Athabaskan: Sonot (pronounced “SAW NOT”, “springtime”) Kkaazoot (“to slide your feet across the snow”)
Saturday, 13 March 2021 until Sunday, 28 March 2021
The virtual 34th annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot is officially in the record books. Skiers have until Wednesday, 31 March 2021 to submit reports and times to the email at the bottom of this post. If you don’t see your report posted within 24 hours, please send again. Google mail has been doing mysterious things.
Scroll down for RESULTS that will be posted in the order that they are recieved. Please enter a comment on the appropriate blogpost if you see anything amiss in my reports of the virtual Sonot Kkaazoot.
All participants are highly encouraged to make a TRAIL DONATION on behalf of the Virtual Sonot Kkaazoot, but it’s not a requirement. You can leave cash or checks in the iron ranger at Birch Hill Recreation Area or make an online donation here: https://nordicskicluboffairbanks.wildapricot.org/Donate/
Denali State Bank along with the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks will be offering free Sonot Kkaazoot reusable face masks for any skiers who wish to have one while supplies last. They are currently available in the log warming hut at Birch Hill Recreation Area.
2021 Sonot Kkaazoot posters by Mark Ross are still available from Bad Bob (see his message at the URL given above) for a $50 trails donation.
Enjoy spring skiing. I look forward to seeing you at the 35th annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot.
For the SCUM, each year increases the challenge. Last year, one 70 year old SCUM and two youngsters did 4 ascents of the Fort Wainwright chair lift trail for the 4th of July. (https://sonotkkaazoot.org/2020/07/03/4th-of-july-celebration-under-covid-19/).This year, we hoped to do better. However, last Friday (our normal ski walking day at FWW), winds blew smoke from the Munson Creek fire into Fairbanks so the air quality was hazardous. Thus, we delayed our workout until today.
Six of us left the Birch Hill stadium at 9:00 a.m., three were youngsters and three were over 70 years old. Robert Hannon, one of the kids, opted to just do 3 speedy ascents so he missed the photo documentation.
And two-way traffic on the trail was spreading out as we used different pacing strategies.
Temperatures stayed in the low 60s, but we were definitely overheating by ascent 3. However, all of us completed 4 ascents.
Billl had dropped his poles midway up his 4th ascent figuring that he’d go back down to meet Carl after he’d finished his. However, Carl ended up a lot faster than Bill expected so three of us accompanied Carl on his last ascent. Meanwhile, Bill had to go further back down the hill to retrieve his poles and to finish 4 ascents WITH poles.
The lupines, roses, and irises have gone to seed on the trail already as summer speeds by. Will your carcass be ready for skiing by the time the snow covers the trails? The SCUM hope theirs will be.
Bad Bob Baker is planning new courses for the 35th annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot in 2022, and they will involve more climbing (including the Sunnyside trail instead of the Chena River) than in the past for all 3 distances. Start hill training now.
Last Friday felt like fall with temperatures barely in the 40s, whereas today temperatures were 25 degrees or more higher, the hills were much colorful, two dozen fire fighters were also training on the hill, and the mosquitoes more blood thirsty.
Above we see Robert Hannon leading Dermot on their third partial ascent. After their second ascent, they headed down and met Bill and Mom a little below “flat rock” and followed them up.
Here Dermot shows that he can carry one of the smaller rocks momentarily (with an assist) while Bill takes his photo:
The Birch Hill trails have dried out significantly and if users avoid the marked wet areas, the trails should stabilize for multiuse during the non-snow months.
The remedial SCUM will be doing 4 ascents by the weekend of the 4th of July so join them soon so you’ll be ready for the Independence Weekend challenge. We leave the Birch Hill stadium at 10 a.m. on Friday mornings.
Under fall-like conditions this morning (42 deg F with 15 mph winds and 22 mph gusts), the remedial SCUM attacked the Fort Wainwright alpine hill for the first time in 2021. In doing so, we discovered that one of our key landmarks had eroded downhill during break-up.
When doing the 0,83 km ski walking/bounding interval up the alpine hill under the chairlift, “flat rock” indicates that the steepest section and roughly 30% of the hill is over. Thus, we needed to move “flat rock” back its proper location on the hill. So Bernardo, our vegan SCUM, showed off his buff boulder lifting prowess as he moved “flat rock” to it’s rightful home.
And here the SCUM document where “flat rock” had rested after break-up:
Having already done our inaugural FWW alpine hill ascent in under 12 minutes, we took time on the way down to smell the lupines:
We did our second ascent at a leisurely pace (since Dermot joined us as we were finishing our first ascent). Dermot, who has been missing in action because of a spained ankle, added welcomed groans of effort as we ski walked our second ascent. None of us were cold by then.
Walking back down the tower loop, we found the trail soft in places but it was easy to skirt the mud. The winds that greeted us today will allow Birch Hill trails to dry out and become firm like those on the Fort Wainwright alpine hill. However, the erosional forces of spring time were evident as the meltwater carved new gullies along the trail under the chair lift.
In spite of a couple weeks of daytime temperatures in the 50s and 60s, our deep snowpack is allowing the trails to freeze overnight as the ground is still colder than the air. Thanks to Tom Helmer’s grooming efforts this morning, the remedial SCUM skate skied the White Bear on 23 April, a full 6 months after we started skiing in the fall.
