Deep snow means lots of work

Posted: Friday, March 09, 2007

Based on the two feet of snow a midweek blizzard brought to some areas of the Kenai Peninsula, perhaps the old cliche, “When it rains it pours,” should be changed to, “When it snows it dumps.”

“We got a full 14 inches on Wednesday and three to four more inches that night. It was a little too much of a good thing,” said Dale Bakk, trail groomer for the Nikiski Community Trails and the trails behind the Nikiski Pool.

Still, he said the heavy accumulations are better than the the stale, icy conditions he was trying to work with last week.

“I’ll try to get the pool trails whomped down first and get tracks set on them if I can. The snow might be a little too dry to hold tracks, but I’ll try and we’ll see,” Bakk said.

At the Nikiski Community Trails, Bakk said on Thursday he would likely let the snow sit for a couple of days in order to firm up.

“It’s icy underneath and fluffy on top so it needs to settle a bit,” he said.

Dave Kenagy at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge said the trails there also were taking considerable time to make them skiable.

“We had an awful lot of snow and it’s taking a lot to get it all packed down,” he said.

Kenagy spent most of the day Thursday getting the roughly 3-kilometer Centennial Trail into shape. He said he would spend today working the 6-kilometer Nordic Lake Trail loops, and would likely finish Headquarters Lake on Saturday.

The story was much the same for the trails at the Kenai Golf Course, according to the city’s groundskeeper Andy Bralley.

“On Wednesday, I rolled 18 passes on the 3-k on the end and it just kept filling up with snow. When I was done, you couldn’t even tell I was there,” he said.

Bralley said while not apparent yet, all those passes will pack the snow and pay dividends toward keeping a skiable trail if another pressure system moves in that again prevents it from snowing for weeks.

Bralley said he also intended to continue to work on the trails Thursday and Friday to have them shored up for the weekend.

“I’ll roll the east end and get them into shape. They should be pretty nice for Saturday,” he said.

As to the trails on the west end which have been closed for weeks due to patchy snow in some places and ice in all the rest, Bralley said he will have to assess them after they are worked on before he can say for certain when they will open for skiing.

“I’ll roll them and see what we get, but the west end will probably stay closed until Monday. If I open them sooner, I’ll take the cones out so people will know,” he said.

Mitch Michaud, president and groomer for the Peninsula Sled Dog and Racing Association, said he would be working on the trails behind the Soldotna Airport to accommodate skiers, skijorers and mushers not in the Iditarod.

“I’ll do all the trails. I’ll have the 5-mile, 7-mile, 9-mile and 10-mile loops in by (Thursday), and I’ll probably have the 14-mile done by (today)” he said.

While the PSDRA trails are open to dogs all winter long, the Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High School are usually not, but they will make an exception Sunday for a skijor event.

Bill Holt, a groomer at Tsalteshi, said the trails should be perfect for humans and dogs.

“We’ll work on the trails for that event first, so they’re in great shape for Sunday. We’ll have everything else packed down by (Thursday), and we’ll set classic tracks (today),” he said.

Holt said the skijor event wasn’t the only group gathering scheduled for the next few days. A group of skiers has been hosting informal races Monday evenings.

“They’re mostly freestyle races, a 3-k and a 5-k, that are mass starts and timed. It’s been mostly kids so far, but it’s open to everyone and we’re really hoping to grow this event,” he said.

Interested skiers are asked to meet at the trailhead between 6 and 6:15 p.m. Ski-throughs for the event take place at 6:30 p.m. and the race starts at 7 p.m.

Form more information on the Monday night races, call Ronna Martin at 283-5227.

Holt said this weekend will also be night skiers’ last chance to do their thing.

“We haven’t had many people out after 8 p.m. and after this Sunday — with daylight savings — it will be light out at 8:30 p.m., so it just made sense to turn them off,” he said.

Snowmachiners also got a little fresh powder out of this most recent storm. The Caribou Hills Cabin Hoppers have reported accumulations of 6-10 inches of new snow in the hills, with Oil Well Road plowed Thursday, making it safer to get there.



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