In an attempt to add a fresh challenge to our ski walking up the Fort Wainwright ski hill, this season the SCUM added carrying “the rock” that Allen Doyle (former Equinox Marathon winner and Sonot Kkaazoot skier) used to slow himself down when training with the SCUM last summer.
As reported here, Bill Husby and Robert Hannon were the first SCUM to carry “the rock”, previously estimated to be 30 pounds:
Several weeks later, Carl Hemming carried “the rock” up the hill in a backpack.
Because Carl is a retired Alaska Fish and Game fish biologist, we asked him if he had a fish scale that we could use to weigh the rock. Being a professional at estimating fish by eye, Carl didn’t need a scale. However, Dan Johnson, our retired nurse and EMT administrator had one and offered to bring the scale and a shopping bag to hold the rock to today’s workout. So before we did our 3 ascents of the FWW ski hill, we officially weighed “the rock” and it was lighter than all our estimates at a mere 20.2 pounds:
Bill Husby in official Sonot Kkaazoot orange tank top holds “the rock” in Dan’s fish scale
Bill was the only rock hauler that showed up for today’s workout and his estimate of the rock’s weight was the closest to today’s measurement (Carl was fishing and Robert was recovering from a tough night). However, the three gramps and I did three ascents of the FWW ski hill in the unfamilar sun today.
Three Gramps wait on platform at the top of FWW ski hill for me to finish
We walked up Beacon Road and down the Tower Loop to the Birch Hill parking lot where our four silver Subarus awaited us.
4 SCUM owned silver Subarus (that match our hair color)
My car like my carcass was the oldest model at the workout today.
Join us on Fridays at 9:00 a.m. We also let skiers with blue and red vehicles to ski walk and carry the rock.
Without an Equinox Marathon in 2020, there’s no problem social distancing while ski walking on Ester Dome. Today Bernardo was so far ahead of me, I didn’t even see when he crested the top.
However, most of the SCUM still had their masks handy, just in case, we couldn’t social distance.
All photos by Joanna Fox
Enjoy ski training outside, but make sure you are well separated from your training partners while breathing hard on the uphills. We had no problem with a group widely varying in age and fitness. Today we were able to climb above the fog, but didn’t really appreciate the sun above Henderson Road until we were heading back down from the dome.
With the prediction of yet another wet weather system engulfing the Fairbanks area this weekend, the SCUM had less than their normal enthusiasm for Friday’s Fort Wainwright hill climb. Thoughtfully, Dan decided to wear his rain jacket to appease the weather gods. By contrast, Dermot wore a classy sombrero in an attempt to confuse the weather gods.
The prescribed workout was for 3 repeats of the hill and it was Carl’s turn to do it with the rock. He arrived with a camo backpack as he hadn’t taken his turn hauling the rock back in mid June when Bill and Robert carried the rock uphill on their shoulders:
After a warm-up hill climb without the rock, Carl did his hauling duty that slowed his hill climb time by 4 minutes.
and gave him reason to celebrate: with a V for victory. Dan provided moral support as he’s still in PT after his shoulder surgery:
Bill Husby (aka Poles) also had reason to celebrate as he set a new hill climb PR on his second ascent with a time of 10:48:28. I took a photo of his Apple watch but it was blurred by the aura still surrounding him. He made a special reference to his time as a challenge for Joanna, “the kid” to beat next Friday.
Having used a backpack, Carl told us, “I am not 70 yet!” by hefting the rock without pack assist:
Back in the Birch Hill parking lot after the workout, “Rocky” kept repeating the same 5 words: “I am not 70 yet.” That will have to wait until March 2021.
During summer, the Friday morning workout for the remedial SCUM is ski walking up the Fort Wainwright alpine hill under the chair lift. Today to celebrate the 4th of July while taking COVID-19 precautions, we decided to do four ascents of the FWW alpine hill, a first for all of us. The day’s motto was “4 for the 4th!”
It was sunny when we arrived at the top of the alpine hill and dropped down to the start. Joanna, who ended up following Bill Husby up ascent #1, was already channeling her inner Eeoye as we walked back down. However, she found herself drawn up the hill three more times by one bionic kneed SCUM and pushed by the other,
I can’t believe I climbed that alpine hill 4 times!
and she had the data to prove that she had done it.
While our fellow SCUM play in Denali or Homer, we celebrated our 4 on the 4th on the top of the hill
and in the Birch Hill parking lot:
Joanna had thoughtfully brought an entire case of Hawaiian beer expecting that our “definitely maybe” SCUM would join us. Because we had our hearts set on salty, greasy foods after our 705 m of climb today, the beer will still be in her van next week if you run out of excuses and decide to train with us.
The COVID-19 has kept the SCUM close to home this summer. To keep us from going stark crazy, we’ve been hill training in preparation for crushing whatever mountain is put in our path.
Masked and social distanced in the Birch Hill parking lot, we discussed the workout objective: ski walking three times up the Fort Wainwright alpine hill (on the trail under the chair lift). For extra challenge (and bragging rights), a SCUM could carry a 30 pound rock down and back up the ski hill (a trick we learned from Allen Doyle last summer).
