Fresh snow keeps groomers busy

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2008

There's lots of white covering the ground finally, but fluffy snow consistency combined with warm air temperatures are making challenging conditions for groomers attempting to establish a good trail base.

"There's a lot to work with and we're doing our best to keep up with it," said Bob Frates, Kenai Parks and Recreation director, in regard to the trails at the Kenai Golf Course.

"It's all rolled out, but it's soft. It hasn't set up yet, so there's no tracks set. Hopefully, we'll get them set next week," he said.

Frates said motorized vehicles illegally ridden on the course have also taken their toll on the trail, which has complicated grooming efforts.

"We had some snowmachine vandalism on Wednesday night, so that will set us back. They tore it up pretty bad," he said.

At Tsalteshi Trails, behind Skyview High School and accessed from Kalifornsky Beach Road across from the Soldotna Sports Center, trails are in even better condition.

"They're just great. We've been rolling them and compacting them for days to get the air out of them and firm them up. We're hoping to have tracks set by this weekend," said Tsalteshi board member Tom Seggerman.

There are also 5 kilometers of lighted trails for those interesting in skiing after work.

"The lights are on every day from dusk until 9 p.m.," he said.

Seggerman said there also are a number of non-competitive ski races that are just beginning.

"The races are every Tuesday at 6 p.m. They're free for Tsalteshi Ski Trail members and $5 for non-members," he said.

The race lengths are currently 5 kilometers, but will increase to 7.5 kilometers on Feb. 12 and increase again to 10 kilometers on Feb. 26. The races will alternate weekly between skating and classic styles.

A series of ski clinics are also just beginning for beginners and intermediate skiers, according to Seggerman.

"They're Sunday's from 2 to 3 p.m., and are great for get one-on-one instruction," he said.

These are also free to members, but $40 for non-members. Instructions alternates between ski styles weekly, with emphasis on skate skiing on Sunday, Jan. 27, and Feb. 3, and classic skiing on Feb. 10, 17 and 24.

For more information on the Tsalteshi Trail conditions and upcoming events, visit their Web site at

The Peninsula Sled Dog and Race Association-maintained trails behind the Soldotna Airport are also put in and will be extended further this weekend for use by skiers, snowshoers, skijorers and dog mushers.

"We currently have in the 1-, 3-, 4-, 6-, 8-, and 10-mile trail options and we'll put the long trails in this weekend which will make a 12- and 16-mile trail option, and also hook into the Pollard and Funny River trail systems, so people could run up to 40 miles," said Mitch Michaud, PSDRA president.

Michaud said this Saturday starting at 1 p.m. the club will also hold its annual Al York Memorial Junior Mushers Sled Dog Race, in which young children and preteens run on a 1-, 3- or 4-mile course.

In the Caribou Hills, snow conditions are also continuing to be somewhat favorable for snowmaching, but the fluffy snow means riders shouldn't forget to pack a shovel.

"It's easy to get stuck. There's lots of snow, I'd say 5 feet at Four Corners and more further up at the refuge, but there's no bottom to it, so you just sink down and hit stumps and whatever else is in the snow," said Howard Davis, Cabin Hopper board member.

Davis said the fluffy consistency of the snow also means it doesn't hold up as long after grooming as it sometimes does.

"We can get it gorgeous, but just 20 machines can tear it up," he said.

For the most up to date information the Caribou Hills, visit the Cabin Hoppers Web site at

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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