It was 46 deg and sunny when we left the stadium at 9:03 a.m. being urged by Nick Crawford and friend that the optimum skiing time had been at 7:00 a.m. We took off down the White Bear access delighted with the glide accompanied our efforts. In a flash, we were down to the bottom of the White Bear, where we found the big, slow mosquitoes and a temperature of 40 deg.
At the base of Heart Rate Hill, we pulled over to let a young shirtless skier and his friend pass us. After our photo documentation, we were prepared to climb slow and steady through the slush and sunshine:
It is a SCUM ritual that if we climb Heart Rate Hill without stopping for a rest break we get to poke the tree at the top with our ski pole. Even though I was supposed to be doing an easy distance ski, my heart rate slipped briefly into level 4 as the slush made the going tougher than it would have an hour earlier. Being SCUM meant that not stopping took precedence over keeping my heart rate in level 1. This means I have to do a distance ski tomorrow to record as my LOD in FXC Masters virtual training. Just don’t tell Christina.
The skate skiing is the best that it has been all season. The mean age of our workout group today was 71 years old and we had a blast! Don’t miss out on the best skiing of the season.
Thanks to Rick Thoman from UAF Alaska Center for Climate Assessment & Policy for this insight: yesterday marked the all-time largest temperature swing in 48 hours during the month of April. This also ties the all-time 2-day temperature swing from February 1951 and January 2009.
Just one month ago, the remedial SCUM made history by skiing the South Classical loops without anyone falling. (See: https://sonotkkaazoot.org/2021/03/12/historic-scum-ski-of-south-classical-loops/). Today as we left the stadium at 11 deg F with temperatures at Fort Wainwright still in the subzero range at 10 a.m., we knew Spring was around the corner. The tracks were feeling slick before we even left the stadium. However, by skiing both the North and South Classical loops within 48 hours in the month of April would be historical, too. All the SCUM fell at least once today. Only the wannabe SCUM (Norma Haubenstock and Joanna Fox) stayed upright for our Sunday ski of the South Classical Loops.
Here are some photos from the Chinook and Blackhawk Loops while we’re upright:
And here are some photos when the SCUM were examining the snow on the trails:
Some of us were very thorough in our skiing of the South Classical trails in that we also skied down Little Bird (and back up again) from the intersection with the Blackhawk Trail:
Those of us not using magic skin skis had to work hard for our kick as the temperature on the Blackhawk was 26 deg.
Unlike when we skied the South Classical loops at -16 deg F, all of us were overheating today. However, we definitely enjoyed the sunshine, warmth, and great April skiing. Thank you Travis Kulp for grooming these trails! We had a great time–the long downhill out of the Blackhawk was especially sweet as we finished our tour.
A suggestion to skiers interested in following us. Blue kick wax wasn’t providing enough grip, but +2 on the magic skin skis was.
Although Tom Helmers was out grooming the lighted loops (as well as blue and Outhouse) while we assembled for our Friday ski, we opted to ski the North Classical loops that Ken Coe had fun setting yesterday afternoon. The thermometer on the new building read -7 deg F but the Sourdough Fuel one on the Classical Bear as we were heading back to the stadium said only -8 deg so that’s the temperature I took for the title.
With 8 of us assembled at 10:00 a.m , we had some difficulty getting ourselves to the trail head of the Classical Bear, but we eventually managed. Don and Byron lead the way allowing our fingers and thumbs to warm up as we followed Ken’s newly set tracks. Unfortunately, a moose had also discovered the tracks so they weren’t as pristine as they had been.
On the North Star trail, we had almost as much fun as Ken had setting the tracks. It was easy to kick up all the hills and stay upright on the untracked corners. That is until the Really Steep Down Hill. Ken hadn’t bothered to roll the RSDH bypass as he figured that any skier who would be skiing the North Classic trails would be able to negotiate the North Star downhill on over 90″ of snowfall packed firm enough for skis but still soft for poles. His reasonable assumption may have been valid for non-SCUM skiers but two of us ended up in the unpacked snow on one corner. Another SCUM went down in the trail because he was following an unstable SCUM a little too closely. Three down out of 7 remaining SCUM at that poiint is probably not what Ken counted on. But we enjoyed rolling in the snow almost as much as skiing the humps and corners. It’s lovely to watch the forests change from spruce to birch.
Although we weren’t moving very quickly, none of us was having difficulty staying warm in what started out as -20 deg F windchill temperatures. In the singletrack trails, surrounded by trees, the wind proved not to be an issue. However, we were disappointed not to find any cookies decorating the spruce trees like during the holidays. Some SCUM are lured on our workouts with promises of treats just like kids.
The skies had turned robin egg blue while we were out on the North Classics and the sun was distorting the corduroy of the newly groomed stadium as we were finishing.
Another wonderful ski on April 9th, with temperatures subzero and snow groomed to perfection.
Thank you Ken and Tom. We’ve made supplemental contributions to the Birch Hill trails fund to allow you to keep grooming for us. To ski the North Classics in April (and not be on sheer ice) was a super treat.