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Superior Outdoors Polar Bears in Ontario A species at risk pg. 8




Algoma Backcountry P.40

Big Thunder P.26

Climbing Nipigon P.54


WINTER 08/09

Display until April 15

Canada/US $4.95



62825 22634




Big Thunder

Frozen in Time


by John-Paul Marion

Algoma Backcountry


Backcountry skiing in the Algoma Highlands

Woodsmoke, Canvas & Ice

The allure of traditional winter camping


by Chris Gibbs

by Tarmo Poldmaa

Climbing Nipigon

Where ice meets sky


by Tiffany Jarva

Adventure Travel 17

Letters 4

Routes 19

Weather 5

Arts and Literature 24

Superior Styles 7

Reflections 46

Sustainable Developments 8

Event Listing 62

The Food Chain 15

P.54 D. McChristie

Intro 3

Tiffany Jarva


Perspective 64/jjj


On the cover: A frosty day in the BWCA Photo by ŠChirs Gibbs This page: The in-run of the 120m ski jump at Big Thunder Photo by D. McChristie

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m ag azi ne

Editor-in-chief/Design Darren McChristie Art Director John-Paul Marion Contributing Editor Tiffany Jarva


Copy Editors Nancy Ewachow, Michelle McChristie, Lynn Marion


Business Manager Doug McChristie









Contributing Writers Julee Boan, David Costa, Nancy Ewachow, Chris Gibbs, Tiffany Jarva, Sarah Kerton, John-Paul Marion, Darren McChristie, Michelle McChristie, Tarmo Poldmaa, Tom Puk, Graham Saunders Contributing Photographers Jules Ameel, Mark Bowles, Jarron Childs, Nathan Eigenfeld, Alexandra Erickson, Chris Gibbs, John Gibson, Bryan Hansel, Julian Holenstein, Tiffany Jarva, Drew Keto, Kit Larson, Jan Luit, John-Paul Marion, Robert McCaw, NELLPHOTO, John Pedersen, Brian Peterson, Tarmo Poldmaa, Julie Sachs





Publisher The Boreal Company Advertising Sales/Distribution Michelle McChristie

807-622-2012 1186 Memorial Ave Thunder Bay, ON

Superior Outdoors is published twice a year: Summer (May) and Winter (November) Copyright Š 2008/9 by The Boreal Company, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction of any article, photograph or artwork without written permission is strictly forbidden. Views expressed herein are those of the author exclusively. Editorial and Advertising: Submissions must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Superior Outdoors cannot be held responsible for unsolicited material. IF UNDELIVERABLE RETURN TO: The Boreal Company Suite 242, 1100 Memorial Avenue, Thunder Bay, Ontario P7B 4A3 Telephone (807) 627-3017; Fax (807) 623-5122 E-mail: Disclaimer: the activities described and illustrated herein are performed by trained athletes and could result in serious bodily injury; do not attempt them without proper training, safety equipment, and supervision. The Boreal Company is not responsible for injuries sustained by readers or failure of equipment described or illustrated herein. ISSN Number 1913-444

Canada Post Publications Agreement Number 41497554 Printed in Canada on Acid and Elemental Chlorine Free, Post-Consumer Recycled Paper Superior Outdoors Inc donates 1% of all sales to 1% for the Planet

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he International Institute of Not Doing Much (IINDM) suggests that “anything worth doing, is worth doing slowly.” While this might imply we spend our days sitting around sipping tea, this suggestion applies to many aspects of modern day life. With modern conveniences like cell phones, WiFi, microwaves and drive-throughs, multitasking has never been so easy, and there are few activities that we savour. The typical North American is working longer hours and taking less vacation time, but still managing to generate a mountain of debt. We are racing through our lives to accumulate stuff that we do not take the time to appreciate. Research indicates that a shorter work week with afternoon naps is healthy and can add years to our lives. Sounds great, but I’m not sure North American employers will embrace these concepts anytime soon. There is a growing international movement toward slowing down and doing less and, in this issue, we will take a local look at the anti-fast food movement that started it all - the slow

food movement. In our first photo essay, Chris Gibbs explores the allure of traditional winter camping - leave the synthetics behind. Tiffany Jarva demonstrates that climbing ice required patience at last year’s Nipigon Ice Climbing Festival and JohnPaul Marion takes us through Big Thunder Sports Park’s long forgotten history and the slow pace of recovery. The Slow movement is timely. Most of the things that get us there faster require more energy, typically by burning fossils fuels somewhere along the way. The price of fuel and the health of the planet have moved us beyond the tipping point, it’s time for a change. Suddenly the speed limit isn’t so bad after all. This winter, keep in mind the advice from the IINDM; slow down and savour your leisure time. If you have the option, take a vacation and, if you don’t, maybe you can squeeze in a few naps. -D. McChristie

Taking it slow in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Photo by Chris Gibbs

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A visit to the Slate Islands leave a lasting impression by Michael O’Reilly


first heard about the Slate Islands through local stories and legends. People told tales about a circular group of islands in Lake Superior, formed from the impact crater of an ancient meteor collision. The stories mentioned historic logging and mining operations, an old lighthouse, great paddling and sailing, and caribou – always the caribou.


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Update on the Slates My husband and I spend a lot of time out at the Slate Islands. However, this year the Ministry posted signs outside the cabins, stating that the cabins aren’t free to use at any time. I’ve read Michael O’Reilly’s story [“Big Impact”, Summer 2008] on the Slate Islands that I really enjoyed. The sign on the cabin on McColl’s Island reads “Come and Rest” not “Come and Stay.” A friend of ours went to the Slates in May and took pictures of all the signs; we gather it’s for liability reasons. Evelyn Young, Marathon, ON

• National Historic Site • Oldest Active Lighthouse on Superior • Restored Lighthouse & Life Saving Boathouse Tours • Edmund Fitzgerald Exhibit Featuring Bell • Shipwreck Museum Gallery & Theater • “Lake Superior's Shipwreck Coast” • Nature Trails & Overlooks • Whitefish Point Bird Observatory • Gifts Shop & Food Concession • Overnight On-Site Accommodations Available 888-492-3747

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Average Annual Snowfall Hancock 550 cm Wawa 329 cm Marquette 328 cm Sault Ste. Marie 303 cm Duluth 198 cm Thunder Bay 188 cm

A southeast wind blows lake-effect snow toward the south shore of Lake Superior. Even Lake Nipigon is large enough to produce this effect.

Lake Effect Snow We are entering the season when the wise long-distance traveller checks road reports and weather forecasts before departure. All areas that surround Lake Superior, Lake Nipigon and the other Great Lakes are vulnerable to increased snowfalls with certain weather conditions. Heavy or persistent snowfalls create hazardous driving and can result in extended road closures. Sometimes we witness puddles disappearing rapidly on a warm sunny day after some earlier rain showers. On a bigger scale, a considerable volume of water evaporates from large lakes like Superior during sunny summer days. However, considerably more evaporation and subsequent snowfall takes place later in the calendar year. According to Syed Moin, co-manager of the International Upper Great Lakes Study, the annual peak of evaporation takes place during November. Temperature difference between the lake surface (around 6˚ C/43˚ F), and the cold air immediately above it, is at a maximum. Relatively cold and dry air masses from northern and western North America are often 20 and 30 degrees colder than the lake surface during the fall season. This temperature gradient between warmer water and cold air results in air convection, heat conduction and turbulent mixing. The evaporation process is occasionally seen as “steam fog” in cold and still conditions. Wind increases the rate of evaporation and also mixes the moisture upward. Winds from 15 to 60 km/h are most effective in creating a thicker layer of moist and slightly warmer air. As well, resulting waves create more surface area, which adds a

little more to the effect. Winds lighter than this result in a very shallow layer while stronger winds actually reduce evaporation and potential downwind snow amounts. The longer cold air travels over the lake (the longer the “fetch”), the more moisture and heat it can absorb and the greater the potential for heavy snow amounts. When this moist air reaches a shoreline, trees and other landscape features add friction. The air “piles up” and cools when forced upward. This can result in rain near the shore but snow inland. Lake-effect snows occur downwind. More snow falls on the south and east side of Superior than on the north and west side because of prevailing wind directions and a fetch of 100 to 300 km. Topography has a role with a snowbelt from Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie. Steep hills create more upward air flow and more snow. The south shore of Superior has snowbelts that extend further inland because elevations rise more gradually. Many weather processes add to annual snowfall totals. Lake-effect snow around Superior makes a significant contribution, as the following annual averages suggest. On the west side, Thunder Bay (188 cm) and Duluth (198 cm) have slightly more snow than inland locations. Dryden, with 170 cm, is an example. Snowbelt locations like Wawa (329 cm), Marquette (328 cm) Sault Ste. Marie (303 cm), Hancock (550 cm) receive an extra metre and more. It is a plus for several winter recreation activities but a minus for snow-removal budgets. Graham Saunders teaches meteorology and climatology at Lakehead University Superior Outdoors



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superiorstyles Drew Keto

John Pedersen

(left) Randy Carlson explaining the safety system on a traction kite. (above) All smiles on the St. Louis River.

