River ski trail ALMOST race ready

Several of the SCUM (Sonot Kkaazoot organizers) skied from Graehl Park to the Trainor Gate bridge on the Chena River to inspect the Sonot Kkaazoot ski trail after groomers Ken Coe and Bill Husby had brought down the Birch Hill drags to use in tandem with Bad Bob’s special river drag.

Early in our ski we met up with Bad Bob who was drilling the ice to check on ice thickness and reports that he never hit water with his foot long drill bit:

Bad Bob checking ice thickness sm.JPG

The corduroy was wide enough for two skaters to ski side by side as shown here:

Robert & Carl near Trainor Gate sm

Robert Hannon (Sonot military contact) and Carl Hemming (bib distribution staff) ski on newly groomed Chena River on Wednesday around noon.

However, Robert with his intensely focused journalist’s eyes managed to find an imperfection in the dragged surface that caused him to make a spectacular dive to avoid catching his tip on it.

Robert finds imperfection in grooming

Although temperatures were still in the single digits as we started out, the bright sunshine made “sliding around in springtime” fun. The trail was great under all three highway bridges where the groomers had harvested snow from the surrounding area and packed it down to cover the icy areas.

Enjoy the Chena River ski trail! The sunshine and easy speed is fantastic!

All 50 km of Sonot Kkaazoot course groomed

Today some of the Sonot Kkaazoot organizers (aka the SCUM) skied down the Sonot Connector along the Fort Wainwright trails from the Birch Hill Ski and Snowboard Area to the Chena River and back. Thanks to clearing and grooming efforts of Bob Baker, Jeff Skeels, Tom Helmers, and Bill Husby, the FWW connecting trails looked better than they have in years.

Here’s Dermot Cole leaving the Birch Hill Ski and Snowboard Area over the pond area near the parking lot:

FWW trail over pond area between ski area and Ski Road sm

Here’s the wide trail adjacent Ski Road:

Wide FWW trail along Ski Road sm

Crossing River Road, which was plowed to pavement, requires taking off skis, but will be staffed on race day to allow skiers to ski across:

Crossing River Road sm.JPG

Here’s the wide trail from the Chena River back toward the 20 km turnaround:

trail to 20 km turnaround from Chena River sm


Entire 20 km Sonot course groomed

From Bob Baker, Sonot Kkaazoot Chief of course, yesterday (3/5/18):  “I groomed the Chena again today, and even set a rough set of classical tracks on one side.  I finished all the brush clearing and widened the 20 km turnaround and it’s ready to go…  Ft. Wainwright has groomed out the route from the ski area all the way to, and across the River Road and all along that ditch, too.  Looks great!   And now, they can even take the big grooming equipment all the way to the River’s edge.

The Chena River has developed some overflow and wet spots on a few places on the edges of where I have groomed.  The temperature really shot up today to almost 20 deg. I think when the snow stops and the temps drop back down to the ZERO area over night, things will get much better again.   No panic yet, just the Chena being the Chena.  Otherwise, the Chena River was groomed with a Classic Track and a good 12′ wide Skate lane the whole 20 km.

Will do more next time the temp drops some more.” 

So ski with care and preferably with someone on the Chena River. Do not wander outside the groomed trail. Remember to carry your identification if you plan to ski on Fort Wainwright trails and watch for traffic on road crossings.

Sunshine and newly groomed trails await skiers

Over a foot of new snow has fallen on Birch Hill trails this week, but skiers arriving at Birch Hill today will find all the trails (with the exception of White Bear where the Army is currently conducting their Arctic Winter Games) were groomed and tracked this morning. 

The newly fallen and windblown snow has made for difficult grooming conditions on less used trails with tight uphill corners like those on the new Sunnyside trail. Undaunted, after grooming this morning, Bill Husby went out on skis to further refine the trails.

With an overabundance of snow this winter coupled with wind events that make trail maintenance more time intensive, please make an additional contribution to trail fund so we’ll have fabulous trails to enjoy on sunny spring days like today:


If you plan to ski in any of the Sonot Kkaazoot events on March 24, it’s time to put in those training kilometers. The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers are making it easy for us.

Chena River groomed Tuesday

Bad Bob Baker was out grooming the Chena River again today. He reports that it was “very warm, new soft spots” as temperatures rose above freezing in the low lying areas. Skiers should be alert to potential hazards, and conditions could change quickly if the predicted snow storm materializes tomorrow afternoon.

Warm day on the Chena

New cordoroy 2-20-18

Photos by Bob Baker

Raven Romp prepares skiers for the Sonot Kkaazoot

Plenty of natural snow on the White Bear and Sunnyside trails await skiers participating in this Sunday’s Raven Romp, the third Buetow Dental-Pangaea Distance Race. This 30 km classical event (with a 10 km option) starts at 11:00 a.m. Sunday at the Biathlon Range.

Details are available here:


With this week’s snowfall, trails will well-covered with newly fallen snow. As of Friday, all the trails that will be used in Sunday’s event had been packed and tracked at least once this week. The new snow brought down a number of trees that the groomers have been busy removing. If you haven’t done so already, please contribute to the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks grooming fund that allows us to ski on our fantastic trails. Here’s the secure online form:


With any luck, you’ll see that the Sunnyside Trails are well-named. Here’s the section line turnaround where the Raven Romp course heads back toward the Outhouse Loop.  We needed shades today.

Section Line turnaround sm

Heading back on Sunnyside toward OH sm

Sign up and ski the Raven Romp on Sunday.

Then sign for the Sonot Kkaazoot before Friday, 23 February when early registration ends. Just click the “Register” tab at the top of this website.