Bob Baker’s last grooming report until 18 March

From Sonot Kkaazoot race director:

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.
–Bad Bob
Chena River cordoroy.jpg

Chena River corduroy

1 March Chena River grooming sm

Chena River grooming on 1 March 2019

20 km turnaround on 1 March sm

20 km Sonot Kkaazoot turnaround

Sonot volunteer skiing home

Sonot blogger checking out the trail

Awesome Chena River skiing today

1 March 2019: It was +16 deg F and sunny at Denali State Bank at 11 a.m. as I headed out on the 20 km Sonot Kkaazoot course from start to turnaround. Groomers Bad Bob Baker and Bill Poles Husby had been out since 8 a.m. Skiing was awesome including under the highway bridges where Bob had dragged snow earlier and through repeated dragging had ground up the jumble ice. No need to use rock skis today! Today will be Bad Bob’s last grooming of the Sonot course until he returns from Norway on the Tuesday before the Sonot Kkaazoot.

Bad Bob and his drag on Chena River_1 Mar 2019sm.JPG

Bad Bob and his drag on his pass toward town as I headed out around 11:15 a.m. today

Below are some photos I took during my 20 km ski. I was way overdressed and by the end, I was skiing without a hat. Bad Bob made an additional pass on the trail after I skied out, leaving the trail much wider and more level. On my return to the start, it was virtually an all V2 ski.

Only climb on the 20 km course sm

Only climb on the 20 km Sonot course

Bad Bob removing toe grabbers on 20 km turnaround sm

Bad Bob’s technique for removing toe grabbers on the 20 km turnaround trail

Bad Bob grooming turnaround sm

Bad Bob adds a kick as he grooms the 20 km turnaround

Bob and Sharon Baker will be out skiing the 20 km Sonot Kkaazoot course this afternoon. I highly recommend that you do the same. It will top off your Vitamin D stores and will definitely encourage you to sign up for the 32nd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot today.

March skiing in Fairbanks is simply unbeatable.

Improved Chena River Course Conditions 2-27-19

From Sonot Kkaazoot Race Director, Bad Bob Baker:

I groomed the entire 20 km Sonot Kkaazoot course this morning. Temperature was -5 degrees F with NO OVERFLOW or OPEN WATER. It’s roughed in, and even quite smooth in places. The Chena River is now SKIABLE.

I will be back down on the River early FRIDAY, and meeting up with Bill Husby (Poles), and will escort him up and down the Chena River. The forecast is for clear days with daytime temperatures in the 20’s and overnight lows around zero through next week. Now that the Chena River portion of the Sonot Kkaazoot is packed and groomed…it should freeze thicker over the next week.

BUT…as we all know…March is just around the corner…and if we get a lot of new snow or extreme high temperatures, it will become a day-to-day call as we approach race day.  But, for now, things are looking quite good….amazing how just a week’s time can change conditions so much. If you do choose to ski on the RIVER, please use common sense, and stay away from anything that looks questionable. The Chena River is continuously changing, and what’s good today, may not be tomorrow. Right now it’s been groomed 12′  to 30′ wide…a little rough in spots, but should be much smoother after Friday’s  grooming.

27 March 2019_Sonot Chena River TrailChena River Trail 2-27-19Chena River Trail 2-27-19b

“So Not” Chena River Update 2-20-19

From Sonot Kkaazoot Race Director, Bad Bob Baker:

11 am Wednesday Feb 20.  I  just got off the Chena River, temp on the River at 8:30 am was just below zero.  This morning I was bound and determined to start at the Cushman bridge and travel the entire 20 km route.  Success!  My Ski Doo Scandic SWT and I made it from start to finish without ending up below the Chena River ice. That said, the Chena River is still far from being a safe place to ski, walk, snowmachine or check out. 

As seen in these photos on the Chena River at the downtown starting area, I churned up slush and water for the entire first 800 meters.

Sonot start landscape 2-20-19

Photos of Sonot Kkaazoot start area on Chena River taken by Bad Bob Baker on 2-20-19

Sonot start area 2-20-19

Sonot start area 2 on 2-20-19

Had I stopped in a few spots, I felt that I would have broken through, or at the very least, been hopelessly stuck.  Countless other spots along the entire river portion of the Sonot produced similar results.  Needless to say. I did not attempt to pull my drag/groomer.

