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Bring on the spring

Posted: Friday, February 18, 2005

Though it's just the middle of February, conditions on the Kenai Peninsula's cross-country ski trails have skiers thinking spring.

"It's like spring skiing out there," said Kenai Parks and Recreation director Bob Frates.

Indeed, growing daylight hours, cool nights and warm days, along with soft afternoon snow conditions that firm up overnight, have made for pleasant outings this week.

Frates said the Kenai Nordic Trails on the Kenai Golf Course had been groomed during the week, and classic tracks had been set along the edge of the trail.

Groomers have been out at Tsalteshi Trails, and the Tsalteshi Trail Association has teamed up with Soldotna Community Schools to put together a family fun day Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. Activities include skiing on the trails, ice skating on the Skyview High School rink, sledding, and hot chocolate around a fire.

Across the Sterling Highway on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, ranger Dave Kenagy reported that groomers would wait until daytime temperatures stayed below freezing until grooming the trails again in order to preserve a thick layer of powder which is underneath an icy, snowy crust. Trails were last groomed on Sunday, and skiers should expect the usual spring conditions — a little icy in the morning and soft but fast in the afternoon.

In Nikiski, trail groomer Dale Bakk said he was able finish rolling out and packing down recent snowfall Tuesday. The Nikiski Community Trails at the middle-senior high school are groomed for skating, as are the trails at the Nikiski Pool. Bakk said he planned to add classic tracks at the pool trails Thursday.

"The skiing is real good. The way this winter has gone, we'll enjoy each day as it's here," Bakk said.

In Homer, Dave Brann of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club said about 20 kilometers of trail at Baycrest was groomed and in good shape, though he said about 10 downed trees kept trail groomers busy this week.

Lookout Mountain has a 2-kilometer loop in excellent condition, and Brann described McNeil Canyon and the 7.5-kilometer trail with classic tracks from there to the Eveline State Recreation Site as "gorgeous."

"It's really amazingly good skiing — about as good as we've had all winter," Brann said.

The Kachemak Bay Nordic Ski Club is preparing to host the Kachemak Bay Marathon on March 13. The event will feature 20- and a 42-kilometer races. More information is available on the club's Web site at http://kachemaknordicskiclub.org.



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