Skiing Etiquette in Marginal Conditions

As warm weather and possible rain appear in the forecast, skiers need to think about what damage they might be doing to the trail and what the trail might look like after they go through. Will the groomers be able to repair the damage they might cause?

melting-snow

When the trail is soft and the temperatures are below freezing, there probably isn’t much damage a skier can do. The groomers will erase your tracks on their next pass. That being said, skiing immediately after the grooming of a heavy new snowfall isn’t a good idea (or very fun). The trails need time to set up after grooming.

If the trail is soft and it’s above freezing or raining and you’re putting deep ruts in the trail, then there can be problems. If the warm-up or rain is short-term with an expected freeze-up to follow, hard frozen ruts can form, making the trail very difficult for the groomers to repair. The most damage is done when it’s really warm and maybe raining. The snow turns to mush and you sink right down to the base. If it freezes and the ruts stay there, you won’t be skiing the next day. It could be days or weeks before the trail system is skiable again. So, when you find yourself in those warm, wet conditions, it’s best to get off the trails.

If the trail is soft and it’s springtime, when it gets warm every day and freezes up at night, then just enjoy yourself. That’s what spring skiing is all about – trying to hit the temperatures just right, between the hard crust and the softening melt.

The bottom line: Think before you ski in marginal conditions. We all need to be good “trail stewards.”

Steve Thatcher
Ride and Glide Bike and Ski Club

Door County Cross Country Ski Trail Report for January 10, 2014

Cross country ski trails are open everywhere and there is a good base, but we need fresh snow.

Nordic skiing is such a great aerobic activity, exercising the whole body. It is entirely possible to keep warm even when the bottom drops out of the thermometer. Take precaution to dress in multiple layers and enjoy the winter.

Thermal glove liner, Saranac gloves, wool mittens

Thermal glove liner, Saranac outer gloves, wool mittens

Potawatomi State Park
Skate and classic ski trail conditions have changed little over the past report one week ago. The skate deck and classic trails are well covered, very bumpy, hard and fast. There is some debris and a little drifted snow in a few scattered places. The cold, hard snow has prevented any grooming since December 31. The rain, snow and warm temperatures predicted for January 10 and 11 will likely prevent grooming until January 12. Skate and classic skiing are both rated good to poor. (Gene Kastenson)

Crossroads at Big Creek
Trails will be dragged and leveled on Wednesday January 8, due to considerable blowing and drifting in the open areas this past week. All trails have an excellent base. A track will be set as well. Conditions for skate and classical skiing will be great into the weekend. Skiers, we still need your help: A significant number of people continue to walk on the ski trails. We all know what boot tracks will do to a nicely groomed ski trail. Therefore, if you come across walkers on the trails, please kindly remind them to use the designated walking trails. All ski and walking trails are adequately marked with signs where trails intersect. (Jim Maki)

Whitefish Dunes State Park
As of January 9, trail conditions are Fair to Good and Very Good in many areas, last groomed January 4. Track reset and very firm, but trail has considerable woods debris in various areas. Skiers are invited to toss any sticks or branches off the trail. Plan is to re-groom, depending on outcome of snow/rain in forecast.  (Rich Dirks)

Peninsula State Park
As of January 7, the classic tracks are icy and fast. We are hopeful for snow and will groom at least the yellow and orange trails this weekend when it warms up. We will groom as soon as we receive some additional snow. Skate trails are still very well set with unevenness due to lack of snow. (Greg Sunstrom)

Newport State Park
New snow is needed as the tracks are icy in some areas and have a lot of tree debris. Still skiable, but will be improved with new snow.  (Dale Krolich)

For more detailed information about the Door County Silent Sports Alliance visit: DoorCountySilentSports.org.

Door County Cross Country Ski Trail Report for January 2, 2014

Best ski trail conditions reported in Sturgeon Bay area… Crossroads at Big Creek asks for your help in monitoring their trails to prevent hikers from diminishing the groomed areas.