This year the Chena River is playing a game that I have yet to experience in my 32 years of grooming for the Sonot Kkaazoot.  I’m not calling it quits yet for a traditional downtown river start.  We’re still over 4 weeks from race day.  Late March is always a great time to ski in Fairbanks. No matter where you’re skiing, it’s always an awesome experience.

I head over to Norway on March 3rd.  I will give at least one more Chena River update before I leave, and will also will announce the race courses if the Sonot ends up all at Birch Hill.  We should have a final decision by the early bib pick-up at the Doyon building on Thursday March 21.  Until then, get yourself signed up for this year’s Sonot!  Whatever the course, it will be a great day to be out on your skis!!

Bad Bob

30 km test this Sunday

With the 32nd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot less than 5 weeks away, the Buetow Dental-Pangaea Health Distance Race #3 will be great test of your preparation. The freestyle race is a three lap course so you have 10 or 30 km options. The race starts at 11 a.m. and finishes in the Birch Hill Recreation Area stadium this Sunday.

Register online here:

https://register.chronotrack.com/r/42672

With the recent snows and winds, this will be a great opportunity to get a long workout in on spectacularly groomed trails.

Here’s the course as described by NSCF race director, John Estle:

Start goes up the Ramp, out Relay Alley, descend Outhouse, then turn left on
Upper House cutoff.

Turn onto Sunnyside, then turn back at Section Line cutoff and return to
Outhouse on Sunnyside

Back on Outhouse, finish the loop, then turn right and finish Relay Loop.

Returning to stadium, go down Roller Coaster Bypass, then White Cub, through Biathlon Range. Take White Bear to Hilltop cutoff.

Turn left and return to the stadium, then take a LEFT and proceed up East Ramp.

Finish:  On the last lap, skiers will go up the E Ramp and down the W Ramp, then into the finish from the South.

Proceeds from the race support the Lathrop XC ski team.

DIST3-map-course-sat-photo

 

Thanks to Sonot Kkaazoot sponsors and volunteers

The 31st Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot took place under fantastic sunny skies and nearly perfect temperatures for skiing. This year 285 skiers aged 8 to 72 successfully finished their events.

We are extremely grateful to the support of Denali State Bank, who has been our title sponsor from our modest start in 1988 when 21 skiers crossed the finish line for the 50 km and 8 for the 20 km. Other sponsors key to organizing this event include: Doyon, Ltd, Fort Wainwright, U.S. Army Alaska, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, Advanced Physical Therapy, Foundation Health Partners, and Subway.

The Sonot Kkaazoot remains a community ski event organized by volunteers who this year numbered over 105. Many individuals served multiple roles in the Sonot Kkaazoot and were essential to our success. Enthusiastic and helpful volunteers kept skiers fueled, safe, and ensured an accurate time. The volunteers page on the Sonot Kkaazoot website lists all volunteers that we identified: https://sonotkkaazoot.org/volunteers/

We absolutely could not have done this without the groomers who worked for days to make the trails absolutely first rate. Over 110 man hours were spent trail clearing and/or grooming for the 2018 Sonot Kkaazoot.

The feed stations had drinks and feeds ready for 5 to 6 hours. They fed and encouraged those of us in the back of the pack when we really needed a boost. Watershed School was a new addition to the Sonot Kkaazoot this year, and staffed the White Bear feed station. Watershed principal, Jarrod Decker generously redirected their feed station honorarium to the Birch Hill Trail Fund because their students benefit from the groomed trails when they take field trips to Birch Hill during the winter. Thank you, Jarrod and Watershed School.

The road crossing teams were especially welcome with concurrent activities going on at the Birch Hill Ski and Snowboard Area. They kept Sonot Kkaazoot skiers safe on the Fort Wainwright Trails when the road crossings had vehicular traffic.

The timers and finish line announcer were working until the last skier crossed. Thank you for demonstrating that every skier’s race is important to them.

After 6 years attempting to be Bad Bob Baker’s sabbatical replacement as Sonot Kkaazoot organizer, I’m happy to be just SCUM again.

Enjoy the spring sunshine! I’ll see you on the ski (or fat bike) trails.

fat bike 2 sm

“I think I’ll stick to skiing”–Photo by Dan Johnson

Saturday morning report from Tom Helmers

From Birch Hill head groomer, Tom Helmers: At the River this morning at 2:15 a.m. it was +7 deg F, +10 deg at the Lodge, +15 deg at Sonot Junction. At 5 a.m., it was +7 deg at the 5 km marker on White Bear.

Everything is looking great! The groomers literally were up all night making conditions great for the 31st annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot.