Between Maui and our spring camping trip, I was able to fit in my annual cross country ski trip with my friend, Marcy. We have been friends for 29 years and she is definitely one of my BFFs. We met at GM and started skiing together soon after. We discovered Stokely Creek Lodge in Goulais River, ON a year or 2 later, and that became our only ski destination. We used to go 2 or 3 times a year, but since Dave and I started going to Maui, we’ve gone once a year. I’m pretty sure some people initially thought Marcy and I were a couple. I noticed some surprised looks when I showed up with a ring and started talking about Dave. I guess it wasn’t just at Stokely. Some people in my own family also suspected…Hahaha!
We were not very good skiers for the first few years. In fact, we did not know how to slow down or stop. We simply wiped out to stop. Thankfully, Chuck, the original owner of the lodge, showed us how to snow-plow, one day, when he was skiing with us and noticed our awkward and painful technique for stopping. This is one of hundreds of great memories of skiing together. We both love gliding along in the snow, enjoying nature and staying warm while doing it. We both love classic and skate skiing, though we are not very fast. We travel with at least 3 pairs of skis each and at least 2 types of boots.
This year we decided we didn’t want to deal with crossing the border and having to pass Covid tests. We didn’t want to risk losing our deposit, if one of us tested positive or if something else went wrong. We decided to go to Grayling instead, because we know some avid skiers who skied there last year and liked the trails and grooming. Apparently, last year they had snow when Traverse City did not. We booked Finley’s Riverside cabins because the pictures looked great, the price was reasonable and they had the best cancelation policy.
We had a great time. The cabin was cozy, but still had plenty of space, with 2 double beds, a well-equipped kitchen area and bath. The owners were friendly and left homemade zuchini bread for us. It was very close to the Cross Country Ski Shop, where I could have new ski bindings mounted to my skis, by someone who actually knows about cross country skiing (there is no such place in SE Michigan). We cooked most of our own food, which was really nice.
We skied at Forbush Corners in Frederic, MI. The trails and grooming were pretty nice. They actually have the ability to make snow on some of the trails, when necessary. It’s owned by a non-profit and run by volunteers. It was really busy, with a lot of really good skiers. Hanson Hills Recreation Area in Grayling had nice trails and grooming. I prefer that place because there is no freeway noise and there are more miles of trails without really steep hills. At Forbush corner the longest easier trail runs along I-75, though it is still quite pretty. I did have a moment at Forbush where I felt like Jessie Diggins for about 5 minutes. I was flying along with my new bindings on my waxable skiis and just laughing because it was so fun!
Stokely Creek Lodge has many more miles of trails, amazing grooming, tons of lake effect snow, a cozy lodge, fabulous meals and always some familiar faces. Though we miss it, we really enjoyed Grayling and are happy to know of another much closer alternative to ski, especially for a last minute quick trip. I will be hoping and praying for some early snow this year in November or December.
So happy to ski again, after 2 years! Hanson Hills Recreation Area, Grayling, MI