Skiers getting soft (trails)

Posted: Friday, March 05, 2004

Thanks to temperatures at and above freezing and wet, fresh snow, the ski trails have been soft this week on the Kenai Penin-sula.

The soft trails have been providing adequate skiing. They also have been giving groomers a break from icy conditions of a week before that demanded constant attention.

"It's almost impossible to groom right now, but the skiing is not bad," said LuAnn Reynolds, a member of the Tsalteshi Trails Association. "It's slow, but the temperatures are warm enough so it's not icy."

Reynolds said all of Tsalteshi's loops are skiable right now. She said that should remain the case unless temperatures dart below freezing. Then the trail will ice up and provide rough skiing.

At the Kenai Nordic Trails, Bob Frates, the director of the city of Kenai Parks and Recreation Department, said groomers have not touched the trails since Monday.

Frates said if the trails freeze up, groomers will head out and try to make them skiable.

The same holds out in Nikiski.

"We're waiting for it to cool down," said Dale Bakk, who grooms the trails behind the Nikiski pool and the Nikiski Community Trails.

Bakk said once the temperatures at the trails go below freezing, he will roll out both the trails behind the Nikiski pool and the Nikiski Community Trails. He then will set classical tracks. There will be 3 kilometers of skiing at the pool and 5 kilometers at the Nikiski Community Trails.

Dave Kenagy, a park ranger at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, also is playing the waiting game.

"If sufficient snow accumulates through midday Thursday, the Nordic Lake loops will be groomed Thursday afternoon or Friday and conditions will go from fair to good and will be even and free of icy spots," Kenagy wrote in a press release. "How-ever, if Thursday afternoon is too warm, and melting occurs, the trails may not be groomed this week."

Kenagy said skiers on Head-quarters Lake may encounter some overflow, particularly on the northcentral shoreline.

As for the Centennial Trail, which is for snowshoers, Kenagy said he would groom that Friday and Saturday if there was enough snowfall.

In Homer, Dave Brann, the vice president of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, said the trails have been holding up well.

At the Baycrest Ski Trails, the trails at higher elevations received a couple of inches of snow this week. Those trails are providing good skiing, but the skiers on the trails at lower elevations will encounter some wet spots.

At the McNeil Canyon Ski Trails, Brann said the skating is good and there also should be classic tracks on all 7.5 kilometers by the weekend.

Finally, Lookout Mountain still has a 2.5-kilometer loop that is providing good skiing.

In Seward, Rich Houghton, the coach of the high school ski team, said the town has gotten fresh snow this week. Both the Mile 12 Ski Trails and Exit Glacier Road are providing decent skiing.

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