It’s a tough job but... University of Minnesota Duluth’s Randy Carlson teaches surfing, kayaking and kiteboarding The sun had begun to set over the waves at Park Point and the wind had taken on a brutal chill. Most of the other surfers had left the beach when I saw Randy Carlson, 43, of Duluth MN, already wearing his full-body wetsuit, jump out of his Volkswagen Vanagon and unload his surfboard. “Long day at the office, Randy?” I asked as he paddled by me. He just chuckled and shook his head. “I had to wash wetsuits!” he yelled over his shoulder just before he ducked a wave. As the head of UMD’s National Kayak and Canoe Institute (KCI), Carlson has a job that most people only get to dream about. He does adventure sports for a living - a lot of them. Carlson has been working with UMD’s Recreational Sports Outdoor Program (RSOP) for twenty-five years. Along with facilitating all of KCI’s programming, he also runs the surfing, stand up paddle boarding, and snow kiting programs for the RSOP. “It’s a unique job.” Carlson admits. “It’s not really the sort of job you can apply for. Nobody told me I couldn’t start these programs, so I just did.” Carlson received both his BAS in Teaching Earth Science and his Masters in Education at UMD and never left. “I’m an alternative thinker,”Carlson says. “I have spent the past 25 years creating my own job description…I’m still working on it.” His office is overflowing with stacks of boxes, files, folders and old gear catalogues that, like Carlson himself, don’t seem to fit comfortably into the space. I wouldn’t be surprised if

one of the stacks of paper in his office was just a pile of his certifications. He’s an American Canoe Association certified Instructor trainer/educator in white water kayaking and canoeing as well as open water coastal kayaking, a wilderness first responder and, to top it off, a certified Professional Air Sport Association snow-kite instructor. No matter how busy he is Carlson always stops whatever he’s doing to check the surf report for people passing by his office, even if they’re not particularly interested. He chats in long drawn out tangents, smiles constantly, and in short, is extremely mellow for a guy who makes his living kayaking, surfing, and kiting. For every hour Carlson spends outside instructing, he spends at least two or three in his cluttered, windowless office doing prep-work or out running around organizing and cleaning gear for the next program. “It’s hard to balance everything” Says Carlson, who’s married and has two children. “But life is about balance, that’s why I’d rather be skillful in a wide variety of sports than specialize in just one…I don’t really care if I’m the best. I just want to be safe, skilful and on the scene. There’s a similar generosity up here as there is in places like Hawaii, I think. We all share our experiences and resources to help one another. That’s why I like it here. ” David Costa is a UMD student and freelance writer living in Duluth, Minnesota.

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sustainabledevelopments Polar Bears in Ontario Maurice and I sneak a quick look over the beach ridge to view an enormous polar bear napping in the sun. Quietly, I set up my tripod, but the slightest click brings the bear’s head up and prompts a look in our direction. Thankfully, after a few moments, he lays down again. But we are not fooled. Although he may look like he is sleeping, the slight twitching of his nose suggests that we will not be welcome if we get any closer. I have come up to the northern most realm of Ontario to learn about the plight of polar bears. The marked decrease in their populations across Canada is well known. Scientists attribute a large part of this decline to climate change. An astonishing amount of arctic sea ice – more than 20% - has disappeared in the past two decades. Maurice Mack, my guide from Peawanuk First Nation, tells me that polar bears rely on the arctic ice for hunting. In the winter months they kill seals as they surface through the pack ice, but they cannot outpace them in the water. As a result, during the summer months, the bears essentially fast and live off their own body fat. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established by the United Nations, has confirmed that climate change is happening, and northern ecosystems and species are most likely to be hardest hit by the changes. While some species will be able to adapt, others, like the polar bear, have an uncertain future. Many scientists are predicting a mostly ice-free arctic summer by 2080. This does not bode well for polar bears. Ice break-up is occurring earlier so the bears have not put on as much fat as they head into their summer fast, and their thinner bodies lead to lower birth rates. In response, environmental groups, like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), are concerned that the bears could face extinction by the end of this century if this trend doesn’t change. “If temperatures continue to rise in response to increases in greenhouse gas emissions and the sea ice melts for longer periods, polar bear 8

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numbers will be reduced in the southern portions of their range and may even become locally extinct,” says WWF polar bear scientist Dr. Ian Stirling. Their already naturally low reproductive rate means their populations will be slow to recover, if they recover at all. Some people are surprised to learn that we have polar bears in Ontario, but the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources estimates that there are about 1,000 polar bears in this province. Remarkably, about 95% of the Southern Hudson Bay polar bear population summers on land in Ontario. Polar bears are protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act (2007), and are only hunted by First Nations people, who adhere to strict quotas set each year. According to Maurice, Peawanuk First Nation not only hunts less than the quota, but the hunting season is closed in the summer and dens are protected. Many northern Aboriginal communities maintain a strong connection to the land, and have been at the forefront of observing changes in both the ice and the bears. In addition, nearby Polar Bear Provincial Park protects about 70% of this population’s maternal denning and breeding area. “I hope you brought a hammer,” laughs Maurice. We are standing with our backs to 50 km/h winds, staring at a wooden skeleton – the frame of our shelter. Only a tattered tarp clings to the remains. I glance over my shoulder at the storm clouds forming in the distance, and frown, but Maurice’s easygoing attitude buoys my spirits (that, and the promise of a pickerel fish fry dinner). We’d better get to work. Julee Boan is the Boreal Conservation Coordinator for Ontario Nature. Special thanks to Maurice Mack (, Jen Baker (, Robert McCaw ( and Tara Ingram (

> climate change


“If temperatures continue to rise in response to increases in greenhouse gas emissions and the sea ice melts for longer periods, polar bear numbers will be reduced in the southern portions of their range and may even become locally extinct.�

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> communities

Thunder Bay Adopts Green Plan The City of Thunder Bay recently adopted a green plan that embodies a community vision for sustainable living. The plan was created as part of EarthWise Thunder Bay’s mandate. The organization is a partnership between the Corporation of the City of Thunder Bay and the community – residents, businesses, and the industrial and institutional sectors. The goal of EarthWise is to create and implement a comprehensive environmental plan for the City. More than 500 people were involved in the development of the plan. Work started in 2004 when members of two long established community groups, EcoSuperior and the Zero Waste Action Team, made a deputation to Thunder Bay’s city council encouraging them to create a Community Environmental Action Plan (CEAP). Since then, EarthWise has gained traction in a community transitioning to a more diversified future. The CEAP was recently adopted unanimously by Thunder Bay’s city council, and will now form a blueprint, perhaps a greenprint, for moving forward with decision-making that considers the four pillars of sustainability: environment, economy, society and culture. The CEAP is made up of three parts. The first part provides an overview of EarthWise, its background, and the process that was used in developing the plan, as well as a summary of sustainability and climate change. Part two represents the extensive contribution of the working groups. Ten committees met for months, and even years, to develop an overarching goal, objectives, and recommended actions related to an area of local concern or interest. This includes sections on Active Transportation, Air, Community Greening, Energy, Food, Green Building, Land Use, Pesticides, Waste and Water. The third section includes the work of the Education Working Group, and focuses on the importance of community education in 10

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D. McChristie


Thunder Bay’s north core

moving sustainable behaviour forward. The CEAP is part of a broader move across the country to develop Integrated Community Sustainability Plans, a commitment that is tied to municipalities receiving gas tax revenue from the Canadian federal government. Municipalities have an important role to play in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapting to climate change. Half of all the GHG emissions in Canada are under the direct control, or indirect control and influence of municipalities. The Partners for Climate Protection Program includes a total of 168 municipalities participating across Canada, working towards reducing their GHG emissions through a five milestone framework. Thunder Bay, joining the program in 1997, has just completed its third milestone. Thunder Bay is serious about its commitment to the environment and is doing its part to reduce the impacts of climate change. Recently, the City appointed a Municipal Energy Conservation Officer, adopted a target of 35% reduction in energy use, changed all traffic control lights to LEDs, added smartcars to its fleet, and is also piloting biofuels. A number of conservation education programs are offered through its partner, EcoSuperior. As in any northern community, when it comes to energy use, the stakes are high. As a municipality in the midst of

cherished wild spaces, we have a lot of responsibility. Let the transformation continue! Sarah Kerton is the Community Environmental Action Plan Coordinator for the City of Thunder Bay

Save the environment without sacrificing


279 Bay Street Thunder Bay


sustainabledevelopments D.McChristie

The Great Lakes contain 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water and 95 percent of North America’s fresh surface water.

> water

Bush Signs Great Lakes Compact On October 3rd, 2008, the future of the Great Lakes became a little more certain. By signing the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, George Bush completed the final step in ratifying the compact in the United States. The compact is a legallybinding agreement between the eight Great Lakes states. A companion agreement of the same name that includes Ontario and Quebec was signed in 2005. Ontario ratified this agreement by incorporating the terms into the Safeguarding and Sustaining Ontario’s Water Act of 2007. Quebec’s National Assembly voted to endorse the agreement and tabled legislation in June of 2008. The agreement and compact have been widely celebrated as a success story for the Great Lakes. Political support on both sides of the border has been strong, perhaps a testament to increasing awareness of water quality and quantity issues in North America. The agreement and the compact will: prevent most new diversions of water our of the basin; establish a common, basin-wide standard for

managing the resource; set goals and objectives for conserving water; and ensure the development of a strategy for critical issues facing the Great Lakes, such as the impacts of climate change and the cumulative effects of water use. But, like any good news story, there are skeptics who believe that the agreement and compact will do little to protect bulk water exports from the Great Lakes. The problem is the so-called bottled water loophole. Critics argue that the loophole opens the gates to large-volume exports of water in packages like bottles because items produced by “mechanical or human effort” and intended for “intermediate or end users” are exempt from the export ban. Further to this, water exported in containers with a volume of less than 20 is not treated as a diversion. In this case, states can either prohibit the transfer as a diversion or apply the other compact standards related to water conservation and/or environmental protection. Supporters argue that the loophole does not turn the Great Lakes into a product or commodity. But any agreement, compact or law is only as effective as the decisions made by the appropriate governments and its enforcement by regulators. Given the

unanimous support of the agreement and compact by the states and provinces in the Great Lakes Basin, it seems that the approval of a massive bottled water operation that would withdraw enough water from the basin to have a noticeable impact is unlikely. The Great Lakes status as the single largest freshwater source in the world, containing nearly 20 per cent of the world’s fresh surface water and 95 per cent of North America’s fresh surface water, has inspired politicians to protect this resource. As summarized by the Great Lakes Alliance, “The future of the Great Lakes is secure, with foresighted plans now locked in place to safeguard their waters and health for generations to come.” -Nancy Ewachow

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NASA’s Blue Marble - the most detailed true-color image of the Earth to date


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> essay

Later Will be Too Late

The Importance of an Ecologically Conscious and Ecologically Literate Society Most of North American daily living is based on evolutionary thinking - not in the sense of geologic changes, but rather in the sense of slow but steady progress. Most people believe that “if I don’t get it done today, I will get it done tomorrow” or “if we don’t get it done this year, we will try again next year.” There is certainly some degree of safety in this method, but unfortunately it will probably lead to our demise. We gave up the right to this luxurious way of thinking at least a half century ago. In terms of ecological degradation, and in particular in regard to irregular climate, we only have a small window of opportunity, as little as ten years, to make dramatic changes in our lifestyles. We have abused our ecological systems for too long in the quest for “economic growth” and we have been incurring a huge debt on our ecological systems air, water, soil, energy, biodiversity and population. If we had taken into account the cost of the damage to our ecological systems in the production of all goods and services, we would have learned that there really was no such thing as economic growth. We have simply hidden these ecological and economic costs at our own peril and the cost of cleaning up these systems is now staggering. The question is: should those who have contributed to the problem have to pay these costs or should we leave it to future generations? As stated earlier, we don’t have the luxury of thinking we can leave this burden for future generations because the time to fix these problems will have run out. This is why it is in our economic benefit and long-term survival to make ecological consciousness our main focus. Ecological consciousness involves a world view in which everything we do is based on ecological integrity. That is, in preserving the long-term health of natural systems in order that they can

maintain their capacity to assimilate human by-products of production and rejuvenate themselves and all life. Ecological integrity is not the same thing as “sustainability.” We cannot “sustain” current behaviors, lifestyles and financial systems because we live on a finite planet. The whole notion of “waste” is antiecological. In the natural world (from which we came and are a part), there is no such thing as waste. The by-products that are discarded by one species are used by other species to build and preserve healthy natural systems. Without healthy natural systems, human life cannot survive for long. We are entirely dependent upon natural systems even though we have been acculturated to believe that the human species is superior to all others. What we may come to understand too late is that other kingdoms such as monera (i.e. bacteria), have survived on this planet for close to four billion years, and can survive without us quite nicely; however, we cannot survive without them! Bacteria have an amazing, spontaneous capacity to adapt to stresses that the human species lacks. It is primarily bacteria that decompose by-products of other organisms (such as the human species) and continue to move those elements through natural systems so that they can be used over and over again. However, the human concept of “waste” tricks us into believing that the by-products of our lifestyles have no use and no value, thus should go to the landfill where we no longer have any responsibility for our actions. The concept of “waste” allows business and industry primarily, but all of us generally, to create human systems that do not take responsibility for this cradle to grave mentality. Thus, we need to learn to live with and learn from bacteria rather than thinking we should or even can eradicate them. Ecological consciousness involves getting up each day with the number one intent of making sure everything we do will preserve ecological integrity. In order to be ecologically conscious, one must be ecologically literate. Ecological literacy is the capacity to make informed

decisions, based on one’s knowledge, skills and values, about the future of life. We need a critical mass of ecologically conscious and ecologically literate citizens to put pressure on business, industry and government to make the ecologically informed decisions that we require from them. Often we hear the cry that one person can’t make much of a difference; however, the consumer is all powerful. If we don’t buy it, they won’t make it. The primary objective of business and industry is to sell goods. If the consumer stopped buying ecologically harmful products, business and industry would find other materials to fill the void. For example, up until the 1960s, milk was sold in returnable and reuseable glass bottles. Business and industry at that time accepted the responsibility for this approach but, after World War II, plastics started to invade our lives because they were assumed to be more convenient - the consumer didn’t have to clean, store and return them and business and industry didn’t have to manage them. Everyone could simply send them on a one-way trip to the dump where they would be out of sight and out of mind. Without a critical mass of ecologically literate citizens, we cannot raise the level of ecological consciousness required in the short amount of time we have. We need to do everything possible, now. We need to reconceptualize everything we do, now, in order to prevent our ecological systems from getting so degraded that they will no longer support us. If we are unwilling to make sacrifices now and do everything we can to make our natural systems healthy, the children of 2020 truly will be living in a nightmarish twilight. Dr. Tom Puk is a professor with the Department of Education at Lakehead University. In 2006, he created the Lifelong Ecological Conciousness Community Learning Program.

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The Slow Food Movement

Making the connection between plate and planet

the foodchain Mark Bowles

In our fast-paced society, it takes a concerted effort and a lot of patience to move slowly and appreciate the simple pleasures in life. Fast food restaurants have spread across the planet - McDonalds has over 30,000 restaurants, located in 100 countries. In recent years, they have developed “McDonald’s Express,” often co-located with gas stations, “for a world that can’t slow down.” To some people, this is a disaster. Enter Carlo Petrini, an Italian with a passion for the food and culture of his homeland. In 1986, he caught wind of plans to open a McDonald’s in the heart of Rome. He organized a protest and, although these efforts did not stop the spread of McDonalds in Italy, it started an international movement known as Slow Food. The Slow Food movement does not want to be seen as the direct antagonist of fast food although the values of the movement are in direct conflict with fast-paced lifestyles, the fast food industry and the associated methods of food production. Transforming poultry into nuggets is not consistent with the values of the movement as outlined in the Slow Food Manifesto. Although it sounds very idealistic, and even lofty, with its reference to “sensual pleasure” the Manifesto includes the defense of quiet material pleasure and the rediscovery of the “flavors and savors of regional cooking.” The movement has an environmental undercurrent and promotes biodiversity through the preservation of rare foods, traditional farming methods and traditional food preparation. The manifesto states that “Slow Food is now the only truly progressive answer” to the “fast life” that threatens our environment. There are a few Slow Food chapters (known as convivia) around Lake Superior, each with its own approach to promoting the values of the movement. A common thread amongst the Lake Superior chapters is their support of local producers and regional foods. Activities include fundraising dinners showcasing local food producers and cooks, food and wine tastings, information sharing through display booths at events, and donations of books for all ages to the public libraries. Slow Food Superior, the Thunder Bay convivium, is a volunteer group of approximately 40 members, lead by Betty Carpick. She considers their approach to advocacy to be genuine and personal with a focus on direct contact with other organizations and the public. She explained that the direction of the local convivium is to preserve food traditions and that the focus of the members is close to home. In addition, Slow Food Superior supports the participation of local representatives in Terra Madre, an international meeting that brings together food communities, cooks, academics and youth delegates to work towards increasing small-scale, traditional, and sustainable food production. Three individuals representing food producers, youth, and local cooks par-

Locally grown organic garlic - promoting locally produced food is one goal of Slow Food Superior

ticipated in Terra Madre 2008. Having attended in the past, Carpick considers participation in the conference to be a “life changing experience” that will provide the individuals with a “broader capacity to be activists in the community.” Her advice to those interested in supporting the movement is simple: “Slow down and use your senses and, by doing so you can save the planet through the food on your plate.” If you are interested in learning more about the international movement and the convivia around Lake Superior, visit for local and international links. - Michelle McChristie

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Island Lake Snowkite Exhibition Snow kiting, the winter version of kiteboarding, is one of the fastest growing new winter sports out there. The problem for many would-be kiters is finding a safe introduction to the sport. To help fill this void, the University of Minnesota Duluth Recreational Sports Outdoor Program hosts an annual snowkite exhibition on Island & Boulder Lakes, just north of Duluth. The event exists to spread knowledge and raise awareness about the sport of snowkiting. All are welcome to observe kiters in action, check out the latest gear and ask questions of certified instructors. For those ready to learn, ten bucks gets you a one hour introductory session. There are events for more experienced kiters, including a tandem kite race and time trails. After a day of kiting, participants are invited to take in some kiting movies back at the Boulder Lake Learning Centre. This year’s event is slated for February 7-8, 2009.

Bryan Hansel

For more info:

Winter Tracks Festival Gunflint Trail, Minnesota This winter, make tracks for the Gunflint Trail from February 26 – March 2, 2009 for the Gunflint Trail Association’s 5th Annual Winter Tracks Festival. The Gunflint Trail, a.k.a Cook County Road 12, begins on the North Shore of Lake Superior, in Grand Marais, MN, and winds its way through the forest for 57 miles before ending at Saganaga Lake at the Canadian/U.S. border. Winter Tracks celebrates winter with an array of indoor and outdoor activities such as dog sledding, a guided wolf howl, children’s programs including scavenger hunts and mini Olympics, workshops, sleigh rides, free cross country skiing and the “Snowboot Ball” dinner and dance. The theme for Winter Tracks 2009 is “come play like we do” and the family-oriented events will provide plenty of options to enjoy the outdoors. If you decide to take in the festivities, look for the snow sculptures that will guide you to the Trail Centre Lodge, located at “midtrail”, approximately 30 miles up the Gunflint Trail. For more information on Winter Tracks visit www.wintertracks. com or call (800) 338.6932. Superior Outdoors


Beaten Path Nordic Trails

January 17th - The Sawmill Classic Tour - 24km

A traditional ski adventure over the trails of Quetico Provincial Park $20 (All proceeds to Friends of Quetico Park) Optional group dinner Contact: Chris @ 807-597-4503 or

February 14th - The Chocolate Cup - 1.5km, 3.5km, 4.5km, and 10km

A fun, family race Valentine’s Day. Lots of categories, loads of chocolate and prizes All ages welcome. Contact: Janice @ 807-597-1561 or

March 21st - The Cross Quetico Lake Tour- 35km or 45km

Return to the roots of cross country skiing. 2009 marks the 8th annual tour across the enchanting lake and portages of Quetico Park. Contact: Chris @ 807-597-4503 or

March 29th - SKi to the Castle - 50km

Ski tour on Clearwater and White Otter Lake. Snowmobile assisted. Contact: Peter Burton @ 807-597-4306 or





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Snowcat Skiing in the Porcupine Mountains

If you are looking for a unique ski experience this winter, check out cat skiing in the Porcupine Mountains of the Upper Peninsula. Amidst the old-growth forests of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, the snowcat operation started in 2006-2007 and is a first for the midwest. The operation consists of two snowcats: one 18 passenger cat named “Curly” and a 12 passenger cat named “Moe.” The snowcats have opened access to backcountry areas lacking lift access that offer long open runs, including glades. One hundred and fifty acres of terrain are available for skiing with over 25 different runs. According to Lindsey Glieberman of Mount Bohemia, “On a powder day, [skiers can] expect nice dry snow and fresh tracks all day long. Even on non-powder days you can usually find fresh tracks in the woods.” A day of powder skiing is a dream come true for most snowboarders and skiers, something the Porkies can offer because of the vastness of the area. The terrain is challenging, mostly advanced to expert level, with some intermediate terrain on the open runs. There is a feeling of camaraderie associated with exploring a forest of powder and trees with a dozen other people. The ride up takes about nine minutes and skiers can get in about eight runs a day. Glieberman states that the support of the Department of Natural Resources was helpful in the early stages of the business. A crew and a logger cleaned out the runs in the woods to get the glades in shape for skiers and snowboarders. The area still has room to grow and Glieberman hopes to add more glade runs in the future. For more info: -Darren McChristie

