Thursday, December 29, 2011

X-C Ski Trail Officially Opened

Lynn Bjorklund of the USFS has a wonderful announcement for us all:

The SWNS club trails on Pajarito Mountain are now Officially Open!
The long awaited signature on the closure amendment is finally complete.  The exemption of closed trails within the Las Conchas burn is effective as of 4:00 PM today.  Please spread the news to all who are interested.  The exempted trails include the SWNS club groomed course, the back country trail through Canada Bonita and  all the way to the rim of Guaje Canyon, the full length of Pipeline road, and the Nail trail from Camp May road to Highway 501.  Maps will be posted at the trailheads.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Grooming on Sandia Peak update

Service road groomed by alpine snowcat. Good skating except a little rough from rock quarry to gate due to foot traffic. Quite a few snow shoers went through sections of the UNM loop today which help pack it for when Fredrik grooms next week. Someone (I or Chris Norton) may pull (human powered) a gravel screen across a section of that trail to smooth it later this week.

Update on fencing volunteer needs

Thanks to all of you "trail volunteer elves" who came out and did a GREAT job on getting much the new shade fencing installed.  We also had folks working on cleaning up elk poop (yes, lots of it this year with the burn area grass growing under there, etc.), shoveling thin spots, etc.  Trails should hold through this extended sunny/warm stretch, and until we can officially open.
We still have several rolls of shade that need to be installed.  If you can spare the time, grab a roll and go string it up!  We need to purchase more zip ties from Smiths or Metzger's, feel free to add to that cause if you're motivated.  We can use the smaller 4" ones since we're hanging it from the nice field fence that is in place.
It helps to have a partner, but can be done alone too.
We'll try to keep things maintained through this week and really hit the grooming when we're officially allowed to fully groom.
Please send in your memberships/donations if you can.  We've had WAY more expenses this season and have actually lost some of our regular funding sources.  Last year's meager winter and this year's extended closure is resulting in a downward curve of our already small bank account!  We usually get a number of donations over the Christmas holiday, but with the closure, this won't be our best year, unfortunately =(

Here is a photo of the fencing done at point A by what looked to be at least 9 different elves :) There is more wire fence for snowfencing to be attached to on the lower road as well as on the upper trail starting just past where the 'coat tree' used to stand. Grab a roll of fencing from point A, it helps to have cutters to get those rolls unwrapped but its doable by hand as well. Bring up zipties, we used all the ones that were there up (and more :)

Trail still closed but volunteers can go up!

The trail is still technically closed but you can easily get some good skiing or snowshoeing in as long you come up
to volunteer to help. Below is a message from Lynn Bjorklund of Espanola Ranger District who
has been working tirelessly to help with trail recovering and opening of the area with our club. This
message has info on volunteer opportunities as well as a great summary of efforts
put into our trail recovery. Thanks everyone!
The snow conditions are superior right now with temperatures staying below freezing.  It doesn't get any 
better. For those who want to volunteer on the trail over the weekend, there is lots to do.  The shade fencing 
has come loose in several places, so bring a few twist ties.  Then there are those pesky aspens still poking up 
through the snow, and some limbing where tree branches encroach on the groomed areas.  A few twist ties 
and some clippers are good to have with you.   Although not nicely groomed yet, the course is very do-able 
with classic or skate.  I met several visitors on the course confused about the status of the trails or completely 
unaware of the closure, but happy to volunteer for the club until it is officially open. 

People who have not seen the course since last year barely notice much difference.  They don't have a clue 
about the massive amount of work that was done to get it to this point.  Well over 400 volunteer hours in 
about 90 days were donated by the club and those volunteering under the club, to fell and buck trees off the 
trail, help with the fencing, and generally repair the trail tread. These hours are worth over $10,000 dollars 
that can be credited to $20,000 of supplies and contract work to help restore all our trails in the Los Alamos 
area that were affected by the fire.  And this is just the volunteer hours on the Nordic trails.  There has been 
almost as much volunteer time donated to other fire affected trails in the Los Alamos area as well this Fall. 

What an incredible dedicated and giving community we have!  Special thanks should go to Clay for leading the
 efforts on the Nordic trails and wading through all the contracting paperwork and frustrations with having to 
do and redo the government forms to utilize the funding that the club was given for rehab after the fire.  
Another special thanks to the Rocky Mountain Youth Corp who put up the fence in the snowy, frigid 
conditions of late November, and to Reineke Construction who is our contractor for the BAER contract.  
The energetic sawyer team of two cut the really huge dangerous trees on the course and then several hundred 
hazard and downed trees that made it possible to open the trails all the way to the rim of Guaje Canyon and 
along the Nail Trail.  In the Spring this contract will resume with more hazard tree removal and then the use of 
a tandem trail dozer and mini excavator to re-establish some of our most damaged trails. Your volunteer hours 
this winter will help to meet the matching contribution that will fund continuing restoration. 

As the year draws to a close, the Espanola Ranger District Recreation team would like to say Thank You 
to all the wonderful volunteers for your time, efforts, and dedication to make this ski course a reality for the 
community and visitors, and especially for the extraordinary efforts these past few months after the 
devastation of the Las Conchas Fire.  It couldn't happen without you.   Here's to a safe, snowy, and 
excellent season in 2012. 
Lynn Bjorklund
Recreation Staff
Espanola Ranger District

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sandia crest trail work

Fredrik Landstedt, Ron McCurley, and Chris Norton spent nearly 3 hours this afternoon shoveling snow to level the UNM loop. Whole loop is nearly level (side to side). Fredrik says with a few more trees removed loop should be wide enough for skating with classic track on the side. Probably won't groom until next week (after New Years) due to traffic/parking problems at Ellis and high volume of foot traffic (any classic track would be destroyed over portions of the service road).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Trail Closure Status

Here's the latest on the x-c ski trail closure from Lynn Bjorkland of USFS:

The SWNS club trails are anticipated to open Tuesday or Wednesday of next week (Dec 27/28)

Many people are asking what is taking so long? !  I also would have thought the process would have been completed a week or two ago.

Here is the latest on the closure amendment change.  The picture below shows what trails have been mitigated for hazards.  These are the trails that will be open and exempted from the closure order once it is signed and becomes effective.  The closure order change started its journey through the process about three weeks ago.  Those of you in government of any kind can understand that these sorts of things can take much longer than anticipated.  I think Murphy's laws come into effect in these situations.  The more people there are who want it to happen quickly and timely, the more delays happen to slow the process.  Currently the change order is stalled out in the government legal office, probably because all the key people needed to move it along are on Christmas leave.    Eventually, and now I am hoping for Tuesday or Wednesday next week, this closure change will come through for us, and we can announce the official opening.

In the meantime, the SWNS club is packing the trails and getting everything ready for the season.  They can't do the finishing grooming that will really make it nice for classic and skate skiing until it is officiallly open and the closure order is truly changed.  In the meantime, anyone can volunteer for the SWNS club and help with the packing, finishing preparations on the course, and helping to keep the  fence and closure notice up at the start of the course.  Volunteers can also let people know of the current status and next predicted date that we might be able to announce the opening.

Thanks to everyone for their patience, and Merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


The tram service road was groomed very wide by the alpine snowcat but expect more snow tonite; already a few inches of new snow had fallen by this afternoon. This comes after the 14" earlier this week. Rarely have I seen this much snow this early on the Sandias. UNM loop in the woods has not been packed/groomed since last week but it has been skied in.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Trails STILL closed!!! >=(

Dina may have mentioned it in her blog post below (please read her's about all of the events and goings-on!), but I'm just reminding everyone that the SFNF still hasn't given us the nod to open things up. Lynn at the Espanola Ranger District is trying every avenue she knows of to get that thing signed and lifted, but doesn't know where it is or why there is a hold. So, we're still waiting to get it all opened up.

Sorry about this. I know it's very frustrating with all this new snow.

In the meantime, we can only do some trail packing and prep work, plus maintenance in keeping the trees off, etc. We'll groom when it's open to do so.

Trail Update and Upcoming Events!

Well, the reason we've been quiet about our nordic trails (aka Canada Bonita trail) is because USFS has said that the closure should be lifted 'any day now'. However, since 'any day' has now turned into over two weeks, we thought we should say something. So here it is, closure has not been lifted yet, but it will be any day now. As soon as it has been officially lifted we will post that here, on our homepage and fb page.

Meanwhile, we are planning events on our trails and have some GREAT local ones to let you know about so you can plan a whole winter full of snow fun while supporting and encouraging more great events in our area!

Jan 7th (Sat) SWNSC Skiathlon on our nordic (Canada Bonita) trails. More info on that coming soon.
Jan 14-16 (Martin Luther King weekend) Chama Chile Ski Classic in Chama, NM. Fantastic 3 day event that includes classic and skate xc ski races, snowshoe races, combined events, family friendly events and more! Check out our photo gallery for albums from last 5 years of this event. Online registration is open, sign up now! Sign up online by 12/31/11 to get 10% discount off adult races!
Jan 28-29 NM Cup/Low O2 Challenge at Enchanted Forest XC Ski and Snowshoe Area. XC ski and snowshoe races, snowshoe national qualifyer and kids events! Flyer to be posted on our homepage shortly.
Feb 17-19 (President's Day weekend) Pagosa Springs Winterfest 2012 in Pagosa Springs, CO. Come up for three days of snow fun and hot springs. Great family friendly events, free groomed xc ski trails, mock biathlon/xc ski races, sled races and downhill ski races.
Feb 18th (Sat) Mt. Taylor Quadrathlon, Grants, NM. Most epic, spectacular event in NM! If you arent ready for it, come and volunteer to check it out. Volunteering for this one is a day long party and great way to see what to get ready for if you want to do it next year!
Feb 25th (Sat) Just Desserts Eat and Ski at Enchanted Forest XC Ski Area. Family friendly fun event. Great way to get newbies into trying xc skiing!

Btw, snowing like CRAZY in Los Alamos and on our nordic trails right now. Not too shabby for a winter that's been forecasted to be dry and sad. Yup, never a bad thing when you get your family season pass to Enchanted Forest pay for itself by Dec 15th! :)) Here is a photo from a Los Alamos backyard looking in the direction of our ski trails as of Dec 19th noon:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Grooming on Sandia Peak update

Fredrik had just finished setting tracks on the service road and had headed up to pack the UNM trail loop when I headed back toward the tram. He also packed and groomed the road for skating.
I saw the UNM nordic team come up the tram while I was waiting to go down.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New snow, grooming

Sandia peak has received about 17" new snow in the last 72 hours. We are trying to coordinate with Sandia Peak ski area for grooming activities. Sandia Peak often will groom the service road for skating with their alpine equipment. Fredrik Landstedt (UNM ski coach) is planning to pack Thursday (providing the road is clear). Tentatively the service road should be groomed for skating, at least, before the weekend (will provide update).

Monday, December 12, 2011

SWNSC Trails are still closed (Dec. 12, 2011)

Hi all,

I've received a lot of questions about the status of the trail closure. While we've been able to get to some of the last few work items and even pulled down some of the grooming equipment from the summer "storage garage," we don't quite have the official closure lifted just yet.

Lynn Bjorklund at the Espanola Ranger District has worked on getting the closure lifted as soon as is possible, but it is out of her hands at the moment and waiting on approval from all of the parties involved. It literally is a change of law, so it is not just a quick signature sort-of deal from what I understand.

That is the word as it stands at the moment. We might be able to do some shoveling and packing work with all of this new snow, but that's not really approved yet either, so we hold off for now...
Please be patient. It looks like we might end up with a pretty good season after all.

In the meantime, we are hoping that our shade fencing will be here VERY soon and will have another work party day to get it strung up through the burn area. If you had a chance to see the trails over this past week, you would have noticed that the burn area could stand to have a little extra shade, as it's completely sun-exposed now and will not hold up to sunny days for long without the shade fencing. Please consider helping with this project. It will make all the difference for a much better ski experience, and further, to help hold snow that will aid in overall recovery of the eco-system.

Thanks for your patience. As soon as I hear from the FS, I'll definitely get the update out and we'll go groom.

Also, we've been working with the Sandia Peak guys with getting some information out about their efforts. It really is a great place to ski and they get a lot of snow. The trails are pretty cool and worthy of checking out. It would be great if we could get them some help. If anyone wants to lend a hand, I can get you in touch with those guys. Perhaps we could revive the Sandia Peak xc ski race/tour. That would be fantastic and probably help them to generate more interest.

More to come on that...


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Help shoveling

I and Chris Norton are planning on doing some leveling of the UNM loop Tomorrow (Monday) starting around noon. We will be going up the tram (as long as it is open of course). We will be shoveling snow for a couple hours. Anyone who can help please contact me at 5052284949.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Grooming on Sandia Peak update

Fredrik groomed the tram service road for skating today. Team was up training. Classic track is still in good shape.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Grooming on Sandia Peak update

Just got word from Fredrik that he set a classic track on the service road and half of the loop through the woods.

Grooming on Sandia Peak

I went up about 11:30 am to begin snow shoeing the UNM trail loop in the woods that connects with the tram service road. Fredrik arrived with his snowmobile about 1 1/2 hours later and began making packing loops over the UNM loop and the service road. There's so much work that needed to done and we were short of manpower but Fredrik did manage to make several packing loops before I left around 3 pm (very tired). I am uncertain whether Fredrik had time this afternoon to finish the grooming but if not I imagine he will be back tomorrow to finish. The UNM loop has improved since last year with the help of the USFS and volunteers but Fredrik pointed out to me that it still has room for significant improvement.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New snow

Sandia peak received 12" new from the last storm which means we have about 18-21 inches total.
I and Tom Kirchgessner plan on going up Wednesday to beging packing the UNM loop above the service road so it can be groomed. Fredrik is checking his snow machine out and may groom this week. Any help we can get to prepare the trails for grooming would be welcome.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Skiing on Sandia crest

New snow around 5" with a total of 7-10" (estimated) makes skiing fairly good on the service road and the trails surrounding it. No grooming yet; maybe next week.


Friday, December 2, 2011

SWNSC's total volunteer hours Sept-Nov.

Clay (our prez) has to send total volunteer hours in to the federal accounting office that is handling our reimbursements (ASC) for fire recovery work. Each day there was volunteer work, Clay accounted for the number of people and the approximate amount of time each person worked, whether it be standing safety watch, purchasing materials, sawing trees, hanging fence, lopping aspen shoots, bucking down timber, etc. -- it is actually probably a bit on the conservative side.

Check out the list below and total at the bottom - way to go, volunteers! That's the way to give back to the community!!

Southwest Nordic Ski Club Volunteer Hours Record

Fire Recovery Project 2011
August Hours Total - 8
September Hours Total - 12
October 1-6
October 9-12
October 15-50
October 16-4
October 22-8
October 23-42
October 29-56
November 1-12
November 4-4
November 5-56
November 6-48
November 12-39
November 14-4
November 15-6
November 16-4
November 17-4
November 18-4
November 19-60
November 23-2
November 30-2
Total Hrs (Sept. - Dec. 1) 443hrs

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wednesday Trail Update

Got up to the trail bright and early to help the BAER team with the last few hazard trees that we left for the more expert tree-fellers.  They sure are better than we are at it, but it wasn't without a few little glitches.  Anyway, those last 5 bad ones are now down.

I fired up Kermit to go tidy up the front hill.  I stacked the rest of the bamboo poles up at PtA and took the majority of the steel posts down to the shed.  There's still some sitting below the trail on the front hill, and more still out beyond the fencing line near PtC.

I think the new order of shade fencing is slated to arrive tomorrow somewhere up at the ski hill.  
The fencing that was up was already doing its job.  There was still a thin layer of snow on parts of the front hill and the shade was keeping the ground from thawing as fast as the areas around it that are exposed to the sun.  Looks ready for snow.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

skiing at sandia peak

Did a little classic today on the service road and some of the lower trails above the road as did Rich Besser. The service road is mostly skiable but a few problem areas exist due to a few rocks and some wind blown icy areas. The lower part of the switchback trail is surprisingly good as is the UNM loop.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanks to the Saturday trail workers

Great job to all of you trail workers on Saturday. The fencing looks great and will start working right away by keeping the ground from thawing out and shading what snow we receive. The fencing at "the rock" got strung up, despite the challenges that were faced in getting the materials out there, etc. It looked awesome too.

We also got a number of the bad "burn out" holes filled and some aspen shoots cleared out, especially in the burn area. The cut-offs are clear and some of the low-side log structures were replaced.

The trail still needs a lot of work with those holes and lower edge burn-outs, but I'd say we did a great job getting a lot of that burn damage mitigated.

Special thanks to Paul Graham, who came out a few times this week to help me with a few things and get the fencing project all prep'ed. I know he probably feels like I held him hostage with some of these projects, but he stuck by me and we were successful on a number of things.

Also a big thanks to all of you saw guys, log movers and hole fillers. Those are back-breaking tasks (I'm icing mine as we speak) and really make us tired. Things look great.

Still contemplating getting some shade fencing to attach to the nice field fence that was installed in the burn area. It would no doubt help there to preserve the snow we get as well.

You could stick a fork in me and pull it out clean. I'm toast. No more trail projects this year (until grooming and more trees fall down...).


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trailwork this week and this weekend

THANKS to all of you who have jumped in and committed to working this Saturday (and those who are helping out this week too). I think we're going to just make it happen for the season and get almost all the big ticket items checked off. It's been a crazy fall for trail work and we've had a lot of hands out there...again, thanks to all of you. I realize it's hard to work that in with family and other commitments.

We have a lot going on at the moment with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps working up there this week. I will talk more about their organization and work efforts later, but so far, it's just incredible how much they've gotten done, and how eager they are to do more. I'll be posting some information for all of you to make some contact to them and say 'thanks'.

The Los Alamos Coop market fed them tonight, and that was really cool, as they put in a long, hard day. Not having to make their own food in the motel room was nice.

Anyway, we'll have many and various work items for folks to do this Saturday, so come prepared: boots, gloves, warm clothes, food, water, etc. Some work items: hanging shade fence (no post pounding!), aspen shoot cutting, filling holes, moving some'll be fun.

Oh yeah, we'll meet at the trailhead at 9am, as usual.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Enchanted Forest skiing

Donna and I found good early season conditions yesterday at Enchanted Forest: a half dozen SWNSC members skiied there yesterday, and the UNM Ski Team was there training from Thursday until Sunday morning.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Red River is Open!

Here's the latest from Geoff and Ellen up at Enchanted Forest...they are open so it's time to strip the storage wax from our skiis!

Just a quick note to let you know Enchanted Forest is open for the 2011 - 2012 season. We have had over 36 inches of snow in the last 3 weeks, and this last storm dumped up to 20 inches on some trails. This is enough snow to be at 80% open for this weekend. We will be doing a sneak peek weekend with $5 trail passes and $5 rentals!

This is earlier than we expected to open, so there are still a few things we need to get done, and there may be a missing sign here or there or a bench in an odd place, but the skiing and snowshoeing are great!

We will be open Fridays Saturdays and Sundays, if the snow holds, until Thanksgiving and then every day starting that weekend.

Come on up and give it a go. Season passes are still on early season discount and available this weekend at Enchanted Forest!

Sandia Crest (Ellis) trail improvement

Today, Nov. 10 (Thursday), Rich Besser, Ron McCurley, Chris Norton, and rangers Ryan Reineke and Kerry Wood worked on the UNM ski loop above the service road rerouting the trail in 2 problem areas and some additional trail maintenance to improve the trail. One problem area that now has a great re-rout (also makes grooming that section easier) is located near the crest highway at the north end of the small meadow near the 10400 sign; the other re-rout (located at the top of the section of old logging road) was created mainly to make grooming that section easier. Some of the problem stumps on the trails were truncated as low as possible. Chris went down to the lower UNM trail and did some pruning of the small shoots that endlessly sprout up in the trail. We also did limited pruning of the shoots on the upper trail. Some work remains to be done in this regard. A couple of intrusive logs were cut back as well as one fallen tree and an old semi-buried log across the trail. We also did some infill where trail is uneven. There was anywhere from 1" to 5" of snow on the trails and service road. A few more inches and we can start skiing!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Clay's Trailwork Update

It figures that when we need a little extra time to get some trail work done, it decides to snow and get cold. But that's OK, we'll take it...
Things are starting to look pretty good with our season preparations and the trail work in general. We've gotten most of the real hazard trees down and bucked off the trail. In some places, we just didn't have the horsepower, so they're pushing in a little tight, but I think we have a plan to get that bit pushed out a little wider. It was a LOT of work for the small crew we had this past weekend, but amazingly, we got most of it done. There are still a couple of big trees (already bucked up) that need to be moved off the trail on the lower road (with the help of a pry-bar), and some stuff on the trail from A to C that needs pushing out a bit. We also need to work on the "log platform" at "the rock" just below point J. It got burned out and we need to replace it with some logs. That log platform at the other big rock on Dave's Dogleg also needs some significant work.
On top of all of that, there are a LOT of new aspen shoots, or more like shrubs, in the trail throughout the burn area that need to be cut. They keep standing when the snow comes and we groom over them. They're pretty now, but not so nice to try to ski through, and not to worry, they *will* return!
I am gone this coming weekend, but Paul Graham will be around to provide guidance on the specific areas and work tasks that are still in need of some love. Things are quite nice out there with the snow and more open areas. It is still an amazing place to be.
The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps will be here this coming Monday, as will the fencing material. They're mainly going to focus on installing the fence, but there will be some trail work that they will get to as well. I'm going to list the things they could work on that we haven't gotten to, but the fence will take much of their time. The fence will serve to keep snow on the trail (by providing shade and a wind break), and hopefully improve the skiing and keep moisture on and in the ground longer to speed up the recovery process.
If anyone wants to feed a hungry crew at any point during their stay, they would certainly appreciate it. They are youth crews who are building their experiences with these work projects and live on a shoestring while on these work stints.
After that, we have one more team of burn area recovery folks who will come in and take out the few big hazard trees that we did not want to approach ourselves. Once that is complete, we should be ready for being able to open up for the snow season, we hope.
Once again, a HUGE thanks to Lynn and Co. (Myles and Jennifer) at the Espanola Ranger District of the SFNF. She/they have provided us with so much support and assistance in getting the recovery efforts moving and all of the red tape, finances, etc. headed in the right direction. I know I've been a major pain in the neck for them and they've handled it well. If you enjoy the trails and feel the need for sending some appreciation notes, don't hesitate to drop them a line...they are rarely thanked for the amazing work they do.
That's all I have for now. I'll update more as I get more information.
Also, a big, BIG thanks to all of you who have taken time out of your busy lives to lend a hand. It all makes a difference. The trails will be open for everything that we love to do around here and you'll know you had a hand in that.

Clay Moseley

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Trail Work Recap

We had a good group today. We have gotten quite a lot of the burned hazard trees down on the early parts of the trail, including the front-hill road, the first portion of the lower Canada Bonita trail, and the upper trail from A to B. I would say that we have about 33% done. Still a lot of clearing and lower side structure to build back up.

Same plan for those days:
Meet at the specified time (IMPORTANT!) to go over the hazards & safety plan
Have watch sentinels over the trail ingress/egress to the work zone
Get a section of hazard trees down, secure the work area, perform bucking & clearing
I'll send out a notice on what afternoon(s) we'll work. We will likely meet at 9am next Saturday, and perhaps a little later on Sunday if there is enough interest.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trail Work Begins

Well, Tom gave me a good segue with his report. Great photos too (see below).....
Indeed, we are going to need some volunteers to help us with the removal of burned tree hazards. We have removed a few of the most obvious hazards, but now we need to get down to business and clean up the hazards that will be posing a safety threat this winter and next spring. All of this is in anticipation of getting the Stage 3 restriction lifted on the SWNSC trail system (stopping at the trail out to Pipeline and Guaje Canyon) in time for winter ski season.
As Tom pointed out, much of the trail system is not in too bad of shape, but the early portions from the upper part of the front-hill access road, to just about Point C on the upper trail, and Point Q on the lower road need to have the hazard trees removed.
The club has a few authorized & certified tree fellers, and we are allowed to work in two teams, separated by a pre-determined distance (>200 meters apart). This creates a large spread, and with the size of the trees and the fact that they will be falling across the trails in most cases, we need to have volunteer trail sentinels to monitor the foot and bike traffic that exists out there, despite the closure. We will have to station folks on the trails in either two, three, or even four points, depending on the work location of the felling teams. We have some two-way radios, safety vests and hard hats for everyone helping out. If you have any of this equipment, PLEASE bring it along.
We will need to conduct a safety briefing prior to embarking on the trail, and go over the work plan of the day. Anyone interested will need to sign up in advance and show up at the specified time to be involved. This isn't quite like the normal trail work days, where it's possible just to hike out and start helping.
At first, it won't be very exciting work, but as we get more of the hazards down, we will need help with the clearing, so that will be a bit more "hands-on." There are also some other work items related to the fire, such as some grading, hole-filling, log rolling, limb-lopping, etc. We will move on to those items as we phase out of the hazard clearing.
I think our first work days will be this coming Friday, Saturday, and possibly Sunday. Email me at if you would like to help out. I'll send out a confirmation with a list of things to bring and what to expect. Friday will likely be a half-day afternoon work session, with Saturday and Sunday possibly being longer hours. We will probably be working like this every week until the ski season.
Thanks in advance!

---------- Original Message ----------
From: Tom Berg Ski Trail Conditions
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 2011 15:24:46 -0600

Friday Clay and I did a walk through of the currently closed ski trails, led by 4 USFS Rangers. I have added a link of a few photos of the destroyed area, which is primarily from just below Point "A" to Point "C" on the upper trail, and From Point "A" to Point "Q" on the "road" portion of the trail, which includes a large portion of our new snowshoe trails.

Here are the photos:

I was surprised at how much of our trails are left, and in good shape in spite of spot fires here and there. But the large area from A-C and A to Q is pretty much destroyed, and the groomers are working like mad to cut all the dead hazard trees there so that the trails can be re opened for the ski season.

Here's a link to the map from the SWNSC website:

Right now the trails are still closed to the public, and much work remains to be done after the guys have finished the heavy cutting, so I hope you will all respond when Clay calls for volunteers to help for our trail work days in the next few weeks.... there is a lot of work up there that must be done if we're going to get to ski and snowshoe this Winter.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Send in your club clothing order by Monday Oct 24th!

It appears we have plenty of interested folks to meet the minimum reorder numbers for another clothing order. Dont forget, we dont make anyone become members just for wearing the stuff. You can get it as presents for your active family/friends as well. Its obviously super cool looking, very handy and a great way to get our club's name out there. Conveniently, it doesnt even have to be 'cold weather' stuff as we are able to order any of their top/bottom standard layout pieces including cycling clothing like short sleeve jerseys and bib shorts etc. Women and men specific as well for all cycling pieces, but nordic specific pieces are all 'unisex'. So go nuts :)

Below is an email with order info and links to most popular pieces. Please check it out and send me your items (preferably with link to each so there is no mistake, plus that way you know the price of each piece) by Monday Oct 24th.
if you dont have Dina's email please use Contact Us form located here.

If you dont know what the uniforms looks like check out the layouts here. The background color is 'fire engine red' and isnt the orange you see in the photos but also not as dark as the red in the photo. The layouts have the correct red color showing.
Also, you will note that this company does not do a 'standard' nordic hat and we've had lots of requests for those. I did find another company that does good hats and allows orders of as few as 5 items, but they will still run us $20-30 each depending on how many hats will be ordered. These are however well made, look good and are very comfortable (we got their hats at the US Nationals in March and we liked them a lot). Here is the link to the hat site and layout. If you are interested in ordering a hat please let me know as soon as possible and I will check into it. It will be a completely separate order from the rest of the clothing.
Below are links to the more popular items in the past including the standard ski uniform pieces. Prices are as listed on that site (they dont charge tax) plus a $2-3 per order (not per piece) for shipping. Note, once we meet the 6 piece minimum we really can get any other pieces, that includes cycling shorts/jerseys and most other large top/bottom pieces from nordic or cycling custom sections (so excluding things like arm warmers, socks, gloves etc)

1) basically a warm cycling jersey with brushed fleece interior (men/women specific)
2) ski vest
3) racing top (can be ordered with brushed fleece lining for warmth for extra $10)
4) racing bottom (can be ordered with brushed fleece lining for warmth for extra $10)
5) warm jacket, not as much for skiing in but maybe to keep warm between events and general cold weather wear

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ellis area ski trail enhancement project

Today a group of nordic ski enthusiasts including Rich Besser, Fredrik Landstedt, Ron McCurley, and Chris Norton along with USFS rangers Kerry Wood and Ryan Reineke walked some trails potentially suitable for grooming in the area near the Ellis parking lot and the Sandia Peak Tram service road. Fredrik pointed out places along the trails that needed improvement (e.g. widening, stump lowering, trail rerouting) which were, for the most part, approved by the rangers walking with us. We agreed to meet with them again at an unspecified date in early November (weather permitting) in order to actually make the improvements proposed today. The rangers would be doing the actual cutting with volunteers assisting them with the work by clearing the trail of the resulting timber fall and by insuring that hikers not intrude into the work area for safety reasons. The work will probably be on a weekday (not a weekend). Any Albuquerque area skiers willing to help should contact Ron McCurley (505 2284949) or Chris Norton (505 2286116).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Crested Butte Thanksgiving Camp Nov 24-26

Well! Its getting close to ski season and as usual a group of SWNSC members will be headed to Crested Butte for their awesome Thanksgiving Camp!

This will be their 11th year holding it and some subset of SWNSC members has been to most of these. Everyone who has been to one of these will agree that you cant have more xc ski fun than at this event for all levels of skiers, not to mention that there is definitely no more affordable way to have such consistenly high quality instruction.

The entire event is a fundraiser for the Crested Butte Nordic Center, so all the amazing instructors and olympians who teach there are doing it for free as a donation and because they love it so much (that means you should probably tip them if you enjoyed your lesson - took us a few years to figure that out...).

All details (as well as online registration!) are at link below including a schedule of events - they have something during each day and this year that includes Thanksgiving day morning as well. There is also the dinner and silent auction on Saturday night - that's always fun!

To see pictures from last year's event (all the really good ones are by Dave Kerr - thanks, Dave! :)

We typically get a few places to stay depending on how many people are coming and how big the places are. A group of us that goes almost every year is already set at a house very near the Nordic Center Wed Nov 23-Sun Nov 27th. We will probably have the group Thanksgiving dinner there. Please email me if you are coming up and want to join us so we can coordinate.

If you are coming up and need a place to stay, I can put people in touch with others interested to make groups (to get in touch about this comment here, post on our facebook page or user Contact Us form on our homepage). I would highly recommend booking through

They have quite a few very well located and affordable properties that we've stayed at before. For those places where the high/low season price change happens during the Thanksgiving weekend, they said they will extend the low season rate to us if you call to make a reservation and tell them you are booking from Southwest Nordic in New Mexico for the Thanksgiving camp.
If you are new to staying in CB, make sure your property is down town (not in Mt Crested Butte or '7mi down some road') if you want to be walking distance to the nordic center and most ski trailheads. Nordic center is located at the south end of 2nd St about a block off Whiterock Ave. Google map shows it incorrectly. Just see bottom/south end of 2nd st here where the ice rink (white) is visible:,+Crested+Butte,+CO&sll=38.870686,-106.987278&sspn=0.011694,0.019205&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=219+Whiterock+Ave,+Crested+Butte,+Gunnison,+Colorado+81224&ll=38.870587,-106.987288&spn=0.011695,0.019205&z=14
Each property comes with a map showing its location so check it. There are also cheaper condos to rent up in Mt Crested Butte but you will need to drive into town for all camp events and ski trail access.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

New snow on Sandia Peak

Between 5 and 6 inches fell on Sandia Crest.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

LANL (and Sandia) matching donations to SWNSC until Oct 28th!!!!!!

LANL and Sandia Lab employees!

If you were going to donate to SWNSC now (until Oct 28th) is the best time to do it because the LANL Employee Giving Campaign is under way. This is a great way to make your contribution count for the SW Nordic Ski Club. Donor designate through Worker Self-Service and LANS will match contributions of employees up to $1M total. Last year LANS matched $0.65 to each dollar contributed.
Please make sure to do this in the next week or two. The campaign ends October 28th.

Below are the instructions on how to do it for LANL from last year. Feel free to comment and correct or to add helpful hints etc (I believe this year the club name Southwest Nordic Ski Club should actually appear in the dropdown for the organization as we have listed with them, let me know if it doesnt and use address below until we do):

To get the match employees need to enter their donation through the time and labor system.

1. Select United Way of Northern NM (they will charge 14% processing fee), donor designation “Nordic Club” and the official address for the Club. (Southwest Nordic Ski Club, P.O. Box 1556, Los Alamos, NM 87544).

2. The Campaign ends on Friday October 28th so that is the last day to donate.

PS I know a some members who are Sandia Lab employees contributed through their program last year which also went to us successfully! However, the deadline for them may be different.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Grooming is a go on Sandia Peak!!!!!!!!

from Ron McCurley:
Clay et al, Southwest Nordic ski club members, and other interested skinny skiers;
This morning, I, Fredrik Landstedt, and Rich Besser met with the USFS to discuss x-c skiing in the Sandias, particularly at Ellis and surrounding trails. The barrage of e-mails (40-50) that they received supporting groomed trails up there obviously made an impression on them. They agreed to a need for groomed trails up there and to support the effort to make it happen! I was pleasantly surprised. We have a meeting now scheduled on October 18th (1 pm) to meet up at Ellis and walk the trails we want to groom so Fredrik can point out to them improvements that may be made to make grooming more feasible and skiing safer and more enjoyable.
So the e-mails all of you took the time to write paid off big time. Thank you all for your support. If I missed anyone on the cc above please forward this to them as well.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A few letters of support for grooming on Sandia Peak.

Quite a few people wrote in their support to USFS on this matter and some didnt mind it getting published here. We thought it would be informational and interesting as well as useful in the future when questions about grooming and its uses come up.
Sir, I am Norm Vance of Pagosa Springs,Co. I have groomed nordic trails on the Pagosa Ranger District for a quarter of a century. You are currently hearing arguments for and against grooming nordic trails. I have found the folks mostly against grooming are the purist, or consider themselves the purist, of the sport. Most of them are in very good physical shape. They also can be loud and speak often defending their ideal of the sport. The last attribute they harbor is not being very thoughtful of their fellow skiers who may not be in perfect shape or as dedicated, they forget they were novices once. There should be space for novices and casual skiers and a groomed trail is it.
I found some of the purist skiers were won over when they realized they could use the groomed trail get to new places for breaking trial cross country. Some learned to enjoy the groomed trails for ski skating, not possible on ungroomed snow. Some will never be won over and they will bitch about it as they ski down the groomed trail!
Here in Pagosa we now have a club with its own grooming equipment and a network of five major groomed trails. The Forest Service has been very helpful with permissions, new signs, trail work and they groom one of the trails all winter with Forest Service equipment and employees. Nordic skiing along with snowshoeing has grown rapidly and is now a strong part of our winter economy.
I know the swnordicski people as they come here for skiing. They seem to be good and dedicated people. I have no axe to grind either way, I have never stood on skis.
Norm Vance, Editor - member Town Tourism Committee - Director, Tourism Ambassador Program
Hello all,
I would like to place a strong recommendation in favor of adding groomed trails to the Albuquerque ski area, in addition to existing backcountry trails. My reasons are as follows:

1. Groomed trails make cross country skiing more accessible to those new to the sport. They are easier than backcountry trails to navigate, and require less expensive equipment (e.g. skis with no metal edge, lighter boots, for example).

2. Groomed trails are safer for more groups, by providing a combination of flat surface and ski-grooved areas. Newbies can learn in the grooves then graduate to flat surface skate skiing or back country skiing.

3. Groomed trails provide an excellent source of winter fitness and fun for those who do not downhill ski.

4. Skate skiing and cross country skiing is becoming more and more popular, and is a strong sports tourism attraction for a community. Canmore, Canada, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Leadville, Colorado all have excellent groomed groove and skate as well as cross country trail systems, among many other communities.

5. Cross country skiing on groomed trails is attracting aging baby boomers who want a safe, winter outdoors experience, without the risks of downhill skiing ( I am one of them!). this is a large demographic to be served.
Los Alamos benefits greatly from our groomed skiing opportunities. Our local ski club takes care of the grooming in cooperation with the Forest Service, a great model for other communities.
I hope that these points will encourage the Forest Service to include groomed skiing in the Albuquerque area. It would be a great addition to the community.

