Grooming January 11, 2014

Greetings NTN Members; January 11, 2014

The overnight forecast was correct in that it called for snow. About an inch fell by midnight and an additional inch fell before 5:00 A.M. As such, we pulled the midnight groomers from the schedule and have three insomniacs grooming before they milk cows this morning. We will have the 2” groomed on all trails west of Forestville in the morning.

Skiing will be great. I trust I’ll see you out there when I hope to ski about 9 or 10..
Marquette General Hospital Noquemanon Ski Marathon: Don’t forget, the Noque’ marathon is Saturday January 25th.

Today is Demo Days! Perfect winter weather for Demo Days. Down Wind Sports will host the annual event again this year. They will have the latest skis, boots, poles and snow bikes to try. Non-members will be offered a ½ price trail pass.

Please see an updated section on Snow Bike trails below. Marquette is on the cutting edge of this fast growing sport. We get emails from across the country asking how we groom. If you have not seen the movie Cold Rolled please look at the front page coverage on the Pure Michigan web site;
Snow Bike Route, South Trails: All 12 miles of snow bike trails are groomed and in excellent shape. See the facebook page to read comments or place comments. Also, look at the website for maps.

Trail head staffing and after hours rental
The Forestville Trailhead has a wide selection of rental equipment for the winter enthusiast. Rentals hours are from 10 am to 4 pm, with 24 hour and multi-day rentals available with a valid credit card. Friday, Saturday and Sunday the Trailhead is staffed from 10-4 by our Hospitality Coordinator Peter Johnson. During the week the NTN relies on volunteers to provide rental equipment. Currently, the Trailhead is staffed Monday and Tuesday from 10 until 4, and Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10-1. If you need rental equipment during the times when there is no staffing, or there is no trail host when you arrive at the facility, please call Peter Johnson at 715-892-5811 or the NTN office at 906-235-6861. Downwind Sports in Marquette also provides rental equipment.
Trail host volunteers needed. This is a great way to get involved, help out and stay warm. You can sign up for an hour or two before or after skiing. You can get to know lots of skiers and help the NTN remain financially viable. Groomers also are always needed. If interested, please call or email Nikki at 906 235 6861 or email us at
Please see comments below on equipment used and trail names.

Saux Head: All trails were groomed yesterday morning,

Valley Spur; See web site for details and on FB at Valley Spur Trails – National Forest Service

Al Quaal: Detailed report and news follow this link.

Fit Strip: Groomed and track set weekly or as snow permits.

Please call or email and comments to Nikki at 906 235 6861 or email us at

Grooming Equipment Decoder Ring:
As a skier, I always want to know how a given trail was groomed. All our equipment has good and bad features. We need them all to produce good skiing. The following comments will help the reader’s enjoyment of the Grooming Report. I hope this helps. Let me know.

Bombardier: Also known as, the Bombi for short. We have two Bombis in the fleet. Both are 12’ wide and pull a power tiller and track setter. One is a model 160 and the other is a model 180. You will see large groomers like the Bombi at ski resorts. The Bombi grooming is typically the best. There are other companies that make similar equipment. One such groomer is called the Piston Bully. If money were not an object we would groom very often with the Bombi. Sadly, money is an object (in that we don’t have nearly enough of it). The Bombi is very expensive to operate. So, we tend to use the Bombi’s for major snow events and Marathon race preparation. The power tiller will compact this major snow event and leave us with a wide flat hard surface. When ever the Bombi goes out there will be excellent classic tracks. The Bombi needs a base depth of at least 6” just to operate. Now that we have such as base we are in mid season skiing.

Snowmobile: We have three snow mobiles. All three are 4 stroke long track Skidoo machines. There are two “800s” and one “600”. Each of the three snow mobiles can pull a roller packer and one of the small Ginzu (see roller and Ginzu below).

Gator: We have a “side-by-side” 4-wheeler called a Gator by the maker, John Deer. We have the wheels removed and in place are tracks. It is very powerful and can pull the larger 8’ Ginzu. This larger Ginzu will tend to leave a better surface than the 6 foot Ginzu if the snow is old. If there is too much new snow the Gator tends to be less than ideal because the wide tractor tracks don’t pack down the middle as well as a snowmobile.

