Historic SCUM ski of South Classical Loops

With temperatures a chilly -16 deg F in the Birch Hill stadium and -23 deg F at Fort Wainwright at 10 a.m., the remedial SCUM opted out of doing a Birch Bakken climb. Instead, seeing as the South Classical Loops had been groomed yesterday (Thursday), we decided today would be a great day for the South Classical Loops.

Being guided on our workout by one of the illustrious Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers meant that we were allowed to break some of the trail guidelines. To stay in the sun, we skied the Relay loop backwards, and then skied the Outhouse backwards until we intersected the Sunnyside and Cliffside Trails. After a quick descent in the set tracks, we all arrived at Fort Wainwright with chilly hands but still upright.

Ready to climb the Sonot Connector in the sun–all photos by Joanna Fox

Climbing the Sonot Connector in the deep Yellowstone tracks, we first tackled the Chinook Loop as several of us hadn’t skied it yet this season. Conditions were perfect and even the downhills were easily traversed as shown below by Don Pendergrast:

Remedial SCUM elder with doctoral degree in recreational management demonstrates downhill technique–video by Joanna Fox

The remedial SCUM were a little stunned when we emerged from the Chinook Loop with no snow adhering to our ski gear. No one had fallen. A historic day in the making.

Remedial SCUM finishing the Chinook Loop without falling x 5

Figuring that we were on a roll, we decided that our work could be postponed another hour so we could also ski the Blackhawk Loop. The sunshine felt so good after a gray week of snow scooping. Here is the SCUM salute to the groomers as we alll finish the Blackhawk loop in the tracks and without any sitzmarks.

Celebrating skiing both the Chinook and Blackhawk loops without any falls

With real work and school work to return to, we skied up the rest of the Sonot Connector and back on the White Bear to the stadium, where we met up with Tom Helmers, head groomer, out for a ski on the trails he set yesterday. That called for one more selfie by Joanna of the remedial SCUM and two of our NSCF groomers:

Military Tour completed: Sunnyside, Cliffside, Sonot Connector, Chinook, and Blackhawk to the White Bear

What a great way to celebrate the return of the sun. Remember, to spring forward your clocks on Sunday.

February cold and snowy

After our warm and dry January in Fairbanks, February brought back the cold and snow. According to the National Weather Service Fairbanks, here’s how the month stacked up.

For average temperatures:

and for snowfall:

Our Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers have been putting a lot of hours of work to keep up with the nearly constant snowfall. Please help them continue their grooming as the days become longer and warmer in March by making an additional donation here:

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

Remember the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks supports all grooming at Birch Hill Recreation Area. To allow safe skiing during the COVID-19 pandemic as in more normal times, please support trail grooming efforts.

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