Photo by Chesla Anschutz

Photo by Chesla Anschutz

Potawatomi State Park:
Trails were last groomed on December 31 with the skate lane being dragged to help soften the hard-packed skate lane surface. Results were variable with some improvement on the black trail, but not much change elsewhere. The classic track was last set on all trails on December 27. It withstood the thaw and subsequent hard freeze fairly well. It is 2 to 3 inches deep, hard-packed, well covered and fast. There are a few short stretches of icy track and track with a few oak leaves. Skating is rated fair to good, with the skate lanes being well covered but hard, bumpy and fast and sometimes difficult to get a skate edge. Classic track is rated fair to good. We will experiment with further softening and smoothing the skate lane tonight.  (Gene Kastenson)

Crossroads at Big Creek:
All trails were dragged and leveled Thursday, January 2.  A new track was set as well.  We have a good 6” base throughout. Skate lanes are smooth and fast. Conditions are excellent. Skiers, we need your help! We have a significant number of people who continue to walk on the ski trails. We all know what boot tracks will do to a nicely groomed ski trail. Therefore, if you come across walkers on the trails, please kindly remind them to use the designated walking trails. All ski and walking trails are adequately marked with signs where trails intersect. (Jim Maki)

Whitefish Dunes State Park:
Trails have held up very well all week. Planning to groom again when there is a little more new snow. Conditions are still very good to excellent in many areas. New track was set on all trails on December 29. The 4-5″ base firmed up nicely and there are no soft spots. Areas near Beech, Hemlock, Cedar and Red Pines have considerable tree debris following a very windy period on Saturday and Sunday. There is some drifting in open areas. Still, these are some of the best trail conditions we have had this early in the season. Now’s the time to get out and enjoy. (Rich Dirks)

Peninsula State Park:
The classic trails are pretty well worn, especially the yellow and orange loops. We will groom as soon as we receive some additional new snow or, we will try Saturday evening before the major temperature drop. Skate trails are still very well set with unevenness due to lack of snow. (Greg Sunstrom)

Newport State Park:
New snow is needed as the tracks are icy and have some tree debris. Still skiable but will be improved with new snow.  (Dale Krolich)

For more detailed information about the Door County Silent Sports Alliance visit: DoorCountySilentSports.org.

Does the Ghost of Winters Past Predict this Winter’s Future?

“Are ye the ghosts of fallen leaves, O flakes of snow, For which, through naked trees, the winds a-mourning go?” ― John Banister Tabb

gills-rock-charlie-most-500

“Gills Rock” photo by Charlie Most

It began in November with a sharp and sudden drop in temperatures. The waters of the Bay start to steam in response, rapidly giving up heat to the atmosphere. Quite soon thereafter, the waters of the Bay and inland lakes start to freeze shut. A dense, wet, custard-like  snowfall coats the northern half of the County with a thin, white blanket. Reports shared socially among silent sports fans mention that people are skiing on the golf course fairways.

On Friday, I notice that the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal is beginning to ice over and by Saturday evening, with open water diminishing rapidly, the remaining geese start to lament their losses. Hundreds of geese, honking in the darkness is an eerie chorus. You can hear them, but they remain invisible, crying out somewhere nearby, but out of sight.

Then, yesterday, just before dawn, it starts to snow and continues on and off throughout the day and into the night. Eventually, 3 or more inches of light fluffy base turn all of Door County into a Currier & Ives winter print. But this is still early December…

NOAA says that Wisconsin’s 2013-14 winter falls into the “equal chance” category, meaning that there is not a strong or reliable enough climate signal in this specific region to favor one category over the others, so they have an equal chance for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures and/or precipitation. When experts fail to provide definitive answers , perhaps a turn to the Farmer’s Almanac will explain why we are getting such an early shift in the weather. Will it hold steady?

“Winter temperatures will be above normal in the east and below normal in the western parts of the region, with above-normal precipitation and snowfall. The coldest periods will be in mid- and late December, in early January, and from late February into early March. The snowiest periods will occur in mid- and late December, early January, and early February,” says the Old Farmer’s 2014 Long-Range Weather Forecast for Green Bay, Wisconsin.

On this the first day of 2014, temperatures remain in the single digits and there is an unusually great base of fallen snow.

” Ski conditions are beautiful all over the county!” says Janelle Peotter in the latest Door County Cross Country Ski Trail Report. “Break out all those Christmas presents of new ski gloves, hats, ski wax and get skiing! It is a great way to burn off those holiday calories too!”

 

Door County Cross Country Ski Report for December 27, 2013

Ski conditions are beautiful all over the county! Break out all those Christmas presents of new ski gloves, hats, ski wax and get skiing! It is a great way to burn off those holiday calories too!

