Herding SCUM around the virtual Rat Ponds tour

Bill Husby scouted out the Rat Ponds virtual tour on Tuesday so he could “herd” the remedial SCUM around the course today. He instructed us to meet promptly at 10 a.m. today at the Seventh Day Adventist Church and School. In the pre dawn chill, I quickly discovered it wasn’t 39 deg there like it had been at home when I checked the thermometer before breakfast. I put on all the layers that I had in my car (my second closet) but still was slightly underdressed for what was to be a leisurely 12 km tour.

Route of our virtual Rat Ponds tour, phtoto by Bill Husby

After awaiting for late arriving Robert Hannon, Bill was able to line us up for the first and last time of the morning. Dermot was skiing out of the tracks with his fish scale skis so that their noisy gliding wouldn’t disturb the rest of us.

SCUM already showing signs of individuality as Dermot skis his own tracks. Photo by Bill Husby

Bill led most of the ski, which is a novel approach to herding SCUM:

Bill leading Mom, Bernardo, and Robert, where are the others? —photo by Dan Johnson

but we do follow the leader, in this case, Kent:

Kent Karns leaving the SCUM behind —photo by Dan Johnson

The nearly full moon was overhead as we enjoyed the tracks that Stan Justice had set for this virtual tour. Thank you, Stan!

Dermot blazes his own trail —photo by Bill Husby
Robert Hannon and Dan Johnson —photo by Kent Karns
photo by Kent Karns

The sky after sunrise was delightfully orange.

Robert and Dan enjoy the sunrise —photo by Kent Karns

The tracks were so enticing that even Dermot had to use them at times. As seen below, around some of the larger ponds, Stan had set two sets of tracks so that you could ski around the ponds more than once and see slightly different terrain.

Photo by Kent Karns
Kent urging Dermot along —photo by Bill Husby
Single tracks —photo by Bill Husby

Stan had marked the Rat Ponds tour with red plates that not only gave directional information but also informed the skiers of historical landmarks and recent sections of land and trail acquisitions that have expanded Creamer’s Refuge. The SCUM really appreciated these markers as they gave us an excuse to briefly rest.

We encourage other skiers to use these trails as they are perfect for the beginning skier as the trail is virtually flat. There were a couple of tricky herringbone rises to keep the ski interesting:

photo by Dan Johnson

Because the trails are predominately in spruce forests, skiers are spared the birch seed and branch debris in the tracks after a chinook wind event. However, temperatures on these trails are comparable to the Fairbanks airport so don’t expect the Birch Hill inversion. Also, sections of the tour are on dog mushing trails (where there are no set classical tracks) so be alert for dog teams.

Thank you Stan Justice for grooming these trails for a wonderful virtual tour.

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