We accessed the Fort Wainwright alpine hill from the Tower Direct trail so we had a 1 mile warm-up before we descended 0.84 km to our first hill climb start. Bill Husby carried the rock down from the bench at the top (where it has been stashed since last summer), and then demonstrated on the proper carrying technique up.
On hill repeat #2, Robert decided to carry the rock. He tried to use gravity to roll the rock down the hill. However, having been a philosophy not physics major, Robert and the rock disappeared into the nearby woods.
Robert did eventually retrieve the rock and carried it on hill repeat #2 being paced by Carl and Dan.
and finished hill realizing that gravity still ruled.
Carl was supposed to carry the rock on hill repeat #3 (Dan was exempt because he recently had shoulder surgery), but forgot his pack frame. So all the guys did hill repeat #3 with just their poles:
This 8.0 km workout had 625 m of ascent (and descent) under beautiful blue skies and a light breeze. During those hill repeats, we were temporarily relieved from the stress of grim national and state news, and concentrated on just putting one foot in front of the other without tripping. Even the mosquitoes seemed to ignore us on the FWW alpine hill.
We’ll do it again next Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. if you want to join us. The groans and sighs at the end will be the best of the entire day.
What is bad a** honey badger, who has finished up the virtual Sonot Kkaazoot grand slam (20 km, 40 km, and 50 km events–each done in a single day as a single workout), supposed to do when he must shelter in place and social distance from fellow SCUMs?
Merely skate skiing icy trails at Birch Hill wasn’t enough from Bill on Wednesday, no way! If you’re Poles Husby, whose orthopedic surgeon told him “no moguls” with his bionic knees, you decide to be one tough a**,–hot dog–honey badger.
Thanks to Joanna Fox for this video clip.
Well, the Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot may be virtual this year, but skier/artist Mark Ross has made some real Sonot Kkaazoot posters! They are available in the Warming Hut at Birch Hill Recreation Area. They are 17″ x 24″ and come in orange or black. The cost is a donation to the Birch Hill Trail Fund of any amount. Honor system.
Click on the link below to go to the club’s Birch Hill Trail Fund page. Recommended donation amounts are listed there. If that link doesn’t work then go to the NSCF website (www.nscfairbanks.org) and click on Support NSCF > Birch Hill Trail Fund
You can also put money or a check in the Iron Ranger at the bottom of the stairs to the Stadium at Birch Hill.
Thank you, Mark!
Starting at 10 a.m. ADT this morning, several SCUM practiced both social distancing and skating the 20 km Sonot course. It was mostly sunny and 15 deg F when we started and 28 deg when we finished.
Besides social distancing, SCUM practice foot and mouth sanitizing. We were able to use resources found under the Cushman Street pedestrian bridge at the Sonot start. There are many secrets to skiing the Sonot Kkaazoot–and taking advantage of found feeds can be important in non-pandemic years.
Dual purpose foot and mouth sanitizer
Although we are 50 km Sonot skiers, we skied the 20 km turnaround today in case we suddenly feel our age during the virtual Sonot.
Practicing social distancing on the Sonot Kkaazoot 20 km turnaround. Photo by Bill Husby.
We all agreed that Bad Bob had done an awesome job of grooming. We only saw one other skier (a young FXC skier who had come down to the river from Birch Hill) but the sunshine and trails were wonderful.
Here’s a view of the Chena River trail from the Cushman Street bridge with a fat biker heading upstream.
Enjoy the skiing before break-up starts on the Chena River. Remember that Mother Nature holds all the cards. Ski with care and with a buddy.
Bad Bob Baker spent the better part of today grooming the Sonot Kkaazoot trail from the start and finish area near the Cushman Street bridge to the Fort Wainwright alpine hill. He also groomed the 20 km turnaround loop and the ditch between the Chena River and Fort Wainwright.
It is springtime so stay alert on the river and ski with a buddy who is 6 feet away from you. Conditions can and will change swiftly. Make sure you have your government identification if you are skiing these trails.
Groomed ramp to the virtual Sonot Kkaazoot start and finish area
Bad Bob grooming the Chena River wide enough for social distancing
Bad Bob plans to groom again on Wednesday morning when he will set a classical track. Enjoy the spring skiing. It is good for your physical and mental well-being during the coronavirus pandemic.
Today the temperature was -4 deg F when we left the hut with a major temperature inversion. However, all the classical only trails had been groomed on Wednesday so we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to ski on firm new tracks even if it meant dropping down 10 or 20 deg F.
The trails didn’t disappoint. If you are training for the Sonot Kkaazoot, or even more, if you are training for the Oosik or the Skiathon, you REALLY should check out the classical only trails at Birch Hill.
The North Classical trails are groomed 5 feet wide making downhill corners easier for skiers with less flexible joints. The really steep downhill on the North Star was just fun today–no fall anxiety at all.
The South Classical trails are more technical but with the current snowfall and grooming, this 70 year old, bionic skier managed to easily stay on her skis on the Blackhawk loop.
Trails groomed by Ken Coe and Bill Husby. All photos by Bill Husby.
Enjoy the longer days on the ski trails. If you enjoy skiing, please make sure that you donate to the Birch Hill Trail Fund: