Groomers work hard, find success in battle with ice-encrusted snow conditions

Extra daylight means extra time skiing

Posted: Friday, February 25, 2000

As the light of day increases, so, too, do prime opportunities for cross-country skiing.

"With the extra daylight hours, the trails have been really crowded from 3:30 to 5 p.m., especially at Baycrest," said Dave Brann, vice president of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club in Homer. "The trails are in good shape compared to what it was a couple of weeks ago."

Groomers across the peninsula have been working hard at taking the bite out of hard, icy snow. Suitable results have people enjoying daylight skiing until the sun sets around 6:30 p.m.

In Homer, conditions were aided by a snowfall earlier this week. At Baycrest, located 100 meters down Rodgers Loop, 30 kilometers of trails are ready for skating and about 12 kilometers have classic tracks.

Baycrest has loops for all abilities of skiers.

"We've been grooming every day and scraping up an inch or so at the surface," Brann said. "Underneath is still really hard. You don't want to fall hard right now."

Brann said McNeil Canyon Trails, located 12 miles out East End Road, are still in excellent condition due to the extensive attention they received for last weekend's region high school race.

The trails are good for skating and are of average difficulty with a couple of trying hills.

Up on the central Kenai Peninsula, Bob Frates, the director of Kenai's Parks and Recreation Department, said he has gotten good reviews of the trail conditions at the Kenai Golf Course.

"We got a little feedback from some middle schoolers preparing for a race there (Friday)," Frates said. "That feedback said everything was in good shape."

The golf course offers five kilometers of relatively flat skate skiing with a few moderate hills. There are no classic tracks set.

At the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Brenda Wise, a refuge clerk, said there had been little change at the trails over the past week.

Last week, six miles of trails were groomed for classic skiing, and the trails were reported to be hard and icy in places.

Across the Sterling Highway at Tsalteshi Trails, Alan Boraas, a member of the Tsalteshi Trail Association, reported suitable conditions.

"I went skiing there Monday and it was a little bit icy, but good," Boraas said. "It's probably good for skating, but it will be a bit icy in spots."

Boraas also said the time of day makes a difference.

"The later in the day, the better," Boraas said.

Tsalteshi, which also has classic tracks, has an outer loop that measures just over seven kilometers and has 15 total kilometers of trail. The trails are of all difficulties.

Out in Nikiski, Karen Kester, the recreation director for the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area, said skiing is good at both the trails behind the Nikiski Pool and the Nikiski Community Trails.

The trails behind the pool offer three kilometers of relatively easy skiing. The community trails, located behind the high school, offer skiing with some challenging hills.

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