Seeping water forms natural ice sculptures on the sides of cliffs. PHOTO BY DAVE FOLEY
It had been decades since I cross-country skied
on anything but a groomed track. But last year a day’s trek through unblemished
snow near my home in northern lower Michigan rekindled an interest. And when
plans were made for this year’s winter ski trip, we included Bellevue ValleyLodge in our itinerary.
Heading 25 miles north of the International
Bridge from Soo, Ontario, we first stopped at Stokely Creek Lodge for a few
days to ski their many kilometers of finely groomed trails through the AlgomaHighlands. We left in the evening, following Highway 17 south a half dozen
miles and then east into Bellevue Valley.
At the end of Kirby Road, our headlights picked
up the Bellevue Valley Lodge sign and we followed the long driveway to the lodge and guest chalet,
where we met our hosts, Robin MacIntyre and Enn Poldmaa.
Minutes later we were sitting in their kitchen
munching on Robin’s fresh baked blueberry cobbler and sipping hot tea while I
asked questions about Bellevue Valley Lodge.
The fledgling business venture received a jump
start in 1985, when Enn’s band was playing at the nearby Searchmont Ski Resort,
and he met the Stoppel family from the Traverse City area. Hearing that Enn and
Robin were starting a bed and breakfast, the skiers had to see it. Enn recalls that
“They came down the next day and I took them out to see the hills. They
couldn’t believe it. They said it was the best area for telemark skiing they
had ever seen. I think they have been back every year since then.”
Dave Foley's full account of skiing at the Bellevue Valley Lodge appears in the January 2014 issue of Silent Sports magazine. To order a copy, call 888/706-4045. Or subscribe here and don't miss an issue.