Warm, wet conditions wreak havoc on trails

Rain, rain go away ...

Posted: Friday, February 02, 2007

Recent bouts of rain and continuing warm temperatures have taken their toll on local trails, but there still is some decent skiing to be found, and the snowmachine trails of the high country aren’t bad either.

“The air temperatures have been warm, but as long as the snow temperatures don’t come above freezing it should be pretty good this weekend,” said Tom Seggerman, a groomer at Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High School.

With the exception of Wolverine, Lynx and Raven loops, all the trails had been groomed earlier in the week, and those three would be done by the end of the day, Seggerman said Thursday.

“Really, the trail conditions are good — fast, but good. It’s just effortless, like there’s little ball bearings under the skis,” he said.

Conditions are not quite as good at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, according to groomer Dave Kenagy.

“It’s a little on the icy and bumpy side. I don’t want to discourage people from coming out, because people can still ski and snowshoe, but I don’t have plans to groom it until we get more snow,” he said.

The trails at the Kenai Golf Course also are in marginal condition, according to Bob Frates, Parks and Recreation director for the city.

“Like everyone else, we’re dealing with ice issues,” he said.

Frates explained the east end of the course is holding up better than the west end, closest to Oilers ballpark.

“We’ll keep up with grooming on the east end, but the west end of the course is seeing some pretty spotty snow due to wind and high temperatures, so we’ll probably discontinue grooming there,” he said.

While the east end has better trail conditions, it also has more moose, and Frates advised anyone utilizing the area to be mindful of them.

Out north, Dale Bakk, groomer for the Nikiski Community Trails and the trails behind the pool, said conditions are less than perfect.

“It’s a little too icy,” he said.

That the pool trails have been walked on, so until more white stuff comes the community trails are really the only option for skiers, Bakk said.

“The tracks from the race last weekend have held up well, but so have the ruts on the corners. I can’t really work on it, though, until we get a little cooler weather or more snow.

Like area ski trails, snowmachine trails have fallen victim to the warmth, said Howard Davis of the Caribou Hills Cabin Hoppers.

“We haven’t groomed at all this week. You just can’t do it when it’s like this, it just makes giant snowballs,” he said.

Despite not grooming in the Caribou Hills, Davis said there have still been plenty of people riding.

“It’s rough, but people are still using the trails. I see at least six trailers parked every day in the Clam Gulch wayside,” he said.

But if weather conditions didn’t change soon, he wasn’t sure how long this would be the case.

“The rain has really taken a lot of the snow at the Clam Gulch wayside, but we still have lots up top,” he said.

Davis also was optimistic about what this recent weather has done to the trails in the high country.

“What we had was so fluffy, but now with all this moisture in the snow, once it cools down and we can groom it, the trail should be even nicer than it was,” he said.

Davis was equally optimistic that cooler temperatures and more snow were on the way.

“It’s been a good season so far. Last season the first day we groomed was January 26th. This season we started on November 24th. That’s 60 more days. So, it’s been a good season, and I think this is just an interim and we’ll hopefully get more snow soon,” he said.

Davis also reported that the one broken-down groomer, of the cabin hoppers’ two groomers, has been fixed and moved off of the Jeep Trail.

“It’s still having problems with the hydraulics to the groomer, but we’re hoping to have that fixed so it can be grooming by next week,” he said.

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