SCUM tidy up trails on the fly

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.

Remnant of spruce tree (upper right) that had been lying across the Sunnyside gateway
Bill and Dan heading up FWW ski hill while Bernard strolls back down

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.

Injured groomer, Bill Husby (with knee brace), leads SCUM in trail maintenance
Dan, the youngster of the group, moves spruce branch from Outhouse corner
Mike moves tree debris

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?

Mikes and Mom ski walk FWW alpine hill under blue skies

Mikes and Mom on Fort Wainwright alpine hill before our third ascent–photo by Mike Mathers

After training days when we’ve had hazardous wildfire smoke, winds, or persistent showers, temperatures this morning ranged from 56 to 64 with sunny skies and the Alaska Range clearly in view as we descended the hill. SCUM, of course had perfectly legitimate excuses of why they couldn’t join us: (e.g., “fair booth duty for the League of Women voters”, “moving stuff in Portland and painting a room”, “meeting up with relatives for breakfast”, “doctor’s appointment”, “simple cold although I tested negative but in abundance of caution”, “duty (work) calls “). Two young runners did two ascents while we were ski walking our first two, but I think our fun factor was higher.

We missed our wayward SCUM but they missed a perfect day as the three of us had a great workout before we went home to jack up a sauna, insulate an attic, and mow a lawn.

Life is good for the retired SCUM.

Heartrate monitor data showing we actually did three ascents

Gang of nine ski walk Ester Dome

Eight ski walkers on Ester Dome (Jill is not shown because our photographer, Joanna Fox had to rush back to work)

With blue skies and cooler temperatures, 9 SCUM (and friends) showed up to ski walk up Ester Dome yesterday. One month past the summer solstice, we can feel the approaching ski season. Some of us have been training through the unhealthy smoke, but I felt it wasn’t good to encourage others to follow our example:

Dan and Bill halfway through their 4 FWW ascents for the 4th of July

However, some of us had to be out in the smoke, regardless, and we had company:

Moose don’t need ski poles

Just 8 months to train for the 36th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot. I’m determined to have at least one SCUM finish the 50 km event in 2023.

I think Tim Woster is our best prospect because he’s been doing both weekly SCUM workouts and Christina Turman’s FXC Masters interval workouts this summer. Also, Tim has wisely chosen not to carry rocks up the FWW alpine hill.

Nine ski walkers climb FWW alpine hill today

With the Birch Hill trails officially open for the “dryland” season, the SCUM and friends gathered at 10 a.m. today for our inaugural climbs of the Fort Wainwright (FWW) alpine hill. On a 60 deg morning, this was by far the largest training group to date. I tried to assemble a group photo, but it was only of the early arrivals:

Early arrivals at Birch Hill

because Dermot Cole pulled into the south Birch Hill parking lot exactly at 10 a.m. Thus, Poles took a second group photo of all nine ski walkers:

Nine ski walkers with poles (except for Dermot) —photo by Bill Husby

And we were off, up the Tower Direct trail to Beacon Road. The FWW alpine hill still had some remnant manmade snow from some of the halfpipe jumps. The hill seemed steeper than it was in September, but most of our group did two ascents in just over 12 minutes a climb. We’ll start increasing the repeats so that we do four hill climbs by the 4th of July.

Part of our group finishing their first ascent past the remnant snow from the halfpipe jumps.

It was a glorious day to be outside. We saw Alaska Fire crew and others on the FWW alpine hill and a large group of hikers on the Birch Hill trails as we were returning to the stadium on the Tower Direct. Some of the trails are still wet in places but it’s pretty easy to avoid them.

Troyer displaces me as Sonot Kkaazoot caboose

Eric Troyer displaced me as Sonot Kkaazoot caboose this year, and now I think he’d be a perfect replacement for me as the Sonot Kkaazoot blogger. He’s a far superior storyteller and makes me seriously question why I am working on an MFA in creative writing.

Here’s the URL to Eric’s 35th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot, alternative 50 km:

https://notquiteoverthehillcorrineanderic.blogspot.com/2022/03/when-is-30k-race-not-30k-race-when-you.html

End of an era for the SCUM

When the SCUM group started 25 years ago as an uncoachable group of men, mostly over 40 years old, the final exam was to ski the 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot. This year, 25 years older, slower, and perhaps, wiser, none of the SCUM finished the 50 km course yesterday.

The new 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot course had an additional 20 km of hilly Birch Hill trails instead of the flat Chena River. After a La Nina winter of unusually cold weather, abundant snowfall and record rainfall, those of us who remained in Fairbanks all winter, had spent more time shoveling and scooping snow than skate skiing.

Yet, the 35th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot was held under glorious spring weather so all of us, 10- and 30-km Sonot Kkaazoot skiers and volunteers were sore and exhausted today before our post-Sonot workout.

Still dealing with Sonot Kkaazoot organization duties, I was late for today’s workout and hoped that the group would have left without me. Alas, they were still in the stadium discussing whether predator-prey ratios in the ocean are mathematically determined. Some SCUM don’t understand the meaning of retirement.

I headed off down the White Cub and White Bear toward the Sonot Connector that none of us skied on race day.

