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The Corner Isn’t The Same Without Dave Forbush

Posted on December 17th, 2014

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As the December comes to a close this seems like a good time to reflect on losses from the past year and changes this winter will bring. For us the main one is that for the first time since early 1980s, Dave Forbush won’t be greeting skiers at Forbush Corner Nordic Center.  After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013, Dave passed away last spring.

Forbush Corner Nordic Center

Forbush Corner Nordic Center

Friends and volunteers have made sure Dave’s wonderful cross-country center re-opened in mid-November and is still featuring the best groomed trails in Michigan. Ski rentals are available and the ski shop will be offering gear and equipment as it always has. Need a trail map? We extensively mapped Dave’s trail system in 2011 and they are available at MichiganTrailMaps.com.

Jim DuFresne has written about Dave almost from the day he first began grooming his trails, that’s 30 years of friendship. As a final tribute, we decided to reprint Dave’s favorite article that DuFresne penned,  a Kidventure column he wrote in 1996 about teaching his then 10-year-old son how to be humble at Forbush Corner.

By Jim DuFresne

The trouble with nine-year-old boys who downhill ski is that they turn into cocky little 10-year-olds.

Jim DuFresne

Jim DuFresne

When Michael bemoaned having to go “borrring cross country skiing” again, I knew it was time to show him that my favorite winter sport was more than just shuffling along an unplowed two-track in the woods. For that I took him to Forbush Corner, the meticulously groomed Nordic center that adjoins Hartwick Pines State Park to the north.

“Michael is going to ski the Rollercoaster Trail today,” I announced in the day lodge as if this was some kind of rite of passage. “Think he can handle it?” Everybody eyed him for a second and nodded yes, he probably could survive the center’s black diamond run.

“Of course, you know I’m a horse doctor,” said Dave Forbush, who during the summer works as a veterinarian at Detroit-area race tracks. “When somebody breaks a leg out there, I just shoot them.”

Forbush smiled when he said this but it was a sinister little grin that left Michael wondering just what was in store for him. It was the antidote for cockiness I was looking for.

Dave Forbush in the old bunkroom of his Nordic center.

Dave Forbush in the old bunkroom of his Nordic center.

Rollercoaster is an eight-kilometer loop within the 35-kilometer trail system at Forbush Corner. True to its name, it’s like an amusement park ride on skis as you take on one hill after another for almost the entire run.

We had no more begun the loop when we were confronted with a series of dips and climbs, the third one being particularly steep. So amazed that he survived the slope, Michael paused at the bottom to savor what he just conquered only to see me barrelling down on him.

“Don’t stop there!” I screamed and for a split second was sure this was our last Kidventure.

Within a couple of kilometers we reached the climax of the run, the slope called “Bottomless.” It’s so steep that from the top you can’t see the bottom while a spur departs to the side to allow the suddenly faint-hearted to bail out of the loop.

Michael went first and to my astonishment he successfully survived the run and then used his momentum to easily climb the next hill. I was so amazed watching him, in fact, that I lost my concentration on the way down, allowed my ski to catch a crusty corner of the track and took a tumble.

This was definitely not the cure for 10-year-old cockiness. Every slope after that, Michael would grin and say “sure you can handle this one?”

I put up with this little whippersnapper without saying a word until we came to the last major downhill run of the day, a slope called “Corkscrew.” It’s not nearly as steep as Bottomless but rather a series of sudden turns and much to my delight Michael took a spill near the end.

I skied up from behind, bent over him and grinned. “I’ll make you a deal,” I said. “I won’t tell, if you don’t tell.” Then I stuck out my hand.

I’m not sure if he was agreeing to the arrangement or just too tired to get up by himself. But back at the lodge he was as humble as a 10-year-old can be.

For more on Forbush Corner or a trail report go to:  www.forbushcorner.com/.

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