Peninsula ski trails survive warm weather

Posted: Friday, January 07, 2005

Fast and firm are the terms most frequently used to describe Kenai Peninsula cross-country skiing trails after this week's thaw-and-freeze, but most trails have held up very well despite two days of rain earlier this week.

"Actually, we had some really good skiing on some of the trails," said Bill Holt of the Tsalteshi Trail Association. "People were mostly good about staying off of them during those two rainy days, and there's still some granular snow."

Holt said groomers would be hard at work prepping Tsalteshi Trails for high school races on Friday and Saturday, and the loops that will be used for the races — Wolf, Lynx, Coyote and Beaver — will receive priority treatment. Holt said he hopes to get to the Bear and Raven loops as well.

Across the Sterling Highway on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, trails were chewed up, grooved and icy after heavy use last weekend combined with rain earlier this week.

However, ranger Scott Slavik said the refuge grooming equipment was very effective at reconditioning the trails and expected the Nordic Lake loops and the Centennial Trail to be in fair condition for the weekend.

"It will be a little crumbly and it's going to end up being hard-packed, but there's going to be enough texture to call them all in pretty fair condition," Slavik said.

Conditions at the Kenai Golf Course are similar. Kenai Parks and Recreation director Bob Frates said the trails survived the rain and after some grooming are in nice shape.

In Nikiski, trail groomer Dale Bakk said the trails at the Nikiski Pool were flat and hard but good for skating. Bakk said about 5 kilometers of the Nikiski Community Trails, located at the middle-high school, would be scratched up and ready for skate skiing for the weekend.

Bakk, as well other trail groomers, said it would take some more fresh snow before classical tracks could be set.

In Homer, Dave Brann of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club said groomers had about 15 kilometers of trail at Baycrest skiable and planned to put in some more time grooming Thursday. Brann said there was some icy overflow in a few spots from all the rain. The trails at McNeil Canyon also are in good shape due to a nice thick base. Brann said Lookout Mountain had not been groomed.

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