Last (?) dryland White Bear of 2022

Last winter, we were skiing on rolled trails by 6 October. However, today Norma and I ski- walked the White Bear as steady rain changed to snow.

Norma was fully dermotized with three layers on her head and insulated Alaska mitts for her hands.

Color coordinated Norma with her Alaska mitts on

We took off at a moderately fast pace to warm up, knowing by the top of Hilltop we could readjust our clothing:

It was 34 deg F at the top of Hilltop

However, it didn’t take long for the rain to change to snow:

It’s snow!

As we began Heart Rate Hill, we were startled by a serious looking dog carrying a moose femur in his mouth. He didn’t growl at us, but it was VERY apparent that he was NOT going to share his treasure. We didn’t get his photo, but the dog’s muzzle and the large bone that he was carrying was certainly the biggest surprise of the day.

The snow began sticking in earnest as we crested Heart Rate Hill and rang the bell for doing the ascent without stopping:

Ringing the bell at the top of Heart Rate Hill

That photo would be my last as battery of my new phone wasn’t as warm as I was. However, we actually were getting a little glide in places on the downhill trail. Our cars left in the Birch Hill lot were looking a little wintrier than when we had left. The snow was sticking in the stadium and the temperature had dropped to 31 deg F.

Snow in the Birch Hill parking lot

We will still be doing trail clearing work at Birch Hill on Tuesday, 11 October starting at 11 a.m. Please let us know if you’ll be able to join us:

Good News! 6 more weeks of winter

Today, on the Blackhawk Loop, the SCUM groundhogs determined that we’ll have at least 6 more weeks of winter.

Look at the shadows that Bill and Mike saw today:

Bill’s shadows and groomed tracks on the Black Hawk--photos by Dan Johnson
Newly retired Mike Mathers casts long shadows

Don’t be discouraged by the temperatures on the Birch Hill web thermometer. The sun makes the trails feel much warmer now. You can ski under natural lights from about 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. now.

Jerome Jackson finishes virtual 40 km Sonot

Jerome Jackson had so much virtual fun on Saturday that he thought the deep snow on the trails was powder and was unable to report his final time.

Based upon the information given him, Eric Troyer calculated Jerome’s time for the virtual 40 km Sonot to be 4:52. Jerome skied the White Bear three times before his binding broke. Jerome then tried to emulate Bill Husby (who had started on his virtual quest at the same time as Jerome and Carl Hemming) and double poled the last 10 km.

Congratulations, Jerome. Your 6-week taper worked!

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Fantastic skiing conditions at Birch Hill

Fairbanks skiers are thankful for our awesome Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers, who have been busy all November as frequent snow storms have blanketed the trails. Please make sure that you contribute to the NSCF trail fund so that they can continue to do their masterful work.

Here’s the URL to the NSCF secure site for making your trails donation:

Today the SCUM (Sonot Kkaazoot organizers) were attempting to ski the Grand Tour (the Birch Hill trails utilized for the Sonot Kkaazoot), and we actually rallied most of them at the top of the Tower loop:SCUM on tower sm.JPG

A few SCUM didn’t make today’s workout, so we’ll have to use photos from earlier skis when they failed to stay on the groomed platform:

Dermot down smRobert down sm

Unlike these guys, the women out skiing today were not picking themselves out of the snow:

Joanna and Norma small

Now that the trails all have a deep firm base, it time for you to make a commitment to ski the 33rd annual Sonot Kkaazoot.

Online registration is available at:

This year are using the registration software that John Estle has been using for Running Club North races and the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks Town and Distance Races. Rather than raising the fees this year, there will be a modest registration fee added when you sign up to cover the cost of the software.

Enjoy the ski trails as you train for the 2020 Sonot Kkaazoot!

Birch Hill Trail Reconnaissance

Much volunteer work takes place in the summer months to ensure that Birch Hill trail conditions will be great when the snow falls. Braving the mud and mosquitoes, we followed our fearless groomer today.

Two Sonot Kkaazoot organizers led by Bill Husby, trail groomer, surveyed the trails for areas needing summer brushing. To get us warmed up, Bill directed us out the White Bear backwards from the stadium, and we soon found ourselves in a mosquito-infested bog. We almost lost Robert in Moilanen Meadows.

Moilanen Meadows on 6-26-19 sm.JPG

Robert at the entrance to Moilanen Meadows

After fleeing the aerial hoards, we cut over to the White Bear just beyond the biathlon range heading toward the Fort Wainwright ski area.

Trail groomer leading us out of the White Bear bog.JPG

Bill Husby, groomer leads Robert Hannon in his fancy safety pants up the trail near the biathlon range.

In the sunshine at the base of the Fort Wainwright alpine hill, the mosquitoes dispersed, so Robert modeled his matching safety outfit purchased at Value Village.

Fancy Pants Hannon w matching safety gear sm

Robert Hannon and his matching safety outfit.

After climbing Cliffside and Sunnyside to the Outhouse Trail, we finished up on the Roller Coasters that were still wide and inviting in late June.

Roller coasters sm

Robert and Bill on the Roller Coasters on 6-26-19

Preparing for the 2019-2020 ski season at Birch Hill Recreation Area is well underway. Training for 33rd Annual Sonot Kkaazoot ramps up as the daylight hours shorten. Hill intervals start next week.

February 7 update on the Chena River

Sonot Kkaazoot Race Director, Bad Bob Baker took his drag from Graehl Landing to the 20 km turnaround and back. In that section, the Chena River has lots of thin spots and even a little open water. He did not go further downriver because he thought it was TOO RISKY.

Until further notice, STAY OFF THE CHENA RIVER.