Bad Bob Baker was out grooming the Chena River again today. He reports that it was “very warm, new soft spots” as temperatures rose above freezing in the low lying areas. Skiers should be alert to potential hazards, and conditions could change quickly if the predicted snow storm materializes tomorrow afternoon.
Photos by Bob Baker
From Bad Bob Baker: I skated the river this morning. The Chena is in great shape and fairly fast with decent snow under the bridges. All questionable areas were well frozen and in good shape. Ski with a partner and enjoy the smooth skating. Dress warm! Be safe.
Chena River near the Sonot Kkaazoot start area–Photo by Bob Baker
All photos by Bad Bob Baker during this morning’s ski
Bad Bob, who turned 60 years old last week, groomed the Chena River again today and rerouted the trail in places. He reports that the Chena River is ready for skiing and is much faster but much colder than Birch Hill.
HOWEVER, ALL RIVER TRAVEL ON ICE IS HAZARDOUS SO DON’T SKI ALONE. This is the response of groomer Bob Baker to a comment on an earlier post about unsafe spots on the Chena River:
“Yes..there are still some bad spots on the river. I caused the hole this person mentioned just upriver from the foot bridge…and now, after 3 days…that hole has frozen over pretty well… but nothing is ever for CERTAIN when it come to safety on the Chena River. What the packing and grooming will hopefully do, is break down the insulating snow cover, and help freeze the packed trail thicker. The grooming helps expose some of the bad spots, but it’s not an instant fix for thin ice. We have another 6 1/2 weeks to go before the race, and it’s my hopes that now that the river has been packed, it will help in the freezing process. I did reroute a lot of the course today, only to find some other NEW HOLES…. I will keep grooming, every week or 2 and move the trail as needed. If people choose to ski on the Chena River, they are doing so at their own risk…. The preparation I’m doing now, is hoping to prepare the river for a safe route come late March for the SONOT race start. For the most part, the river is looking better with each passing week. I would strongly suggest that people don’t ski the river at this time, and if they do, to not ski alone, and be very aware of open holes, steam, and soft spots (overflow), and use extreme caution and alertness!!! It should only improve as the days go by, with these nice negative temperatures we are having. REMEMBER…traveling along any river in the winter is always hazardous!! KEEP YOUR GUARD UP.. PAY ATTENTION… STEER CLEAR OF OBVIOUS BAD AREAS and STAY ON THE PACKED TRAIL…. “
There are less than 3 weeks to sign up for the 2018 Sonot Kkaazoot at early registration fees.
Photos by Bad Bob Baker
To help thicken the ice under the section of the Chena River used for the Sonot Kkaazoot, Bad Bob Baker, chief of course, has made the first grooming run on the Chena River.
I groomed out the starting area full width from start to Wendell Street bridge. Then went up the Chena end back, but only a 4 foot groom over the Yukon Quest trail, to not confuse the dog race. I will widen the trail later this week after the Quest gets underway. Also the Sonot trail will be quite a different route on the Chena from the Quest trail.
So if you plan to watch the Yukon Quest start today, you might want to take your skis and check out our/their trail.
As of this morning, 266 skiers are currently registered for the 2017 Sonot Kkaazoot. The 50 km event has 58 skiers after several skiers moved down to the 40 km or 20 km before bib pick-up. Fifteen skiers will take advantage of the early start to participate in the 50 km classical event, and 21 will compete in the 40 km event. The vast majority of skiers (currently 172) are signed up to take off on their Saturday ski at 10:30 ADT as part of the 20 km wave.
The Sonot trail on the Chena River has been deemed “race ready” by yet another of the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers. Bill Husby will be testing those trails himself as he starts with the 50 CL skiers at 9:30 a.m.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Bad Bob Baker did grooming on the Sonot Kkaazoot trail on the Chena River. Here is a photo he took of the Steese Highway Bridge after the shoveling done by Byron, Dermot, Donovan, and Frank followed by Bob running his comb over the area a dozen times.
Bob also built a wide ramp from the parking lot down to the Sonot Kkaazoot start area under the Cushman Street bridge. This will make getting to and from the start/finish area MUCH easier than normal.
Course conditions for the 30th annual Sonot Kkaazoot are looking great!
Thanks to Byron Broda, Dermot Cole, Donovan Granger, and Frank Soos, snow has been collected and moved under the Steese Hwy bridge. Your ski bottoms are protected thanks to the yeomen service of these 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot skiers.
Email update from the amazing Bad Bob Baker:
I will be down on the river several times tomorrow, Wednesday, and will be putting in a big snow ramp/path down to the start area, from the parking lot. That will give it time to really harden up… I will also spent some time under the bridges, and perhaps my drag will pull some snow under the bridges. I will report to you tomorrow night on how it goes, along with perhaps some pictures. It just might work well, or it might not work well at all. BUT…I will try my best….and try to impress you. My plan on Saturday if and when I finish 50km..is to crawl onto my snowmachine and get up to the sonot cutoff, and follow ( sweep the trail behind the last skier)…that is If I’m not that person…
Groomers were out on the Chena River today in preparation for Saturday’s Sonot Kkaazoot. Ken Coe has deemed their handiwork as “race ready” after they finished today. Classical tracks in both directions will be set on the morning of the race to make sure that they are not damaged overnight. Also, Bad Bob Baker spent over an hour today doing test drilling of ice thicknesses on the first 0.5 km of the course. Even in the “bad looking thin spots”, the ice was over a foot thick.
Thus, barring some unforeseen weather anomaly before Saturday, we’re a “go” for the traditional start and finish line of the 30th annual Sonot Kkaazoot.
Remember, that early bib pick-up is Thursday, 23 March 2017 at the Doyon Ltd, Headquarters from 5 to 7 p.m. All late registration must be done online. See the “register” tab at the top of this website.
Photos by Bill Husby
A trio of groomers and drags work on the Chena River today (video by Bill Husby)
Bad Bob Baker is back in Alaska and reports that the Chena River will be groomed better by Monday night. By then, he’ll also have done ice drilling necessary to determine where the precise start and finish will be for the 30th annual Sonot Kkaazoot.
So if you plan to ski on the Chena River before Monday evening, proceed with caution.