Spring skiing offers mixed bag

Posted: Friday, March 02, 2001

The high school and middle school cross-country skiing seasons are over on the Kenai Peninsula, but that doesn't necessarily mean cross-country skiing is over on the Kenai Peninsula.

The end of the school skiing season traditionally starts what for many is the favorite part of the ski season -- spring skiing. Numbers on the trails tend to go down while temperatures and daylight hours go up.

While freezing, thawing, rain and a lack of fresh snow made for a tough week for trails on the central peninsula, trails in Homer are still in excellent shape.

Dave Brann, the vice president of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, said some fresh snow Thursday dressed up Homer's trails.

"We're getting snow right now, and everything is looking good," Brann said. "I spent about six hours grooming yesterday afternoon and everything was in great shape."

Brann said 25 kilometers are groomed at the Baycrest Ski Trails for skating, and he hopes to have tracks set by the weekend. Baycrest offers skiing of all levels and, on days with blue sky, a captivating view of Kachemak Bay.

Baycrest can be accessed from the Department of Transportation station at Mile 169 of the Sterling Highway.

Brann also said there is good skiing at the McNeil Canyon Ski Trails, which are located 12 miles out East End Road in the parking lot of McNeil Canyon Elemen-tary School. McNeil has 7.5 kilometers groomed for skating. Those trails are of all difficulties.

Finally, the time is drawing near for the Kachemak Marathon Ski. This event, to be held at Baycrest, offers a 30-kilometer race for $25, a 10-kilometer race for $10 and a 2-kilometer race for $5. For more information, call Kenton Bloom at 235-6600 or e-mail him at seabrite@alaska.net.

In Seward, ski coach Rich Houghton said the Mile 12 ski trails, located at Mile 12 of the Seward Highway, are high enough in elevation that they are still in great shape. Mile 12 has 3 kilometers of moderately difficult trails groomed for skating.

Exit Glacier Road, located at Mile 5 of the Seward Highway, also is groomed for skating. Exit Glacier Road, which is flat and eight miles one way, is lower in elevation, so Houghton said the trail is a little crunchy.

Houghton also reminded people about the Seward Nordic Ski Classic coming up on March 10 at Exit Glacier Road. There will be a 6- and 12-kilometer classic or skate race and a 20-kilometer skijor race. For more information, contact The Seward Military Resort at 224-5559 or the Seward Chamber of Commerce at 224-8051.

On the central peninsula, groomers said they are doing a pretty good job battling the difficult weather conditions.

Out in Nikiski, Dale Bakk had the trails behind the Nikiski pool groomed. The trails are mostly flat and are 3 kilometers long.

Bakk also was planning on grooming the Nikiski Commu-ity Trails before the weekend. Those trails are located in the parking lot of Nikiski Middle-Senior High School and have some difficult hills. They are about 5.5 kilometers long when they are all groomed.

At Tsalteshi Trails, Bill Holt, the vice president of the Tsalteshi Trails Association, said the 3-kilometer Wolf Run was groomed Wednesday. It does not have classical tracks and also has some moderate hills.

Holt was not sure if the outer loops would be groomed for the weekend.

"We're going to try and keep something skiable for the next week or two," Holt said. "Since there are so few people skiing, rather than spend a lot of time keeping all the trails open, we're just going to focus on keeping something open."

Holt also said there is a small practice loop groomed at Tustumena Elementary School.

At the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Brenda Wise, a refuge clerk, said the trails are pretty icy.

Since the trails are narrow and have some decent hills, people should ski them with a lot of caution.

Finally, at the Kenai Nordic Trails, located at the Kenai Golf Course, the ski trails are icy and sparse in areas and, as of Thursday, weren't in very good condition.

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