Just one month ago, the remedial SCUM made history by skiing the South Classical loops without anyone falling. (See: https://sonotkkaazoot.org/2021/03/12/historic-scum-ski-of-south-classical-loops/). Today as we left the stadium at 11 deg F with temperatures at Fort Wainwright still in the subzero range at 10 a.m., we knew Spring was around the corner. The tracks were feeling slick before we even left the stadium. However, by skiing both the North and South Classical loops within 48 hours in the month of April would be historical, too. All the SCUM fell at least once today. Only the wannabe SCUM (Norma Haubenstock and Joanna Fox) stayed upright for our Sunday ski of the South Classical Loops.
Here are some photos from the Chinook and Blackhawk Loops while we’re upright:
And here are some photos when the SCUM were examining the snow on the trails:
Some of us were very thorough in our skiing of the South Classical trails in that we also skied down Little Bird (and back up again) from the intersection with the Blackhawk Trail:
Those of us not using magic skin skis had to work hard for our kick as the temperature on the Blackhawk was 26 deg.
Unlike when we skied the South Classical loops at -16 deg F, all of us were overheating today. However, we definitely enjoyed the sunshine, warmth, and great April skiing. Thank you Travis Kulp for grooming these trails! We had a great time–the long downhill out of the Blackhawk was especially sweet as we finished our tour.
A suggestion to skiers interested in following us. Blue kick wax wasn’t providing enough grip, but +2 on the magic skin skis was.
Although Tom Helmers was out grooming the lighted loops (as well as blue and Outhouse) while we assembled for our Friday ski, we opted to ski the North Classical loops that Ken Coe had fun setting yesterday afternoon. The thermometer on the new building read -7 deg F but the Sourdough Fuel one on the Classical Bear as we were heading back to the stadium said only -8 deg so that’s the temperature I took for the title.
With 8 of us assembled at 10:00 a.m , we had some difficulty getting ourselves to the trail head of the Classical Bear, but we eventually managed. Don and Byron lead the way allowing our fingers and thumbs to warm up as we followed Ken’s newly set tracks. Unfortunately, a moose had also discovered the tracks so they weren’t as pristine as they had been.
On the North Star trail, we had almost as much fun as Ken had setting the tracks. It was easy to kick up all the hills and stay upright on the untracked corners. That is until the Really Steep Down Hill. Ken hadn’t bothered to roll the RSDH bypass as he figured that any skier who would be skiing the North Classic trails would be able to negotiate the North Star downhill on over 90″ of snowfall packed firm enough for skis but still soft for poles. His reasonable assumption may have been valid for non-SCUM skiers but two of us ended up in the unpacked snow on one corner. Another SCUM went down in the trail because he was following an unstable SCUM a little too closely. Three down out of 7 remaining SCUM at that poiint is probably not what Ken counted on. But we enjoyed rolling in the snow almost as much as skiing the humps and corners. It’s lovely to watch the forests change from spruce to birch.
Although we weren’t moving very quickly, none of us was having difficulty staying warm in what started out as -20 deg F windchill temperatures. In the singletrack trails, surrounded by trees, the wind proved not to be an issue. However, we were disappointed not to find any cookies decorating the spruce trees like during the holidays. Some SCUM are lured on our workouts with promises of treats just like kids.
The skies had turned robin egg blue while we were out on the North Classics and the sun was distorting the corduroy of the newly groomed stadium as we were finishing.
Another wonderful ski on April 9th, with temperatures subzero and snow groomed to perfection.
Thank you Ken and Tom. We’ve made supplemental contributions to the Birch Hill trails fund to allow you to keep grooming for us. To ski the North Classics in April (and not be on sheer ice) was a super treat.
I don’t think I’ve ever classic skied on Start Tar green (and had too much kick) in April. The remedial SCUM skied the black loops today (once the regular Sonot route, then the Tommy Knocker so we could do the final hill twice), because we knew the dowhills wouldn’t be frightening. All of us were using chemical handwarmers (commenting on how many cases we’ve used this season) in APRIL and wishing we were more dermotized.
Here are the elder SCUM, all of whom are skiing on classical skis without skins:
As we were chatting after finishing up, Dermot was starting out. We were able to convince him to reconsider skate skiing:
Temperatures had warmed to above zero by the time Dermot switched skis, but I’m sure he wasn’t overheating. No snowpack melting today, and the National Weather Serice is predicting 8 to 12 inches of snow this weekend. My supplemental Trails Fund contribution will be well spent this month.
FXC Devo skiers skated to sizzling times on the virtual 10 km Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot on Sunday. As we previously posted, Max Kaufman has an album of action photos of the FXC Devos skiing on the virtual 10 km course.
Scott Brucker, a teacher in Minto and frequent Sonot Kkaazoot skier, recently emailed me inviting skiers to explore new ski trails in Minto. Those of you who ski jor or mush would also be welcome.
Scott writes: “If anyone is interested in skiing in Minto I have a stupid number of miles of groomed trails. I spent the past 5 years cutting trails for skiing and dog mushing. I’ve been running 15 of my sprint dogs all year on it. We were intending to run Rondy and ONAC, and it didn’t quite happen. Anyways I have about 17+ miles of trails that we could offer for future races in skiing if there was enough interest. I’ve been stupid meticulous about grooming because that’s what sprint dogs need. The course wraps all over two different hills and includes a lot of up and down skiing. This summer I will attempt to cut another 3 miles and I think I’ll finally call it quits. It already takes me two hours to groom the current trail system.”
Below are elevation profiles of the routes and distances. If interested in traveling to Minto to ski, please email email@example.com and I’ll send Scott’s email and the high resolution attachments to you.
Scott continues: “If the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks was interested next winter, we can host a race. I know after a few years I started getting burned out on doing the same UAF and Birch Hill trails all the time. There might be an interest in doing something different. We welded three different drags this past year to make it be as nice as it is. Next thing is to weld some new drags/packers to take the air out of the snow.”
In a post-pandemic world, skiing on different trails in the Interior sounds like a fun adventure. Anyone for a post-Sonot Kkaazoot road trip next year?
Michael Angaiak celebrated finishing Kristen Rozell’s Sonot Kkaazoot Training Class by skating the 30 km virtual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot in 2:36:02. He was a little late in sending in his results, but his report was so upbeat and complete, it’s wasn’t much work to post.
Time: 2:36:02 (I’m confident I skied the full correct course but the “Map My Fitness” app I used on my phone only lists 16.99 miles. Hmm…)
Description: My first Sonot Kkaazoot experience! I had taken Kristen Rozell’s Tuesday night “Train for the Sonot Kkaazzoot” class last spring only to have everything canceled, so I was excited to take her class again this spring. I didn’t V2 nearly as much as we practiced, without the river portion this year, but my technique sure has improved! A number of us from class started the race together on Sunday morning so I appreciated the extra motivation. I felt better over the last 20 k then the first 10 k as it warmed up a bit. Perhaps the adrenaline rush from the moose that crossed in front of me at the end of Relay was what helped me pick up the pace! Big thanks to Kristen and all of the teachers from NSCF for the wonderful variety of excellent class offerings for all levels. I’m looking forward to building up to the 50 k next year!”
Congratulations, Michael! We definitely hope that you will be skating the 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot next year.
Max Kaufman sent along a URL to an album of awesome photos he took of FXC Devos, who raced the virtual 10 km Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot on Sunday. He wrote that 9 skiers opted to do the race and Coach Tjarn Bross timed them. We haven’t received the names or times of these skiers, but, we wanted to share the photos.
Hopefully, donations for the Birch Hill Trails Fund during the virtual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot helped build a grooming cushion because temperature and snow forecasts make the outlook for spring skiing look excellent. Here’s the URL for trail fund donations if you would like to help us out:
First of all, temperatures haven’t broken the 40 deg F temperature barrier since October 11 and we’re likely to break the record for consecutive days below 40 deg F on Monday, 5 April 2021 if current National Weather Service forecasts hold.
The second factor necessary for Spring skiing is adequate snowpack. Monday’s snowfall was a record 3.8″ and brings our seasonal snowfall total to 73.3″, which is over a foot above normal.
Thus, both unseasonably cool temperatures and adequate snowpack are good indicators of a great spring skiing season.