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Terrace Bay Tourist Infomation Centre 1 Selkirk Drive, Terrace Bay, ON P0T 2W0 Toll Free: 1-800-968-8616 Tel:(807) 825-3315 Fax:(807) 825-9576 take_a_hike_winter_08_02.pdf

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routes D.McChristie

The Sleeping Giant Loppet There is more than just a name change planned for the race formally known as the Sibley Ski Tour. After 17 years, the former organizer, Diane Ambro has turned over the reins of this celebrated event to Peter Gallager. Peter is a resident of Thunder Bay that has been involved with the race in several capacities over the years and is a board member of Thunder Bay Nordic Trails. Along with the name change to the Sleeping Giant Loppet, organizers are putting a new spin on the event for its 32nd year including the addition of a separate 50 kilometre race for classic skiers, a 35 kilometre race, and a purse of $1000 for the top male and female finishers in the 50 kilometre event. In addition, racers in the Loppet can use their time to qualify for the American Birkebeiner, known as the “Birkie�, a renowned race in northern Wisconsin that is also one of the largest in North America.

The name change is in part to match the name of the provincial park in which the race occurs. Sibley Provincial Park was renamed Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in 1988 and the park is best known for the picturesque landform known as the Sleeping Giant. In past years, the goal of event organizers has been to top 1000 participants and, although they have come close on a few occasions, the four digit number has never been reached. With the new name, event, and prizes, the expectation is that 2009 will be the landmark year. The Sleeping Giant Loppet will be held at the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park on March 7, 2009. For more information or to register, visit -Michelle McChristie

Lake Marie Louise, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park - home of the 2009 Sleeping Giant Loppet.

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The growth of ‘New School’ skiing If you have ever felt the urge to ski backwards off a jump at your local hill, you are not alone. There is a growing trend of new school skiers hitting the slopes of late. Built on the style and attitude of snowboarding, new school, or freeskiing, began in the 90’s when freestyle skiers felt there were too many restrictions on the sport. With limits on the number of flips and a ban on inverted tricks in mogul competitions, freestyle skiers were looking for a new way to develop their sport. Utilizing the same terrain parks and half pipes that were once meant only for snowboarders, new school skiers began to move the sport forward. Ski manufacturers caught on to this trend and today there are a multitude of twin tip skis to help you get into the park. Twin-tip skis are more flexible than the average ski, and, as the name implies, they are turned up at both ends to allow for forward and backward skiing. They are designed for skiing on man made features such as boxes, rails, jumps and halfpipes. According to Kristoff Kardas of The Ski Exchange, twin-tip skis make up almost 90% of new ski sales. But it’s not just the youth market who are thinking backwards. With every major ski brand now carrying a variety of twin-tip models, many are switching over for something new. Regardless of the reason, twin-tip skis are making it cool to be a skier again.

Jules Ameel

Twin Tips

Nathan Eigenfeld

Alexandra Erickson

-D. McChristie Superior Outdoors



Heather Sinnott’s sketches and paintings reflect the power and energy of the lake

Artist Profile: Heather Sinnott The lake is a fitting destination for the pursuit of an artist’s life. Formally trained in Windsor (BFA, 1978) and Amsterdam (Arts and Crafts Fellowship at the Rietveld Academy, 1981), Heather Sinnott has come to live in an area teeming with inspiration for a landscape painter and writer. In 1998, Heather Sinnott and a group of friends planned a kayaking trip on Lake Superior. One by one, the friends backed out and she was left with the choice to follow their lead or travel on her own. With an adventurous spirit and a burning desire to try kayaking on Superior after years of canoeing inland waters, she decided to go alone. She looked up Naturally Superior Adventures in Wawa and, after some basic instruction, headed out on a guided kayaking trip. She was immediately hooked and the following summers were spent on Superior. Heather paddled, camped, sketched and painted – usually on her own because she prefers to travel on her own terms and let the rhythm of nature dictate her schedule. After a few years, she decided to rearrange her priorities. She quit her job and relocated from Ottawa to Wawa. She now lives in Goulais River, a ten-minute walk from Lake Superior. Heather speaks of the energies of water and wind and the effect these soft things have on what we might see as a hard landscape. She has an appreciation for the power of the lake; 24

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its “clear light and a real resonance to the energies here.” While paddling solo, Heather uses media she can work up over hours of changing light and conditions – pencil, pen and ink, watercolour and acrylic (she gave up on oils as they attract bears and require too much time to dry). She prefers to spend two to four days in one place, and often emerges with 14 x 17 inch sketches strapped to her kayak. Some of her favourite locations are the east end of Michipicoten Island, and Cascade Falls on the mainland near Otter Island. Having spent almost 300 days on the lake, 250 of them solo, Heather’s vision of Superior’s power includes the notion of respect, and realizing “one moves when the lake allows one to pass.” She has connected with a community of paddlers in her travels, seeing a special quality that the lake either attracts or inspires. She has also connected with the north shore’s parks, and has been artist in residence in both Pukaskwa National Park, focusing on landscape, and at Lake Superior Provincial Park, where she focused on botanicals. In the summer, Heather works at the parks as an art instructor and finds joy in passing on the love and appreciation for art to children. -Michelle McChristie If you are interested in seeing more of Heather’s art, she has a collection on permanent display in the administration building at Pukaskwa and exhibits at a variety of other locations. Heather can be contacted at


Blacklock: Minnesota’s North Shore (hardcover with DVD) by Craig Blacklock

In Craig Blacklock’s latest book, Minnesota’s North Shore (Blacklock Photography Galleries, 2007), there has been obvious care to produce an immaculate monument. From the solid silver blue cover that reminds us of the colour of Superior’s waters that seems so distinctive among all of the great lakes, to the intent, it seems, to demonstrates an encyclopedic eye for the flora, fauna and landscape of the land between Duluth and the Canadian Border. It includes primroses and cedar, all of the magical moments among forest floor plants, articulations of the small and large-scale environments through which he has journeyed. Most of the 175 photographs are made with film over the course of twenty years, and about twenty per cent are digital. This book, which includes a three-hour DVD, is the fourteenth for Blacklock, an award winning photographer and inde-

pendent publisher of art books, with long ties to this region. The accompanying DVD is something that you could put in front of a fussy baby, TV addicted child or an uptight adult to calm their heart rates. Exquisite film of water over rocks, water over ice, clouds over water and birds over four seasons of shore are accompanied by ambient music. I preferred the epilogue’s music by Peter Mayer, with it’s lyric “…hands and eyes that see. These are deep mysteries.” But this book is also more than an artistic statement. The last photograph shows a lopsided rectangular blot of a lakeside property that Blacklock is using to illustrate the threat to Minnesota’s shores. It begs the question: did the home’s builders have anyone’s interest in mind other than their own? This book is a cry against development that threatens the uninterrupted vistas that still exist in the area, and his arsenal of tools is persuasive. What the world has in this stretch of shoreline is a paradise of wilderness, and he is firm in stating that it is “essential for your well being.” His father had protected his own private property in the region, stating that, “Some places are simply so special they should belong to everyone.” This book should belong to everyone. Blacklock calls for all to support the Minnesota Land Trust’s North Shore Protection Initiative (www.mnland. org), which already has 17 projects in place. This book is gorgeous on both fronts of art and advocacy, and is well recommended.

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Andrew Slade covers 35 cross country trail systems from Duluth-Superior to Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail on Minnesota’s north shore. Complete with 44 detailed maps, trail descriptions and difficulty ratings, this book is a must have for skiers of all abilities who are looking to explore all the north shore has to offer. 7-1500 James St. S Thunder Bay, ON 807-577-2656 Superior Outdoors



John-Paul Marion

March 18 1995 - German veteran Jens Weissflog, one of the all time great ski jumpers, flies to a bronze medal on the K-120 at the world Nordic Championships in Thunder Bay. Jens successfully made the transition from jumping with the skis parallel, to the modern “V� style winning olympic and world championship medals in both styles.


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hunder Bay Ontario has hosted just one premier international sporting event in its illustrious history of sport. In 1995 the world came to Thunder Bay for the World Nordic Ski Championships, a celebration of the best athletes in ski jumping, cross country skiing and nordic combined. These games were held at the all but forgotten Big Thunder Sports Park. What began as a Norwegian nordic dream in 1963 when Knute Hansen saw a natural site for large hill ski jumps on Mount McRae, climaxed with a hill record on the K 120 with the last jump of the ‘95 games by a 17 year old Norwegian.

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NWO Sport Hall of Fame Archives


The Hansens constructing the A-frame chalet that still stands today

Little Thunder

Steve Collins at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics



The big jumps - 120m & 90m

1st ownership change. New owners change name to Mt. Norway Ski Area and leases land to Big Thunder Ski Jumps LImited . Work begins on the 70m and 90m ski jumps

1980 Steve Collins sets what many believe was a world record jump of 128m at Big Thunder.

JP Marion






Construction of 70m and 90m jumps complete.

2nd ownership change. Operates as Sundance Northwest Resorts.

The province of Ontario sets out to develop the site as a national training centre.

3rd ownership change - Transferred to the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation. Over the next five years, there are substantial improvements to facility including: additional cross-country trails, ballet slope, aeriel slope, 64m jump and Little Thunder - 10m, 20m, 37m jumps.

promotional poster from first competition

1975 First competition held - Canadian Ski Jumping Championships. Big Thunder will host 39 World Cups and 50 National Championships over the next 20 years. NWO Sport Hall of Fame Archives

Northwestern Ontario Sport Hall of Fame Archives

Knute and Thor Hansen construct the first jumps at the site. Operates as Little Norway Ski Area.

