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Sand Dunes Ski trails
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Patroller
Geocacher


Joined: 06 Feb 2013

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:37 am    Post subject: Sand Dunes Ski trails Reply with quote

A very upset Geocacher must have visited the Dunes in the past week or so, because he/she nailed their complaint about the ski trails to the kiosk at the CoRd 4 (north) Trailhead. Wink The gripe, in response to our posting that Geocachers are not to walk on the groomed ski trails, read in part, "We sub-humans or (Geocachers) pay property taxes in this county too."

With the exception of last season, when we never had enough snow to bother grooming, I get this same complaint from Geocachers very winter. I am even accused of being "anti-geocaching", which, since I've been doing this since 1996, I clearly am not. The fact of the matter is, that under Minnesota State Law. "All cross-country skiers on ski trails in State Parks or Forests, or on State or Grant-in-Aid Trails, who are aged 16 and above must have a Minnesota Ski Pass." Those trails are closed to all other uses during the skiing season, including hiking, snowshoeing, dog-walking and ATVs, horses and snowmobiles, who also pay trail access fees. You can be cited by a conservation officer or deputy sheriff for violating this rule.

Nordic/Cross-country skiers pay their annual fee, the Great MN Ski Pass, to use the trails and have them groomed and maintained. They are also taxpayers in Sherburne County for the most part, but that really doesn't apply since it is a state forest. It takes a lot of time and work to groom and maintain the trails in skiable condition, and it is very frustrating to have footprints down the middle of a trail that we groomed an hour or so before. (BTW, "groomed" referrs to the entire surface packed by the grooming drag, from edge to edge, not just the ski tracks.)

If I remember right, there are over 80 caches hidden on the Sand Dunes State Forest. We are only asking that, for the duration of the skiing season, you not seek those caches that can only be reached by the ski trails in the Bob Dunn Rec. Area, or you strap on a pair of snowshoes, and come at them through the forest or on the snowmobile trails and firebreaks. (We try to be fairly open about snowshoers, as long as they stick to the outer edges of the groomed trails until they can reach an alternate trail.)

Your cooperation will help make both skiing and geocaching more enjoyable and benenficial for all forest visitors.

Thanks!
Patroller
Park Ranger, Geocacher and the guy who has to groom the trails.
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bflentje
Geocacher


Joined: 29 May 2006

Posts: 3972

PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do not (knowingly) break the laws and would not condone others to break laws either. But how do the foot prints affect how you groom the trails? As a former cc-ski competitor, those foot prints never affected my skiing experience. Just thinking the law needs some work.
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A-body
Geocacher


Joined: 26 Jun 2009

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the same way as bflentje. Usually within an hour or so of grooming, the trail has "set up", and is hard as ice. Footprints leave less of a mark than the skiers that skate. I can see walking in the traditional trail could cause problems, or if it is 40 degrees, but most times walking causes no problems
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

Posts: 5676
Location: north of Duluth

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A-body wrote:
I think the same way as bflentje. Usually within an hour or so of grooming, the trail has "set up", and is hard as ice. Footprints leave less of a mark than the skiers that skate. I can see walking in the traditional trail could cause problems, or if it is 40 degrees, but most times walking causes no problems


Keep in mind though that we're being told here that it's illegal.

I know the OP was a lesson for me - I never considered walking on the non-tracked part as hurting the trail, but after reading the post I can see the point.
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Aix sponsa
Geocacher


Joined: 08 Dec 2008

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a skier and geocacher I will put in my two cents worth. It might not be worth much more. I have placed more than one cache on a ski trail that needs skis to access it in the winter. The rest of the year the trail is great for hiking and mountain biking. I have many others that are in the general area that are not on the ski trails.

Considering skiing I am, at best, a recreational skier, some in my family would consider me not a skier but a fish - specifically, a flounder. In spite of that, I was on a trail once where someone walked down the middle then over to the side on the classic tracks, then over to the other side on the other set of classic tracks then back down the middle. The snow had warmed up and their boots sunk down four inches into the snow. After the temps cooled, little icy mounds were left about the boot print as the foot was pulled up. Because of the conditions the tracks were icy enough that I had to go down the middle sometimes. Anywhere I went I was bound to have my ski edge catch an icy "something" that was formed by the hiker that would eventually send me flying off into the woods. Conditions were such that they groomer could not fix it. The trail was ruined for the next few weeks until the end of the season. It is best to tell all walkers to stay off the trail during the skiing season. Imagine trying to tell people you may walk on this trail only if certain conditions are met such as a specific water content of the snow, so many days past the last snowfall to allow the snow to harden with the day and night temps hitting designated highs and lows, a certain ambient temperature, etc. Who is going to check on that?

From an article in the NY Times
Quote:
Top cross-country racers descend hills at speeds that reach 50 miles an hour on skis that are two inches wide, and without the pads or helmets


With this in mind please respect the trail. Better yet go to a ski swap and get a cheap pair of skis and boots. It is a terrific way to find a cache. It is, also, a good way to get across a frozen lake. I've had the privilege to ski to a number of caches this year even if it has meant breaking my own trail on non-groomed trails. I have found all the caches that are along ski trails within a couple hours of my house. Thanks for the heads up about the park and the caches. I didn't know they existed. I don't know if I can get there this year. It will be on my go-to list for next year. I'm always on the lookout for caches I can ski to.
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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
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And that has made all the difference. ~Robert Frost

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dornole
Geocacher


Joined: 03 Apr 2006

Posts: 447

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know one thing I'd appreciate that is totally doable would be for people to note if their cache is on a ski trail. It's disappointing to get to a park without knowing this and very easy to then rationalize "I'll just walk on the edge" because you're there and it's so close by ....

Of course that's not always totally obvious and people can come a different way, etc. but it's something I'll try to note in future if I hide.

And I can sure bushwhack through the woods too. It's good to hear from parks staff that this would be preferable even though it wouldn't be other times of year.
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Patroller
Geocacher


Joined: 06 Feb 2013

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With the new snow, anyone walking on the trails is going to leave deep footprints (we call it "post-holing") that are, as indicated above, bad for skiing. Just so you know the amount of work involved, it took me 6 hours to roll and pack the trails then set the tracks at Dunes today. It was a lot or hard work, and I had one skier stop and tell me how much he appreciated it. (He also had a few choice words about the anonymous geocacher who nailed his gripes to our kiosk. Mad )

I don't understand why this is such an issue. The ski pass/ski trails regulations have been in place since 1983. The ski pass revenue pays for itself; they are not going to change the rules so geocachers can pick up a few more finds. It is only for a few more weeks, and there are a ton of other caches on the forest. And you can always come at them through the forest of on the fire break trails.

Please?
Patroller
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King Boreas
Geocacher


Joined: 16 Dec 2002

Posts: 2424
Location: Exploring Minnesota

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I had a bunch of caches at Sand Dunes, I met Hans (Patroller) at my camping Event. We discussed this issue, and I would disable the caches, with a note (for the Reviewers).

The caches were available all winter, but using the alternate methods as described above.

I'd like to mention that our State Forests have the most lenient geocaching policy in the State, and we should not be doing things that might change that.
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bflentje
Geocacher


Joined: 29 May 2006

Posts: 3972

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am not condoning any breakage of the laws. Lord knows that law enforcement might burn us alive. MY point is that I believe, from MY experience, that the issue is over-rated.
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Draconisdax
Geocacher


Joined: 02 Nov 2007

Posts: 978
Location: Southeastern Minnesota

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I avoid walking on any groomed trails during the winter. In my "belief" they are groomed for a reason...and hiking is not the reason; I am more than able to trudge my way to the cache (and have my own fun) and still allow others to have their fun as well.
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Draconisdax
Geocacher