SCUM rest on the White Bear on the morning after the Sonot Kkaazoot–photo by Joanna Fox
Joanna falls on White Bear trying to demonstrate how a high school skier tried to slow her down during the Sonot —photo by Bill Husby

The Sonot Connector descent was exhilarating and the views from the FWW alpine hill were stunning.

Dermot, Bill, and Susan look out to the Alaska Range–photo by Joanna Fox

However, the real SCUM antics surfaced when they discovered a new avalanche patch on the Cliffside trail and in their delusional states from yesterday’s Sonot, thought they saw a body near the bottom of the avalanche requiring investigation.

All that remains of some poor SCUM in an avalanche on Cliffside trail–photo by Joanna Fox

First Joanna skied toward the avalanche and fell, so Carl attempted to rescue her. but decided against it.

Carl attempts to rescue Joanna–video by Bill Husby

Then Dermot tried to approach the avalanche on foot.

Dermot attempts to approach avalanche on foot–photo by Joanna Fox

and discovers the SCUM hat belonging to Susan that he propped up on his ski pole:

Susan’s SCUM hat--photo by Bill Husby

before discovering how tiring walking in deep snow can be:

Dermot rescues Susan’s hat–video by Joanna Fox

Sufficiently recovered, the SCUM skied up until they found a snowy patch that they thought might be suitable for snow angels. Robert demonstrates a face down snow angel:

Robert attempts snow angel in early morning crust–video by Joanna Fox

Amazingly, we eventually finished our military transit from White Bear to Sunnyside and back to the stadium in under 2 hours on the morning after the Sonot when trails were icy and fast. All bets are off on whether I would have been found with my hat in the Cliffside avalanche today if I had attempted section 3 of the 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot.

Thanks to everyone who volunteered for or participated in the 35th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot. The trails were awesome and the spirit of everyone on them was fantastic. Enjoy spring skiing.

Bakers and DiFolco skiing at Canmore World Masters


Bad Bob and Sharon Baker, and Donna DiFolco skied in World Masters in Canmore last week. What a glorious setting! Notice Bad Bob wore his 30th anniversary Sonot Kkaazoot hat while skiing the 30 km FS race: World Masters are a great event for sharpening your training for the Sonot Kkaazoot.

Bad Bob Baker racing his 30 km CL race at World Masters–photo by Sharon Baker
Sharon Baker skiing at World Masters–photo by Bob Baker
Donna DiFolco tucking for her fast downhills at World Masters–photo by Bob Baker
Happy DeVoe Sisters–photo by Bob Baker
Bad Bob Baker, Sonot Kkaazoot organizer–photo by Sharon Baker
Bad Bob in action–photo by Sharon Baker

Now that Bad Bob is back in Fairbanks, he’d like you to know that we still need volunteers to help assure a smoothly run 35th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot.

SCUM and others ski the Virtual Skiathon

(Scroll down to results that we uploaded on 3/11/22)

A large group of SCUM and friends headed out on their Virtual Skiathon today at 10 a.m.

All photos (except where noted otherwise) were taken by Eric Troyer, who warmed up for the Virtual Skiathon by skiing the 26 mile Chena River to Ridge Endurance Race on Saturday. Corrine Leistikow also skied the 26 mile Chena River to Ridge Race.

Virtual Skiathon group at 10 a.m. — photo taken by a wise skier who did not want to be associated with the SCUM

Although “the graveyard” (aka Miller Hill) section of the Skarland Trail hadn’t been groomed, most of the SCUM and others managed to negotiate the ungroomed sections, but none as skillfully as Sam Bishop.

Sam Bishop (on right) stands upright on his skis like he did even on the ungroomed sections of the Skarland Trail
SCUM returning to the official start line of the Skiathon to regroup (a typical SCUM move)

Because this blogger was the course sweep, I am unable to provide captions for the Skiathon photographs so I’ve invented something to cover the Olympus digital camera advertisement that accompanied Eric’s photos.

Skiers pause briefly so Eric can take a photograph
Greg Kahoe skis without groomed tracks
Byron Broda relaxing on Vitual Skiathon Tour —photo by Bill Husby
Corrine Leistikow skis down the Skarland Trail
Don Pendergrast upright before rest stop —photo by Dan Johnson
Don’s reverse squat after rest break—photo by Dan Johnson
Happy Virtual Skiathon finishers
Joanna greets Mike Schmoker as he slows down to finish his virtual Skiathon
Early SCUM finishers celebrate with beer—photo by Dan Johnson

Pole (singular) is back on skis

Bill Husby (aka Poles) is back skiing after his ladder accident

During the Frank Soos Distance Race #3, The Unpleasantry, I was passed by Thomas St. Clair holding a broken pole in one hand and skiing outside the tracks with just one pole. I mentioned to our group of skiers that Bill was perhaps part of a growing trend.

Then today, Bill headed out to Smith Lake to keep him at the top of our Creme de la SCUM team in miles earned for our 2000-mile relay on the Race Across Alaska Winter Challenge. I hope that this didn’t jar any of his fractured ribs and that he will soon join our workouts again.