Thank you for your consideration.
Jeri Sullivan
As a member of the SouthWest Nordic Ski Club (SWNSC), I am writing in support of the proposal put forth by the UNM ski coach and others, which is strongly supported by SWNSC, to provide additional groomed ski trails (both skate and classic) in Northern New Mexico (NNM). We certainly have plenty of wilderness hiking trails in NNM, and my wife and I take advantage of these to hike in the summer and snowshoe in the winter. Also, I have gone on many backcountry ski trips to the high country using these trails. What we don't have very much of in NNM is groomed trails, which are favored by a growing population of sports enthusiasts who like to test themselves in fast-ski conditions, which require grooming. Right now, for this activity, I essentially use only the groomed nordic trails on Pajarito Mountain, near Los Alamos. Building additional trails in the Jemez and the Sandias would make the sport available to a larger population; and, if the number of participants grows as expected, it would provide commercial opportunities for additional shops to sell the particular ski gear used in this sport. The added economic boost would certainly be welcomed in this bleak economy.
Thank you for considering my views on this proposal.
Mario Schillaci

To Groom or Not To Groom (Sandia Peak)

Thanks to everyone who has written or called in to support groomed trail option on Sandia Peak! The meeting with USFS is tomorrow (Fri Sept 9th), so you can still call in or email today, tonight, tomorrow! Nothing long is necessary, just a quick "please groom!" email or vmail will help out!
Cid Morgan  (she is the district manager, will not be in meeting)
Wood, Kerry, (will be in meeting on this)
Heiar, Robert (will be in meeting on this)
Kerry Wood 505-281-3304 ext 107
Cid Morgan 505-281-3304 ext 117 (she is the district manager)
Below is the message sent in by SWNSC president, its a good one. I have a few more good ones I would like to post but am waiting to get authors' approvals :)


I am writing in regards to the debate over groomed cross-country skiing at the Nordic trails at Sandia Peak -- i.e. the "Service Road," the "Meadow Trail," and that lower trail that parallels the Service Road. I am, of course, writing in strong favor for winter trail grooming, for several reasons.

Currently, I serve as the chairman of the Southwest Nordic Ski Club, which now "serves" all of Northern New Mexico. We are a 501c3 organization that has been in existence for about 30 years. The club was officially created as a "junior" Nordic ski club in Los Alamos, but expanded to meet the demand of all Nordic skiers in and around Los Alamos. We are now the largest and most active ski club in the state. Our mission, as it has always been, is to promote all forms of Nordic skiing and snowshoeing, including back-country skiing and groomed trail skiing. We have worked very closely with the Espanola Ranger District (SFNF- through a Volunteer Cost-Share Agreement) for many years to develop a wonderful trail system that provides a safe and fun venue for groomed skiing (both skate and classical style). Additionally, we have developed wonderful snowshoe corridors and open meadow routes. The groomed trail system is adjacent to, and also serves as a portal to the various back-country skiing areas.

We promote all forms of Nordic skiing and hold clinics to any and all comers during the ski season. Our clinics draw many people from the various forms of xc skiing. The principles of Nordic skiing are common among the various forms. Our groomed trail system provides a consistent and safe opportunity for all xc skiers throughout the winter, even when conditions are unsafe for back-country skiing. Because of these opportunities, primarily the groomed trail system, our much smaller community draws FAR more xc skiers at any given time than the Sandia xc ski trails located very close to the Albuquerque metro!

It is quite conspicuous that large user groups (senior citizens groups, charter schools, clubs, etc.) from Albuquerque choose to make the 100 mile trek over skiing at Sandia. We have taken a trail user poll (twice) and on both occasions, the majority of our trail users came from Albuquerque! While we love the support that these Albuquerque trail users give to us, it is a bit sad that they have to drive all this way when there is a potential for a great venue right there in their back yard. We hear many complaints about the lack of quality on the Sandia xc ski trails, including for back-country skiing.

I myself have skied up at Sandia for many years and have noticed the general degradation of quality xc skiing over the years. I was actually introduced to Nordic skiing by a Norwegian on the UNM cross country ski team. The team once held many clinics at Sandia to introduce people to the sport and put back into the local xc skiing community. That motivated me to take the xc ski class at UNM, which was taught by the venerable Klaus Weber. Klaus is a "New Mexico" skiing legend who has taught many people, from all walks of life, to cross-country ski. This would not have been possible without the groomed trails.

On any winter weekend during the 1980s and early half of the 1990s, there were literally scores of xc skiers, using all types of xc skis. The grooming was accomplished as a collaborative effort that included the UNM ski coach (Don Christman), Klaus Weber, some volunteers, and often by Louis Abruzzo (Sandia Peak Ski Area), who was also a skate skiing enthusiast and would no doubt lend a vote of support if asked to do so.

I also recall quite a number of skiers who would xc ski at night after work during the week because the groomed trail made that possible. Because of the unique nature of Sandia xc ski trails, I learned to back-country ski on very skinny in-track skis and learned to appreciate both every time I went skiing there. I now teach those very same skills and principles to the juniors and beginning adult skiers we introduce to Nordic skiing.

You're probably aware that Eskimos and Innuits have many words for the various types of snow. There's a good reason for that and in New Mexico, we tend to have some crazy and unpredictable snow conditions. Many times, we will receive a nice dump of snow, only to have it turn to mash potatoes in a matter of days. This creates a very unsafe situation for back-country skiing. It pretty much eliminates the possibility for off-track skiing for all but the most capable and daring back-country skier. It is a fact that grooming preserves snow and makes skiing far safer in such conditions.

Lastly, and certainly not least, one of the most remarkable things I witnessed during my college years spent xc skiing at Sandia Peak, was the opportunity of xc skiing afforded to people with disabilities. I had seen people on sit-skis at downhill ski areas, but never realized the opportunity exists for Nordic skiing as well. In fact, it is a large and popular recreational opportunity for wheelchair-bound skiers. It is also popular for amputees and other types of disabilities. Since that first encounter, I have been fortunate to meet many people with disabilities whose lives have been enriched by the ability to enjoy the winter through xc skiing. Most recently, I've met a 65 year blind old woman who participates regularly at both national and world master's events by following the sound of a guide who skis in front of her. This is just not possible without grooming.

I hope you will take these anecdotes and issues into consideration during the decision-making process. We are not asking that every single trail be groomed...far from it. Back-country skiing is also an essential part of the xc skiing experience. We are just hoping that there is consideration for striking a REAL balance and for bringing back the opportunity of groomed/tracked xc skiing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully yours,
Clay Moseley
Southwest Nordic Ski Club

Friday, August 26, 2011

Help for xc ski trails in Albuquerque!!!

UNM ski coach and some local dedicated xc skiers in Albuquerque will be meeting with the forest service on Sept 9th to discuss getting USFS involved in having groomed xc ski trails in the area. It would help tremendously if those of you interested in having groomed xc ski trails available in Albuquerque could write in and/or call (contacts below) to the local forest service office. Specifically stressing advantages over backcountry/single track skiing would be most helpful because USFS there is under the impression that most users are actively AGAINST grooming and ONLY want backcountry skiing.
Do not worry, backcountry enthusiasts, adding groomed trail by no means limits back country skiing! One of the big plusses of groomed track for the entire ski community would be ease of skiing access for a larger cross-section of people. Groomed trails are safer, easily used by people of all ages and abilities (i.e. fewer broken legs!). They are an excellent way to introduce novices of all ages to xc skiing and can give additional outdoor opportunities for families, and groups such as class trips, groups of retirees and tourists. Basically, the main goal of groomed trails is to get more people to enjoy skiing!

Old timers, you guys should mention the level of traffic you saw back when there was groomed track on Sandia. I heard it was extremely popular!

Remember the meeting is on Sept 9th, so for most effect please write/call before then!
Please write or call your support for groomed trails to
Cid Morgan at or 505-281-3304 ext 117 (Cid is the district manager)
Kerry Wood 505-281-3304 ext 107

All opportunities for xc skiing are really opportunities for the local nordic culture growth and more fun snowtime for all!

Please email/call by Sept 9th if you can and encourage friends to do the same!

Monday, August 1, 2011

First Post-Fire SWNSC Trail Update

Well, it’s probably about time to update the club and friends on the current state of affairs regarding the SWNSC trails and the prospects for the upcoming ski season. While I wish I had more to say and promise, I do have a few bits of news and items to discuss. I’ve been trying to get more updates and information from the available sources, probably just as most of you all have as well.