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Canadian Championships 1978

John Gibson

NWO Sport Hall of Fame

The cross-country ski chalet under construction circa 1994


Seventeen year old Tommy Ingebrigtsen on his way to the gold medal on the K-120 at the 1995 games with the final jump of the competition. The last jump to this day, it was also the longest ever at Big Thunder


NWO Sport Hall of Fame Archives

Thunder Bay hosts 800 athletes from 40 countries for 10 days during the 1995 World Nordic Ski Championships. The games are a success despite warm temperatures and problems finding sponsors.

John Gibson

Thunder Bay awarded bid to host the 1995 World Nordic Ski Championships. Significant developments take place during the lead up to the games including: lighting of the big jumps, midstation charlift access, cross-country ski stadium and chalet, additional ski trails now totalling 50 km including 15km lit, substantial snowmaking capabilities and freestyle aerial pool.

Action from 1995 games

Plastic-covered 64m ski jump

2008 Big Thunder hosts the Pre Worlds.

NWO Sport Hall of Fame Archives

1994 Pre World Championships

Two years after its completion, a business Under the Mike Harris govenment’s The Ontario Realty viability study is released “Common Sense Revolution” funding is to the public. Five opCorporation cut to Big Thunder. Ministry of Citizentions are considered: operates the site ship, Culutre and Recreation close Big partially revitalized ski on an interm Thunder on June 30th, 1996. management plan. facility, fully revitalized ski facility, four season The sign that greets visitors at Big Thunder today tourism and recreational facility, ski village and a use of force and terrain training facility. The study concludes the four season tourism and recreational facility would require the lowest development costs.





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During the 1995 Ontario provincial election campaign, conservative leader Mike Harris deemed Big Thunder a ‘cash cow’. With his party’s surprise victory it did not take long for his common sense revolution to cancel provincial funding to the sports park, despite the fact that the world championships had run successfully only months earlier. Thirteen years later, the Friends of Big Thunder are moving closer to their goal of resurrecting Big Thunder as a multi use sport facility. When Knute Hansen, a jumper himself, saw the possibility of a new ski jump in the Lakehead, he acquired the land and began to clear a ski area to become known as Little Norway. His passion to construct his dream led to the design and layout of the land before financial difficulties forced him to sell. Thus, Big Thunder Ski Jumps Inc. came into being with the provincial government leasing the site and providing funding to complete construction of the 120 and 90 metre ski jumps. While the ski jumps were operated independently from the private ski hill the alpine area changed hands through the 1970s and 80s. Finally in 1985 the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation took over the mountain and began the journey to create the Big Thunder National Training Centre. In its heyday Big Thunder was bustling with activity as fifty plus kilometres of cross-country ski trails were built as well as freestyle sites for ballet, moguls, and aerials - including a pool for summer aerial training. One of the alpine runs was re-contoured to meet standards in order to hold FIS points races and the construction of permanent “small hill” ski jumps -10, 20, 37, and 64m. The equipping of the 37 and 64 m with porcelain and plastic for summer training iced the cake for a thriving ski


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Veteran Canadian jumper Jason Myslicki

community. The clubs that trained here from all disciplines enjoyed a well maintained sports facility, but the success of Big Thunder was not without controversy. Some people in Thunder Bay, including other ski area operators, felt that Big Thunder was unfairly subsidized. As a training centre the facility was not open to the general public but in the early 1990s, with the bid for the Nordic Games securely in hand the alpine skiing was opened to the public. This move was followed with a “skiing in the schools” program, which created new competition for other ski hills, but offered kids the option of alpine, cross-country, ski jumping, snowshoeing and even natural luge. It is still debatable whether these were wise or fair decisions but while Big Thunder operated it injected millions of dollars into the local economy. As a routine stop on the World Cup of Ski Jumping circuit, and host of many national ski jump championships and the well known Thunder Bay Open, which always attracted young jumpers from the U.S. Midwest, much money was injected into the area aside from government funded operating costs. The Friends of Big Thunder are pressing forward with the assistance of local members of parliament, in an effort to build a business plan in conjunction with all groups and interested parties to try and remove the padlocks guarding this local treasure. President Paul Degiacomo states that the cross country would be the obvious first choice to get up and running with the hopes of opening the small hills not far behind in order to revive the original spirit of Big Thunder. There is also tremendous potential for mountain biking, cross country running and the formerly famous fall maple hiking tours, highlighting the most northerly stands of sugar maple amidst some

of the best cross country ski trails on the continent. Both Reijo Puiras (owner of Lappe Nordic Centre) and Paul Higgins (chairman of Thunder Bay Nordic Trails ) feel that opening Big Thunder would only benefit the nordic skiing community in Thunder Bay and beyond. Paul Higgins speaks of the variety and beauty of the Thunder Bay landscape lending itself as a mecca for nordic skiing while Reijo says “ if you want Myrtle beach, make Myrtle beach.” Clearly, in the crosscountry community competition comes second to love of the sport. Big Thunder currently sits idle as a closed beach in a glorious nordic scene. The ski jumps are legendary to the current crop of young jumpers in Canada. Despite being too young - except Olympic veteran, hopeful 2010 competitor, and Thunder Bay native, Jason Myslicki - to have soared on these dormant hills, they know the special place Big Thunder holds in ski jumping lore. Steve Collins, Horst Bulau and Tauno Kayko all trained here and had great success around the world, leading the way for a burgeoning jumping nation back in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Steve Collins speaks of the special place Big Thunder was to the ski jumping world when he asks, “ Why do you think jumpers liked it here?’” With a response suggesting great hill preparation he smiles and says, “ yea, but it’s the air... you can really fly here, there’s a lot of thermal drafts. When I jumped all the jumpers in the world looked forward to coming here.” Tommy Ingebrigtsen felt it when he became a national hero in Norway with his gold medal triumph on the “big hill” (K 120), the last jump of the 1995 world championships. His winning jump was a full ten metres past the longest jump of the day and nine metres beyond a longstanding hill record, shared by Steve Collins. This is still the last jump ever on the large hills and perhaps it was a special retirement gift, to go out on top of the game, but no one knew it then. Perhaps with a lot more prodding Big Thunder may fly again. John-Paul Marion is a freelance writer and photographer living in Lappe, Ontario.

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Rob Mullen and Gary McGuffin pull toboggans across the 49th parallel into Nipigon Bay, leaving the most northerly fresh water port in North America. -St. Ignace Trek 2008

WOODSMOKE CANVAS and ICE the allure of traditional winter camping words & photos by Chris Gibbs It’s January 1998. The temperature is -19 degrees below zero, and I have just set up my nylon tent for a weekend ski outing along the north shore. It’s hard work making sure the tent is secure and everything is in place. My fleece hat is covered in frost and the mid-layers are damp from perspiration. I fire up my ultralight naptha stove and begin to prepare our evening supper. My wife and I stare out at the beauty of Lake Superior as the sun sets and the temperature begins to plummet. Before I am able to finish my meal it begins to freeze to the bottom of my bowl. Teeth chattering, I say to my wife, “Honey, I am not going to be a man about this; we are going to freeze to death tonight.” She agrees and we pull the plug, semi-packing our equipment and retreating to a motel in Grand Marais, salvaging a fun ski weekend. Sound familiar?

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(above) Gary McGuffin hydrates in the middle of Nipigon Bay on his way to crossing 14 miles of ice to St. Ignace Island on Lake Superior. (left) Packing up the tent on McKeechem Lake. - St. Ignace Trek 2008


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(above) Jon Farchmin and Bill White walk between wolf tracks on McKenzie Bay, Quetico Lake. (below) Bill White struggles in deep snow to pull his traditional wood toboggan over a portage. - Quetico Crossing 2006

Fast forward to January 2008. Two other winter campers and I snowshoe into beautiful Frost Lake in the Boundary Water Canoe Area. We sit in our canvas tent listening to our VHF weather radio which is predicting temperatures to be -30 to -40 F. Wind chill warnings are in effect for the area reaching -50 to -70 F. We turn the radio off and continue our conversation, listening to our wood-burning stove crackle, and eating our chocolate chip mint ice cream in a comfortable 50 degree tent. This is what you can do while enjoying the beauty of northern Minnesota and Canada utilizing traditional winter camping methods during the heart of winter. Traditional winter camping is nothing new. Utilizing a canvas tent and woodburning stove hauled on a long, narrow toboggan with snowshoes has been done for hundreds of years. Now, titanium woodburning stoves, free-standing lightweight cotton canvas tents, high density plastic toboggans and aluminum snowshoes are commonly used. It can comfortably take you and your camera places seldom seen by others during the winter months. Traditional winter camping allows you to camp year round and to comfortably enjoy a time of the year when most trade their tents and back packs for solid walls and modern heating systems. Lakes and rivers turn into a frozen network of highways welcoming the winter enthusiast to explore endlessly. Everything is frozen in place. It offers experiences compared to no other season. About the time the pure solitude envelops you, animal tracks left in the snow reassure you that you are not the only living, breathing creature fortunate to be in that place. Superior Outdoors


(above) A glowing winter tent under a moonit sky offers warmth and comfort on Cherokee Lake, BWCA. (below) Steve Cox models an elaborate ‘snotscicle’ while working on camp chores at -20F. (right) Fresh chocolate chip cookies baked in a simple reflector oven attached to a cook stove. -Quetico Crossing 2006


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Traditional winter camping offers fishing opportunities in lakes that seldom see a fishing lure. - Nipigon Bay, St. Ignace Island Trek 2008

Even for the novice, base camping during the winter offers untracked snowshoe and ski outings, all the while knowing a heated tent awaits your return. For the more ambitious, traditional winter camping can take you across the Quetico or onto Lake Superior. Yes, it’s hard work pulling a loaded toboggan through deep snow. Other challenges include finding a suitable camping spot protected from the wind, cutting and splitting firewood, and drilling or chiseling a hole through thick ice for water.

But as you do these things, you are constantly reminded of where you are and where you can go. You look forward to drying out and warming up, and it puts a big smile on your face. If you have not already discovered traditional winter camping, look into it and see where it can take you. Chris Gibbs is a freelance photojournalist living in Wisconsin.

