April 15 skiing on Sunnyside Trail

With temperatures dipping to the mid teens early this morning, the Birch Hill groomers were able to groom and track 9 km of trails to complement the 10 km groomed on Saturday. Although we were unable to see Denali from the Sunnyside Trail, there was plenty of sun and blue skies:

Sunnyside SCUM sm

SCUM gather on top of picnic table to approach Frank Soos (far right) in height for last group shot of season.

JE Sunnyside sm

Coach John Estle slows down to join the gathering crowd

 

Above, Norma Haubenstock, Volunteer Coordinator for Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks competition events, negotiates the damage done to the corduroy by SCUM.

Enjoy the Spring Skiing! Thank you Birch Hill groomers! Today’s ski was a treat! Even 320 m of climb went by quickly.

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

Sonot Update: Two days out

The temperature at the Sonot Kkaazoot race start this morning was much colder than predicted at -10 deg F. Bad Bob will be out on the river late this afternoon to determine ice thicknesses so that we can report the location of our race start at early bib pick-up tonight at the Doyon, Ltd. building from 5 to 7 p.m.

Bad Bob will drag the Chena River portion of the Sonot Kkaazoot course again this afternoon if you want to personally check it out before or after you pick up your bib.

Still trying to decide whether to sign up? Check out the awesome Sonot Kkaazoot informational flyer designed by Rebecca Heaton that is available for download on the home page.

Here are some photos that Bad Bob took on Wednesday:

Ramp down to Sonot start area sm

Ramp down to the Sonot Kkaazoot start area (all photos by Bad Bob Baker)

Chena River three days out sm

Chena River trail three days out

Chena River trail near Hamilton Acres sm

Sonot Kkaazoot trail near Hamilton Acres

Wild life on the trail 3 days out

Wildlife captured on the trail three days out

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!

Meet the Sonot Kkaazoot media lead

Putting on the Sonot Kkaazoot requires an army of volunteers who contribute many talents. Eric Troyer, a SCUM noted for his unconventional race suits, has been the Sonot Kkaazoot media lead (and NSCF Facebook guru) and a Fort Wainwright road crossing guard (and photographer) for several years. This year he has assembled the Sonot Kkaazoos, who will perform at the Sonot Kkaazoot Awards Ceremony.

Eric is one of the younger SCUM, and his wife put together this UTube video in honor of Eric’s 58th birthday.

Enjoy Corrine’s creative efforts, and be sure to wish Eric a belated happy birthday!

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:

http://nordicskicluboffairbanks.wildapricot.org/Donate

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.