Not pretty, but Birch Hill is open for skiing

Unlike last year when the November chinook came with wind and rain, this unusually warm early winter in Fairbanks has been arid with no significant snow in over a month. Skiers are left wishing for even hoarfrost that might cover a month’s worth of birch seed and leaves that litter the Birch Hill trails or provide some structure on the ice-covered Smith Lake.

Trails in some areas of Birch Hill are approaching 100% organic, but, other trails are much better.

S Tower

In fact, trails look better at night or slightly out-of-focus, like this photo taken today on the South Tower loop.

But, we are skiing on snow. At Hatcher Pass, the ground is brown not dirty white:

So enjoy the ski trails that we have, and do some cross training. As Pete Leonard pointed out to his FXC Masters Group, most Masters skiers would make significant improvements in their skiing by adding regular strength training. Here are some links to Swedish and Russian Cross Country skiers doing strength training that might motivate you to do the same while snow conditions are less than ideal.

Forecast calls for dryland training in Fairbanks through late October

The unseasonably warm October temperatures in much of Alaska are predicted to continue at least through the end of October. Although much of the government has been closed down for since 1 October, the National Weather Service, because of the “essential” nature of their work, has been issuing weather forecasts and warnings. Sadly, for cross country skiers, the forecasts aren’t encouraging. The figure below is today’s 8 to 14 day forecast, and you can see by the intense red over interior Alaska that any precipitation we’re likely to see, probably won’t be in the solid form.

Although you can stone grind and wax your skis in anticipation of the upcoming ski season, you probably should plan on dryland training for a couple of more weeks. If you can’t face ski walking, rollerskiing, or watching mold grow on your snow shovels, you could consider some ski-specific strength training that might help when winter finally comes to interior Alaska:

Remember that the Sonot Kkaazoot will be held a week later than normal because of Arctic Winter Games, so you’ll be less behind on your on-snow Sonot Kkaazoot preparation than you might have been.