Trail groomers on the central peninsula got a chance this week to make up for all the work they missed out on earlier in the winter when there wasn't any snow.
A total of 16 to 20 inches of wet, heavy snow bombarded the central peninsula Sunday and early Monday morning, sentencing groomers to hours of trying to get that snow packed down enough for skiing.
"It was a lot of work, but it's worth it," said Dale Bakk, who grooms trails in Nikiski. "We haven't done enough work all year. We're just packing it in at the end of the season."
The good news for central peninsula skiers is Bakk and other groomers were confident they would be caught up on grooming in time for the weekend.
At the trails behind the Nikiski pool, which are 3 kilometers of flat skiing, Bakk has classical tracks set. He said the classical tracks run across the middle of the trail, so skaters should probably go to the Nikiski Community Trails.
The Nikiski Community Trails are located at Nikiski Middle-Senior High School and offer moderately challenging skiing. Bakk has 3 kilometers ready for skating, although he may try and get more packed down for the weekend.
Skiers should be aware that the trails will host a middle school race in the early afternoon Saturday.
Tsalteshi Trails also will not be able to be skied at certain times this weekend due to the region high school ski meet, which will be held Friday and Saturday.
Tom Seggerman, who is helping prep the trails for the race, said community skiers should stay off the trails Friday and then until about 3 p.m. Saturday, when the races will be over.
When the races are over, the trails should be in prime condition because groomers have spent many hours prepping them for the region races.
Seggerman said those looking for Friday and early Saturday skiing should check out the Kenai Nordic Trails, located on the Kenai Golf Course.
"I think we're finally getting somewhat caught up, but it's definitely been challenging," said Bob Frates, the director of the Kenai Parks and Recreation Department. "We should have our 5 kilometers in and ready to go for the weekend."
The golf course is relatively flat with a few hills and should be set up for skate and classical skiing.
Frates urged some caution because there have been moose on the course. He also said snowmachiners have been messing up the trails, and urged them to use courtesy by staying off all the ski trails.
At the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge trails, which can be accessed from the refuge's headquarters, 6 miles is set for classical skiing. The trails, which offer some challenging skiing, are packed down and have classical tracks.
In Homer, Dave Brann, vice president of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, said groomers there didn't have to worry about quite so much snowfall Sunday and Monday. As a result, the trails there have remained in excellent shape.
The Baycrest Ski Trails, which can be accessed from a trailhead by the Department of Transportation station just outside of Homer on the Sterling Highway, have 25 kilometers groomed for skating. About 10 or 15 of those kilometers should have classic tracks by the weekend.
Baycrest offers skiing of all levels.
At the McNeil Canyon Ski Trails, located 12 miles out East End Road in the parking lot of McNeil Canyon Elementary School, 7.5 kilometers are available for skating. There are no classic tracks set at the trails, which offer skiing of all levels.
Brann also reminded people to mark their calender for the Kachemak Bay Marathon Ski, which will be March 10.
Finally, there also is good skiing available in Seward.
At the Mile 12 Ski Trails, located at Mile 12 of the Seward Highway, 3 kilometers is groomed for skating. Mile 12 offers moderately challenging skiing.
At Exit Glacier Road, at about Mile 5 of the Seward Highway, skiers also will find good skating. Exit Glacier is mostly flat and is 8 miles one way.
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