Interior Alaska nordic skiers had their Christmas wish granted as 4 or more inches of snow fell onto the hard and icy trails at Birch Hill and elsewhere in the Fairbanks area. Although groomers had a challenging time keeping up with the steady snowfall when skiers were out trying to ski their age in km on Friday; today all the trails had been groomed and tracked making for happy skiers.
With an abundant cushion of snow, even the downhills on the black loops were less challenging, and we helped pack down the uphills that were still somewhat soft from the most recent snowfall.
The leader of the LOL (ladies of leisure) group was doing her sampler of the Birch Hill trails taking cutoffs where they met her fancy. Having chosen classical skis, Chris was striding straight up the hills in the tracks rather than helping with the grooming like the skate skiers were doing.
We were all having fun!
Today was winter solstice and it was the coldest day this season at Birch Hill. Skies were clear and temperatures dropped from 20 deg F before sunrise to below zero in the early afternoon:
The sun barely arched above the horizon casting a beautiful orange hue to the hoarfrost covered trees. After our ski, we launched two sky lanterns from Birch Hill:
and they climbed quickly above warming hut and skyward.
Bill Husby, launch leader, commented that the sky lanterns were for Russell Lizotte (https://sonotkkaazoot.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/sad-news/) and Lars Spurkland (http://www.adn.com/article/20141212/ski-club-presidents-sudden-death-shocks-anchorage-nordic-skiers), who during their lives soared as volunteers of the nordic ski community in Alaska.
On the shortest day of the year, we remember two who gave skiers a lot of pleasure during their too short lives.
The day after the Buetow Dental Distance Race #1, a 7.5 and 15 km mass start test of Fairbanks Nordic skiers’ fitness, was 20 deg warmer so perfect for a slow recovery ski around the Birch Hill Recreation Area trails.
Recovery skis mean lots of rest breaks, and some skiers have resting down to a fine art as these skiers on the South Tower:
Enjoy the trails. Thanks to countless hours of volunteer efforts and donations from trail users, we have wonderful groomed trails to enjoy for 6 or more months. Please do your part.
The lovely snowfall that was squeezed out of our 0.39″ of precipitation earlier this week at Fairbanks International Airport, made for lovely conditions today at Birch Hill. However, with many of us suffering from job- or family-related stresses, early winter viruses, and seasonal affective disorder as we rapidly approach the winter solstice, we spent more time resting and/or rewaxing than actually skiing. The skate skiers spent time resting:
while the classic skiers disguised their rest stops as waxing efforts. (Both photos above were taken by Chris Broda).
With the winter solstice approaching in only 2 weeks, the 2015 Sonot Kkaazoot is just 3.5 months away. The time to train is now. The first race of the Buetow Dental Distance Race series will be held at Birch Hill on Saturday, December 13 at 11:00 a.m. In this event, you have your choice of 7.5 or 15 km distances in freestyle technique. You can early register until Thursday. Here’s the URL to the registration form with information for all three distance races:
and the race course map:
You can also early register for the Sonot Kkaazoot using the comprehensive race entry form:
Rest is good. But to prepare for racing requires some race efforts and the Distance Race series is a low-key way to ramp up the intensity of your ski efforts. At least, now there is some padding on the ground when you fall for those of us who are balance-challenged.