Cross-country skiing is becoming a lot like fishing on the Kenai Peninsula, where enthusiasts head out only to find tough going and hear, "You should have been here yesterday."
Cold temperatures and snow returned to the peninsula in the early part of the week, making for excellent skiing.
However, in an event all too familiar to ski-ers this year, rain and above-freezing temperatures hit the trails Thursday and turned the good skiing to mush. The warmer temperatures and rain are forecasted to continue into the weekend.
Bill Holt, a groomer at Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High School, was urging skiers to use just the green and purple loops until the temperature drops below freezing again. By using just those two loops, the rest of the trail system will not be rutted up with frozen ski tracks once colder temperatures return.
Holt also mentioned that a new loop near Skyview High School had just been finished. The loop, which is a half kilometer long, does not have enough snow for skiing.
Across the Sterling Highway at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, all the ski loops were groomed Thursday. Ranger Bill Kenagy said the trails were in fair but deteriorating condition.
Kenagy also said the second half of the Centennial Trail was completed in October, so the entire trail is now open to skiers and snowshoers. Beginning skiers may find the loop challenging because it has two fast downhill sections. However, Kenagy said everyone should try the loop this winter because it is the refuge's best ski loop.
Out in Nikiski, groomer Dale Bakk said the Nikiski Community Trails, which are located at Nikiski Middle-Senior High School, are not yet ready for skiing. There is a small loop on the soccer fields that has been skiing nicely, though.
Bakk said on Wednesday night that the trails behind the Nikiski pool would be ready Thursday, but that was before the unruly weather rolled in Thursday.
In Homer, the Baycrest Ski Trails and McNeil Canyon Ski Trails are not ready for skiing. As of Wednesday, there was marginal skiing on Lookout Mountain, which is located off Ohlson Mountain Road. How Lookout Mountain survived Thursday's weather is not known.
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