Yes, it’s been a cold winter in Interior Alaska. However, the cold nights have thickened the Chena River ice so that the traditional Sonot Kkaazoot start looks VERY promising. With World Masters canceled this year because of the coronavirus, Bad Bob Baker is in town to pack down the abundant new snow so that the river ice will continue to thicken as race day approaches.
From the NWS Fairbanks Facebook page:
Register now for the 33rd Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot. Also, contribute to the Birch Hill trail grooming fund so that we can enjoy skiing on the abundant snow this spring.
Thursday, February 14. This recent snowstorm has caused more havoc on the RIVER. The weight of the snow forced up more overflow, making many parts of the Sonot trail on the Chena, under overflow. The Yukon Quest actually shut down the finish line at the Morris Thompson Center downtown because of all this overflow, and Quest Mushers are now finishing 12 miles or so, up River.
Skiing or traveling on the Chena River anywhere on the SONOT race course is NOT ADVISED. We have colder temperatures moving back in tonight, and hopefully that will improve things. I plan to get back on the CHENA on Sunday or Monday, with the next update… Meanwhile…enjoy the great skiing at all the NON RIVER areas.
Bad Bob Baker, Sonot Kkaazoot director, sends this Chena River update:
I got down onto the Chena River yesterday afternoon… I successfully completed the entire 20 km course.. I did not take my drag down on the river at all, just the snow machine. Although I was able to get from one end to the other……THE CHENA RIVER IS NOT SAFE TO BE ON especially from the Sonot Kkaazoot start through the Island Homes section. The YUKON QUEST has put in a trail marked with wood lathe stakes and their trail is NOT SAFE either…
I advise all to STAY OFF THE CHENA RIVER at this time .
We have 7.5 weeks to go before the Sonot Kkaazoot and the Chena River can change a lot between now and then. Bob will continue to work on the Chena River trail portion of the Sonot.
Until further notice, ALL SKIERS SHOULD STAY OFF THE CHENA RIVER.
Photos by Chris Broda and Johnna Underwood
Here’s the URL to Dermot Cole’s column in the Alaska Dispatch News, “In Galena, Alaska, it takes a village (and a mayor) to train a ski team”
The 20 km race wasn’t enough for the Galena ski team, so they went up to Birch Hill in the afternoon.
About a km into the 20 km Sonot Kkaazoot, skiers were sliding their feet across water as well as snow in these two video clips taken by Chris Broda: