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Picking up where we left off in March 2020

We are about to kick off something new with the Bearskin Blog, but our last post – now over a year old — seems like it is just hanging there, without an ending. It was 2020, so of course there is a story.  We would soon find out what happens, or doesn’t happen, in a pandemic and that part of the narrative was never quite finished on the blog. 

Bearskin’s last blog post appeared on March 5, 2020, proclaiming our high level of excitement for the upcoming World Cup of Skiing, being held in Minneapolis. “The World Cup race is more than just a thrilling conclusion to a fun-filled few days—it’s a historic event,” we wrote. “This race marks the first time in almost two decades that the world’s best cross-country skiers have competed on American snow. ”  

The partially completed mini-lodge in the garage, before they took it all apart again to transport.

Our contribution to the race scene was going to be the “Bearskin Mini-Lodge,” a little ski cabin that would be situated in a highly visible location next to the race course finish line. Bob and Quinn spent months building the cabin in our garage, assembling it in such a way that they could take it apart, number the pieces, haul it down to Minneapolis, and reassemble the cabin on the race course at Theodore Wirth Golf Course. This was no small thing. It was probably kind of bonkers that we decided to do this in the first place, but for a ski-loving family it felt as if the building and transport of the Mini-Lodge for the World Cup would be an adventure.

On the night of March 11th, Bob and Quinn had the entire Mini-Lodge loaded up in the truck and on a huge trailer. The project turned out to be a bit more massive than expected, but they jammed it all in and planned to leave for the Twin Cities at 6 AM the morning of March 12th.

Little did we know that everything was about to change overnight. At 2:30 AM on the morning of March 12th, a press release was issued.

Official Statement as of March 12, 2020, at 2:30 AM

Due to ongoing and evolving concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the International Ski Federation, U.S. Ski & Snowboard, and the local organizing committee, working in concert with local health officials, have made the difficult decision to cancel the Fastenal Parallel 45 Festival, the Coop FIS Cross Country World Cup race, and all associated events scheduled for March 14-17, 2020 in Minneapolis. 

Wow, we didn’t see that coming. In retrospect, after a year when the pandemic has dominated our lives, it seems obvious that an event like the World Cup could not occur — not to mention the fact that all the great skiers from the “World” (i.e., Norway) were not permitted to fly here. But at the moment it felt like a devastating stroke of bad luck.  Months of time, money, and effort gone to waste, just because a pandemic happened to show up for a few weeks in March. There was a despondent, hollow feeling while we unloaded the Mini-Lodge piece by piece back into the garage, but we tried not to think about it too much. It was out of our control.

What DIDN’T happen at the Minneapolis World Cup. This was their vision for the event, but they called it right — not a good idea during an emerging pandemic.

And then the rest of 2020 occurred, a wildly busy year where survival as a business required a completely restructured business model for Bearskin. We had the busiest year in Bearskin’s history, we kept our staff and family healthy, we provided hundreds of grateful guests with a safe opportunity to get away into the Northwoods and honestly, we never had a moment to contemplate that pile of Mini-Lodge boards taking up half the space in our garage.

We’re happy to report that the Mini-Lodge found a new home this winter. It’s being reincarnated as a ski-in, rustic winter camper cabin on the Oxcart ski trail, and will be ready to book next winter. Looking back now at our year-old March 5th, 2020 blog, we clearly had no inkling of how much the world would change in the months ahead. Our sadness over the wasted time, money, and effort that went into the World Cup project seems extraordinarily minor compared to the significant losses that many families and businesses experienced over the past year. What seemed calamitous at the time was utterly inconsequential. We lost some money, we wasted some time, but here we are — healthy, happy, together. It’s OK. Perspective came out of 2020.

Since the first Bearskin blog in August of 2007, this blog has taken many forms. It began as a somewhat comedic rendition of the struggles facing a new resort family, but over time there were fewer and fewer stories. After 14 years, we’re surprisingly (mostly) on top of our game.

Instead, the blog has gradually evolved into providing fewer stories and more visitor information. Our most well-read blogs these days are how to successfully find the Northern Lights at Bearskin Lodge (always #1, by far) and how to find and photograph moose and other wildlife on the Gunflint Trail (always #2).

So we’ve decided to evolve towards what our guests want.We are constantly asked about our unique Gunflint Trail/BWCAW wildlife, so our next focus is going to be on animals of the Gunflint Trail. We’ll be talking about pine martens, bobcats, lynx, owls, and of course, moose in the near future but if you have specific Bearskin animals you’d like to read about, let us know.  Up first:  The elusive fisher of the Gunflint Trail.