Recent snow revs up skiers

Will it stay, or will it go?

Posted: Friday, January 26, 2001

Pessimists would say the tease is on again. Optimists would say the snow has finally arrived for good. Whatever the case, a couple of moderate snowfalls this week have resurrected cross-country trail skiing on the central Kenai Peninsula.

"They're looking a little better," said Karen McGahan, a clerk at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, of the trails Thursday. "Last night's snow helped.

"There was someone out there this morning skiing and it looked OK. It's certainly by no means as good as it could be. But it's better than last week."

There are four loops available at the refuge, with the longest being six miles. The trail head can be accessed from the refuge's Soldotna headquarters.

McGahan said ice is still lingering under the surface of the snow, so skiers should use caution.

Across the Sterling Highway at Tsalteshi Trails, the skiing also is looking up.

Area high school ski teams had been using the trails for practice this week, and that was before Wednesday night brought even more snow.

Even before Wednesday's snows, all of Tsalteshi's 7.5 kilometers were skiable. However, there still is ice under the snow that requires careful attention while going up and down hills.

"You don't want to be hitting the big hills going as fast as you can," said Penny McClain of the Tsalteshi Trails Association. "As people ski them more and more, the corners will get icy."

In Nikiski, groomer Dale Bakk was not available to give trail conditions Thursday afternoon because he was out grooming the trails.

Bakk was grooming the Nikiski Community Trails, located at Nikiski Middle-Senior High School, Thursday afternoon. Thursday night, Bakk was going to groom the trails located behind the Nikiski pool.

There was no word on how many kilometers were going to be skiable at both locations.

As for the Kenai Nordic Trails, as of Thursday they were not groomed because of a broken snowmachine.

Bob Frates, the director of the city of Kenai Parks and Recreation Department, said there is no word on when the machine will be fixed.

He said Kenai Central High School skiers are still using the trail, as are several members of the community.

Those venturing out to the Kenai Nordic Trails, located on the Kenai Golf Course, also should be wary of icy patches.

For those looking to get out of town this weekend, there is good skiing available in Seward and Homer.

In Seward, ski coach Rich Houghton said the Mile 12 ski trails, located at Mile 12 of the Seward Highway, have 4 feet of snow.

Mile 12 has one three-kilometer loop groomed, with classic tracks occasionally set.

It offers intermediate to advanced skiing.

Exit Glacier Road in Seward is still a mess.

In Homer, Dave Brann, vice president of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, said there is now enough snow at Baycrest for skiing.

"Downtown right now, it's nasty with slush and rain water in the streets," Brann said Wednesday night. "But everybody on the hill is getting some good snow buildup.

"I had my driveway plowed this morning, and now there's enough snow there so I need it plowed again."

Brann said groomers will be working to pack snow down at Baycrest, located on Roger's Loop, but for the near future the trail will be pretty rough. There also is open water in places because the ground there is still not frozen.

Despite those obstacles, though, Brann said 15 kilometers of skiing is available at Baycrest.

At McNeil Canyon, located 12 miles out East End Road, conditions this weekend should be great due to several races that will be held there.

McNeil has 7.5 kilometers of skiing, with loops that should fit all levels of skiing.

Finally, with all the snow at McNeil and Baycrest, Brann said Lookout Mountain has not been groomed in some time.



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