Groomers work to break up icy trails

Posted: Friday, February 23, 2007

Despite cold temperatures and no new snow accumulations for more than a week, local groomers are reporting decent trail conditions going into the weekend.

“We’ve been working on them every other day to keep them skiiable, and they’re in pretty good shape,” said Bill Holt, a groomer for the Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High School.

Holt said new snow would definitely be an asset, but he’s fairly happy with the trails considering he hasn’t had much to work with.

“When it gets this cold, (the snow) gets firm and bonds together, so it’s a stiff course that skis fast, but skis well,” he said.

Holt added that he last groomed Wednesday night, but didn’t set new tracks.

“The tracks on Wolverine look perfect, though, and the tracks on the other trails are still in good shape too,” he said.

Holt also pointed out while the Tsalteshi Trails Association is preparing for a skijor race next month, the trails are currently closed to dogs, as well as walkers and runners.

“They’re ski trails right now, and we’re trying to keep them in good shape for skiing,” he said.

Dave Kenagy, groomer at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, said trail conditions there also were fair.

“It’s not too bad. There’s a hard base, but the surface is nice, not icy icy,” he said.

Kenagy said the trail around Headquarters Lake was likely the most iffy of the refuge’s trails.

“The lake may be a little rough from the windy conditions last week, but the rest of the trails — other than a few sticks and fallen debris — should be OK,” he said.

Kenagy said he wasn’t planning on doing too much grooming going into the weekend considering the current weather conditions.

“We’ll do minimal maintenance on them until it either warms up or more snow comes, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed for more snow in March, which is fairly common,” he said.

Andy Bralley, groundskeeper for the city of Kenai, said the trails at the Kenai Golf Course also suffered during this past week’s windstorm, but he has been working hard to fix them up.

“I worked on them quite a bit on Wednesday, scarifying them, and breaking them up and grooming them. They’re still icy, but skiable right now (Thursday), and I’m hoping to spend more time out there on Friday to get them in shape for the weekend,” he said.

Like last weekend, Bralley said only the trails on the east end of the course are open to skiing. The west end of the course remains closed until more snow falls.

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