Chasing the Sun on Moose Mountain

Have you ever wondered how Sonot Kkaazoot creator and long-time organizer, Bad Bob Baker was able to set up the Sonot Kkaazoot course and then ski the race? Grooming and  skiing are part of his life on Moose Mountain. On Saturday, 23 December 2017, Bob shared his “home trail” with us when he organized a Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks Tour that began and ended at his house.

First, he headed off and groomed the 10 mile long, out-and-back trail to eight foot width, returning home as just a hint of predawn light was visible from his deck:

Still dark when Bob finished grooming

He put away his grooming equipment and then began directing vehicles around his parking area so that none of the 16 vehicles would be blocked by another. His years at H&S Warehouse were evident as Bob packed the cars with care, precision, and only inches of clearance between them.

Around 10 a.m., we headed out the trail and soon began the long climb:

And the uphill begins

where smiles were seen on skiers like Sharon Baker and Norma Haubenstock, who opted to stride up the trail:

Sharon & Norma striding up MM

while your blogger, who opted to skate, was struggling to make forward progress. A little snowball of a dog couldn’t figure out why I needed the entire width of the trail as she ran between me and her skier behind me.

Bad Bob, photographer for this post, passed us and skated up to the ridge before sunrise. Here is one of his photos of charred black spruce from the May 2011 forest fire in the foreground and the Alaska Range in the distance.

Sunrise on MM with Blk Spruce skeletal remains

Eventually,  the sun illuminated the windy summits and the valley below:

View of wind on Alaska Range

All photographs in this post were taken by Bad Bob Baker

It was a fantastic day with temperatures in the 20 deg F range while the Fairbanks airport stayed below zero. Descending from the ridge, the low-angled solstice sun glared in our faces, resulting in a few falls on the groomer-created moguls. However, the landings were soft, and soon we were back at the Baker’s house to refuel with Karla Taylor Welch’s chili, Gina Chythlook’s pie, and numerous other baked treats.

Happy Holidays from all the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks volunteers who organize the Sonot Kkaazoot. Give yourself the gift of good health in 2018. Register for the Sonot Kkaazoot during early registration. Just click on the “Register” tab at the top of this post. Bad Bob and Sharon Baker are signed up. Why aren’t you?

Winter Solstice Ski at Birch Hill

On the Sunday closest to the winter solstice, the SCUM welcomed some of our wayward skiers back to celebrate the holidays in Nordic skiing nirvana. The days are so short near the winter solstice that the skies are especially beautiful. Here are the SCUM at the Sonot Connector intersection on the White Bear at high noon.

SCUM on winter solstice really sm

In Moilanen Meadows, Dermot noticed extra flex in his ski.

Extra skate ski flex sm

Not to be outdone, Robert demonstrated the great cornering skills that he learned from   Nick Crawford’s clinic last Sunday:

IMG_1409_cornering skills taught by NC

Back in the stadium, we launched sky lanterns to Russ and Lars, who left us a little over a year ago.

Poles launching air lantern sm

We then retreated to the warming hut to enjoy some coffee and sweets to end the shortest Sunday of the year.

Happy Holidays from the SCUM (organizers of the Sonot Kkaazoot)!Happy Holidays from the SCUM sm

Photo of Robert’s snow angel by Bill Husby; photo of SCUM and tree by Barbara Schuhmann.

Sky lanterns released from Birch Hill on solstice

Today was winter solstice and it was the coldest day this season at Birch Hill. Skies were clear and temperatures dropped from 20 deg F before sunrise to  below zero in the early afternoon:Solstice temp at Birch

The sun barely arched above the horizon casting a beautiful orange hue to the hoarfrost covered trees. After our ski, we launched two sky lanterns from Birch Hill:

Ski lantern launches

and they climbed quickly above warming hut and skyward.

Green lantern rises

Bill Husby, launch leader, commented that the sky lanterns were for Russell Lizotte ( and Lars Spurkland (, who during their lives soared as volunteers of the nordic ski community in Alaska.

On the shortest day of the year, we remember two who gave skiers a lot of pleasure during their too short lives.



Strategies for enjoying the new snow

The lovely snowfall that was squeezed out of our 0.39″ of precipitation earlier this week at Fairbanks International Airport, made for lovely conditions today at Birch Hill. However, with many of us suffering from job- or family-related stresses, early winter viruses, and seasonal affective disorder as we rapidly approach the winter solstice, we spent more time resting and/or rewaxing than actually skiing. The skate skiers spent time resting:

SCUM resting

while the classic skiers disguised their rest stops as waxing efforts. (Both photos above were taken by Chris Broda).

With the winter solstice approaching in only 2 weeks, the 2015 Sonot Kkaazoot is just 3.5 months away. The time to train is now. The first race of the Buetow Dental Distance Race series will be held at Birch Hill on Saturday, December 13 at 11:00 a.m. In this event, you have your choice of 7.5 or 15 km distances in freestyle technique. You can early register until Thursday. Here’s the URL to the registration form with information for all three distance races:

Click to access entry_form_distance_series.pdf

and the race course map:

Click to access 15-map-course.pdf

You can also early register for the Sonot Kkaazoot using the comprehensive race entry form:

Click to access entry_form_comprehensive.pdf

Rest is good. But to prepare for racing requires some race efforts and the Distance Race series is a low-key way to ramp up the intensity of your ski efforts. At least, now there is some padding on the ground when you fall for those of us who are balance-challenged.

Merry Christmas from the Sonot Kkaazoot organizers

Although Christmas is predicted to be somewhat chilly in the Fairbanks area, we hope that you will still find time to enjoy the holidays skiing with family and friends. Remember that the Ski Your Age event is happening this Saturday, 28 December starting at 10 a.m. at the Birch Hill Recreation Area.

Everyone has previous “work” experiences that fail to show up in professional resumes or curriculum vitae. In the spirit of the holiday, the Sonot organizers (aka the SCUM) share memories of their brief tenure as “tiny reindeer” for the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks (NSCF) Candy Cane event. After several young skiers were heard telling their parents that we “weren’t real reindeer,” the SCUM were forced back into reindeer retirement. Here’s why (photos by Dermot Cole and Mom):

Bob & Dan sm red beard reindeer sm Tiny reindeer smIMG00332SantaSantawithkids

However, here’s hoping that Santa with real reindeer visits your homes tonight, and that you have an opportunity to enjoy this really special time of the year outdoors.

Merry Christmas (and happy birthday to NSCF co-President Pat Reinhard)!