Skiers hoping for a little more snow

Posted: Friday, February 18, 2000

Believe it or not, cross-country ski enthusiasts would like some more snow.

Although groomers have been doing a suitable job of dealing with recent icy conditions, a fresh coat of powder would help things immensely.

"I think we're all hoping for a little more snow," said Candace Ward, a park ranger at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. "We've got a perfect base. If we could get 4 more inches over that, it would be great."

Ward said six miles of total trails are available for classic skiing at the refuge.

"We have a cement-snow situation, like I think they do everywhere else," Ward said. "The trails are icy in places, and sometimes getting off the trails can be more enjoyable."

At the Kenai Golf Course, Bob Frates, the director of Kenai's Parks and Recreation Department, said the snow is still so hard that a classic track has not been set.

"I think, considering what the weather is doing to us as far as thawing and freezing, we're doing pretty good," said Frates, who offers a five-kilometer loop at the course. "They're still pretty fast."

Frates said the course is still being groomed in the mornings and evenings.

Out in Nikiski, groomer Dale Bakk said the trails behind the Nikiski Pool, which are three kilometers of relatively easy trails, are groomed for freestyle and classic skiing.

"They're really good for skating," Bakk said. "The (classic) tracks are really hard. They're still the tracks from two weeks ago."

At the Nikiski Community Trails, located behind the high school, 2.5 kilometers of moderately difficult trails are groomed for skating.

The rest of the system is suffering from what Bakk calls "snowmachineitis" -- a malady where disrespectful snowmachines tear up the trails.

"I'll groom it in the evening and the kids will be all excited to ski on it the next day," said Bakk, who also coaches the high school ski team. "The next day we'll come back and they'll be all torn up."

At Tsalteshi Trails, located behind Skyview High School, Kent Peterson, the coach of Skyview's high school team, said the trails are still in good shape for skating.

Penny McClain, chair of the Tsalteshi Trail Association, added that skiers should be careful on the red loop, because it is icy.

McClain added that classic tracks have been set on a portion of the course. Tsalteshi has an outer loop that measures just over seven kilometers, and has 15 total kilometers of trail. The trails are of all difficulties.

In Seward, Dennis Perry, the president of the Seward Nordic Ski Club, said the task of digging out the grooming equipment at Mile 12 is under way, but not yet finished.

The system, located at Mile 12 of the Seward Highway, received 8 more inches of snow Wednesday night and is not skiable.

"It's like Valdez up there," Perry said.

The best skiing is still at Exit Glacier Road, which is flat and nine miles one way. Perry also said there is some good touring available at Glacier Creek.

In Homer, McNeil Canyon, located 12 miles out East End Road, will be used for a high school region ski meet today and Saturday, so it should be in excellent shape.

Today, a best-line classic track will be put in, so no skating will be available. The classic track will be taken out for Saturday's freestyle race.

At Baycrest, which is located about 100 meters down Rodgers Loop in Homer, 20 kilometers of skate skiing trails are groomed.

Dave Brann, the vice president of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, said the conditions at Baycrest have improved since a bad three- or four-day stretch, when they were really icy.

"It's real skiable now," Brann said.

Lookout Mountain still is not being groomed.

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