The Nordic Club’s most venerable snow machine is Alice. The 1985 Skidoo Bombardier was dubbed Alice by long time groomer, Van Bennett, but the machine’s history with the club goes back much farther than even Van’s service. The Panhandle Nordic Club was about to take over grooming of the Park N Ski Area in 1990, but had no snow machine to accomplish the work. The State of Idaho gifted the club with Alice to fill the need. Alice went on to groom the area for twelve years until an eighteen-year update of the Bombardier was added to the club’s snowmachine fleet. Willem Huender, his son Spenser, and Van Bennett coaxed and cajoled Alice, holding her together with clamps and baling wire to make the rounds at Fourth of July. With the addition of a third snow machine in 2012, Alice was effectively put out to pasture, called to duty on occasion to groom the odd golf course, but typically kept stored in the Forest Service’s Fernan Station bone yard.
The current season has been a challenge. Early wet snow brought down many trees across the ski and snowshoe trails and a subsequent heavy snow added to the bounty. To make matters worse, the newest snow machine suffered a failure in its electronics that will require a couple weeks to cure. We were down to one machine when we need two. Alice was called up. Of course, she had not budged from her birth in the boneyard for three years minimum and to add to the insult, the old gas poured into her tank contained an over-the-limit ration of water. After a couple days of tender loving care that included drying her out, replumbing her gas lines, and more than a few carburetor adjustments, John Lee managed to bring the old girl back to life. Saturday, Alice rode to the rescue grooming the inner core trails at Fourth of July, while her newer cousin was off on a tree cutting expedition.
The inner loop trails (Havin Fun, The Swoop, High Road, Loose Moose, and Skateaway as well as Elderberry out to Treetop View and Treetop View are all cleared. All these trails with the exception of Loose Moose were groomed and a track set this morning. Skywalker is packed and clear between the trail’s head and Skateaway. Fallen trees are still down across the rest of Skywalker and Moonrunner, The Eagle Run and on Elderberry about a mile out from Peaceful View. These will be cleared as the month progresses.
A ramp down from the graded snow on the entrance road has been built to allow easier access for snowshoers to Jannettes Jaunt. No major obstructions are report up to a mile out the trail. Twisted Klister has numerous trees down between the lower junction with Skywalker and the Snowshoe Hut, but a manageable trail exists. Above the Snowshoe Hut more trees are down but snowshoers and skiers are getting through. It appears that skiers and snowshoers are going out Makin Tracks as well. Fallen trees hindering passage will be removed as we remove more trees from Skywalker.
We are slowly getting the area back on-line after the big snowfall experience last week. Unfortunately, this snow again brought down a new crop of trees. The Department of Transportation was able to clear the road and parking lot last night. Paths to the toilet facilities, Jannette’s Jaunt and the Panhandle Hut have been shoveled out. A snowmachine packed trail around the inner core system is in place with obstructions to passage cleared, but more removal required to groom. The snow is very good, but tree wells can be an issue in places especially down Loose Moose. Beyond the inner core trails obstructions may bar passage, however the warm weather at the end of the big snow and currently, has congealed the pack, so skis generally run atop the pack sinking in only a couple inches.
The recent snowstorm followed by rain and then a hard freeze last night has essentially blocked the road into the Ski & Snowshoe Area. The wet snow yesterday required a grader for IDT to clear the road and parking lot. Obviously, they were unable to get the work done last night. Since the road froze up in the night, IDT will likely wait until afternoon or evening to attempt to clear the road again. A few vehicles have hazarded the drive to the top of the hill, but we do not advise it, as the road will soften in the afternoon making the trip out difficult if not impossible. To use the area park out on the highway off ramp and proceed in from there. No grooming has been possible. The snow surface will be fast for skis until the pack softens in the afternoon. Snowshoeing should be fine for travel over all the new snow.
Happy New Year! Hope everyone is still in good health.
We finally got snow and a lot of it. If you haven’t ventured out yet due to the cold temperatures, you’re missing a winter wonderland up at 4th of July. Granted its cold but dressing up to beat it is worth the effort. It may be some of the best conditions there could be for skiing and snowshoeing. Deep fine powder, and it’s possible to stay pretty dry. The only draw back at the moment is the snow is so powdery the conditions are not very good for grooming. But as of this week the inner loop ski trails were packed down with the snow machines, so when temps warm up, they will be ready for grooming. Goeff will be leading the charge to catch up with packing and grooming as conditions prevail.
The groomer gang has also been busy clearing down trees off the trails. The weight of the snow has knocked down quite a few and blocked the trails. There is still a lot of work to do, but the gang got the inner loop ski trails open this week and will be working on the others in the near future. FYI – in case you want to ski it, Loose Moose didn’t have any down trees but does have a lot of smaller trees bent down over it. Hopefully when the snow melts some of them will pop up again. The gang will be going through with saws soon, for those that don’t pop back up.
If you hadn’t put it on your calendar yet the BEST HAND FUN SKI and SNOWSHOE event is scheduled for the January 8th, or one week from New Year’s Day. For those that may not be familiar with the event, the purpose is the clubs annual fund raiser to help cover the cost of maintaining the facilities at 4th of July and keeping the trails groomed and cleared of down trees. More information about this event is posted on the WEB site, so encourage your friends to check it out and join us. As a reminder if you would like to help out with registration of handing out cards and didn’t sign up at the last club meeting, see Nancy Lewis at this week’s club meeting. Also, if you have anything you would like to donate for a prize bring it with you on the 8th and we gather them up at the registration tent.
Finally, we will be meeting this month at the same location as last month (Community United Methodist Church). The meeting is Tuesday, January 4th and will start at 7:00 PM. Hope you all can make it! PS – please bring your masks and please wear them properly (i.e., cover your nose and mouth) while in the building. The Church is allowing us to use the facility at no charge, but they do require all of us to adhere to their mask rules. We’re afraid that if they see our members not complying, we will be asked to stop using the building.