2013-12-24 14.40.27

Potawatomi State Park:
Trails were last groomed on December 26 with rolling and combing the skate lanes on the blue, green, red and black loops. Classic track was set on the blue, green, and lower red loops on December 23rd, and on the upper red loop on December 26. Over the past week, two snowfalls and four grooming days have improved skiing conditions. The skate deck has excellent firm fast snow. The classic track is well covered and fast, but is still setting up shallow in some areas. The black loop steep hill section was groomed and is quite skiable; good coverage, a bit bumpy going down and excellent purchase going up. Overall skating is rated good to excellent. Classic track skiing is rated fair to good. We’ll try some classic re-grooming tonight and tomorrow and renovate over the next several days as snow conditions and temperatures permit. (Gene Kastenson)

Crossroads at Big Creek:
Trails at the Crossroads were rolled Wednesday night. A track was set Thursday morning. With all the new snow every couple of days, the conditions are excellent. We have a lot of happy skiers. (Jim Maki)

Whitefish Dunes State Park:
Compacted and tracked with a Ginzu Groomer, Thursday December 26 resulting in 2-3″ of compacted base under the tracks. Overall conditions  are rated as Excellent to Perfect. Rolled and compacted beach trail for snowshoeing also. (Rich Dirks)

Peninsula State Park:
As of Noon Thursday all the trails except the shore part of white loop and the bluff side of black loop are groomed. The stride/classic tracks are fair to good, there is still some dirt showing in areas of hemlock trees. We still need some good wet snow. Skating loops have a good base and set up nicely, still a little rough due to  lack of snow to level.  Let’s get skiing! (Greg Sunstrom)

Newport State Park:
Newport and Europe Bay loops groomed for single track classic. Base is four inches. Very good conditions. Solid pole plants. Some debris on the tracks.  (Dale Krolich)

For more detailed information about the Door County Silent Sports Alliance, please go to: www.doorcountysilentsports.org

Remembering the Greatest Winter in a Long Time…

With global warming taking a toll on what was once the Door County “survival season,” the glorious winter of 2012-13 was a joy to all who love snow… but some locals found it hard to stomach.

tom-parsons-snowkraft-skis-2013

Tom Parsons (pictured right) at Snowkraft Nordic deserves a public service award… for service above and beyond any skiers wildest imagination. Not only has he created an amazing terra-formed skier’s paradise where you simply will not find any off-cambered turns, he has meticulously groomed them up until the very last possible day of skiability… April 14, 2013.

I presented him with my offering of gratitude – the original 11- foot wooden skis that once graced the walls of Door County’s first ski-touring center, The Omnibus in Fish Creek. Now, they become a part of the Snowkraft legacy.

Fox 11 News reports on the Thursday, April 11 storm that dumped more snow and created numerous power outages: Christie Weber, a bartender at the Bayside Tavern in Fish Creek who tells reporters, “This is totally absurd. It’s usually a lot nicer. Frozen rain, April showers of snow, it makes people want to drink!”

Weber and her patrons say winter has out-stayed its welcome.

“It’s the whole topic of conversation… when is this going to end?” says Weber.

Though this nice snowball-making snow may be idyllic for Door County in January, it’s not doing the businesses any favors now that the calendar’s turned to April.

But we skiers loved every inch of new snow …and we can’t wait for its return!

Door County Cross Country Ski Report for March 21, 2013

My condolences to those of you who don’t like to ski. For the rest of us, we are loving this March weather!

Janelle Peotter snow bathing

“What shall I name this? Skier down? Training for tanning in Costa Rica? Post Birkie recuperation? Placement advertising for Atomic skis?”

The temperatures have stayed below freezing and we have continued to get flurries. Most areas of Door County saw another four inches of new snow in the earlier part of the week. All ski areas are open and mostly in great shape!

Current ski conditions are as follows:

Potawatomi State Park
Conditions: Pot Park trails were groomed Tuesday afternoon. Trails have a very good base and with the volume of snow we’ve received, many of the low spots have been filled in, so they are relatively smooth. Because of the variance in daily temperature, the best time to ski is early morning, before the snow gets soft. The next 5-day forecast is predicting mostly below freezing temps, so the trails should hold up well through the weekend. (3/20/13 Ron Maloney)

Whitefish Dunes State Park

Conditions: Last new snow, 4″ on March 18. Trail conditions – good to very good, excellent in many areas. All trails were packed and track set on March 20. Track is full depth and firming up in most areas. Areas where there is significant drifting will be somewhat soft until a few days of the thaw-freeze cycle, after which they should firm up consistently. Trails are relatively free of debris and have a solid base of more than 6-8″. It is somewhat amazing to have these fine trail conditions on the first day of spring. Now is the time to get out during these waning days of winter. (3/20/13 Rich Dirks)

