the grooming machines couldn’t keep up with it, providing me with my first enjoyable opportunity to ski in what is generally referred to as “powder”.
Many of you may know that I only took up downhill skiing at my advanced age last year, and so just about everything is a new experience for me. So, I generally start conservatively by tackling the easiest “green” runs before moving on to the more difficult “blue” runs. And, no, I have no interest at this point of challenging the “black diamond” more expert slopes.
The only downside of the three days I spent on the hills was the incessant cold temperature and wind. The average temperature of -15C quickly became more uncomfortable with the 20-25 km wind gusts. Keeping my hands comfortable became my greatest challenge even with hand warmers inserted in my mitts.
As for the Boyne Highlands Resort, I can’t say enough about how well everything is maintained and how pleasant all the employees were. Even the staff handling the ski lifts were very helpful. My room was initially unusable by me due to a nicely designed but relatively low peaked ceiling above the bed which threatened to give me a concussion every time I got up. With apologies, the resort gave me a mini-suite.
After breakfast on the third day, I decided to investigate, on Lori Clancy’s strong recommendation, Nub’s Nob, a ski facility just down the road. Not only do they apparently have more ski runs and ski lifts than Boyne Highlands, they don’t charge for lift tickets for those age 70 and over. Needless to say, I took advantage of free service and found the experience quite enjoyable. It is a much more informal family-oriented facility. Although they don’t have overnight accommodations, several reasonably priced hotels are located less than a half hour drive in either Harbor Springs or Petosky. I will likely frequent Nub’s in the future.
All in all, my three-day ski experience was most worthwhile and I will likely return from time to time – especially mid-week when only about 10% of the capacity is utilized. However, that won’t happen now until mid-February after my 10-day ski trip with the Bluewater Ski Club to Panorama in B.C (more on that next month.
While I will once again post an offer from time to time to join me on the Winter Activities Meetup section of our website Forums section, only those of you who register to receive email notices of my intention will ever get the chance to come along. Same situation applies to those who might be interested in impromptu hikes, cycling or paddling opportunities. Don’t miss out!
Submitted by Les McDermott