Skiing's good -- if you can stay warm

Posted: Friday, December 07, 2001

It's been subzero temperatures, not trail conditions, that have been slowing down central peninsula skiers this week.

"The (high school) kids said the skiing's fine, you just get real cold," said Bill Holt, the vice chair of the Tsalteshi Trails Association. "I wouldn't know. I'm warm. I haven't been on the trails for a couple of days."

Tsalteshi, located behind Skyview High School, has about 11 kilometers of all difficulties ready for skiing. About 4 kilometers have classic tracks set.

The Skyview Invitational will be held at Tsalteshi Trails starting Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m. However, the races shouldn't stop people from skiing, because only a short course around the soccer fields will be used.

Holt said people will be able to access the trails from the hill near the tennis courts.

Across the Sterling Highway at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, skiers also will have to alter the way they access the trail. Nicole Johnson, a park ranger at the refuge, said some maintenance construction is blocking the entry gate to the Nordic Lake Trails.

Johnson said the entry should be open by next weekend. In the meantime, skiers can head down to Headquarters Lake and cut across to catch the trails.

"If you're familiar with the area, that makes sense," Johnson said. "If you aren't, consult a map or stop by the visitor center."

Johnson also said the Overlook Routes are open, but said those may be a bit difficult for skiers. Another option now open to skiers is Headquarters Lake. The ice thickness was measured last weekend, and it was 10 inches, meaning it's now safe for skiers.

"We always say that with a warning for people to be aware," Johnson said. "It should be safe, but always be aware of things like cracking sounds."

Out in Nikiski, Dale Bakk, the coach of the high school team, said both the trails behind the Nikiski pool and the Nikiski Community Trails remain in good shape.

At the pool trails, which are relatively easy skiing, a combination of a trespassing snowmachiner and blowing hoarfrost have made the classic tracks marginal at best. However, there's still 3 kilometers of good skating.

The Nikiski Community Trails, located in the parking lot of Nikiski Middle-Senior High School, also don't have classic tracks, but have 5 kilometers of skating. The trails offer skiing of medium difficulty, with some challenging hills.

"Pretty much the only people I've seen out on the trails this week are the high school skiers," Bakk said. "We've had to keep the workouts a little shorter, and we've had to watch the kids pretty closely.

"If it looks like they're cooling off, we just have them do some sprints."

At the Kenai Nordic Trails, Dave Feeken, the coach of Kenai's ski team, said equipment problems led to "way beyond packed powder." However, he did say the trails are skiable.

The Kenai Nordic Trails are located on the Kenai Golf Course. The trails are mostly flat, with a few hills that may challenge beginning skiers. There are 5 kilometers ready for skating, but there are no classic tracks.

Feeken said there are plans to work on the trails Sunday.

In Homer, the good skiing is still at Lookout Mountain, located on Ohlson Mountain Road. Those trails are 4 kilometers long and mostly flat. Dave Brann, of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, isn't sure if there are classic tracks on them or not.

There is still no skiing at the McNeil Canyon Ski Trails, and the upper loops of the Baycrest Ski Trails are still only marginal, at best, while the lower trails are not skiable.

In Seward, all the skiing remains washed out by the rains of a few weeks ago.

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