Crossroads at Big Creek 

Conditions: The Crossroads had a snowfall of 3″ this week. After the winds died down, the trails were rolled on Tuesday afternoon and firmed up nicely overnight. A track was set on Wednesday afternoon. Skiing is very good and should continue through the weekend. (3/20/13 Jim Maki)

Peninsula State Park

Conditions: Snow depth varies with up to ten inches on the trails. All trails were groomed on Tuesday and are in excellent condition except for the white loop from Lot 1, as there is spring water on this trail. It is suggested that skiers access the trails from Lot 5 or Lot 3 due to water on the white loop. (3/21/13 Jeff Pfeifer)

Newport State Park

Conditions:  Trails just groomed today – Thursday March 21. We received more than four inches of new snow this week. Trails have good coverage and are in fair to good condition. (3/21/13 Casey St. Henry)

 For more detailed information about trails and conditions, visit: DoorCountySilentSports.org.

Door County Cross Country Ski Trail Report for March 8, 2013

This past week was a great time to ski just about anywhere in Door County.

Cross-country skiing at Snowkraft in Door County - Caitlyn Jefferys and Jim Hinnenthal

At Snowkraft 2/2/2013 – Caitlyn Jefferys and Jim Hinnenthal skiing the orchard, training for the Birkie. Photo by Chesla Seely-Anschutz

If you can get out today, tonight or Saturday morning, it is highly recommended as we have at best a wintery mix in the forecast for Saturday, but maybe snow again on Sunday. Spring skiing is always better in the early morning hours after conditions have firmed up overnight and our night time temperatures look consistently low for the next week. If we can hang on to enough snow tomorrow, we should have skiing for another week! Please, please, please – if you see folks walking on the trails, ask them nicely to get off the ski trails. Walkers put holes in the trail, these depressions allow warm air to get under the snowcover and melt the snow from the bottom up. This type of melting will destroy the trail very quickly.

Currently ski conditions are as follows:

Potawatomi State Park
Conditions:  Trails still in good condition.  The black and the blue trails were last groomed on Monday March 4th.  The skate decks were leveled and classic tracks were reset.   All trails are open and in good shape.  Classic tracks hard and fast.  Skate lanes hard and icy.   (3/8/13 Leif Hagman)

Whitefish Dunes State Park 
Conditions are holding at good to very good at Whitefish Dunes for traditional diagonal stride skiing.  Melting and refreezing conditions will exist throughout the week creating variable snow conditions.  There is about 10 inches of snow in the park.  Trails were last groomed on Thursday, February 28th and are in good condition. The trails will be “fast” in the morning and “slower” in the afternoon due to longer daylight hours.  (3/5/13 Dick Weidman)

Crossroads at Big Creek
Conditions: Ski conditions are very good especially in the morning.  Trails were last groomed on Monday March 4th.   Good classic ski track is set.  Could get a “wintery mix” on Saturday so get out and ski now if you can.  Remember that we have a community ski every Sunday from 1:30 to 3:30 with free use of our cross country ski equipment.  (3/8/13 Coggin Heeringa)

Peninsula State Park 
Snow depth is about 8-12 inches in the park.  Cross-country ski trails trails were last groomed on Sunday March 3rd and are in very good to excellent condition.  No reports of debris on the trails.  Conditions a bit soft and sticky during the day but it has been freezing up at night.  Snowshoe/hiking trails are in good condition too but please remember that hiking and snowshoeing are not allowed on ski trails. (3/8/13 Peninsula Park office staff)

Newport State Park
It was wonderful to have our trails open and in great condition for so many weeks now after a couple of years with little snow. Trails last groomed for classic on Monday March 4th.  Trails are in good to excellent condition.  Tracks are surprisingly hard and fast early in the morning but soften up in the afternoon.  (3/8/13 Newport office)

 For more detailed information about trails and conditions, go to: doorcountysilentsports.org.

Door County Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Trail Report for March 1, 2013

All of Door County received even more snow in recent days and we are now experiencing what January should have looked and felt like, as far as average temperature and snow depth.

In other words, ski conditions are excellent all over Door County and the weather is continually supporting the snow quality by remaining below freezing throughout the days. Continuing cold weather is predicted, with more snow expected in the immediate forecast. Now, is the time to ski Door County!

