5:26 a.m. Birch Hill Trail report

5:47 a.m. update: 40 deg on the top of the Tower Loop

The lowest temperature that Tom has seen on both sides of Birch Hill has been 36 deg F at bottom of the White Bear. The pond on the downhill had some overflow so he pushed snow into it. Some overflow on the trail next to Ski Road on Fort Wainwright (FWW). Top of Sonot Connector is mush on both sides. It was 52 deg F at 2 a.m. at the bottom of the FWW downhill.

Be careful driving as the airport is reporting 36 deg and light rain. Looks like weather conditions that may favor visiting Anchorage skiers.


Drilling team says Sonot start is safe

This morning, Doyon, Ltd, had a drilling team out on the Chena River in the vicinity of the Sonot Kkaazoot start determining ice thickness. The thinnest ice found was 8″ in one spot. Most was a 12″ – 18″ thick. They checked for several hundred meters from bridge and into the curve.

Groomers found that yesterday’s melting left a crusty surface this morning. They were able to chew it up into skiable icy snow. Again, the plan is to groom Birch Hill, the Sonot Connector, and the Fort Wainwright trails late tonight with the piston bully. Saturday morning, they will drag and set tracks on the Chena River.

Check this website before you leave for the start tomorrow morning. At 4:30 p.m. Friday,  conditions look great for the traditional start on the Chena River. However, if we have to move the start, we will post a notice on this website, and will start all events 30 minutes later than currently scheduled at Birch Hill Recreation Area.

Mother Nature holds all the cards, and Sonot Kkaazoot organizers obey.


Updates on trail grooming Thursday

While some of the Sonot organizers were buried with late registration and bib pick-up, the groomers were busy working on the trails. Here’s the Thursday update from Bill Husby:

“Today Tom took the ginzu down to the river and leveled the bumps between the RR bridge and FWW bridge. He also got above the RR bridge. We also added some snow by  electrical box along the road. As of now that 200 meter section is beautiful corduroy with no vehicle ruts. There are piles of snow by the crossing areas ready to be shoved onto the road with the piston bully (PB) on Saturday morning making for little or no shoveling for the crossing staff.

Ken and I will be grooming the river tomorrow morning. Expect an update with pristine photos😎. Tom will start grooming all the BH trails with the PB tomorrow evening. He will also PB the Sonot Connector, road and down to the river. Around 0700 he and Ken will drag and set tracks on the river and wherever else they are needed. This should prove the best 50K course in the state of Alaska this year.”

So that’s the most recent report. The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks are working hard to make the 2016 Sonot Kkaazoot special for all skiers.

One final note: Sonot Kkaazoot volunteers will be drilling the ice on the Chena River to make sure that the ice will safely support skiers and run all our equipment on Saturday.

A HUGE THANK YOU to all our wonderful volunteers who have come together to pull off the 29th annual Sonot Kkaazoot, and our awesome groomers who have allowed us Fairbanks skiers to continue skiing through our winter drought.


Sonot Kkaazoot entries as of 7:30 a.m.

With early bib pick-up scheduled for tonight at the Doyon, Ltd. Building from 5 to 7 p.m., we already have 280 skiers signed up for the various events on Saturday. While 75% of the entries are skiers in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, 69 out-of-town skiers are currently planning to fly or drive to Fairbanks to participate. High school skiers from Galena, Nenana, and Anchorage’s Dimond High School will be at the start line on Saturday morning. Fifty eight percent of the skiers plan to ski in the 20 km event with 118 skiers currently signed up to ski the 40 or 50 km course.

Check to see that your entry has been recorded correctly.


We still have one skier who indicated that he was born in 2016, and hasn’t responded to our email query.

Thank you to all our foreign skiers in the 40 and 50 km events who have contacted us and provided their passport numbers as requested by our Fort Wainwright collaborators.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the course remains intact for three more days.

Chena River groomed again today

The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers dragged the Chena River again today. Then Bill Husby and friends skied the new corduroy as captured by Bill’s phone:

Here Carl and Jerome are approaching the Fort Wainwright bridge:Approaching FWW bridge on Chena River.jpg

and here is the birthday boy enjoying the sunshine and fast snow:

Birthday boy below FWW bridge on Chena River