"Winding down" is a term a lot of groomers are using this week. "Done" is a term none are using.
"I just got done grooming the trails," said Dave Brann, the vice president of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, of the Baycrest Ski Trails. "The whole 30 (kilometers) is still really skiable.
"It may be a little hard and fast. For beginners, the hills wouldn't be good. But for intermediate and advanced skiers, it's fine, especially when it's softened up a bit."
As breakup begins to take hold of the peninsula, groomers across the peninsula are agreeing with Brann's advice. With icy and varying conditions, this isn't the time to learn how to ski. But for those skiers who recognize snow conditions and have some experience staying on their feet, trails are still offering decent skiing.
Baycrest, which offers both flat and hilly loops, has no classical tracks. Brann suggested skiers use the trail head on Roger's Loop Road, which is just after the Texaco station when heading to Homer from Soldotna.
Brann also said there is still good skating at the McNeil Canyon Ski Trails, which start from the parking lot of McNeil Canyon Elementary School 12 miles out East End Road. There are 7.5 kilometers of skating there. The shorter loops are flat, while the longer loops have some steep hills.
"We have lots of snow," Brann said. "I think there could be good skiing for a while yet. Things are winding down, though. People are running out of time and energy."
On the central peninsula, the grooming also is getting more intermittent.
In Nikiski, groomer Dale Bakk had not been on the trails since the weekend as of Thursday afternoon.
"I'll try and get out there this afternoon," Bakk said Thursday. "I'm just going out to ski. I'm not sure if I'll groom it. If the surface is icy, I might grind it up a little bit.
"But up through last weekend, things have been really nice."
Skiers in Nikiski have two options -- the trails behind the Nikiski pool and the Nikiski Community Trails.
The trails behind the pool are 3 kilometers long and mostly flat. Right now, they are suitable for classical and freestyle skiing. The Community Trails can be accessed from the parking lot at Nikiski Middle-Senior High School. These trails have 5 kilometers ready for skating and are hilly.
At the Kenai Nordic Trails, located at the Kenai Golf Course, groomer Dave Feeken described the conditions as good spring skiing. The golf course has 7 kilometers of trails groomed for skating. The trails are mostly flat, with a few hills.
"If we get any moisture, in terms of rain, we're done," said Bob Frates, the director of Kenai Parks and Recreation. "It's good right now when it softens up in midafternoon. In the early morning and early evening, it's probably icy.
"Our plans from here on out, unless there's any snow, is to keep it going for the weekend. We're definitely on the downhill now, though."
At the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge trails, which can be accessed from the refuge's headquarters in Soldotna, ranger Dave Kenagy said there will be no more grooming done this season.
Both the Overlook Routes and the Nordic Lake Trails have old, granular snow with some icy and bare ground conditions, but accomplished skiers still shouldn't have a problem getting in a ski at the refuge.
Kenagy also is still seeking volunteers to help upgrade the ski trails this summer. Anybody interested can contact Kenagy at 260-6163.
Across the Sterling Highway at Tsalteshi Trails, about 11 kilometers of freestyle skiing is still available to experienced skiers. The trails were groomed last weekend for a biathlon event, and Tom Seggerman, a groomer at Tsalteshi, said they should be groomed for another biathlon event this weekend.
The trails at Tsalteshi, which are located behind Skyview High School, are still nice enough that skate skiers weren't having a problem getting an edge Thursday.
"The spots that are usually the first to melt haven't melted yet," Seggerman said. "The snow just isn't melting yet. We'll take it day-by-day until May. By then, the snow better have melted."
Finally, those in Seward looking for a place to ski should hit up Bear Lake, which is located off Mile 7 of the Seward Highway. Rich Houghton, a ski coach at the high school, said the skating on the lake has been good, especially early in the morning and late at night when the snow hardens up a little.
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