Fresh grooming on Chena River today

With the cold nights and sunny days, the Chena River portion of the Sonot Kkaazoot is looking awesome. Bad Bob Baker groomed the Chena River today. Here’s a photo that Bad Bob took looking back at the start/finish area of the Sonot Kkaazoot:

View of the Sonot Kkaazoot start on 2-27-20

and here are some close ups of Bad Bob’s grooming equipment and the corduroy after he has groomed.

Bad Bob grooming gear 2-27-20 on ChenaChena River cordoroy 2-27-20

Again, make sure you have your government identification if you ski onto Fort Wainwright from the Chena River.

What is holding you back from signing up for the 33rd Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot? The register tab at the top of this webpage will take you to the secure site for online registration.


Sonot trail on Fort Wainwright groomed

Although the temperature was pretty chilly for late February, the spectacular sun dog gave way to clear blue skies. Bill Husby, Birch Hill deputy groomer, headed out to check the Sonot Kkaazoot trail on Fort Wainwright this morning. Although there are no set classical tracks, the trail along the ditch has been groomed. Make sure that you have your government identification if you venture onto Fort Wainwright.

The Sonot Connector was groomed (and tracked by our NSCF groomers) so we had a pleasant circuit of the Relay, Blue, Outhouse, Sunnyside, and Cliffside trails, up the Sonot Connector and the rest of the White Bear trail. The sun was so bright that I had to dig out my shades.

The entire Sonot Kkaazoot trail is looking close to race ready. What is holding you back from signing up for the 33rd Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot?

FWW ditch sm

Sonot Kkaazoot trail on Fort Wainwright, photo by Bill Husby

Chena River groomed on 2/15/20

Bad Bob groomed the Chena River portion of the Sonot Kkaazoot trail again today after a week of cold weather. He commented that the trail was “nice.”

If you plan to ski the Chena River, be alert for any changes in the ice, stick to the area groomed, ski with a buddy, and make sure you carry your government identification if you ski onto Fort Wainwright.

Enjoy the sunshine and longer days.

Chena River 2-15-20 sm at Hamilton Acres

Photo by Bad Bob Baker of Sonot Kkaazoot trail on Chena River near Hamilton Acres

Chena River ice thickness downtown

From: National Weather Service Fairbanks Facebook page:


Ice thickness on the Chenr River downtown is 21″.

We have 2 feet of snow pack at the airport, which provides considerable insulation. The overflow that Bob Baker encountered on Sunday was only 4 to 6 inches deep. This cold spell will solidify that now that he had packed down the snow overlying it. Don’t panic. The Sonot Kkaazoot is still six weeks away and Mother Nature hasn’t revealed all her secrets yet.

However, this is for sure. Early registration ends a week from Friday so sign up now and save money on your entry fee. Just click on the register tab at the top of this page.

Chena River is NOT skiable on 2/9/2020


Bruce Jamieson observes as Bad Bob Baker points to the spot where he got stuck in the overflow and chose to stop dragging. Photo by Bill Husby

As of 10 a.m. Sunday, 9 February 2020, from Bad Bob Baker:

The Chena River is NOT skiable. Countless overflow areas.  Only the first 2 to 3 km from the Cushman Street Bridge are skiable.

REPEAT: Sonot Kkaazoot trail on Chena River is not skiable as of Sunday morning,  9 February 2020.

Chena River update, 2/5/2020

Bad Bob Baker groomed the Chena River portion of the Sonot Kkaazoot course again on Tuesday.  He said “it’s very smooth and quite fast and at least 16′ wide at the narrowest.  The sugar snow has firmed up and the skating is quite nice.”

REMEMBER, before you head out to enjoy Bob’s grooming, if you are skiing onto Fort Wainwright, you must be carrying government identification with you. If you leave the Chena River and venture onto the base where the trail is accessible by road, you can be stopped by military personnel responsible for security protection on Fort Wainwright. Make sure you have your valid government identification with you.

Chena River update from Bad Bob

From Sonot Kkaazoot director, Bad Bob Baker:

“The grooming of the 20 km course on the CHENA RIVER was a success!  This year’s Chena River is very smooth, with plenty of snow and very little icy sections.  Today I just roughed in a 12′  to 16′ wide trail.  I will got back on the river again in a few days and re-groom and widen it a bit more.  After the re-groom it should be very good skiiing… even now with this first rough-in…it’s not bad..  As of today, the SONOT can be held on the river..  we’ll see what MOTHER NATURE has in store for us..”

Chena River 2-3-20sm

Chena River cordoroy 2-3-20sm

Photos by Bad Bob Baker after 2/3/20 grooming on Chena River portion of Sonot Kkaazoot course

Ground Hog Day 2020 at Birch Hill

Today is Ground Hog Day.  Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow so he has predicted an early spring.

Undaunted, the SCUM, having just finished 6 weeks of classical skiing on brutally cold snow, decided to check with their own local ground hog.  Unnamed but photographed this summer on the first switchback on the Cliffside Trail as you descend, we assume his burrow is nearby. Although it was -10 deg F in the stadium when we started out, it was still -25 deg F at Fort Wainwright so probably -20 deg F at the burrow elevation.


To warm up are aging carcasses, we first skied up the Tower Loop, where our SCUM ground hog unsuccessfully searched for his shadow:

The Sunnyside Trail is appropriately named so we hoped that if we descended it to the upper reaches of the Cliffside, we might find our ground hog and his shadow. Unfortunately, the little guy wasn’t feeling social today.

On the snowfield just uphill from his burrow, the SCUM tried other approaches to determining whether our ground hog might have seen his shadow so that the Chena River would remain thoroughly frozen through the Sonot Kkaazoot:

Those SCUM lacking the hand skills of Sam Bishop,


got down into their closest approximation to a ground hog stance, and checked out for their shadows:


If you look carefully, you can indeed see our shadows on the snow slope. Thus, the Birch Hill ground hogs have determined that we will have at least another 6 weeks of wintry weather before those wonderful spring days arrive in time for the Sonot Kkaazoot.

So register now before entry fees increase later this month. Just click on the “Register” tab at the top of this website.

All photos and videos taken by Bill Husby, Birch Hill groomer for 14 years and SCUM for 20 years.

Yes, January 2020 was cold in Fairbanks

From the National Weather Service Fairbanks Facebook page,,  we pass on their summary of January 2020 records at Fairbanks International Airport (remember there was a significant inversion at Birch Hill on many days):84073111_677115249784178_94050850250424320_o

However, it is now February and longer days means warmer temperatures. Here are the average temperatures for February:83943233_677115303117506_6761347468249530368_o

and here are the Climate Predication Center’s forecasts for February 2020:83542630_677115289784174_6500764599741054976_o

So, what is holding you back from signing up for the 33rd annual Sonot Kkaazoot?