Keeping the White Side Up
For the past several weeks, we’ve experienced a healthy dose of high pressure, here in the high desert. While we haven’t seen any meaningful snowfall in many moons, the Nordic track (and singletrack) continue to hang in there and conditions remain pretty darn good. How is this possible, you ask???
Well, there are many factors that have helped us to “keep the white side up” as Nordic trails guru Charlie Sturgis likes to say.
First off, those late December storms all came in “right side up”, meaning that they started off warm with high water content, and then turned cold, providing our crew with a nice, packable base. That gave us a great foundation and solid “candy coating” to work with. The lighter, drier snow that followed, was the frosting on the cake. Yes, I have a sweet tooth.
The second key factor is temperature. If you’re going to remain high and dry, you had better have some cold temps to preserve what you’ve got. For the most part in January, we rarely climbed above freezing and our overnight temps have been super cold, with some single digits and sub-zeros thrown in the mix. With minimal thawing, the icy conditions have been held at bay.
So, those are the factors that we don’t control. What can we control?
When we look at the forecast and see no refresh in sight, we go into snow-preservation mode. Kinda like watering the lawn a few times a week, versus each and every day, we do everything possible to preserve what we have.
The first thing we do is limit our cat (Pisten Bully) grooming. The cat creates a great snow surface but it also has a greater impact on our precious base. The friction from the high-speed tiller creates heat, which makes for great cord, but also dips into that candy coating that we’re trying to preserve. So, we limit our cat-grooming to the weekends and use the snowmobiles and drags to scrape up that top layer of hard-packed snow, and hopefully create some decent corduroy. So far, so good.
A few other things that the crew does to preserve and protect…
We are farmers… bum pa dum pum bum bum bum. When we start to see bare spots appear on the track, we often “farm” or shovel snow from off-trail, in an effort to cover up the blemish, followed up with a quick pack. We’ll then run the drag over it for the final touch, kind of like spackling the hole in your wall.
If the cat is out and about, we can use the blade wings to farm snow from the outside edge of the track, and direct it onto the thin areas. You’d be amazed at how well this works in the right conditions.
What can you do to help? Any dark objects or “MOOP” (Matter Out Of Place – thanks Chase), left on the track generate heat and hasten the melting process. This includes sage/sticks, poo bags and muddy foot, paw or tire prints. Simply put, please pick up after your pups, toss sticks off the trail and avoid tracking mud onto the snow.
Well, that about wraps up this addition of snow preservation 101. It has been a super solid winter thus far, despite a dry January. February is, or at least should be, Snowdance Awareness Month, so get busy and work on those moves!
Rick, Trails Manager