Grooming keeps local trails 'fast and fun'

Trail Report

Posted: Friday, February 29, 2008

Two words describe most of the trails in the central peninsula: hard and fast.

At Tsalteshi Trails, accessed from behind Skyview High School or off of Kalifornsky Beach Road across from the Soldotna Sports Center, skiers have been moving at near warp speeds for their Tuesday evening race series, and conditions should stay swift on Saturday and Sunday.

"The trails should be great this weekend," said groomer Bill Holt.

"We have been regrooming them every other day and it seems to be keeping them fast and fun. I am planning on going over them again tonight," Holt added on Thursday.

Andy Bralley, groundskeeper for the city of Kenai, said he expected similar conditions on the 5-kilometers of trails at the Kenai Golf Course.

"The east and west end are both open, but are obviously very hard," he said.

Bralley said he has been working with the accumulated snow all week to make the trails as good as possible going into the weekend.

"I've been scraping them every day, and had tracks in, but they went away with the last warm spell. Still, for skate skiing it's really good with the exception of a few rough spots here and there," he said.

Bralley added that on Saturday, the east side of the course will be closed until noon for borough middle school races, but then both loops will be open after that.

Those wanting to strap on skis early Saturday could also utilize the Peninsula Sled Dog and Racing Association Trails behind the Soldotna Airport.

"There's no dog races this weekend and the trails are in good shape and open to anybody," said PSDRA President Mitch Michaud.

For those not familiar with the PSDRA course, a map at the trailhead shows all routes and mileages. Also, the trail to the right is the outbound trail, while the one on the left is for inbound traffic.

In Nikiski, groomer Dale Bakk said he has been able to whip the trails behind the pool into shape.

"I softened the pool trails up on Monday. I broke the crust up, and filled moose holes and turned all the pine cones under," he said.

Bakk said after all the work was complete, the trail conditions weren't bad at all.

"They're fast, but in good shape for skating. On a scale of one to 10, I'd give them an eight," he said.

Bakk said if more fresh white stuff falls he will set tracks too, but in the meantime he will start working on the trails behind Nikiski High School.

"I hoping to get there this weekend unless it gets real warm," he said.

Snowmachiners should also find favorable riding conditions in the Caribou Hills this weekend, and anyone looking to run for a cause can still sign up for the Way Out Women ride, the proceeds of which go toward assisting cancer patients in the community.

"We've got around 80 people already registered, and we have a lot of people that sign up the day of," said organizer Kathy Lopeman.

Entry fee for the event is $100 and includes a continental breakfast, goody bag, a limited edition T-shirt, and lunch. Last year's event raised more than $41,000. For more information or to pre-register, contact Kathy Lopeman at 283-7602, 714-4490, or 398-4853.

Greg Barclay, a groomer with the Caribou Hills Cabin Hoppers said trails should be set for the weekend event.

"We've got 99 percent of the trails groomed in. Centennial is the only exception and we're hoping to have that done by the weekend," he said.

Barclay said slightly cooler temperatures this week have also allowed for smoother grooming, as opposed to the balling effect from the wet snow and warm temperatures last week.

"The temperature here is around 20 to 21 degrees, so it's pretty nice," he said from the Caribou Hills around noon on Thursday.

"It looks like the weather will work with us, so the trail should be good this weekend," he added.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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