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.
With the temperature at 33 deg F, I was shocked to see the snow depth in the Birch Hill parking lot go well above my ankles. Joanna and I had made the right choice of bringing our no-wax classical skis as the snow pack was HEAVY as the 0.49″ of precipitation on Saturday amounted to only 2.8″ of snow at the airport.
I had been worried about having enough kick in the above freezing temperatures, however, kick was not a problem. Grabby glide and downed trees and branches were the challenges on our lovely first ski of the season.
After skiing around the relay loop, we’d warmed up enough to make our first snow angels of the season. However, the snow was so heavy that it was a real strength workout to make a snow angel:
We did ski the entire Tower loop in a record time of just 1 hour and 10 minutes! However, we were shaking the snow off trees leaning over the trail and picking up branches.
Here are two trees downed over a power line on the Tower loop:
and here’s a downed tree on the Tower just beyond the G-1 cutoff:
We actually did make it all the way to the top of the Tower and took the requisite selfie:
We also made a little snowman for the sign. That thermometer said it was only 30 deg but that was hopeful not real.
Coming down the tower was more fun for Joanna with fishscale skis than with my multi-grip, rubberized no-wax skis. Joanna has provided the caption for this video writing: “It’s the longest, steepest, fastest downhill coming out of Tower! Who’d have known it could be done so slowly!?” Anything’s possible with the right gear and determination.
Here’s hoping that the NWS is wrong and temperatures don’t increase to the 40s this week. Because it was an absolutely lovely morning to be out on the trails. The stadium was shrouded with fog as we finished our 3.79 km maiden ski of the season.
For a number of years, the SCUM have volunteered to brush cut on the White Bear Trail. Although we didn’t have a group effort this summer, we do our part as the need arises. Such was the case today, when the post-Equinox snow brought down a small birch tree on the White Bear on the outside corner where the trail turns to the left:
Because of the berm on the right side of the trail, we decided to drag the tree with branches still encumbered with leaves to the other side of the trail. However, with the new snow, the unstable footing was impossible to see, and one of us, went down with the tree:
However, we prevailed and the tree was moved well off the trail:
Thoroughly chilled, we finished our ski walk up to hilltop and back to the stadium via White Cub as the skies cleared for the first time all weekend.
Hopefully, Bill Husby will be proud that the SCUM honey badgers were still moving branches (with tree attached) off the trail EVEN while he’s sunning himself in eastern Washington.
With the spectacular autumn days that we’ve been having, getting motivated to train has been fairly easy. Add a few friends, and 4 ascents of the Fort Wainwright ski hill is easily done. Starting from Birch Hill, this makes for 757 m of elevation gained (and equal amount lost), 9.37 km total distance, with 4.48 km uphill.
Although it was 28 deg at Fort Wainwright when we started, but the guys in shorts were actually best dressed for the workout. Enjoy the sunshine and golden coins floating from the skies while we can.
After several days of rain in Fairbanks, the SCUM were delighted to find blue skies on Ester Dome. There are no photos of the climb since Bernardo and Bill were moving WAY too fast. Bernardo had just returned from Palm Springs where it had been 109 deg F, so it was 70 deg cooler when we started climbing at 9 a.m from St. Pat’s. Seeing as Bernardo has absolutely no body fat, his “strolling” gait overtook all of us. Meanwhile, Bill was on a mission to get his ascent time under 50 minutes and achieved that by chasing Bernardo.
After Bernardo was duly reprimanded for not using his poles correctly, we asked Robert Hannon to demonstrate good technique. Robert was just returning to action after being on the SCUM disabled list for a painful hip. Here’s his demo with his right leg:
and his not-quite-so perfect left side:
The SCUM were impressed by the cloud formations in the valley below us:
before switching to conversations about state politics. Mom stopped to take photos of our more interesting local surroundings:
All of us agreed that the workout was amazing and even for those of us who fell short of making a seasonal PR, the effort, company, and beauty made the effort worthwhile.
Not wanting anyone to question his manliness, Bill “rock rucked” 2 of his 5 ascents. Here is Bill near the top of his first “rock ruck” ascent:
Meanwhile, Dan Johnson, a late arrival to the workout, appeared with raincoat as we were making our third ascent.
Here’s a view of the two soaked SCUM making their 5th ascent (Dan, with raincoat is making his second or third climb):
After Don Norris ran past us on Beacon Road during his lunch break from work, we knew we couldn’t be crazy to be training in the steady rain. Here’s proof that we made it back to the Birch Hill parking lot intact:
Here’s documentation that Carl Hemming, Bill Husby, and I did our 5 ascents:
The Polar Vantage M data also showed that we did 960 m of ascent (for comparison, Ester Dome from St. Pat’s Road to Ullerhaven is about 520 m of climb); 12.0 km of distance, and burned 1083 kcal even without carrying the rock.
After a very dry summer, the recent rains have resulted in soft and slimey road surfaces with an occasional downed tree. SCUM attendence for today’s ascent (and descent) of Ester Dome was down in numbers and enthusiasm as seen in this first photo from the top:
With proper coaxing, they were able to smile and then show mud residues from their ascents.
Bill had sprayed some vegan bug dope with teflon on his legs before we started. Not only were mosquitoes repelled, but mud was too:
Only Bill would be wearing white socks on a thoroughly wet day. However, he kept his socks and legs a lot cleaner than the rest of us did.
Descending into the fog, we celebrated another Ester Dome ascent as we can prepare for winter 2021-2022 and whatever surprises it will bring.
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.