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.
Bill had sprayed some vegan bug dope with teflon on his legs before we started. Not only were mosquitoes repelled, but mud was too:
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.
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.
And two-way traffic on the trail was spreading out as we used different pacing strategies.
Temperatures stayed in the low 60s, but we were definitely overheating by ascent 3. However, all of us completed 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.
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.
Just one month ago, the remedial SCUM made history by skiing the South Classical loops without anyone falling. (See: https://sonotkkaazoot.org/2021/03/12/historic-scum-ski-of-south-classical-loops/). Today as we left the stadium at 11 deg F with temperatures at Fort Wainwright still in the subzero range at 10 a.m., we knew Spring was around the corner. The tracks were feeling slick before we even left the stadium. However, by skiing both the North and South Classical loops within 48 hours in the month of April would be historical, too. All the SCUM fell at least once today. Only the wannabe SCUM (Norma Haubenstock and Joanna Fox) stayed upright for our Sunday ski of the South Classical Loops.
Here are some photos from the Chinook and Blackhawk Loops while we’re upright:
And here are some photos when the SCUM were examining the snow on the trails:
Some of us were very thorough in our skiing of the South Classical trails in that we also skied down Little Bird (and back up again) from the intersection with the Blackhawk Trail:
Those of us not using magic skin skis had to work hard for our kick as the temperature on the Blackhawk was 26 deg.
Unlike when we skied the South Classical loops at -16 deg F, all of us were overheating today. However, we definitely enjoyed the sunshine, warmth, and great April skiing. Thank you Travis Kulp for grooming these trails! We had a great time–the long downhill out of the Blackhawk was especially sweet as we finished our tour.
A suggestion to skiers interested in following us. Blue kick wax wasn’t providing enough grip, but +2 on the magic skin skis was.
Max Kaufman sent along a URL to an album of awesome photos he took of FXC Devos, who raced the virtual 10 km Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot on Sunday. He wrote that 9 skiers opted to do the race and Coach Tjarn Bross timed them. We haven’t received the names or times of these skiers, but, we wanted to share the photos.
As care coordinator for volunteers of the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks race events, Norma Haubenstock plays a huge role in making sure things run smoothly. So for her birthday on Sunday, the SCUM feted her during our tour of the Nordale Flats.
The 20 km course had been carefully marked by Pat Lovely and John Estle, who had started at 0800 on two snowmachines to ready the course for the 1000 start by the slower skiers led by Don Pendergrast. The 1100 wave of skiers were led by John and finished right behind the last the 1000 skiers.
Here’s a map of our popsicle course, where the major climb parallels Heart Rate Hill at Birch Hill Recreation Area:
Leaving from John and Norma’s driveway, we walked down Wilderness Drive to the start of the trail:
When we left it was roughly 6 deg F at Birch Hill and -5 deg in the valley, so we started skiing to warm chilly fingers:
By the time we reached a small pond (where you can see the North Star classical trail at Birch Hill), we stopped to sing happy birthday to Norma:
With any group, certain individuals play key roles. For us, there was Don Pendergrast, our fearless leader, who made sure none of us got left behind:
The cabooses, Susan and Bernardo, who switched off being the red lantern.
And of course, Bill Husby, the chief instigator of falls and crashes:
As you’ll note, Bill had a face mask handy as he was not always social distancing when he was luring SCUM into potential crash sites with his phone rolling in video mode.
By the time we had finished the loop and needed to ascend Heart Rate Hill again, additional kick wax was needed:
The temperature and trail conditions were perfect for a several hour tour of woods very close to Birch Hill Recreation Area. Huge thanks go to Pat Lovely and John Estle for course marking (and take down) and John and Norma for hosting the group of very happy skiers.
Dimond High School skiers, who traveled north from Anchorage to participate in the 10 and 30 km Sonot Kkaazoot, sent along these photographs of the team enjoying the sunshine, warmth, and friendly competition on Saturday:
Thank you for participating in the 32nd Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot.
Report from Sonot Kkaazoot race director, Bad Bob Baker:
We are all done with the World Masters. Last day was warm and mostly sunny for the skaters to enjoy. We are now in Oslo, and will bus north at 5:00 am tomorrow to the start of the Norwegian Birkebeiner 54 kilometer Classic ski race. All participants are required to carry an 8 lb pack the entire way. The five skiers on the Fairbanks travel team plan to TOUR the race together: Bruce Jamieson, Chris Puchner, Donna DiFolco, and Sharon & Bad Bob Baker. We all plan on taking full advantage of the FEED STATIONS. The race starts in RENA, and finishes in LILLIEHAMMER, Norway. It crosses 2 mountain ranges and often has 8 or more side by side classic tracks. The forecast is calling for mostly sunny skies, and 25 to 35 degree temps. We sure hope so. After the race we plan to tourist the town of LILLIEHAMMER, then catch a 2 hour train back to our Oslo Airport Hotel. Be back in Fairbanks Monday night.
Donna DiFolco as part of USA silver medal relay team
All photos by Bad Bob Baker who didn’t supply captions for his Sonot Kkaazoot organizing underling
Bill Husby and Bob Baker also worked on grooming the Fort Wainwright Ditch and Pond that form the trail system that 40 and 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot skiers traverse between the Chena River and Birch Hill Recreation Area.
All photos in this post were taken by Bill Husby, who points out that a lot of whips and brush still need to be removed from the pond and ditch. So take some clippers with you on your ski to the river from Birch Hill. Bill plans to attack the brush with chain saw and loppers soon. Remember to have your government identification with you.
Pond before grooming on 1 March 2019
Pond after trimming whips and brush then grooming.
Newly rolled ditch
Bill is hoping that the rolled trails set up overnight so that he can run a small drag over the ditch. Today the snow pack was quite soft when two SCUM skied on the ditch trail.
Friday went well on the Chena River. The entire 20 km is flat and fast. We will see what the next two weeks bring weather wise. With the Chena River packed, and cold overnight temps, the ice should get thicker. Today I broke through in two places, very obvious! So, be aware and cautious if you ski on the Chena River. Enjoy, it’s very fast! This afternoon and tonight will be the best skating, before the snowmachines tear it up.
I’ll be back from ski racing in Norway on March 18. And will groom again then.