Merry Christmas from Santa & his SCUMmy reindeer

Today Santa and his SCUMmy reindeer did the grand tour of all the skate trails at UAF, which were being combed as we arrived before dawn today. (Thank you, Jason!)

With temperatures in the mid-20s, snow was packing under our ski boots making it impossible to get into our ski bindings. Here are two SCUM with advanced degrees are assisting Mom get into her bindings in the predawn darkness:

Photo by Joanna Fox

And here are the eager skiers ready to chase the sun:

Photo by Joanna Fox

With no other skiers in sight, we bellowed out Christmas songs that were successful in drawing one cow moose near the socially distanced line of skiers.

Photo by Dan Johnson
Photo by Bill Husby

Because of travel quarantines caused by COVID-19, Santa had to recruit very SCUMmy reindeer this year. On Smith Lake, Santa was tried to convince the reindeer to skate without poles, this was their response:

Santa and SCUMmy reindeer on Smith Lake–photo by Bill Husby

By then, Santa’s sore back had loosened up so he skated off ahead of the reindeer:

Photo by Dan Johnson

Happy Holidays from all the SCUM. Enjoy getting outside on the ski trails. This week we’ve enjoyed groomed tracks at the golf course (thank you, Stan) as well as the perfectly groomed skate trails at UAF (the classical tracks were are great, too). We’ll be back at Birch Hill soon, but enjoying the winter solstice on a variety of trails is a real treat.

If you are able to help contribute to the maintenance of the UAF ski trails, please consider a tax-deductible donation through UA Foundation. You can make the donation online at this URL:

https://engage.alaska.edu/

After you enter the dollar amount that you wish to donate, specify “other” in the designation box. A new box will appear under “other” for you to enter: UAF XC Ski Trail Maintenance. These funds will go to grooming and maintenance of UAF crosscountry ski trails. With declining state support for UAF and the rising costs of dealing with COVID-19, please consider helping to maintain the wonderful UAF XC ski trails. These trails are even more important during the pandemic as they provide us a place to safely exercise and socialize.

Winter solstice on the north side classical trails

With temperatures at -5 deg F and about an inch of new snow, the remedial SCUM headed out toward the north side classical trails to do trail grooming the way it was done 40 years ago (i.e. skiing in the tracks). Here Mom, who remembers skiing in tracks, skis a more direct route than Ken had set before the snow.

Photo by Joanna Fox

It was almost sunrise as we skied through the birch and aspen:

Photo by Dan Johnson

Some trail sections were total spruce forests:

Photo by Joanna Fox

These spruce made us think of Christmas trees, which we’d later find totally trimmed for Santa’s visit.

Before seeing the decorated Christmas trees, we saw the bear skull on the trail:

Bear skull and Dan Johnson for size perspective–photo by Joanna Fox

and we got to the Really Steep Down HIll Bypass. But given the conditions, we could head straight down the RSDH:

Photo by Joanna Fox

Here is a clip of Dan Johnson on the RSDH:

And here is one of the two Christmas trees we found with cookies and candy canes decorating the branches:

We all agreed that skiing the Classical Bear, North Star, and Aurora Run was a great choice for a chilly, snowy morning near winter solstice.

Here’s a few parting shots:

Mom after a surprise run-in with Dan
Bernardo’s SCUMsicle after our leisurely ski–last 2 photos by Joanna Fox

Until the groomers get back out to the North Classical trails, we’ve skied them in for your enjoyment.

What La Nina means for winter in Alaska

1st single digit day at FWW_sm

NOAA has indicated that the winter of 2020 to 2021 will be influenced by a mild La Nina, which usually means colder temperatures for Alaska. So although we’re still not skiing, you should start acclimating to colder temperatures by ski walking with poles if you want to enjoy the snow when it has covered the ski trails. 

Ask a Climatologist: What to expect when you’re expecting La Niña

Rocky II: the SCUM workout

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.

Preparing for Rocky II

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:

https://sonotkkaazoot.org/2020/06/17/scum-hill-training-rocks/

After a warm-up hill climb without the rock, Carl did his hauling duty that slowed his hill climb time by 4 minutes.

30# is what percent of my body weight

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:

V for victory

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.

Poles celebrates his ascent PR

Having used a backpack, Carl told us, “I am not 70 yet!” by hefting the rock without pack assist:

Rocky isnt 70

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.

Yes, Tom, March 2020 was snowy

Groomer Tom Helmers was correct in thinking March is usually a low snow month in Fairbanks.

As this National Weather Service Fairbanks graphic shows, March 2020 was snowy:

March snow

Thus, the Virtual Sonot skiers, who bemoaned the shoveling and scooping toll, were not being whiners. We did exert considerable effort removing this snow from driveways and paths.

The clouds that gave us all that snow kept the temperatures within normal lows but without the daytime sunshine, our highs were cooler than normal:

March temps

So enjoy skiing on that ample snow pack in April as the average temperatures rise dramatically. Remember to keep social distancing on the trails and ski within your abilities. Now is not the time for injuries that will increase the health care burden needlessly.

End of Virtual 20 km on Chena River

From Sonot Kkaazoot race director, Bad Bob Baker:

I just got off the River ….. not good…All of these pictures are of different bad spots on the Chena RIVER..  There is no way to avoid getting wet.  This overflow extends from one side of the trail to the other.  It’s 3 to 6 inches deep.

The section near the Ft. Wainwright bridge is very narrow now, with moving water on each side of the trail.  There is no way I can pull my groomer thru most of these areas without getting trapped in the overflow.  I took my snowmachine all the way around the 20 km  course.  Most of the worse areas begin beyond the Hamilton Acres area.

Tonight’s forecast is to stay quite warm, with more snow possible.  My experience with these conditions on the Chena River over the past 33 years…is that I will not be groomable until a major weather change..which is not forecast until Thursday at the earliest!    SO…at this point, the VIRTUAL  SONOT  has all moved up to BIRCH  HILL.

For those of you who got your virtual SONOT  KKAAZOOT  in early,  good job!!!   I think everyone from this point on, can ski whatever  VIRTUAL  SONOT  KKAAZOOT  course they can dream up. You just CANNOT  include any part of the CHENA  RIVER..

THERE WILL BE NO GROOMING  OR SKIING ON THE CHENA  RIVER…….  UNSAFE  CONDITIONS!!!
Bad BOB   Sonot Kkaazoot  Race Director..
1724 sm wet start1715 sm1712 sn1717 wet bridge1711 smDo not ski on Chena River

Chena River UNSAFE for skiing!!

Do not ski on Chena River

THERE WILL BE NO GROOMING  OR SKIING ON THE CHENA  RIVER…….  UNSAFE  CONDITIONS

Race Director Bob Baker has deemed the Chena River to be ungroomable so the VIRTUAL SONOT KKAAZOOT has been moved up to Birch Hill.

So get out there and ski any trails or multiple trails on different days. It’s a virtual Sonot Kkaazoot.

Bad Bob Baker, who has 33 years experience grooming the Chena River, warns that the Sonot Kkaaoot course on the Chena River is no longer safe. (Photos will be posted shortly)

Ski trails at Birch Hill Recreation Area until you reach 20, 40, or 50 km (or any other distance). Send us a screen shot of the display from your GPS route, date, and time to us at: contact@sonotkkaazoot.org . We’ll post the virtual 33rd Sonot Kkaazoot times for all three distances. If you ski low tech, send us your time, date, and detailed course description. The main goal is to get out and ski while we can.

Grooming always depends upon Mother Nature. 

 

A plea for help from Virtual Sonot skiers

If you haven’t already signed up for the Sonot Kkaaoot and would like to ski the Virtual Sonot Kkaaoot on groomed trails, please sign up for the Sonot at:

https://register.chronotrack.com/reg/form?kioskID=54564

Proceeds will go to the grooming efforts at Birch Hill and on the Chena River. If you are struggling financially because the coronavirus, go ahead and just ski. But if you can, please donate to the Sonot or the NSCF trails fund.

https://nordicskicluboffairbanks.wildapricot.org/Donate/

Here’s the latest grooming report from Tom Helmers, head NSCF groomer:

Bottom line is the Trail Fund is at its lowest amount.  The Board of Directors of the ski club has asked all  programs including Grooming to watch expense till this virus thing is straightened out.   Word on the street is a fair number of skiers are planning to ski the Virtual Sonot Saturday, so my plan is to do a single pass of the entire trail system in the morning starting with the White Bear. The forecast is calling for some amount of snow pretty much every day for the next week to 10 days.

So please help us out if you possibly can. If not, please enjoy the groomed trails while you can. 

Stay healthy!

 

Virtual Sonot updates

from race director, Bad Bob Baker at 10:04 a.m. today:

THE weekend is coming..I just talked with TOM and with the wild winds he’s not sure when he’ll groom, but he plans to do what he can, when he can..  and often as possible.  Tom also mentioned that there is also a possibility of the administration shutting down the groomers.  SO..anything can happen on this VIRTUAL  SONOT  KKAAZOOT.

This coming week looks very warm and lots of snow…but by next Friday the sun starts to come out and the temp really drops …down to just below zero downtown….
NEXT SATURDAY…the true SONOT  KKAAZOOT  race day is forecasting some sunshine and a high of +12 downtown.. 
SO, the big question is how the Chena River will hold up from now till then…  
It looks like tomorrow and Sunday are going to be the best skiing snow wise until Friday and Saturday of next week.  Lots of snow and high temps Monday through Thursday…  SO…get out tomorrow and Sunday for the the most assured SONOT  KKAAZOOT  conditions… it might get better, it might not, and the River may hold up, or it may not..  
Bad BOB
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Blogger note:
I intend to ski my virtual Sonot Kkaazoot tomorrow so there’ll be no updates once I leave home. Remember, I’m a 70 year old volunteer so I do everything SLOWLY.
Seeing as this is a virtual Sonot, Bad Bob won’t be following me as course sweep. Thus, this year, I may be napping on the Chena River not him in late afternoon. (Maybe Eric Buetow will bring out a beverage in front of his house to revive me). 
Keep your virtual Sonot reports coming. I’ll update this site as soon as I can. I’m also a struggling grad student and my home internet is barely crawling along.