Snow still remains for spring skiing

Posted: Friday, March 14, 2008

The warm weather this past week may have sent much snow going, but it's not too far gone to enjoy some spring-like skiing in most locations.

"Don't put the skis way just yet," said Tom Seggerman, in regard to the Tsalteshi Trails, accessed from behind Skyview High School or Kalifornsky Beach Road across from the Soldotna Sports Center.

Seggerman said the ski conditions have been good, albeit icy, the last few days. However, there is a good base to work with going into the weekend.

"Don't be fooled by a lot of the melted snow and pooling water on the roads. The trails are back in the shade of the trees, so there's still a lot of snow on them," he said.

Seggerman said on Thursday he expected grooming efforts to be carried out later that evening and continuing today, and the result would likely be some favorable skiing on Saturday and Sunday.

"The daylight is longer and the temperature warmer, so you don't have to wear as much clothes. It should make for some good spring skiing," he said.

Similar conditions were reported at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and for similar reasons.

"The trails in the forest system are not bad. The tree cover has kept the melt down, so there's a good base. It's just a little icy on top, but if we get an inch or two more of snow, it should be very good," said refuge biologist John Morton.

Winter conditions are also holding up well in Niksiki, according to groomer Dale Bakk.

"We've still got some pretty good snow, and while it was warm I chewed it up, smoothed it out and set tracks at the pool. They're relatively hard and icy now that it's cooled down, but they're pretty nice when they soften up during the heat of the day," he said.

While the trail behind the Nikiski Pool may be good for skiing, Bakk said something else will have to be strapped to the feet to enjoy the trails behind Nikiski High School.

"The best way to enjoy them is with snowshoes and they're perfect for that right now," he said.

While the trails at many locations have held up well, the open expanses at the Kenai Golf Course have not been conducive to preventing melt off.

"We've lost a good portion of the trail," said Bob Frates, Kenai Parks and Recreation Director.

No grooming has taken place during the past week, but Frates said if the mercury continues to drop grooming efforts will resume.

"If we get cooler temperatures and more snow, we'll get back on it," he said.

The warm weather will also affect snowmaching soon, at least at lower elevations. Due to spring conditions rapidly overtaking many portions of the peninsula, refuge manager Robin West said lowland portions of the refuge will close at midnight on Sunday. Maps of the open area are available at refuge headquarters on Ski Hill Road in Soldotna.

West said the delay in closing was to allow people with trips planned for the coming weekend to travel in a few areas that may retain adequate snowcover. However, he cautioned that most water bodies are currently unsafe, and trail conditions are eroding rapidly.

Refuge staff are also asking snowmachine users to be especially aware of moose and other wildlife that they may encounter. The Caribou Hills portion of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge will remain open for use through March 31 as long as adequate snow conditions exist.

According to the Caribou Hills Cabin Hoppers Web site, there is still an accumulated 42 inches of snow in many locations, and grooming to nearly all trails with the exception of Centennial took place on Monday and Tuesday of this past week.

For more information on trail conditions in this area, visit their Web site at www.akchch.org.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.



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