Last ski of 2021

After a week of shoveling out from the two recent storms that dowsed the area with snow and rain, the SCUM were delighted to ski in firm PistenBully tracks today. However, the only photos taken were when they ventured off into the ungroomed snow.

Here the SCUM set “old school” tracks on the Old Tower:

Photo by Dan Johnson

And here’s what the White Bear trail beyond Sonot Junction looks like:

Mom, Joanna, and Norma decide against skiing WB--photo by Dan Johnson

Joanna and Norma were feeling adventuresome so took off and skied Moilanen Meadows following these set tracks:

Moilanen Meadow tracks–photo by Joanna Fox

In addition to finding two downed trees on the trail, they found a Winter Trails sign:

Joanna and Norma with Winter Trails sign–photo by Joanna Fox

Norma led them out of the Meadows and back to the Birch Hill stadium but the chilled SCUM had already headed home.

Norma enjoying Moilanen Meadows–photo by Joanna Fox

They’d return for their first ski of 2022 as part of the Ski Your Age in Kilometers event on Saturday.

Santa and SCUM skate FWW traverse

The amazing Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers had packed and tracked all the major trails at Birch Hill recreation area on Saturday so we had infinite choices today. However, first Santa had to decorate a tree with edible ornaments:

Santa decorates his tree–all photos and videos by Joanna Fox
Brightly-lit Santa and Eric decorate the tree

As we were skiing in a winter storm warning, Santa came prepared. Brightly colored lights adorned his hat so that he didn’t need Rudolph or any reindeer for that matter. After skiing the Blue loop (where Dan momentarily lost his “Ho Ho” baseball cap), we skied Outhouse to midway and headed down the Sunnyside trail. At Powerline cutoff, we encountered a mother moose and calf above us:

Mama Moose above Mama Fox
B- SCUM arrive at Powerline cutoff

We chased Eric and Dan down the Sunnyside and Cliffside to the Fort Wainwright alpine hut. Then we headed up the Sonot Connector, where we found amazing glide even on the uphill sections.

We took a break in our climb when the seven SCUM found LOL ornament #7:

Seven SCUM at LOL ornament #7

However, this feat wasn’t encountered without mishap. Afterall, seven SCUM were involved. See video of how the incident played out:

One SCUM (Dr. Eric Buetow) down at LOL ornament #7
Pointing out our second of the LOL ornaments this week

When we got to the top of the Sonot Connector, we headed back toward the stadium with five of us doing Moilanen Meadows chasing Santa. When we got back to the Santa tree, we encountered the A SCUM.

All of us wish you a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. Plan to celebrate 2022 by skiing the 35th annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot:

SCUM celebrating the warm weather and new snow around the decorated tree

Lovely new snow brings out the merry SCUM

New snow and temperatures over 30 deg warmer than they’ve been brought out the merry SCUM on Friday led by a dapper Santa:

Dashing Santa was the only one who could see on the downhills with his goggles–photo by Joanna Fox

Here was the gang on the Tower loop:

New retiree, Mike Mathers with arms raised, joins the SCUM–photo by Joanna Fox

After Medevac, Dermot was planning on leading us down the Black Baron. However, upon seeing newly set tracks, Santa decided that we’d do the Relay and Tower loops again. The tracks were so fast that one of the younger SCUM was chomping on the tails of Mom, who fell and ended up making a snow angel that destroyed a section of tracks:

Unintentional snow angel with instigator’s ski under victim–photo by Dan Johnson

Everyone agreed that all the new snow made the trails seem magical. It looks like even more snow is headed our way. Hooray for the grooming team. Make sure you’ve made your trail donation.

Rat Ponds Tour at -31 deg F

Sunset on Rat Ponds tour–all photos by Bill Husby

If you dress properly, even -31 deg F, you can enjoy beautiful trails and scenic lakes without leaving Fairbanks. Being part of the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks grooming crew, Bill Husby enjoys skiing on trails maintained by others. So, on Monday, Bill headed out on the Rat Ponds tour that had been groomed and marked by Stan Justice. These photos show what he found:

And here is Bill’s documentation of the tour:

Fortunately, for us wimpy skiers, a strong temperature inversion has now set up, so we can avoid the cold temperatures Bill endured by skiing high. However, this post shows, with some advanced planning, enjoyable skiing is possible regardless of the temperature.

