Cold weather keeps trails hard, fast

Posted: Friday, February 08, 2008

With no new snow falling and the bitter cold temperatures continuing, the trail report is much the same as last week's expect hard and fast conditions.

"We're just maintaining the status quo," said Bob Frates, Kenai Parks and Recreation director.

Frates said groomers were able to get 1.5 kilometers of tracks set into the trails at the Kenai Golf Course last Saturday, but few people have utilized them with the mercury down near 20 below.

"We just haven't seen much action due to the cold weather, so we haven't done much with the trails, but if it warms up this weekend like they're predicting, we'll be back on it early next week," he said.

At Tsalteshi Trails, accessed from behind Skyview High School or across Kalifornsky Beach Road from the Soldotna Sports Center, the trails have been maintained for maximum skiability, according to groomer Bill Holt.

"The trails are in good shape right now. Classic track is set everywhere and the skating lanes are firm, but not icy," he said.

Holt on Wednesday said he would be continuing grooming efforts later that evening, and even though he would be away this weekend, he believed the trails would hold up through Saturday and Sunday.

"I will try and make a few passes this afternoon before I leave to soften things up a bit, but with this cold weather the trails pretty much maintain themselves," he said.

Out north, the Nikiski Community Trails behind the high school and the trails behind the Nikiski Pool still have not been groomed in due to the stagnant cold temperatures.

"It never warmed up enough to the groomer going, so they still are what I would describe as 'backcountry' trails," said groomer Dale Bakk, adding that snowshoeing would be a more appropriate activity.

Bakk said if the predicted warmer weather comes, he intends to do trail work in the first part of next week.

"I'm hoping to get to the pool trails on Monday," he said.

At the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, trails are still being groomed in once a week, but with this current cold snap, not much has been done recently.

"We need more snow to groom more, but the trails are still in good shape," said park ranger Candace Ward.

This weekend is also the refuge's Winter Family Fun Day, which will include a short, quarter-mile, guided snowshoe walk down to Headquarters Lake and back, she said.

At the Peninsula Sled Dog and Racing Association maintained trails, located next to the Soldotna Airport, conditions remain good for mushing and skijoring following last weekend's sprint races.

In the Caribou Hills, trail groomers have been busy doing what they can to keep the trail conditions fresh, despite no new snow falling. The Caribou Hills Cabin Hoppers groomed in most of the trail network midweek, with the Centennial Trail being one of the only exceptions.

"There's just not enough snow to do much with it," said Cabin Hoppers grooming chairman Greg Barclay in regard to the accumulations on Centennial Trail.

Despite this one anomaly, most of the other trails in the high country are in great shape.

"They're hard and smooth and have hardly any traffic on them because it's so cold," he said.

For the most current conditions in the Caribou Hills, or to view the current conditions from the new weather camera in the area, visit the Cabin Hoppers' Web site at

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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