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(above) Winter walker Jon Farchmin ponders who may have created these pictographs in Lac La Croix. Could they have been winter walkers? (below) Jon Farchim enjoys a hot cup of cocoa along the picturesque Curtain Falls, BWCA. - Trek Along The Border 2007

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Snowflea Experience

backcountry skiing in the Algoma Highlands words and photos by Tarmo Poldmaa


wenty-five years ago, three brothers from upper Michigan, Chris, Joel and Mark Stoppel, visited my brother Enn and his wife Robin at their well established B&B in the hills of Goulais River, near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The visit radically changed their lives, at least their winter lives. The brothers had come to ski, but their equipment was unlike traditional downhill gear. They had leather boots and cable bindings with free heels - they were telemark skiers. The Stoppel brothers took Superior Outdoors


Enn Poldmaa and Cedar Snowbounder enjoying some Algoma Country powder

“ONE YEAR WE HAD 40 CONSECUTIVE one look out the back door at the B&B and said, “Hey Enn, you’ve got some great hills behind your house. Why don’t we go look for some slopes to ski down?” Of course, there was no shortage of hills, but there was also no shortage of trees. Being persistent Scandinavians, they brushed out one particular slope, and removed the small shrubs and thickets to open up the spaces between mature trees for some excellent glade skiing. Tele-One was born - the first named run at what would become one of the best backcountry telemark skiing areas in the Midwest. While the Stoppel brothers were introducing telemark skiing to the hills of Goulais River, I was living in Ottawa with my other brother Alar. That same winter, we attended a workshop about telemark skiing at a small local ski hill. When we decided to free our heels from our conventional downhill bindings, our winter lifestyle also changed radically. It has always struck me as being funny that two sets of brothers donned telemark skis and were subsequently consumed with the telemark passion. Was this the result of a deep seeded Scandinavian gene, or some kind of planetary alignment and bizarre cosmic shift? The location of the Bellevue Valley B&B is ideal for telemark skiing. Enn Poldmaa and Robin MacIntyre established the B&B in the winter of 1985. Their love of the outdoors in all seasons and access to an incredible landscape straight out 42

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their back door has made their place a haven for many skiers. The location is strategic in terms of the snow as well. It is in the heart of the snow-belt along the Algoma Highlands that border the northeast shore of Lake Superior. In fact, they have the world’s largest snowmaker in their backyard - Lake Superior. The Colorado Lows that sweep dry warm air up from the Midwest pick up moisture as they cross Lake Superior and the highlands are the dumping grounds. For skiers this means powder and lots of it. “One year we had 40 straight days of powder skiing” explains Enn. In the years that followed the initial visit of the Stoppel brothers, my brother and I moved back to the area and the interest in telemark skiing grew amongst the locals. Trail clearing became a bit more organized, and the Stoppel brothers and their families became regulars, not only in the winter, but also in the fall to help clear trails. One run expanded to into two, then three, and then four. Equipment changed from the traditional leather boots to plastics with buckles and the skis started getting fatter. The skiers became leaner, hungry for more challenges, and the slopes got higher, steeper and more technical. The skiers also become more plentiful as girlfriends, wives, sons, daughters, friends and even the kid next door came out to ski. The wave was not hard to catch. It gives adage to the old saying “if you build it, they will come.”

(clockwise from top left) Knee deep at last year’s Snowflea; Extreme uphill skiing; The gang taking a break on the way up.




he backcountry ski area surrounding the Bellevue Valley B&B has expanded and now covers approximately 500 hectares, five major peaks, with over a dozen ski areas that range from beginner to black diamond. To accommodate the expansion of the ski areas, Robin and Enn acquired a Recreational Land Use Permit from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to expand beyond their own property. By acquiring this land use permit they prevented a large section of crown land in their area from being logged for firewood. They explained to authorities that the tourist revenue that could be generated by keeping the forest intact would far outweigh the short term profits of a small temporary logging operation. The Snowflea Telefest was born in 1996 as a weekend where teleskiers from around the area would converge for a weekend of skiing and music. It was also an excuse to have a party and celebrate the hard work volunteers had put into trail clearing. It didn’t take long for the event to grow into a gathering of 35- 40 avid telemark skiers, some from as far away as Colorado. Musical guests have included great Canadian singer songwriters like Stephen Fearing, Catherine Wheatley, the Pierre Schryer Band, Rick Charbonneau and, most recently, The Wild Turkeys. The Snowflea Telefest is traditionally held on the third weekend of February. Its namesake heralds one of the first signs of spring - the hatching of the mysterious insect called the snow

Snowfleas jump about on the surface of the snow

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sequence by D.McChristie


The Wild Turkey’s perform with Enn Poldmaa on the mandolin after a stellar day of skiing.

flea which isn’t a flea at all. Snow fleas belong to an insect family called springtails and have been called fleas because they look and act like fleas jumping about on the surface of the snow on a warm winter day, not much different from the behaviour of the skiers that come to the telefest. There are four basic activities to a typical Snowflea Telefest - skiing, eating and drinking, sauna sessions and music jams and basically over the course of the weekend you rotate through these activities over and over again until the weekend is done. Today the range of the abilities of those that attend extends right across the board, from newbies practicing backcountry basics and having workshops, to the old guard searching for the steepest and deepest chutes. A common thread holding these skiers together is their love of the outdoors and the pursuit of a freedom not found at a traditional ski hill. There are a couple of sayings we have in the backcountry, “you have to earn your turns” and, “it’s a crime not to climb.” The Snowflea Telefest tradition enters its 13th season this year starting February 20-22nd and rumor has it that The Wild Turkeys are coming back. For more information on the festival visit Tarmo Poldmaa is a teacher and freelance writer. He lives in Wawa, ON


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The HISTORY Legend has it that the telemark turn was the creation of a man named Sondre Norheim, who used it in a skiing competition held in 1868 in a region Norway called Telemark. Sondre blew his competitors out of the water and changed the art of skiing forever. (For more history of telemark skiing visit

The TURN Telemark turns are led with the heel flat on the outside ski (the downhill ski at the end of the turn), while the inside (uphill) ski is pulled beneath the skier’s body with a flexed knee and raised heel. Some people refer to this as the tele stagger step not to be confused with a staggering telemarker , who has rubber legs by the end of a hard day of skiing.

The GEAR Modern day telemark skiing has evolved quickly from the early days of skinny wooden skis and leather boots, to fat, shaped-skis, lightweight bindings and plastic buckle boots with an articulating toe.

The DILEMMA Skins and kick wax are the two choices backcountry skiers have to get to the top. Both have drawbacks: SKINS - Mandatory for steep ascents. The skins allow your skis to move in one direction, giving you awesome grip for climbing steep hills. Most users have to remove their skis to take off the skins when they reach the top. WAX - Great for touring on relatively gentle climbs. Having the correct wax for the snow conditions is crucial. The drawback is less glide on the way down.

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RAINCOAST A song cycle about the Northwest coast of British Columbia and Alaska




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A Jump Start John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon Duluth, Minnesota photo by Kit Larson


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Snowshoe Hare Murillo, ON photo by Jan Luit

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Chris McKeever, Free Skier Duluth, Minnesota photo by Nathan Eigenfeld


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Unknown Surfer Lake Superior photo by Jules Ameel

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Bryce Brown on White Lightening Mount McKay, Thunder Bay, ON photo by Jarron Childs


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Snowkiting 101 Island Lake, Minnesota photo by Darren McChristie

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Early Winter Skate Lappe, ON photo by John-Paul Marion


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Ice Plates Lake Superior photo by Julian Holenstein

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Tiffany Jarva

Kara climbing Cascade at the 2008 Nipigon Ice Climbing Festival


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Climbing Nipigon WHERE ICE MEETS SKY Tfffany Jarva

by Tiffany Jarva

“Try walking like a cowboy.”

Leah Pierce edges away from us, her crampons digging into the slightly crunchy snow, her exaggerated bowlegged swagger punctuating each step. After her snow-walking crampon tip, Pierce, with a tool in each hand, and carabiners dangling from her harness, heads towards the base of Orient Bay’s Cascade Falls, one of many ice climbing spots near Nipigon, Ontario. After a long cold winter, it almost feels like a balmy near-zero degrees in the sun (it’s more like -10 C), a little chillier in the shade, but not too bad. Dreading the possibility of minus thirty on my first ice climbing venture, I’m personally thrilled. “We have never climbed in such warm weather before,” helper Julie Sachs gushes. “This is lovely.” It is the first day of March. Rolling into late morning, the sun is bright against the spangled snow and ice. We are six women, four beginners and two instructors, taking part on day one of the annual Nipigon Ice Festival. Volunteer instructors and coordinators Sachs and Pierce have driven the seven plus hours from Twin Cities St. Paul and Minneapolis to participate. “This is one of the best places in North America to climb, period,” I’m told by Pierce. Sachs agrees. “The multitude of climbs and easy accessibility make it an absolutely amazing place.” In the Orient Bay area, there are said to be more than 120 ice climbs along 20 kilometers of highway, with very easy access, boasting the highest concentration in the world. Yes, that’s right, the world. Every year on the first weekend in March, ice climbers, predominantly from the US and Canada, travel to Nipigon, a small northwestern Ontario resource town probably better known for fishing derbies and the ups-and-downs of mill life than as a world-class ice climbing destination. “Not only is the climbing exceptional,” says Sachs “but the people are really down-to-earth and nice. It’s not super competitive. It’s more about having a good time.” A joint coordinated effort between climbers from Minnesota and the Nipigon area, the festival includes gear demos, evening slide shows and social events, and of course, the reason why I’m here: the free climbing clinics, ranging from beginner to advanced with female only, male only and coed groups. Superior Outdoors