Recovery SCUM ski after Frank Soos Distance Race #1

After “racing”1 the 15 km Frank Soos Distance Race #1 in slow, newly fallen snow on Saturday, some SCUM skiers were actually willing to follow directions.

Here’s what SCUM looked like on the Outhouse loop after skiing the Sunnyside trail to section line on Sunday:

Recovery ski for SCUM–photo by Dan Johnson

And here we are enjoying the view from the Sunnyside trail at Powerline cutoff:

Sunnyside Trail at Powerline cutoff–photo by Joanna Fox

Although most of us only managed to ski 5 km in an hour on Sunday morning, I was able to “claim” one of the LOL’s 12 ornaments of Christmas, specifically, #4:

Ladies of Leisure 4th ornament of Christmas–photo by Joanna Fox

The recent snows have definitely improved the trails (a huge shout out to the NSCF groomers, you guys rock) and this cold weather will allow the tracks to set up firmly. If you properly dermotize, you can claim more the LOL 12 ornaments of Christmas. I just need 11 more.


1“Racing” in SCUM parlance means skiing a course without taking rest stops. Our speed is definitely relative only to standing still. Thanks to all the patient race volunteers!

SCUM begin training for 35th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot

Although it was -10 deg F in the stadium at 10 a.m. AST, it was -22 deg F at the biathlon range 30 minutes later, and likely colder than that at the low point of the course for the Kinross Fort Knox Town Race from yesterday. As the B SCUM were finishing their ski of the 7.5 km course, we met up with Eric Troyer, an A SCUM who had been out skiing with the Nanooks before joining us. (At least that’s the story he gave us).

As we headed up the stadium hill on newly set tracks, we encountered the A SCUM (the faster, younger SCUM, who even travel to races), and the entire alphabetic SCUM headed up the new tracks on the Tower Loop.

When we got to the high point of the trails, we wanted a group photo, so we recruited an impromptu photographer. Kendall Kramer, who was skiing today in conditions just 110 deg colder than she had raced on Saturday, was gracious in offering to take our photo. A U.S. Ski Team Skier, Kendall is former FXC skier and West Valley skier/runner, and had just returned from the NCAA cross country running championships in Florida, where she finished 72nd of 250 of the best NCAA cross country runners in the nation. Although we thanked her for stopping to take our photograph, we didn’t congratulation her for her historic run yesterday. She was one of a trio of Nanooks at the NCAA national championships. Congratulations, Kendall!

Here is the collection of SCUM skiing today in brisk conditions:

SCUM on the top of the Tower Loop–photo by Kendall Kramer

And then being SCUM, Eric Troyer needed assistance to get back up:

Eric being assisted back onto his skis by David Prusak

However, while David assisted, the rest of the SCUM watched:

SCUM watch and debate on their excuses for not skiing in the Turkey Day Relays

Dave ultimately was successful and smiling, while Eric took away a little snow from the trails:

How many SCUM does it take to get up from the snow?

So, if you’re going to be town for Thanksgiving, sign up now for the Beaver Sports Turkey Day Relays. It’s a good way to burn off those extra calories that you’ll consume. Some of the SCUM will be participating so your team won’t be last.

Here the link to information about the T-Day Relays, a low-key “race” where costumes and fun are important.

SCUM ski new tracks on Black Loops

The Black Loops retained significant snow pack from the early season snowfalls. So when the groomers set tracks on Wednesday and Thursday, they didn’t punch through to leaves in very many places. Thus, firm, glistening white tracks awaited us today. Temperatures in the stadium varied from -10 to -12 deg F over the course of our workout.

Here are four SCUM on the N40 loop:

Bernardo, Byron, Robert, and Bill on the N40 hump

In order to savor all the Black loop tracks, the SCUM first skied the Black Hole loops via Black Baron. It was likely close to -19 deg F at the bottom of the Black Abyss. The tracks were fast so the wind chill was significant.

However, we didn’t want to miss out on skiing down into the Black Hole over the old luge run. Nothing like doing the Black Cross on your second outing on skis, but that why Bernardo is a SCUM. Here’s an edited version of Robert’s and Bernardo’s descent of the bottom portion of the Black Cross hill:

Black Cross descent by Robert & Bernardo, editing by Mr. Husby, former Lathrop High School IT instructor

Here are the SCUM again on the Flat Black section after having done the Black Hole loops first via Black Baron and the second time via Black Cross and returning uphill via the Black Funk. The skiers on skin skis were noticeably slower on the downhills, but weren’t quite as maneuverable on the corners as those of us on “old style” classical skis.

SCUM after doing Black Baron and Black Cross: the snowy one rolled in the snow to cool off

By the time I reached my car, I looked like a reverse pumpkin. However, now we have done all the black loops (and variations) this season.

Selfie in the parking lot after Friday morning ski

I think there are now enough trails with set tracks for the SCUM to safely resume their Sunday group workouts.

First ski of the season at Birch Hill

With the temperature at 33 deg F, I was shocked to see the snow depth in the Birch Hill parking lot go well above my ankles. Joanna and I had made the right choice of bringing our no-wax classical skis as the snow pack was HEAVY as the 0.49″ of precipitation on Saturday amounted to only 2.8″ of snow at the airport.

I had been worried about having enough kick in the above freezing temperatures, however, kick was not a problem. Grabby glide and downed trees and branches were the challenges on our lovely first ski of the season.

Skiing my first km of the season on snow–all photos by Joanna Fox

After skiing around the relay loop, we’d warmed up enough to make our first snow angels of the season. However, the snow was so heavy that it was a real strength workout to make a snow angel:

Mom’s first snow angel of the season in fast setting concrete–video by Joanna Fox
Joanna snow angel step 1
Snow angel step 2
Okay, how do I get up out of this?

We did ski the entire Tower loop in a record time of just 1 hour and 10 minutes! However, we were shaking the snow off trees leaning over the trail and picking up branches.

Here are two trees downed over a power line on the Tower loop:

and here’s a downed tree on the Tower just beyond the G-1 cutoff:

Downed tree on the tower just beyond the G-1 cutoff

We actually did make it all the way to the top of the Tower and took the requisite selfie:

Selfie at the top of the Tower Loop.

We also made a little snowman for the sign. That thermometer said it was only 30 deg but that was hopeful not real.

Coming down the tower was more fun for Joanna with fishscale skis than with my multi-grip, rubberized no-wax skis. Joanna has provided the caption for this video writing: “It’s the longest, steepest, fastest downhill coming out of Tower! Who’d have known it could be done so slowly!?” Anything’s possible with the right gear and determination.

Mom blazes down the Tower loop downhill avoiding the padded light pole.

Here’s hoping that the NWS is wrong and temperatures don’t increase to the 40s this week. Because it was an absolutely lovely morning to be out on the trails. The stadium was shrouded with fog as we finished our 3.79 km maiden ski of the season.

Tidying up a downed birch tree on the White Bear

For a number of years, the SCUM have volunteered to brush cut on the White Bear Trail. Although we didn’t have a group effort this summer, we do our part as the need arises. Such was the case today, when the post-Equinox snow brought down a small birch tree on the White Bear on the outside corner where the trail turns to the left:

Scene of the downed tree before the final clean up

Because of the berm on the right side of the trail, we decided to drag the tree with branches still encumbered with leaves to the other side of the trail. However, with the new snow, the unstable footing was impossible to see, and one of us, went down with the tree:

One member of the trail crew down while the other finds her phone to document the operation

However, we prevailed and the tree was moved well off the trail:

Making sure tree wouldn’t roll back onto trail

Thoroughly chilled, we finished our ski walk up to hilltop and back to the stadium via White Cub as the skies cleared for the first time all weekend.

Trail crew selfie after the tree was secured—All photos by Joanna Fox

Hopefully, Bill Husby will be proud that the SCUM honey badgers were still moving branches (with tree attached) off the trail EVEN while he’s sunning himself in eastern Washington.