First of all, I would like to thank Lynn Bjorklund of the Santa Fe National Forest for the work she has done and for keeping me informed as best she can. She also has to work with other agencies on not only the SWNSC / Canada Bonita trails, but many others in the area. I’m going to keep working with her as much as possible to ensure trail accessibility, safety, and quality. Hopefully, we can get started on some trail work and/or have some things taken care of by the BAER team to get recovery efforts rolling.

The first and most major problem is that a pretty good chunk of the trail system burned VERY badly. When I say “VERY” badly, I mean it got completely scorched and looks like vertical charcoal out there. There is a bit of an unsafe situation with potential downfall and of burned (and still burning) “root hollows,” where the ground might collapse where root systems burned below ground.

The first major tasks will be getting the hazards removed, then controlling the erosion. We also want to work toward getting some shade structures in place for winter. Not only will that be good for skiing, but also to help preserve the snow so that it won’t melt so rapidly thus will be helpful for vegetation recovery along with placement of erosion control and seeding.

With all of that, I have put in a quick proposal for the installation of a structural fence for safety and erosion control along those portions of the trail that burned badly. It has to be considered by the BAER team authorities, so we’re waiting to hear back on that.

Beyond that, there are other recovery efforts that will likely fall in the hands of the club members. There are numerous trees that need to be mitigated along the trail system, and there is a LOT of grade problems with the loss of the lower side trail structure where the fire burned out the lower side structure logs. These logs served as grade structures (and even as trail width themselves) and are now burned and gone. The trail now has an abrupt drop-off on the lower side where these are missing. A couple of other areas had full ramp structures holding up a good portion of trail to keep a big hole from forming in the winter – these also burned.

We also lost about 60 of our good bamboo poles that were used as markers out in the meadow areas during winter grooming. We will need to get those replaced somehow. Additionally, some of the wind-break fencing (for the entrance/exits to the meadows at points L and M) was burned and needs to be replaced.

In addition to the approximately 1km of trail that was completely scorched, almost ALL of the newly completed snowshoe trail system was destroyed. I don’t really have an answer for that, other than we’ll have to be creative in the next few years to find some sort of good alternative. I have one idea, but we’ll have to see how our initial recovery efforts go before proposing it.

Luckily, we did not suffer any “high-stakes” equipment loss, i.e. our grooming machines or grooming implements. That would have been devastating for sure. Also, although almost all areas of the trail system received burn damage, most of it still looks good and is intact. In a few years’ time, it will look pretty good and will recover quite nicely. The big Canada Bonita meadow received significant burns, but is already turning green with the rain.

I hope that somehow out of all of this, there will be some opportunities to add some nice sections of trail and get those severely damaged areas on the road to recovery quickly.

As soon as I hear back from the “agencies of authority” regarding our getting out to work on the trails, you will all be the first to know. I’m thinking of which projects to prioritize to get this next season in shape. There’s no doubt that we’ll have to deal with some adversity and be more understanding and flexible if we want to have some quality winter recreation.

I hope to update you on things very soon.

SWNSC President
PS see the post below for a further trail update from Lynn Bjorklund of USFS who is also SWNSC member.

More on the SWNSC Trail Update

This is a further update from Lynn Bjorklund of USFS and SWNSC club member in addition to the one from Clay posted above.
Here is a further update. The BAER team has approved a seeding and mulching treatment on that severely burned portion. We were limited to Barley grass only because it doesn't persist or form a rhizomatous structure. Apparently the delicate Jemez Mtn Salamandars can't pop up through a dense grass matt to breed. They spend most days underground and likely survived the fire. When they pop out to breed they likely won't like what they see, so breeding activities may not occur anyway. However, being a threatened and endangered species, there are stict regulations on what we can and can't do in their habitat. The seeding and mulching should occur this next week.
Also within the next couple of weeks the FS is contracting with a felling team to cut snags and hazard trees off the route. Quite a bit of snagging and trail clearing has already taken place. The hope is to get this safe enough to allow trail surface work and have it open to the public. I have put in a request for further funds to do the trail work as described below by Clay. The SWNS club would have a lot of say as to what should be done, and perhaps could even help. That is provided we get that funding. We are competing region wide with fires like the 500,000 Wallow fire in Arizona. I also have a request for a snow fence for the 1km of severely burned trail.

The fire closure order will likely come out next week. I was in disagreement with how it was presented. Since it is a legal document that covers such a huge area, the Forest wanted to keep it simple. Therefore they show all of the Forest around Los Alamos closed and then describe exceptions, which should include all of the unburned and unaffected trails. Know that as trails become safe after felling operations we likely may be able to open some up. Trails that are scheduled for hazard tree removal are the Canada Bonita trails (1st priority), Perimeter trail south of Quemazon, and the Guaje Ridge Trail from Pipeline to Mitchell. Trails that are truly unsafe and very difficult to traverse anyway are Water Canyon, Valle Canyon, upper Guaje Canyon, Knapp Trail, Los Alamos Canyon trail, and Caballo Mtn Trail. Pajarito Canyon and the Nail trail are not as bad, but still somewhat hazardous. If anyone does 'happen' to find themselves in these severe burned areas, be really heads up for trees that can fall. Some may look solid, but the roots or interior are burned out and they can fall over very quickly. On steep canyon slopes, big rocks can get dislodged and they roll down very fast and unpredictably. All this even if there isn't a thunderstorm or flash flood. Add that, and the dangers go up dramatically.

A tour with Clay and other SWNSC members is planned in the near future to discuss what it would take to get the area safe for winter operations or fall recreation events like the Pajarito Trail fest. Here is where the partership with the Forest Service could be good and bad. The bad meaning that the FS is obligated to be much more conservative in trying to protect public safety than most people may really want, especially with that cost share partnership. As Clay mentioned, understanding and flexibility would be the key operative words to recovery and restoration. I hope to do everything I can to help.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Snowshoe Trail Addition Approved

Lynn Bjorkland of the Forest Service announced that we now have approval to clear the dead and downed timber off the new addition to the Pajarito Snowshoe Trail. Shown in Blue on the map on the right, we will begin work on the addition once the fire danger has moderated up there.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

XTERRA Moab 2011

First off, refer to the pics on the Triatomics album for the visuals. Moab is interesting to the eye, for sure:
XTERRA Moab Album

This race is a revived version of the XTERRA they last held here about six years ago and before. The course was changed somewhat from those years, which also had other variations. It worked well, except for the fact that we had on-coming traffic on the far end of the bike. Since it was on a Jeep road, there was room to pass, but the lines were sketchy and people didn't give them up easily. Anyway, it was a great race course.

The swim was in pretty cold water -- between 55 and about 58 degrees, depending on how far out it was measured. XTERRA races always seem to be two lap swims, which is strange. The water was so cold that people had trouble staying upright after exiting the water. I had a slow transition because my hands were so numb and I had trouble getting things off from the swim, then on for the bike.

The bike course is held on the infamous "Steelbender" (a.k.a. Flat Pass) Jeep trail. It had some gnarly rock slaps, big ledges, etc. It was physically and technically tough and took a real toll on you back, arms, and hamstrings. It was also pretty scary in parts and required some committed moves to stay on and not walk down them. That made a big difference in times, I think. The drops actually made stuff around here seem pretty tame in comparison.

This was also the longest XTERRA I've done. The bike was a long one (taking me 1:51) and the run was a full 10km on a pretty tough trail (my time of 54:08 was not the fastest, but among the fastest). I think the winner did a 48-something run, which was fast on that course. So, it was a longish race and there were a lot of tired folks afterward.

Laury Goddard had been to a Moab XTERRA training camp about 6 weeks prior, so he knew how bad the bike course was. I thought he was exaggerating, but he certainly wasn't. He was rather understating the difficulty, in fact, and to see it for yourself was absolutely necessary. We pre-rode on the Thursday before, and we had to practice certain spots several time to get it down, and get the guts up to do the drops in the race.

