Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


Home · Articles · News · Features · Ski Mackinac Island
. . . .

Ski Mackinac Island

Glen Young - January 4th, 2007
Tim Leeper has a secret, but he’s willing to share.
Leeper, who spends his summer hawking t-shirts, rubber tomahawks, and postcards at Mackinac Island’s Big Store, believes Mackinac Island’s summers are bested by its winters, and what Leeper likes best about Mackinac Island’s winters is the nordic skiing.
In fact, Leeper, long and lean and blond, believes Mackinac Island’s best kept secret is its skiing. “I guarantee that we have better groomed trails than anywhere else in Michigan,” Leeper says with his trademark face-wide grin.
Leeper and others attribute much of the credit for keeping the trails in top shape, from first snow to last melt, to the Mackinac Island Ski Club. The club uses a “layer of volunteers,” according to Leeper, to maintain the labyrinth of trails with a state-of-the-art Tidd-Tech groomer pulled behind a snowmobile. The Mackinac Island State Park provides the club with gas and oil to operate the grooming equipment.
The ski club, loosely organized but singly devoted, boasts between 12 and 15 members and charges no dues or fees. The grooming equipment was purchased as a result of early fundraising efforts by the group. Leeper and others claim the club has only one rule–that the last member to show up for the season’s first meeting becomes president.
Mackinac Island is home to more than 30 miles of groomed trails. According to Eric McLaurin, a former resident and volunteer with the club, most of the trails are rated for intermediate skiers, with only a few expert runs. McLaurin, who recently took a job with the United States Ski Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, believes what makes Mackinac Island skiing great is that “most days you can ski and not really run into anybody else out there.”
‘EVERY WINTER’
Mark Crossley of Petoskey spent several summers working on Mackinac Island in the mid 1970s and 1980s. Now he returns to ski “every winter I can,” he says. Crossley, who likes to attend during the Island’s Winter Carnival in February, believes the skiing is best because it’s an adventure.
“It’s the Island itself and getting there,” he says, referring to snowmobiling across the ice bridge from St. Ignace, or flying over the frozen Straits of Mackinac. Crossley also appreciates that “you can pretty much walk out your door and ski. You can’t really do that anywhere else.” He wistfully adds, “I’d like to have something like that in my backyard.”
Shane Boland-Harrison, who teaches science at Traverse City’s Interlochen Pathfinder School, also has a history of time on Mackinac Island, having worked summers there in the 1970s. She too regularly returns to enjoy the skiing. For Boland-Harrison the allure continues to be a combination of the Island’s special landscapes and storied history. “I always feel there is a magic about the Island,” she says. “When I ski there I feel a deep peaceful happiness. You are surrounded by beauty, amazing vistas, and a sense of place in history,” she adds.
Leeper, who knows Mackinac’s vistas and history well, and spends summers mountain biking the Island’s trails, says single tracks are available for classic skiing, with corduroy track able to accommodate skate ski enthusiasts. The single track horse trails are set for classic striding, while the two lane bicycle trails and interior roads are groomed for both classic skiing as well as skating.

WINTER WILDLIFE
Winter visitors may also be treated to the possibility of wildlife viewing. Bald eagles are periodically spotted, as are red fox and even coyotes. Several hawks are possible visitors, including the sharp shined, Cooper’s, and northern goshawk. Lucky skiers might spot a long eared owl, or barred owl hunting rodents.
Mackinac Island is of course noted for its tourism during the summer months, and the accommodations that accompany large crowds. Winter visitors will find that while the gift shops have put away the rubber tomahawks, and the large hotels have all drained their pools, the welcoming atmosphere is still clearly evident.
Ron and Mary Dufina and their
crew provide a nearly one-stop shopping experience for winter guests. The Dufinas’ Balsam Shop, located on Huron Street across from the Shepler ferry boat dock, offers ski and snowshoe rentals. Around the corner on Hoban Street, The Pontiac Lodge rents comfortable rooms, and next door The Village Inn serves warm food and cold drinks.
Other accommodations can also still be found through the winter season. The Mustang, famous for its burgers and cozy surroundings, is open, as is Patrick Sinclair’s Irish Pub, which serves local whitefish and imported beer. Rooms can also be found at Bogan Lane Inn downtown and Sunset Condominiums located near Stonecliffe Resort, adjacent the Island’s airport.

GETTIN’ THERE
Mackinac Island travel in winter is more challenging, but only slightly less certain. The Arnold Line ferry boats generally run from St. Ignace until just after the first of the year, or longer if there is no ice in the Straits of Mackinac. Great Lakes Air flies from the St. Ignace airport throughout the winter. Captain Paul Fuller and his crew are capable of making the brief but scenic flight in most any conditions.
For more intrepid travelers, the ice bridge that extends from St. Ignace to the Island is an alternative, both by snowmobile or skis, if the ice is solid and the Christmas trees, which mark the trail. are visible.
Tim Leeper is getting ready to enjoy another Mackinac Island winter of skiing. He is looking forward to the solace, snow, and sunshine. He believes that those who visit to ski will find that Mackinac Island in winter is precisely “what a true vacation is supposed to be.”
It’s Leeper’s secret, but he’s willing
to share.
 
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