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:


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.

Nice skiing on the Chena River today

From Bad Bob Baker: I skated the river this morning.  The Chena is in great shape and fairly fast with decent snow under the bridges.  All questionable areas were well frozen and in good shape. Ski with a partner and enjoy the smooth skating.  Dress warm!  Be safe.

Sonot start area on 2-6-18 sm

Chena River near the Sonot Kkaazoot start area–Photo by Bob Baker

View of the Chena River on 2-6-18 sm

Chena River skiing 2-6-18 sm

All photos by Bad Bob Baker during this morning’s ski

Chena River groomed–faster but colder than Birch Hill but be careful!

Bad Bob, who turned 60 years old last week, groomed the Chena River again today and rerouted the trail in places. He reports that the Chena River is ready for skiing and is much faster but much colder than Birch Hill. 

HOWEVER, ALL RIVER TRAVEL ON ICE IS HAZARDOUS SO DON’T SKI ALONE. This is the response of groomer Bob Baker to a comment on an earlier post about unsafe spots on the Chena River:

Yes..there are still some bad spots on the river. I caused the hole this person mentioned just upriver from the foot bridge…and now, after 3 days…that hole has frozen over pretty well… but nothing is ever for CERTAIN when it come to safety on the Chena River. What the packing and grooming will hopefully do, is break down the insulating snow cover, and help freeze the packed trail thicker. The grooming helps expose some of the bad spots, but it’s not an instant fix for thin ice. We have another 6 1/2 weeks to go before the race, and it’s my hopes that now that the river has been packed, it will help in the freezing process. I did reroute a lot of the course today, only to find some other NEW HOLES…. I will keep grooming, every week or 2 and move the trail as needed. If people choose to ski on the Chena River, they are doing so at their own risk…. The preparation I’m doing now, is hoping to prepare the river for a safe route come late March for the SONOT race start. For the most part, the river is looking better with each passing week. I would strongly suggest that people don’t ski the river at this time, and if they do, to not ski alone, and be very aware of open holes, steam, and soft spots (overflow), and use extreme caution and alertness!!! It should only improve as the days go by, with these nice negative temperatures we are having. REMEMBER…traveling along any river in the winter is always hazardous!! KEEP YOUR GUARD UP.. PAY ATTENTION… STEER CLEAR OF OBVIOUS BAD AREAS and STAY ON THE PACKED TRAIL…. “

There are less than 3 weeks to sign up for the 2018 Sonot Kkaazoot at early registration fees.

Chena River 1 sm

Chena River 2 sm

Photos by Bad Bob Baker