Tidying up a downed birch tree on the White Bear

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:

Scene of the downed tree before the final clean up

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:

One member of the trail crew down while the other finds her phone to document the operation

However, we prevailed and the tree was moved well off the trail:

Making sure tree wouldn’t roll back onto 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.

Trail crew selfie after the tree was secured—All photos by Joanna Fox

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.

FWW Hill Climbs Getting Closer to Winter

At 30 deg with an inch and a half of snow, the Fort Wainwright Hill had a wintery look although the trees still need to shed some leaves.

Here are few shots from our descents and climbs today:

Jill descends an auxiliary ski hill trail
Eric, Lola, Mike, and Tim head up the FWW alpine hill
Our Fairbanks Fire Fighter serves as sweep to make sure we all get safely down

It was a lovely day for an alpine hill climb coupled with ski walking up the Birch Bakken. We’re getting ready for ski season and the 35th annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot, are you?

Fall training makes ski transitions easy

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.

Golden trees surround nicely mowed hill–all photos by Joanna Fox
Nice recovery on downhills
SCUM practicing their best race form
SCUM gathering halfway through our 4 ascents

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.

Heading down Beacon Road to Fort Wainwright —photo by Mike Mathers

Blues skies and Ester Dome PRs after 1.5″ of rain

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.

Bernardo and Bill in shorts had seasonal PRs on their Ester Dome ascents

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:

Awesome clouds below

before switching to conversations about state politics. Mom stopped to take photos of our more interesting local surroundings:

Robert urging Mom to hurry up

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.

The gray cars driven by the gray haired and bearded SCUM

Soaked SCUM ascend FWW ski hill 5 times

With recent record high temperatures now in the rear view mirror, the SCUM decided to start August off with 5 ascents of the Fort Wainwright alpine hill.

Of course, SCUM being SCUM, Dan Johnson queried when the “rock rucking” would begin. For those of you not familar with rucking, here is the definitive source that Dan provided:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/the-benefits-of-rucking/

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:

Bill with his 25.2 pound rucksack (weighed post workout with extra rain included)

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):

Bill and Carl finishing their 5th ascent; Dan in raincoat did 2.5 ascents?

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:

Dan in rain coat is the only smiling SCUM after our 5 ascents of FWW in the rain–photo by Bill Husby

Here’s documentation that Carl Hemming, Bill Husby, and I did our 5 ascents:

Mother SCUM’s HRM trace showing 5 ascents plus partial ascent to urge on the other soaked SCUM

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.

Ruck on —photo by Dan Johnson

Adapting to a little rain on Ester Dome

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.

Right footed Mom and left foot dominant Bernardo

Bill had sprayed some vegan bug dope with teflon on his legs before we started. Not only were mosquitoes repelled, but mud was too:

Bernardo without teflon (left) and Bill with (right)

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.

No rainbow with a pot of gold yet this morning

4 FWW ascents for the 9th of July (delayed due to smoke)

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.

On their second ascent, Poles was leading Dan (hidden behind Bill) and Bernardo
Dan, the youngest of the SCUM, was working to draft behind Bill

And two-way traffic on the trail was spreading out as we used different pacing strategies.

Bill, Bernardo, and Dan head down as Carl works his way up for his 4th ascent

Temperatures stayed in the low 60s, but we were definitely overheating by ascent 3. However, all of us completed 4 ascents.

Dan, Carl, and Bernardo claim their 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.

Bill after his 4 full ascents with poles (and half without)
Mom and three SCUM ski walk with poles for 4 FWW ascents (photo by Bernardo Hernandez, who also did 4 ascents)

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.

What a difference one week makes

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.

Flat rock travels downhill during break-up

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.

Buff Bernardo lifts “flat rock” to move uphill

And here the SCUM document where “flat rock” had rested after break-up:

“Flat rock” in foreground and SCUM indicate where we found it today

Having already done our inaugural FWW alpine hill ascent in under 12 minutes, we took time on the way down to smell the lupines:

Poles plays marmot
SCUM smelling lupines, note how Dermot dermotizes with insulated mitts in summer too

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.

Skiing the White Bear on 23 April

In spite of a couple weeks of daytime temperatures in the 50s and 60s, our deep snowpack is allowing the trails to freeze overnight as the ground is still colder than the air. Thanks to Tom Helmer’s grooming efforts this morning, the remedial SCUM skate skied the White Bear on 23 April, a full 6 months after we started skiing in the fall.

It was 46 deg and sunny when we left the stadium at 9:03 a.m. being urged by Nick Crawford and friend that the optimum skiing time had been at 7:00 a.m. We took off down the White Bear access delighted with the glide accompanied our efforts. In a flash, we were down to the bottom of the White Bear, where we found the big, slow mosquitoes and a temperature of 40 deg.

SCUM at the SCUMometer at 40 deg w/ mosquitoes lurking–all photos by Don Pendergrast

At the base of Heart Rate Hill, we pulled over to let a young shirtless skier and his friend pass us. After our photo documentation, we were prepared to climb slow and steady through the slush and sunshine:

We haven’t started the climb yet, but Don’s windbreaker has already been removed

It is a SCUM ritual that if we climb Heart Rate Hill without stopping for a rest break we get to poke the tree at the top with our ski pole. Even though I was supposed to be doing an easy distance ski, my heart rate slipped briefly into level 4 as the slush made the going tougher than it would have an hour earlier. Being SCUM meant that not stopping took precedence over keeping my heart rate in level 1. This means I have to do a distance ski tomorrow to record as my LOD in FXC Masters virtual training. Just don’t tell Christina.

Only Bernardo still was wearing his hat after Heart Rate Hill

The skate skiing is the best that it has been all season. The mean age of our workout group today was 71 years old and we had a blast! Don’t miss out on the best skiing of the season.