Snow remains scant in many locations around the peninsula, but with daylight growing longer each day, there's no time like the present to enjoy what little accumulation winter has provided.
At Tsalteshi Trails, accessed from behind Skyview High School or by way of Kalifornsky Beach Road across from the Soldotna Sports Center, trail groomers have worked extensively with the few inches of white stuff that has fallen in preparation for the "Wood, Wool and Wassail" event happening today at 6 p.m.
At the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, trail groomer Scott Slavik said he wished he had better news to report.
"Just before New Year's I packed down everything and groomed in all the trails, but we only have two to three inches of packed base, so it's still inadequate. In some areas there are thin spots with roots and exposed gravel, so people using them and there are people using them should show caution, and I definitely wouldn't use new Christmas skis. Rock skis would be better," he said.
While the wooded trails, with numerous tree branches to intercept falling snow, have hampered seasonal accumulations, Slavik said this has not been a problem on Headquarters Lake.
"The lake is probably the best bet. It's about a 2 1/2 mile loop. There's good coverage and it's been groomed to accommodate skate skiers," he said.
At the Kenai Golf Course, in order to be suitable for skiing, the trails need of more snow.
"We roughed something in, but there's still a lot of turf showing. The skiing would be marginal at best, so I would recommend people hold off for a bit longer," said Bob Frates, Kenai Parks and Recreation Director.
In Niksiki, trail groomer Dale Bakk is also doing the best he can with the little white stuff he has to work with.
"Things aren't too bad. I rolled out a 3-K loop at the pool for skating, and it's the best skiing out here. I can't set tracks yet, but one more snowfall and I'll have enough to get some in," he said.
The Nikiski Community Trails behind Nikiski High School still are unusable, though.
"There's a lot of debris down. I was out all day on Wednesday working on them, but we need a little more snow for them to be up to snuff," he said.
While skiers are still suffering a bit from the lack of snow this season, snowmachiners aren't in such dire straits due to several heavy dumps in the higher elevations of the Caribou Hills.
"With the exception of the Clam Gulch Trail and Centennial (Trail), just about everything else was groomed in on the 27th (of Dec.)," said Howard Davis, a cabin hopper board member.
Davis said while these two trails haven't been able to be groomed in, clean-up work has been completed to remove deadfall for when more snow does arrive.
"We got it roughed in and took out dozens of downed trees, but we didn't get into enough snow to groom until we were up to the Bypass (Trail) Grand Prix (Trail) intersection," he said.
Riders opting to use the Clam Gulch Trail or Falls Creek Trail should also show caution this weekend, since there will be a two-day sled dog race over portions of these trails. Riders on these trails are asked to give dog teams the right of way by pulling over to the far side of the trail and turning off their engines until the teams pass by.
While snow is thin down in the low country, Davis said the higher in elevation a rider gets, the deeper the accumulations get. From Four Corners and beyond there is roughly two to three feet of snow, with several much deeper drifts in some of the more remote locations.
"We're having massive drift problems this year. We're getting drifts where we've never had them before," he said.
Davis said the drifts were due in part to the fluffy consistency of the snow that has fallen for much of the season, but he also attributed part of the problem to the fires that scorched the area early last summer. With much fewer trees and brush standing, and no needles or branches to the trees that remain behind, there is nothing to block even modest wind gusts from moving snow around, he said.
For the most current weather and trail conditions in the Caribou Hills, visit the Cabin Hoppers Web site at www.akchch.org.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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