Time, temperature deciding factors for quality of skiing

Trail conditions variable

Posted: Friday, March 24, 2000

Timing remains everything for Kenai Peninsula cross-country skiers clinging to springtime winter activity.

There is still plenty of snow blanketing the peninsula, but how useful that snow is to skiers depends on what time of day it is accessed.

With temperatures cycling between freezing at night to low and mid-40s during the day, the key is to catch the snow in the happy medium that exists between crusty and mushy.

When that happy medium is found, the results can be memorable.

Dave Brann, the vice president of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, said he received the following word from a skier Tuesday: "A day like this only comes along once in a lifetime."

Brann said 2 inches of snow on Tuesday polished up the trails around Homer. Baycrest, located 100 meters down Roger's Loop, currently has about 20 to 25 kilometers available for skating and also has classical tracks. The trails are of all difficulties.

McNeil Canyon Ski Trails, located 12 miles out East End Road, has 7.5 kilometers of trails ready for skating. The trails are relatively flat, but the longest loop has a couple major hills.

At the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Brenda Wise, a refuge clerk, said a six-mile southern loop has been groomed, but no tracks have been set.

Across the Sterling Highway at Tsalteshi Trails, skiing remains good if it is done at the proper time of the day. Tsalteshi offers 15 total kilometers of trail, with an outer loop measuring just under 7.5 kilometers. The trails are of all difficulties.

In Kenai, Bob Frates, director of Kenai's Parks and Recreation Department, said the department is done grooming the trails for the year.

"I haven't received any feedback on them," Frates said.

In Nikiski, Dale Bakk, the ski coach at Nikiski's high school, said there is good spring skiing at the trails behind the Nikiski pool. Those trails are three kilometers and flat.

Finally, Rich Houghton, the ski coach at Seward's high school, said the place to ski in Seward is Exit Glacier Road. That trail is flat and eight miles one way.

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