Ginzu: Ginzu is a model of the Yellowstone ski track setter brand. We have two Ginzus that are about 6’ wide and one that is about 8’ wide. All of the Ginzu have “teeth” that can be adjusted as snow conditions vary. These teeth break up the old snow and blend it such that the combs can leave corduroy for our skiing enjoyment. Following Bombi grooming, the Ginzu can go out the next day and touch up the surface and skiing is as good as Bombi grooming. The Ginzus have a track setter and, given the correct snow quality, set a track as good as the Bombi. However, with no power tiller, if the snow is old or icy, the Ginzu will not be able to make a very good track for classic skiing. As such, if there are well formed tracks from the Bombi or earlier Ginzu grooming we will tend to leave them alone if, in the groomer’s opinion, fresh tracks would be no better than what is already there.

Rollers: We have two rollers to pack fresh snow. They are 6’ wide and ban be pulled by any of the snowmobiles. Early in the season we must roll to start the base. In addition, following a large snow event, if the Bombi does not go out we need to pack before the Ginzu.

All of the above pieces of equipment pale in comparison to the indispensable “Volunteer”. These poor souls have some sort of flaw that makes them go out at all hours and drive the above in an attempt to produce corduroy for our enjoyment. An experienced groomer will know which piece of equipment is best for the job. In addition, they will know the little tricks such as, how deep to set the teeth on the Ginzu or how fast to go if setting classic tracks or if packing is needed before grooming. Grooming the trails from Forestville to Co Rd 510 including all the loops will take a volunteer about 8 hours. Volunteers are always welcome.

Trail Decoder Ring:

Decoder Ring for trail names:
A word about the trails, their names and which to ski:
With over 50 km of groomed trails one needs a decoder ring to keep them straight. So, following you will find such a decoder device. I recommend reading this section with the map page open (please follow the link on the “Trails” page.
Noque’: This one is easy. The Noquemanon Ski Marathon’s last 24k run from Co Rd 550 to the Superior Dome. Our Forestville trail head is at the 10k mark. From the trail head to 18k the trail is mostly gently rolling terrain. There is a gentle climb to the power lines at 11k and then a hill by pass via Animoosh to avoid a nice set of hills between 11k and 12k. From 19k to 24k at Co Rd 510 you will find a nice series of long hills. We typically can’t groom beyond the bridges at 16k before several significant snow events due to rough terrain in the swamp past the bridge.
Animoosh: Animoosh runs roughly parallel to the Noque’ and is the route where skiers may run their dogs. It is similar terrain to the Noque’. We have extended Animoosh this year so dogs can be kept separate all the way to Great Plains Junction at 13k. Animoosh then continues as the South fork at the Pine Plantation re-joining the Noque’ at 18k. Also part of Animoosh is the Mead Hills Bypass. At the 19k mark the trail splits again similar to the pine plantation split. You can parallel the Noque on another trail all the way to the 24k mark at Co Rd 510. This section is also “dog friendly” and is therefore called part of Animoosh.
The “Wajis”: The advanced and expert skiing are on Bagwaji and Chiwaji to the North East of the Noque’. To ski the “Wajis” one typically leaves the trail head on the Noque and takes the first right on Papasay less than 1k from the stadium. Take the first left on Gookookoo and cross the power lines to Hemlock Junction. Following a gradual climb keep right where Migizi joins. The Wajis are one way (counter clock wise) due to the steep and winding trails. There are two cut offs before reaching the Noque at the 14k mark. The Waji skier returns from 14k via Mukwa for .5k to the Chiwaji intersection. Follow Chiwaji 3k going up and down a series of hills (with by passes available) to Waban. Waaban is a nice winding flat loop off the Noque’. Follow Waaban to the Noque’ at Grand Central and then Migizi back to Gookookoo and home.
Inner Loops: There are a number of loops close to the trail head. Collectively I tend to call them the “Inner Loops”. Papasay, Zhing and Boozhoo provide skiers with trails within sight of the trail head. There is a FIS quality “sprint” loop for sprint events.
Grooming Priority: Given unlimited money and man power we would groom all trails every night. Given limited resources we typically need to make grooming decisions. We will always plan on keeping the Noque to 17k and Animoosh groomed every day. Then, time permitting we will work on the Wajis. Following the Waji loop we will run to Co Rd 510. Grooming all of the above listed trails takes close to 8 hours. So, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities if you would like to join the exciting world of trail grooming.