Somewhere in Paradise...

Somewhere in Paradise…

Groomers report the following conditions:

Potawatomi State Park:
Excellent condition. The trails were groomed this morning at Potawatomi  Park. The skate lanes were rolled and new
tracks set. Snow is soft, but the trails are in excellent condition. All trails are open and in great shape. (2/28/13 Ron Maloney)

Whitefish Dunes State Park:  
New snow fell on Wednesday, February 27, adding to the snow base. There is about 10 inches of snow in the park. Blowing snow may cause some drifting in open areas, but not enough to cover the tracks.  Cross-country ski trails were last groomed on Thursday, February 28 and are in excellent condition. The trails will be “fast” in the morning and “slower” in the afternoon due to longer daylight hours. Trails at Whitefish Dunes are groomed for classic skiing only. Hiking and snowshoe trails also exist. When ski trails are groomed for skiing, hikers and snowshoers must keep off the ski trails. The Black Trail and beach are open to hikers and snowshoers. There is no hiking or snowshoeing allowed on or next to any ski trail (Red, Yellow or Green trails). The Brachiopod trail does
not make a continuous loop during the ski season; those wishing to see the wetland are asked to return on the Black trail.  (2/28/13 Carolyn Rock)

Crossroads at Big Creek:  
Ski conditions are very good, with 5″ of new snow falling on Thursday and Friday. All trails were rolled on Friday afternoon. Track will be set on Saturday afternoon. Should be great skiing through the weekend. (2/23/13 Jim Maki)

Peninsula State Park:
Snow depth is about 8-12 inches in the park. Cross-country ski trails trails were groomed on Friday, March 1 and
are in very good to excellent condition. Snowshoe/hiking trails are in good condition. Please, remember that hiking and snowshoeing are not allowed on ski trails. (3/1/13 Peninsula Park Website)

Newport State Park:
Trails now have 4″ or more of fresh snow, from a few days ago. Trail was groomed today. (3/1). Trail is in good to excellent condition with quite a bit of small debris on the ground due to the extremely windy conditions. Tracks are surprisingly hard and fast. Despite the debris, the skiing is the best so far this year!  (3/1/13 Casey St Henry)

For more detailed information about trails and conditions, go to: doorcountysilentsports.org.

Door County Cross Country Ski Report for February 22, 2013

All of Door County received several more inches of snow in recent days and a few more inches are in the forecast.

trail grooming at Snowkraft Nordic

Thanks to the unsung heroes…

Fortunately the temperatures have stayed below freezing recently so the freeze-thaw cycle has stopped. Skiers should find all trails in great condition. Good luck to all headed to the Birkie this weekend! Groomers report the following conditions:

Potawatomi State Park  
Conditions:  Excellent condition. Potawatomi Park was groomed today. Skate & classic are both excellent. All trails are open and in good shape. Trails are in the best condition of the year. (2/19/13 Ron Maloney)

Whitefish Dunes State Park
Conditions: Very good. New snow fell on Thursday, February 14 adding five inches to the previous 5 inch base. Trails are open and were groomed on Friday, February 15. They are considered to be in good to excellent condition. Trails are groomed for classic skiing only. (2/15/13 Rich Dirks)

Crossroads at Big Creek
Conditions: Very good. Over 5″ of new snow. All trails were rolled on Tuesday afternoon. Trails will be rolled again on Wednesday morning as there was a lot of drifting in open areas over night. All trails will be tracked later Wednesday when the wind settles down. Skiing will be very good through the weekend. (2/20/13 Jim Maki)

Peninsula State Park
Good to very good. Everything out of lot 5 is groomed – Yellow, orange, red, blue, and green. On my second loop I notice that Bob was grooming the purple. His plans were to groom the purple and white, therefore the only part that might not be groomed is the black. With 4″ of new snow, the skiing should be good to very good. The only problem or deterrent is that there are a lot of branches bent over the trail. Anyone out there skiing could help by shaking a few branches as you pass by. (2/19/13 Greg Sunstrom)

Newport State Park
Good and will probably be better after tomorrow. Groomed Newport Thursday morning. It’s not great, but if we get a few inches Friday, I will get out that night and thoroughly groom everything. (2/22/13 Casey St Henry)

For more detailed information about trails and conditions, go to: doorcountysilentsports.org.