Warm, wet weather takes toll on ski trails

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2008

Snowfall predicted for the next couple days is much needed, as local groomers have found the icy trails left behind after last weekend's rain and temperatures in the 40s equally hard to cope with.

"The heavy wet snow and rain brought down not just branches but entire trees, that became frozen into place as the temperature cooled off," said groomer Dale Bakk on Thursday in regard to the ski trails behind Niksiki High School.

"Right now they're unskiable," he said, and Bakk doubted he would be able to get the trails into shape in time for the weekend, since the icy conditions took there toll on him too. He and his family were in an auto accident midweek, and his injuries have left him temporarily unable to lift a chainsaw.

"I probably won't know how the trails will be until next week," he said.

Bakk said, to his knowledge, the trails behind the Niksiki Pool were only slightly better.

" I haven't been able to get over there yet, but the last time I was there, there was five inches of snow under about one inch of crust," he said.

At the Kenai Golf Course, the warm wet weather made grooming equally challenging, as only half of the course is open to skiing.

"There's no tracks set yet, but the east end of the course will be skiable and in good shape," said Bob Frates, Kenai Parks and Recreation director.

However, Frates said the trails to the west end, behind Oilers Park, are still closed as a result of large puddles that iced over when the mercury dropped midweek.

"We haven't had time to work them yet, but we'll get to them next week," he said.

At Tsalteshi Trails, accessed behind Skyview High School or from Kalifornsky Beach Road across from the Soldotna Sports Center, groomers have been working diligently and have salvaged very skiable trail despite the challenging weather.

"All the trails were reclaimed (Tuesday night)," said Bill Holt, via e-mail.

Prior to the recent snowfall, Holt said trail conditions were "fast and fun."

Similar conditions prevailed at the Peninsula Sled Dog And Racing Association's trails behind the Soldotna Airport, according to PSDRA president Mitch Michaud.

"They're good, but fast, extremely fast," he said on Thursday.

Even before the snowfall, Michaud said the conditions would be suitable for the youth and adult skijor races which begin Saturday at 2 p.m. People can use either one or two dogs, and travel either a 1-, 3-, or 4.5-mile course. For more information, contact Michaud at 252-5350.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.

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