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Julie Sachs Tiffany Jarva

Practicing ice tool placment

Tools of the trade Tiffany Jarva

Not only is it free to register, but Sachs also points out that this festival is great because top ropes are set up in advance: a bonus because rope and anchoring skills take time to develop. “I climbed for four years before I was setting my own anchor,” explains Pierce. “Having an anchor and rope ready saves so much time and effort, allowing us more time to focus on teaching the basic climbing techniques and having lots of fun.” It’s about having fun I remind myself. Having never tried, I’m truly a newbie. I try to ignore the tumbling waves in my stomach. The evening before climbing, I focus on the rhythm of the twelve-year-old hockey tournament players scraping and pushing their mini-sticks up and down the hallway outside my hotel room. I wake up early in the dark morning and re-pack my bag twice to make sure I have the proper wicking layers, harness, the extra down jacket (highly recommended to keep warm during rest periods), gators, extra socks, hat, gloves, mitts, sunglasses, sunscreen, lunch, a thermos with hot chocolate and lots of water and snacks. I adjust my crampons to fit my borrowed climbing boots from Thunder Bay’s Wilderness Supply, one of the festival’s sponsors. “I personally like the complexity associated with ice climbing,” says Pierce. “It’s not just about climbing. You need to know how to layer to keep warm, what food and snacks to bring to keep your energy levels up. I definitely think it adds an extra element that’s different from rock climbing.” With an intense blue sky crowning the Cascade’s bright wall of ice, Pierce calls “On belay” to Sachs, indicating that she is ready to start climbing. Before heading up though, Pierce must wait for a response. “Belay on,” states Sachs. Pierce can now proceed up the icy wall of one of the area’s most popular ascents with its relatively easy grade and extremely accessible location. Other popular moderate climbs in the area include Tempest, Gomar Falls, and Tears of Joy. Obsession or Compulsion are good for intermediate climbers and for the more advanced check out the classic Parallax or the daunting Reflection Wall. Earlier, Pierce and Sachs demonstrate the proper way to swing tools into the ice, how to double-check each other’s harness, rope, and knots and finally now how to belay properly. “Proper, clear communication is so important,” instructs Pierce. “We have to rely on how we communicate with each other in order to keep safe.” Climbing commands are usually short standard phases that climbers agree on before initiating a climb. Once it is known that Pierce is ready to climb, she now demonstrates the basics. Think triangle she tells us: swing one arm up in the centre with your tool, feet centered underneath, with lowered heels. Lowering heels helps to leverage the front points farther into the ice. Push your body close to the ice. Swing the tool into the ice. Kick in toes, plant front points, stand. Make a triangle. Swing tool. Kick in toes and so on. Pierce makes it look easy. She climbs higher. I grind my teeth, watching and hopefully learning. I worry about falling. “Tomorrow is going to be great. You are going to have so much fun,” reassures my teaching acquaintance Natasha PangAllard. It’s Ice Fest opening night at Branch 32, a typical nononsense, no-frills Royal Canadian Legion building with the exception of the muralist Dan Sawatsky’s The Logger hugging its exterior. It is here that climbers will meet throughout the

Putting on crampons

Tiffany Jarva

Tiffany Jarva on her first attempt at climbing Cascades

weekend. I’m here to check out the evening’s climbing-related slide show on alpinist Alex Lowe’s Khumbu Climbing School Program based in Nepal, and also to meet up with PangAllard because she’s lending me her extra harness and pair of crampons. Immediately hooked to the sport and now after ice climbing for a few years, Pang-Allard is registered in the morning’s advanced clinic for the first time. “If I can do it with my fear of heights, you’ll be fine.” On my first attempt up, I remind myself that I’m not afraid of heights and think triangle, triangle, triangle. I don’t remember to say the proper command when ready. Sachs, who is belaying me, needs to prompt me. I have only one ice tool and I regret this decision almost immediately. It was suggested that we try to use one tool first to really get the technique down properly, but I’m feeling a little unbalanced. The ice doesn’t seem to be cooperating with my style of crampon (only one spike at the front), and I also quickly realize that I’m not too efficient placing the tool. I’m not getting any great thunk sounds when the axe hits into the ice. I practice my swing over and over again, trying to get it to connect. It finally does. I think triangle and position my feet underneath. I push my body in closer to the ice, and then don’t want to move again. From below, Sachs reassures me that I’m doing fine. After a few movements across and up, and after numerous unsuccessful attempts trying to get the ice tool to stick, I’m done. I’m too tense. I worry about getting the screaming barfies, a common side effect of ice climbing when the warm blood returns to your hands after gripping the ice tools. I have heard stories about people vomiting after a climb due to severe barfies. The trick is to not death-grip the tools; rest hands often, and shake

them to keep the blood circulating. Logically, I’m in no danger of getting the barfies as I have only been climbing for a matter of minutes and the temperature is comfortable. But sucking up too much energy due to nerves, and putting my ego aside, I decide to come down for a rest. I’m lucky if I’ve climbed ten feet. I feel slightly defeated. On my second attempt, I don’t get much further. Apparently I’m not feeling the rhythm. “I rock climbed first and didn’t want to try ice climbing because it looked too scary,” admits Pierce. “But then I tried it and it was just awesome.” Pierce believes that it’s quicker to progress on ice, compared to rock. “If you can get the rhythm down it’s not tough to keep improving.” Beginner climber Kara Arnold agrees. “Once you get into the rhythm and the ice feels good it’s like bang, bang, bang, and before you know it you’re near the top.” Arnold had participated in one other clinic before today: a beginner’s group with the Alpine Club on the backside of Thunder Bay’s Mt. McKay. “It was great. They provided all the equipment except my boots along with so much experience and encouragement.” On this outing, Arnold is one of our beginner superstars, almost making it to the top of the 40-metre wall of ice. “Even though this is just my second time, I feel very confident. I’m not scared.” Admitting that she’s hooked, Arnold plans to continue with the sport. “I love the smell of ice. As soon as you get past ten to fifteen feet you’re in your own space, in your own world where you can connect to all your senses. Nothing else matters. You are truly living in that moment.” Also in contrast to rock climbing, Pierce says that what she loves about ice climbing is the ability to create hand and foot holds. Arnold agrees. “For me rock climbing is a little more challenging because you need to use Superior Outdoors


Tiffany Jarva

Leah making it look easy on Cascades


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Tiffany Jarva

Kit Larson

your hands and feet. When ice climbing you have these solid tools that you can rely on and they help you out so much.” Determined not to give up too soon, I take the advice of fellow beginner climber Naomi Esquega and try the other side of the wall for my third attempt. I have moved from the darker side in the shade where the ice is more brittle to the warmer, sunnier side. It’s a brand new world. The ice is softer and it’s easier to get a good hold with the ice tools. I have removed a layer of clothing, and the sun is beating softly on my shoulders. I can see and hear water underneath. At one point, water trickles over my gloved hand. I practice resting off the ice, leaning back in my harness on the rope, relying on Pierce who is belaying me. I feel perfectly safe. Fear no longer exists and I really think I’m starting to feel the rhythm Arnold and Pierce have mentioned. Perhaps mine isn’t bang, bang, bang, maybe more pitter, pitter, pat, but it exists. I smell sun on ice and a smile creeps over my face. And it is in this moment when I glance up to where ice meets sky that I realize why people keep coming back: the addictive desire to reach the top. Tiffany Jarva is a teacher and freelance writer living in Thunder Bay.

Staying warm between climbs

*Based on Transport Canada estimated fuel consumption rating of 4.8 L/100 km (highway) for the 2009 Jetta TDI Clean Diesel equipped with manual transmission. City rating is 6.8 L/100 km. Actual fuel consumption may vary based on driving conditions, driver habits and vehicle’s additional equipment. **Base MSRP of a new 2009 Jetta TDI Clean Diesel / Jetta Wagon TDI Clean Diesel with manual transmission. MSRP of models shown: $32,098/$33,999 for Jetta TDI Highline / Jetta Wagon TDI Highline with silver 18" Karthoum accessory wheels. $1,335 freight and PDI, license, insurance, options, admin./reg. fees, applicable taxes and any dealer charges extra. Dealer may sell for less. Supplies limited. See dealer for details. “Volkswagen”, the Volkswagen logo, “Jetta” and “TDI” are registered trademarks of Volkswagen AG. © 2008 Volkswagen Canada.

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*Based on Transport Canada estimated fuel consumption rating of 4.8 L/100 km (highway) for the 2009 Jetta TDI Clean Diesel equipped with manual transmission. City rating is 6.8 L/100 km. Actual fuel consumption may vary based on driving conditions, driver habits and vehicle’s additional equipment. **Base MSRP of a new 2009 Jetta TDI Clean Diesel / Jetta Wagon TDI Clean Diesel with manual transmission. MSRP of models shown:


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SuperiorOutdoors event listing Running & Snowshoeing December 6 Santa Shuffle, Thunder Bay, ON The annual Santa Shuffle Fun Run & Elf Walk is held across North America and raises funds for the Salvation Army. For run locations visit com, or contact (807)344-7575, December 13 Jingle Bell Run, Duluth, MN This is a 5K race that starts at the College of Saint Scholastica, Burns Wellness Commons and is a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation. Contact Liz Truax, (651)644-4108,, http:// duluthjbr.kintera.orgis January 11 Bear Stomp, Thunder Bay, ON The 2nd annual Bear Stomp Snowshoe Race will be held at Lappe Nordic Centre with 5 and 10 km events. Contact (807)344-7575,, January 16 Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run, International Falls, MN The race is one of the events of “Icebox Days,” the community’s winter carnival. The race includes a 5 and 10K. Contact (800)325-5766 January 17 Northwoods Snowshoe Championships, Duluth, MN Competitors in this event have ranged in age from 9 to 79 and all ages and abilities are welcome. The event includes a marathon, half marathon, and 10K. Contact Barb Van Skike (320)838-3383,, February 7 Twin Cities Snowshoe Shuffle, Minneapolis, MN This certified 5 and 10K race is for all ages and all abilities. A Fun course will be set up for kids. This event is a United States Snowshoe Association regional qualifier event. Contact (612)781-6011 or 787-4000,, February 14 Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe, Tofte, MN Come out to the Oberg Mountain Trailhead near Tofte; a 2km section of the Sugarbush ski trail and 1km section of the Superior Hiking trail will be lit with candles. Area resorts will provide treats and a bonfire. Contact, February 15 Hypothermic ½, Thunder Bay, ON This half marathon is aptly named; consider it a character building experience! Contact


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(807)344-7575, thunderbay@runningroom. com, March 1 Mid-Canada Snowshoe Nationals, Thunder Bay, ON The marquis snowshoe event in Thunder Bay; events include 5 km, 10km, and ½ marathon races plus a Bear Cub Kids’ Dash. Contact (807)344-7575, www., thunderbay@ April 26 Fresh Air 10K, Thunder Bay, ON This is a classic race amongst area runners and marks the first race in the 2008 K-Star Series. Confederation College serves as the run headquarters. Contact Alan Cranston (807)623-9393.

