Weather throws trails for a loop

Posted: Friday, January 09, 2004

The trails are ready if the users are willing.

Cross-country ski trails across the Kenai Peninsula remained in great shape over the course of the past week. The only problem was the weather, with subzero temperatures being the norm and a wicked wind brewing up at the end of the week.

However, the temperatures are expected to warm up into the 20s for the weekend. With the great condition of the trails, the skiing is expected to be ideal this weekend.

At Tsalteshi Trails, Bill Holt, the president of the Tsalteshi Trails Association, said all of Tsalteshi's approximately 15 kilometers are groomed for skating. Most of that area also has classic tracks.

There are two things hurting the quality of skiing at Tsalteshi. The recent high winds have blown a lot of debris onto the trails. Also, moose have been rampaging around the trail system lately, forcing skiers to deal with multiple holes in some locations.

Across the Sterling Highway at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, most of the trails were groomed Tuesday. The Centennial Trail, which is for snowshoers, was fully groomed. All of the loops except for the outer loop were groomed on the Nordic Lake Trails. Brenda Wise, a refuge clerk, said high winds have been bringing down trees in the area, so there is a possibility trees could be down on the trail.

At the Kenai Nordic Trails, the skiing also has been good. Since the trail system is mostly out in the open, however, groomers there have dealt with wind and drifting snow.

Bob Frates, the director of the Parks and Recreation Department for the city of Kenai, said 5 kilometers are ready for skating. He is not sure if classical tracks are set, but said groomers will be getting the course in really good shape for a high school race on Jan. 17.

The skiing also is good in Nikiski at the Nikiski Community Trails and the trails behind the Nikiski pool. At the Nikiski Community Trails, 5.5 kilometers are groomed. The wind has blown some sand onto the trails in one area, but otherwise the trails have survived the wind.

At the trails behind the Nikiski pool, 3 kilometers are groomed.

In Homer, Dave Brann, the vice president of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, said the area is offering plenty of good skiing.

At the McNeil Canyon Ski Trails, Brann said 7.5 kilometers are groomed for skating. He said classic tracks were planned for the trails, but he's not sure when they will be put in.

There also is still a 3-kilometer loop for both freestyle and classical skiing at Lookout Mountain.

The Baycrest Ski Trails also are fully operational, with 30 kilometers ready for skating. About 25 of those kilometers have a classic track set.

Brann also has marked out a loop for snowshoers at Baycrest. It starts from the trail head on Rodgers Loop Road. He will be giving a tour of this loop from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Those interested should meet at the Rodgers Loop trail head. The tour is free, but donations will be accepted. The money will go to improve the snowshoe trail.

In Seward, Rich Houghton, the coach of the high school team, said the area was getting fresh snow Thursday that should make the skiing even better. There is good skiing available at Exit Glacier Road and at the Mile 12 Ski Trails. There will be a high school race at Mile 12 on Saturday.

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