Joined: 02 Nov 2007

Posts: 978
Location: Southeastern Minnesota

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the over-rated issue is as a tax payer we think we have the right to tell others how to do their jobs...which...is not the case. People are hired for a job...not the job one wants them to do (I speak from the position of working for a nonprofit and get the same logic applied to me on a normal basis as well...can identify with what the OP said). I am fully aware that the taxes I pay are but a drop in a bucket...which amounts to little more then a molecule when it comes to activities or events for which I am interested...
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Draconisdax
Geocacher


Joined: 02 Nov 2007

Posts: 978
Location: Southeastern Minnesota

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:29 am    Post subject: Re: Sand Dunes Ski trails Reply with quote

Patroller wrote:
A very upset Geocacher must have visited the Dunes in the past week or so, because he/she nailed their complaint about the ski trails to the kiosk at the CoRd 4 (north) Trailhead. Wink The gripe, in response to our posting that Geocachers are not to walk on the groomed ski trails, read in part, "We sub-humans or (Geocachers) pay property taxes in this county too."

With the exception of last season, when we never had enough snow to bother grooming, I get this same complaint from Geocachers very winter. I am even accused of being "anti-geocaching", which, since I've been doing this since 1996, I clearly am not. The fact of the matter is, that under Minnesota State Law. "All cross-country skiers on ski trails in State Parks or Forests, or on State or Grant-in-Aid Trails, who are aged 16 and above must have a Minnesota Ski Pass." Those trails are closed to all other uses during the skiing season, including hiking, snowshoeing, dog-walking and ATVs, horses and snowmobiles, who also pay trail access fees. You can be cited by a conservation officer or deputy sheriff for violating this rule.

Nordic/Cross-country skiers pay their annual fee, the Great MN Ski Pass, to use the trails and have them groomed and maintained. They are also taxpayers in Sherburne County for the most part, but that really doesn't apply since it is a state forest. It takes a lot of time and work to groom and maintain the trails in skiable condition, and it is very frustrating to have footprints down the middle of a trail that we groomed an hour or so before. (BTW, "groomed" referrs to the entire surface packed by the grooming drag, from edge to edge, not just the ski tracks.)

If I remember right, there are over 80 caches hidden on the Sand Dunes State Forest. We are only asking that, for the duration of the skiing season, you not seek those caches that can only be reached by the ski trails in the Bob Dunn Rec. Area, or you strap on a pair of snowshoes, and come at them through the forest or on the snowmobile trails and firebreaks. (We try to be fairly open about snowshoers, as long as they stick to the outer edges of the groomed trails until they can reach an alternate trail.)

Your cooperation will help make both skiing and geocaching more enjoyable and benenficial for all forest visitors.

Thanks!
Patroller
Park Ranger, Geocacher and the guy who has to groom the trails.


Thank you Patroller for doing what you do and putting up with attitudes such as this (geocachers and nongeocachers alike).
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bflentje
Geocacher


Joined: 29 May 2006

Posts: 3972

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ArcherDragoon wrote:
I think the over-rated issue is as a tax payer we think we have the right to tell others how to do their jobs...which...is not the case. People are hired for a job...not the job one wants them to do (I speak from the position of working for a nonprofit and get the same logic applied to me on a normal basis as well...can identify with what the OP said). I am fully aware that the taxes I pay are but a drop in a bucket...which amounts to little more then a molecule when it comes to activities or events for which I am interested...


highlighted piece above in question..

from my perspective, that's not it at all.
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Patroller
Geocacher


Joined: 06 Feb 2013

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:31 pm    Post subject: Ski Season is Over Reply with quote

Other than taking the groomer back to the shop, which will groom the trail on the way there...hardly official...we have decided that ski grooming season is over. You can snowshoe, hike, wallk your dog, on the trails again. (Word to the wise; right now, snowshoes are your best option!) I took down the yellow "skis only" sign at CoRd 4 Trailhead today, and will get the other one when we take the groomer back.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during the ski season this winter. It was a good one.

(BTW, the ski trails at Lake Maria SP will continue to be groomed as long as it is feasible.)

Cache safe,
Patroller


Last edited by Patroller on Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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King Boreas
Geocacher


Joined: 16 Dec 2002

Posts: 2424
Location: Exploring Minnesota

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the update.
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