Bad Bob Baker, Sonot Kkaazoot originator and race organizer, joined the SCUM for a leisurely ski through the newly fallen snow on Sunday.
Bad Bob indicated that registration for the 36th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot will open in January 2023. There will be woodels for all three courses, and a post-race awards banquet with hot soups and other goodies will be held. Stay tuned.
We waited when Bob Moloney fell on one of the more technical corners on Cliffside. However, when someone falls on the straightaway at the bottom of Cliffside, their miscue is recorded (especially if their flexion is limited by bionic knees).
Groomer, Bill Husby, was eager to ski the Blackhawk trail even though there hadn’t been enough snow to groom it this season. So Bad Bob, Greg, Dan, and Bill headed into the helicopter trail to check on the brushing work that Mike Schmoker and David Prusak had done this fall.
While the younger SCUM were rolling around the helicopter singletrack trail, the rest of the SCUM continued on the Sonot Connector and White Bear. The new snow was lovely in the low light of a late November morning.
Remember, the 36th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot is Saturday, 25 March 2023.
At the 35th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot, on the new 50 km course that has a total climb of 1,689 m, no SCUM finished the designated course for the first time in 25 years. Several of the SCUM are seriously geographically challenged, and one SCUM skied 50 km of the Sonot Kkaazoot trails but not as Bad Bob designed the course. A couple of SCUM attempted the 50 km course and were unable to finish it. Seeing as SCUM are rapidly getting older and feebler, we figure that 2023 is going to be our best chance to redeem ourselves.
Although one SCUM was out skiing as early as October 14,
most of us waited until October 23rd, to enjoy our first on snow ski as we posted earlier. The snow from this first major storm created a good base on Birch Hill’s well-maintained trails, but the snow cover was thin, and with use by the Nanooks, high school teams, FXC, and recreational skiers, conditions were challenging for 70-year-old SCUM with their various bionic joints.
Bill Husby discovered that the Noyes Slough provided a great venue for skate skiing so the SCUM practiced their V2 and ski jumping techniques, between and over the beaver dams:
Once FXC Masters workouts began, the SCUM realized that we needed hill workouts so Sunnyside and Cliffside trails called us:
Skiing down to Fort Wainwright was the fun part, and we discovered that they are not snowmaking yet on the alpine hill:
but the sun came out, so we had vistas to gaze at while we climbed up Cliffside:
and we celebrated when we made it to the Cliffside gate:
From there, the workout became more of a struggle, and Bernardo skied ahead leaving the rest of us to claw our way back up Sunnyside. We were able to see our little hamlet at Powerline cutoff on our return whereas it had been in the clouds on our descent. Mike took some photos on Sunnyside but I think that they are too embarrassing to share.
We managed to ski almost 10 km with 261 m of climb. This represents 15% of the climb and 20% of the distance of the Sonot Kkaazoot—our first small ski toward our goal of finishing the 50 km course on March 25, 2023. However, thanks to the trail groomers, we were skiing on a couple of inches of packed snow in November at temperatures in the mid 20s. It was heavenly even though we were wiped afterwards.
I’ve made my trail donation and received a thank you letter from Chris Puchner, NSCF president, who is working to strengthen his new bionic knee. If you haven’t already, please donate to the NSCF trails fund, because we have fantastic early skiing thanks to our groomers:
A huge thank you to the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers who made possible for the SCUM to ski the entire White Bear on their first outing on skis for the season. Seeing as we had just finished a major trail brushing effort, we were disappointed to see that the wet snow created hazards that we hadn’t seen last week.
I didn’t need to get beyond the Warm-up Loop to have my first fall, which my friends rushed to document. It was practice for the falls I would do throughout the morning as I attempted to remove fallen branches while skiing:
The sensible approach after this tumble would have been to stay in the stadium area and practice technique and balance. However, the White Bear had been rolled and combed, and I needed to check on the brushing we’d done last week. As early as the cutoff from the biathlon to White Bear, I discovered I didn’t have enough kick, but continued on with my slick skis:
We followed the tracks of Eric Troyer and Corinee Lestikow until Coronary Bypass, where Joanna wanted to head back. However, with virgin groomed trails ahead, Dermot and I wanted to continue. Joanna yielded to subtle pressure.
Dermot was attempting to do brush hazard removal, but the snow was still sticking to the branch:
The most serious trail hazard we found was a large section of a birch tree that had probably fallen during an earlier wind event as the leaves were still attached. Additional snow on this suspended section of tree (with leaves) could definitely be a hazard to a groomer or skier who passed under this tree at the wrong time. This tree is just outbound from the Heart Rate Hill sign:
Thanks to the groomers, we had a wonderful first ski around the White Bear today. The snowpack is very thin, so we were classical skiing to preserve the snow. We hope other skiers will do the same and contribute to the trail grooming fund:
With 4 inches of wet, heavy snow, ski walking up the Fort Wainwright alpine hill once today was equivalent to three ascents during the dryland season. With ice spikes in our shoes, we stayed upright both descending and ascending the alpine hill. However, I slipped and fell on an icy patch of Beacon Road (that had been plowed this morning) as we were ski walking to the FWW alpine hill.
Barring a major warm spell, this is likely our last dryland workout; it also represented two seasonal firsts.
Our first snow angel:
and our first snowman at Flat Rock:
If temperatures cool to within than a degree or so of freezing, rolling the snow on the Birch Hill stadium and ramps will be possible. Thus, the trail brushing by Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks volunteers is likely finished until spring. However, in the past several weeks, over 61 hours of volunteer work with chainsaws, hand saws, and pruners have provided match hours for the RTP grant funding Birch Hill trail improvements.
Thanks are extended to Dave Prusak, Mike Schmoker, Bob Moloney, Tim Prusak, Ben Calvillo, Melissa Lewis, Bill Husby, and Susan Sugai, who provided valuable self-directed trail brushing this week.
Every winter in Fairbanks is different although the definite trend has been a shorter and warmer ski season. Last year we were already skiing at Birch Hill on 6 October 2021, but today the Eric and Tim were ski walking with poles in shorts!
Next Tuesday (11 October), the SCUM will be doing tree removal along trails to be used for Junior Nationals beginning at 11 a.m. John Estle will be directing our efforts so please let us know if you can help out for several hours. Bring chainsaws and safety gear (eye, ear, and body protection) if you have them. If not, join those of us who will be moving cut sections of trees off the trails. Everyone should wear ear and eye protection as well as sturdy work gloves.