Cross Country Skiing

December 27 Holiday Lantern Ski, Sault Ste. Marie, ON From dusk to 11 pm, ski by twinkling lantern light through the frosty night. Later, come back to the clubhouse for delicious hot food, drinks and tasty treats. Contact Tina Bowen (705)256-7258, info@ January 3-4 Lappe Invitational, Thunder Bay, ON This race includes freestyle and classic events. Contact Grant Hall, www. January 5 Sawtooth International Cross Country Ski Race, Grand Marais, MN This race is held at the Pincushion Mountain Trail System. The trails are perched high above Lake Superior and provide spectacular views. Distances are 5, 10, and 20K. Contact, January 9 Kamview Classic Ski Tour, Thunder Bay, ON This event (a night race!) is held at Kamview Nordic Centre. Contact (807)475-7081,, January 11 Boulder Lake Ski Race, Duluth, MN Renowned for its fast and fun rolling course through the north woods, this race is known for having snow and being the premier early season race. This is a 31K or 10.3K skate only race. January 17 Sawmill Lake Classic, Atikokan, ON An all classic tour on a wilderness trail system within Quetico Park. Contact Chris (807)597-4503,, http://atikokancanoe.

January 24-25 52nd Annual Hiawatha Invitation Ski Races, Sault Ste Marie, ON Classic and skating races for all ages jackrabbit, team and individual events. Contact Tina Bowen (705)256-7258, info@ February 7 Invitational Race, Marathon, ON This event is organized by the Marathon Cross Country Ski Club, Contact AnneMarie Fequet (807)229-1469, outskiing@ February 14 The Chocolate Cup Challenge, Atikokan, ON In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, this race has loads of fun and chocolate. All ages and abilities are welcome to participate in the 2, 5 or 10 km race. Contact Janice (807)5971561,, http:// March 7 32nd Annual Sleeping Giant Loppet, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, ON Young and old, beginners and advanced are invited for an exciting day of fun and recreation. Contact Peter Gallagher (807)345-0413,, www. March 15 Tapiola Invitational, Thunder Bay, ON Tapiola is a cross-country ski area just outside of Thunder Bay and is owned by the local Finlandia Club. Contact Katriina Myllymaa, (807)767-9366 March 21 Cross Quetico Lakes Tour, Atikokan, ON A classic ski tour into the backcountry of Quetico, refer to Routes (this issue) for more information. Contact Chris (807)5974503,, http://

Downhill Skiing

January 10-12 Atmore Memorial FIS Race, Duluth, MN This event has been going strong for over 30 years and is a fundraiser for the Duluth/ Superior Alpine Club. Contact (800)6426377, January 24-25 USASA Half-Pipe Competition, Duluth, MN Come to watch and support the competitors as they rip up the half-pipe at Spirit Mountain. Contact (612)374-3635, www. February 6-8 Family Festival, Lutsen Mountains, MN This festival includes free ski rentals for the entire family, races, sleigh rides, and fireworks.

SuperiorOutdoors event listing April 10-12 Mountain Meltdown, Lutsen, MN Enjoy spring skiing at reduced rates and celebrate Easter with live music and a variety of events for the whole family. www. Dog Sledding

January 25 Banff Film Festival, Thunder Bay, ON One of the largest single showings on the tour, this evening is organized by the local chapter of the Alpine Club of Canada and has great prizes in addition to great films. Contact (807)684-4444, fpianka@hotmail. com.

January 23-30 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, Duluth, MN The Beargrease is widely respected as the sled dog race to prepare national and international sled dog teams – and is a qualifying race for Alaska’s long distance Iditarod. Contact (218)722-7631, info@,

February 16-22 Shadows of the Mind Film Festival, Sault Ste. Marie, ON Explore the Spirit of Life! Five days of film, workshops, panel discussions, video competitions, art exhibits, galas, and entertainment. Contact (705)759-3299 or (705)256-2226,,

January 31-February 1 35th Annual Paul Bunyan Sled Dog Challenge, Bimidji, MN This race is held at the Buena Vista Ski Area, 12 miles north of Bimidji. Contact Jane McCollom (218)243-3477, www.

March 19 Lakehead University Outdoor Film Festival, Thunder Bay, ON An evening devoted to the celebration of the outdoor world and those who recreate in it. Contact Adam Wood,, filmfest.html

February 20, or March 6 Dog Sledding 101, Grand Marais, MN Alaskan Husky sled dogs are your instructors for this course as they greet you on campus for this engaging exchange. Students will actively participate with the dogs, musher, and equipment in caring, handling, training and traveling. Contact (888)387-9762,, www. February 27-March1 Wolf Track Classic Sled Dog Race, Ely, MN A little known fact: Ely has the most sled dogs per area in the United States. This is a long distance race, 30 and 60 miles. Contact Mary-Jane Caspers, (218)235-1269, mush@, www.wolftrackclassic. com. March 14-15 Snowflake Skijor/Sprint Classic, Duluth, MN When most races are over and skijoring and sledding are just about done for the season, the Snowflake Nordic Center is still going strong. Contact Chris (715)3992796,, www.sssc.

Arts & Culture

November 16-18 Winter Expo and Banff Mountain Film Festival, Minneapolis, MN Held at Midwest Mountaineering, Contact (612)339-3433 or (888)999-1077, www. December 5-31 Holiday Art Underground, Grand Marais, MN This event takes place at the Betsy Bowen Studio. Contact Staci (218)387-1992,

March 28 Reel Paddling Film Festival, Thunder Bay, ON This festival is an assemblage of the world’s best paddling films. The festival inspires more people to embrace the lifestyle and appreciate the heritage of the places we paddle. Contact Ostrom Outdoors (807)473-4499,,

Outdoor Skills

November 21-23 Snowshoe Construction, Grand Marais, MN By the end of this course, you can be proud that you shaped, bent and laced your own pair of traditional Ojibway snowshoes that will last a lifetime. Contact (888)387-9762,, December 12-14, January 9-11 Build your own Kick Sled, Grand Marais, MN The kick sled is a traditional and popular mode of winter transportation in Scandinavia. Build your own sled over 2.5 days. Contact (888)387-9762, info@,

Contact (888)387-9762, info@northhouse. org, www.northhouseorg.

Winter Festivals

January 8-10 Snowball Weekend, Lutsen, MN This is a fun weekend of skiing and music. Come and enjoy six bands in three nights. Contact (218)663-7281,, January 16-24 Polar Daze, Bimidji, MN This is a series of events to celebrate winter. Highlights include the “polar plunge”. Contact the Chamber of Commerce (800)458-2223,, January 17-20 Winter Festival, International Falls, MN This four-day festival is packed full of fun and wacky games for people of all ages. Featured events include frozen turkey bowling, snow sculpting, smoosh races, snowshoeing and the Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run. Contact (800)3255766,, www. February 6-8 Laskiainen Finnish Sliding Festival, Aurora, MN This is a family event that celebrates Finnish customs, crafts, music, sports, foods and, of course sliding! Contact (218)638-2551,, February 6-15 Bon Soo Winter Carnival, Sault Ste. Marie, ON This carnival features a wide variety of events for all ages, including the polar bear dip. Contact (866)899-1607, www.bonsoo., February 26–March 2 Winter Tracks Festival, Gunflint Trail, MN This Festival includes activities for the entire family including cross-country skiing & snowshoeing, indoor art exhibits, skating and an outdoor pizza party. Contact (800)338-6932,,

December 13 Winter Camping, Travel Skills and Expedition Foods, Grand Marais, MN Prepare for your next winter adventure on the frozen trail and discover the secrets of winter travel from polar explorer Lonnie Dupre. Contact (888)387-9762, info@, January 30-February 1 Making a Traditional Toboggan This course covers the use of the toboggan, waxing and proper use and handling. Make your own toboggan – tuglines included.

Superior Outdoors



Superior Swim Kinnan Stauber of Duluth emerges from an icy dip in Lake Superior on a cold February morning. Stauber and a few close friends attempt to swim in Lake Superior every month of the year. Photo by Brian Peterson


Superior Outdoors


196 km X-C Trails • Snowshoeing Dog Sledding • Sleigh Rides Live Entertainment Daily

R Half-Price Holidays

SAVE 50% on Lift & Lodging with 4- or 5-day Holiday Packages (valid 12/19 – 12/25/08 for arrivals 12/19 – 12/22)

R January 3 for 2 Purchase 2 Days Lift & 2 Nights Lodging Get 1 Day Lift & 1 Night Lodging FREE (valid 1/2 - 1/31/09)

R March Weekends at Midweek Rates Stay 3 or more nights and Get ALL Nights at Midweek Rates (valid 3/8 - 3/31/09)


CLASS­­­­IC­­­­WINTER­­­­VACATIONS ­­­­ON­­­­AMERICA’S­­­­NORTH­­­­COAST 218.406.1320

When purchased online at

Lappe Invitational

Kamview Classic

Sleeping Giant Loppet

January 3-4, 2009

January 9, 2009 (Night Race) Kamview Nordic Centre

March 7, 2009 (Formerly Sibley Ski Tour) Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Lappe Ski Centre

Call 1-800-MOST-FUN ext. 48 for your FRee Visitor’s Guide

Superior Outdoors - Winter 08/09  

In this issue: Woodsmoke, Canvas & Ice - the allure of traditional winter camping, Algoma Backcountry - The Snowfela Telemark Experience, Bi...

Superior Outdoors - Winter 08/09  

In this issue: Woodsmoke, Canvas & Ice - the allure of traditional winter camping, Algoma Backcountry - The Snowfela Telemark Experience, Bi...