Even though the SCUM hadn’t been skating for several weeks because of the the recent cold spell, they took full advantage of the pistenbully groomed trails today and skated 15 km of them in around 2 hours. We took rest breaks once we had crested the uphills as seen above at Hilltop and below the summit of Heartrate Hill.
We saluted Bob Moloney, who at 79 years old, skated Heartrate Hill without stopping for any rest breaks. After we finished White Bear, Moilanen Meadows, Big Surprise, and Warm-up, it was Bob, who pointed out that we needed to ski some additional trails to get our 2-hour long overdistance skate ski today. So, peer pressure made sure we did ski our full 2 hours.
We thank the NSCF groomers who made today’s workout possible. We’ve donated to the NSCF trail fund and hope you will join us.
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:
The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers have been busy removing trees downed by recent wind events so that you can enjoy the Birch Hill trails. In the photo below you can see the freshly sawed trunk of a spruce tree that had fallen across the gate to the Sunnyside trail and sprung up after cutting. As you run, hike, or bike on the Birch Hill trails, cross train by hauling or tossing the debris off the trails before ski season.
Today the SCUM ended their ski walking workout on the Fort Wainwright alpine hill by returning to the stadium via the Sunnyside trail and encountered remains of a large, downed spruce tree on the Outhouse trail. What better cool down than removing debris from the trail? Volunteer trail clearing as a short diversion from your run or bike will make trails better for skiing in winter.
If the SCUM (average age of today’s volunteers was 70 years old) can pause their workouts to do some trail tidying, won’t you help, too?
Sunday was a noteworthy SCUM ski. We had probably 4 inches of new snow that had been newly groomed and tracked. Temperatures were a balmy 8 deg F above zero. But our injured Creme de la SCUM leader, Bill Husby (aka Poles) was not skiing back and forth at the head of the pack. With his cracked lower rib and nondisplaced fracture of the right ulna, Poles will likely be Pole (singular) when he rejoins us. However, a half-strength Bill Husby will still ski faster and further than the rest of the SCUM.
PLEASE support Bill’s recovery by donating to the trails fund:
Tuesday evening, Bill Husby, who was Chief of Course for the recent Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) and Besh Cup races, was attempting to put bins of directional arrows overhead in the old shop. The step ladder slid out from under him. Bill fell backwards about 5 feet and landed on his right side injuring his ribs and his elbow (shown below):
Friday evening update from Bill:
Here’s the scoop: cracked lower rib (just let it heal) and a broken bone in the right elbow.
We need a mended Bill because of all his excellent grooming and the course work he does for Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks races. In addition, Bill has been racking up the most miles for our Race Across Alaska Winter Challenge team, Creme de la SCUM
Here’s are team photo with our ski poles substituting for Poles Husby:
Heal quickly, Bill.
Not only do we miss your pace setting, without you out in front, no one gets the picture when one of us head plants into a snowbank. Joanna thought that her documentation of a snowy hat 0.5 km after the fact would stand up as evidence in a court of public opinion. I beg to differ.
Recover quickly, my friend. We miss you. I hope that you get some sort of high-tech cast that allows you to ski and groom while your elbow heals.
The groomers have been busy and the weather has cooperated. The biggest uncertainty regarding tomorrow’s 10 or 20 km freestyle event is whether the moose will be foraging along the classical tracks on the Sunnyside after the groomers set the racecourse. This might be a good reason to skate ski.
However, our easy ski today on the Black loops revealed something else on the ski trails that we haven’t seen in a while: amazing glide. Three of us crashed because our skis got away from us. Byron went down on the Corkscrew, I crashed on the Black Baron, and Joanna took a headfirst tumble on the Black Abyss. Byron was wearing teflon pants so he didn’t carry any evidence of his fall like Joanna and I did:
Join us tomorrow, starting at 11:00 a.m. (unless you are Bad Bob Baker) for the Frank Soos Distance Race #2. Homemade gingersnap cookies (Frank’s favorite) at the finish.
The amazing Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers had packed and tracked all the major trails at Birch Hill recreation area on Saturday so we had infinite choices today. However, first Santa had to decorate a tree with edible ornaments:
As we were skiing in a winter storm warning, Santa came prepared. Brightly colored lights adorned his hat so that he didn’t need Rudolph or any reindeer for that matter. After skiing the Blue loop (where Dan momentarily lost his “Ho Ho” baseball cap), we skied Outhouse to midway and headed down the Sunnyside trail. At Powerline cutoff, we encountered a mother moose and calf above us:
We chased Eric and Dan down the Sunnyside and Cliffside to the Fort Wainwright alpine hut. Then we headed up the Sonot Connector, where we found amazing glide even on the uphill sections.
We took a break in our climb when the seven SCUM found LOL ornament #7:
However, this feat wasn’t encountered without mishap. Afterall, seven SCUM were involved. See video of how the incident played out:
When we got to the top of the Sonot Connector, we headed back toward the stadium with five of us doing Moilanen Meadows chasing Santa. When we got back to the Santa tree, we encountered the A SCUM.
All of us wish you a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. Plan to celebrate 2022 by skiing the 35th annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot:
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:
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:
However, we prevailed and the tree was moved well off the 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.
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.
Hopefully, donations for the Birch Hill Trails Fund during the virtual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot helped build a grooming cushion because temperature and snow forecasts make the outlook for spring skiing look excellent. Here’s the URL for trail fund donations if you would like to help us out:
First of all, temperatures haven’t broken the 40 deg F temperature barrier since October 11 and we’re likely to break the record for consecutive days below 40 deg F on Monday, 5 April 2021 if current National Weather Service forecasts hold.
The second factor necessary for Spring skiing is adequate snowpack. Monday’s snowfall was a record 3.8″ and brings our seasonal snowfall total to 73.3″, which is over a foot above normal.
Thus, both unseasonably cool temperatures and adequate snowpack are good indicators of a great spring skiing season.