It's lumpy, but it's snow

Posted: Friday, November 22, 2002

It's skiing. It's not good skiing, but it's skiing.

Monday, skiing returned to Tsalteshi Trails when Bill Holt groomed all of the trails except for the red loop. That careful grooming, along with significant brush clearing, has allowed people to begin skiing the trails this week. The trails are located behind Skyview High School.

"It's time to make the transition," Holt said Monday as he prepared to put a "Please, no running" sign up on the trails. "People need to do it sometime."

And people need to do it someplace. For the time being, except for Lookout Mountain in Homer, Tsalteshi Trails is the only trail system on the Kenai Peninsula that is groomed and somewhat skiable.

Rich Houghton, the ski coach at Seward High, said there is no skiing in Seward yet.

Dave Feeken, the coach at Kenai Central, said the Kenai Nordic Trails at Kenai Golf Course also are not ready to be skied.

Dale Bakk, the ski coach at Nikiski, said the Nikiski Community Trails and the trails behind the Nikiski pool also are not ready for skiers yet.

While Tsalteshi is skiable, area ski coaches said there are definitely some things to watch out for.

Dan Harbison, the ski coach at Soldotna High School, said the trails are not suited to beginners right now.

"We've let our experienced skiers up on the trails because they don't have any problem skiing around the clumps of dirt and grass on the trail," Harbison. "For somebody just learning to ski, that's harder to do.

"Plus, there's not much snow out there right now. If you fall, it hurts."

Tsalteshi also is a bit lumpy right now due to the limited snow cover, making it even harder for beginners to maintain balance.

Finally, the rain that fell Wednesday night firmed the snow up and made it icy in some spots, making the skiing all the more challenging.

Both Harbison and Kent Peterson, the ski coach at Skyview High School, said beginners are better off skiing around the soccer fields near the school.

Peterson also said one reason the Skyview squad has been able to ski at Tsalteshi is the team has built up a nice collection of rock skis.

A rock ski is an older, worn-out ski that a skier doesn't mind ruining. With such a low degree of snow cover, skiing on the trails is bound to give a ski a scrape or two.

In Homer, ski coach Daryl Farrens said the team has been able to do some skiing at Lookout Mountain, which is located on Ohlson Mountain Road in Homer.

However, the skiing there was so sketchy that a high school meet scheduled for Saturday in Homer was canceled.

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