Rain takes toll on skier options

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2001

Ski trails on the central peninsula have come through the recent warm weather in decent shape, but trails in Homer and Seward have not fared as well.

"They're beautiful," said Tsalteshi Trail Association member Penny McClain after skiing the trails located behind Skyview High School on Tuesday.

"That snow we had (last week) protected the trails. They were just great."

McClain reported fast conditions on the trails, and added that some of the corners may be a little icy.

The Tsalteshi system offers 11 kilometers of trails. The trails are of a variety of difficulties.

Dale Bakk had a similar report from Nikiski.

"Actually, the trails are pretty good," said Bakk, who grooms the trails behind the Nikiski pool and the Nikiski Community Trails at Nikiski Middle-Senior High School.

"It's taken a lot of work with all of the debris that's blown onto the trails, but if it cools off right now, we've got a really good base for when we do get more snow. Even with the warm weather, we haven't lost anything yet."

Bakk said he would be setting tracks for classical skiing on the trails behind the Nikiski pool Wednesday. Those trails cover 3 kilometers of mostly easy terrain.

The Community Trails, which offer 5.5 kilometers of moderately difficult skiing with a few challenging hills, have been groomed for skating, but Bakk said he's waiting for some fresh snow before setting classical tracks.

Both Bakk and McClain said lots of skiers have been taking advantage of this season's early snow.

"There were quite a few people out skiing (Tuesday) night," McClain said. "I think we've had more people skiing this year than last. I think people were so disappointed last year that the minute snow showed up, they were going to be out in it."

"The ski team has been out skiing, and we've seen quite a few people skiing at the pool -- mostly older folks," Bakk said, defining older folks as "Grandma-and-Grandpa older."

"That makes my day when I see an older couple out cruising around."

Bob Frates, director of the city of Kenai Parks and Recreation Department, reported that the Kenai Nordic Trails, located on the Kenai Golf Course on Lawton Drive, have been getting plenty of use.

"Conditions are fast," Frates said. "We're running a little thin in some areas, especially in amongst the trees, and that makes it a little tricky. We just need some more snow."

Frates said that snow conditions have not allowed him to set classical tracks, and added that as the sun goes down, conditions may become icy. The Kenai Nordic Trails offer 5 kilometers of easy skiing with a few tricky hills.

Dave Brann of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club said Wednesday that conditions in Homer were "going downhill fast" due to rain and warm temperatures. Brann said that conditions at Lookout Mountain on Ohlson Mountain Road are still excellent, but conditions at Baycrest weren't worth making the trip.

Finally, rain last weekend in Seward washed away most of the snow on Exit Glacier Road, leaving the trail unskiable.



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