Both Laury and Orion had great races. Here's an amazing fact: this was young Orion's FIRST ever triathlon! He's only 16 and we just started to teach him how to "race swim" this year. He had taken to it quite well, and despite being more of a mountain biker, he's turned into a good swimmer and even better runner. I am pushing him to also run cross country for the Hilltoppers this fall.

We did Los Alamos and the Triatomics proud, with age-group medals for all three of us. Laury got 2nd in the 60-64 (...a tough field, no lie!) and Orion got 2nd in the juniors <18 after a hard-fought battle with two other very good triathletes. The guy who ended up winning was a faster swimmer/runner, but Orion was hands-down the best mtn biker. The other juniors were amazed with his mtn biking strength and ability. I think he has a future in both road and off-road triathlons.

I got 3rd in the M40-44, with a 9th OVERALL! The M40-44 class had the most placings of the other age groups in the top ten...well, maybe the 25-29ers had more if you count the overall. I also had a girl beat me! She was awesome and had a stellar bike leg. She can also swim and run well, so I'm not ashamed =)

Overall, this was a great race, but not for the faint of heart, or the under-trained. The course is hard and requires good mtn bike skills. It's also physically tough with all of the rock ledges to climb and a lot of granny-gear, gut-busting mega-steep climbing...throw in two stream crossings, and some deep sand, and you've got a lot of work to do. They do have a much shorter "Sport" version that has some of the stuff, but not nearly as bad.

Moab is also a lot of fun. It's a total circus with the National Park tourists, the jeepers and other off-road vehiculars, the motorcycles, the mtn bikers, the river rafters, the get the idea! It's all a lot of fun too, except that they only serve that dang Utah 3.2 beer =)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Snowshoe Trail Proposal

Here is a map of the proposed new trail addition: in Blue, existing snowshoe trail is shown in Violet. We hope to secure permission for the additional trail by Fall.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Things in the works for SWNSC right now!

It may be off season but things are happening with SWNSC! This is all possible thanks to all of your continued support and donations!! Huge thanks for keeping the donations and volunteer help coming! Here are some highlights of things in the works right now (ideas always welcome! comment here, or use Contact Us form on our homepage):
1. A new snowshoe trail extension has been surveyed and marked this past weekend and is up for USFS approval. Once approved, clearing work will begin on it in late August.
2. There is talk of holding weekly hill-climb roller-ski time trials up Camp May road in the early fall!
3. We have a new member who is working with us to get a junior nordic ski group going at the Los Alamos High School next season!
4. Research is under way to purchase a modern and efficient grooming device (to be pulled by our new snowmo 'Viking') in time for next season's grooming!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Trail work this Sunday

April 3rd at 10:30 AM.
Pulling the steel posts on the front hill. Should be a short session as Clay and the Juniors have already done most of the work up there.

Hope you'll join Paul, Donna and me up there.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sandia Peak Update

Skating still quite good on service road. Alpine area closes tomorrow (3/6) so no more grooming by their snowcat. Snow is beginning to disappear (can see bare ground) at one spot on service road so without significant new snow skiing won't last much longer up there.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Skiesta/Pinhead challenge update

From organizers Jean and Karen

Skiesta is on for Sat 3/12 at Pajarito Mountain! There should be an
announcement in this weekend's LA Monitor and on the web site.

There isn't sufficient snow to pull off the Pajarito Pinhead challenge . . .
. so, Karen Hill and I are going to try to offer an up/down snowshoe race.
Most probably on the Wildcat slope.

Here is how it will go

Registration: 10 am - 11:45
Snowshoes available to rent at the Walkup Center (LA County
pool) for $5 at 10 am on Saturday
Meet at the deck on the lodge at noon for racer briefing
(we'll have to walk up to Wildcat for the start)
Race will be to the top of Wildcat and back to the bottom.

We'll make a final decision on Friday 3/11 . . . .if we have a huge melt
off, there is a chance we won't be able to do it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Sandia Peak Update

The service road was recently groomed (very nicely) by Sandia Peak and skating looked excellent (unfortunately I was unaware and didn't take skating skis, etc.).
Tracks set by UNM week before last are still intact in the woods but were groomed over on the service road (unfortunately).
If anyone wants to donate to the UNM ski team, the money goes directly to a ski team fund; contact Fredrik Landstedt at UNM.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sandia Peak Update

Attention Albuquerque skiers: As you know if you've been reading the Sandia Peak posts, Sandia Peak ski area (contact is Steve Gallegos) has been kind enough to regularly groom the service road with a piston bully for us nordic skiers. It wouldn't be a bad idea to show some appreciation for that. Any ideas?
Also the UNM ski team coach, Fredrik Landstedt, has done some grooming, including classic tracks, up there as well.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sandia Peak Update

Skied classic on the service road in the same tracks Fredrik set last week. They are in good shape fortunately as foot traffic has missed them. Conditions vary from icy slush to packed powder so tricky to wax for; I used no wax for that reason.
I'm guessing the tracks in the woods are all still in good shape as well. Skating looked a bit tricky due to the icy conditions and pitting from foot traffic but doable.
Still plenty of snow up there (about 30") so as long as we continue to get some grooming, skiing can continue.
Saw the infamous Phil Book up there (first time I've seen him up there this year) --he told me he's been very busy with work, etc.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Trail/Grooming Report 2/21/2011

The trails got about an inch of new snow, which turned them white again, at least. Looks like this will be the last week of grooming if we don't receive a significant amount of snow very soon...

I groomed everything (mostly just for classic) that is still hanging on by a thread. Lots of it looks really good, mostly the upper trails. The lower road track didn't set as well because I got in a rush. The track and snow gets better as you go up, but be very careful around the "rock" just below Point's burning out quickly.

You'll need to walk in to point B, but it's spotty for the next 200 meters thereafter, and a big tree had to be cut out, which left a big mess just over the next little hill, so be careful there too...things improve after that.

Like I said, it's best for classic, so go up and get in some striding! There are some very good stretches, so maybe pull out the old skis and go have fun! The meadows also got a nice classic track installed.

Get it while the gettin's good!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sandia Peak Update

As promised, Fredrik (UNM ski coach) regroomed the service road for skating and also set classic tracks on both sides. He also groomed and set a classic track on the UNM loop in the woods (very nice) and then went about setting a classic track up the switchback trail all the way up to the upper
road cut which runs out of the lower parking lot at the crest; he also set a classic track on this road. I skied this track on the upper road several times because it was such good classic skiing. There is also a track running up to Kiwanis meadow from the service road-- I didn't ski there. Haven't seen this kind of classic grooming up there for a long time; it was ski heaven (for the Sandias).
Skating was obviously very good on the service as well (Steve Roholt was enjoying that).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sandia Peak Update

Decided to update because today I worked on improving the UNM loop through the woods mostly the meadow section which needed a lot of work; so I shoveled snow over a significant part of that section in an attempt to enable Fredrik (UNM ski coach) to groom that loop on Friday. It is certainly significantly more skiable now. Could have used more work but I was getting wasted. I will update Friday if Fredrik grooms.


Tuesday evening grooming

The skate lane was ground up and re-combed last night. Conditions are pretty challenging up there for groomers right now, and it was felt best to just leave the classic tracks as is. This means they are hard and icy, so be careful up there.

However the skating should be pretty good today. The plan is to regroom on Thursday evening.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sandia Peak Update

Newest update is that as of Friday, Feb. 11, the service road was groomed wide by the alpine area's piston bully for skating, beautiful job.


Nordic Skiing Pajarito - Los Alamos: High Desert Dirt

Nordic Skiing Pajarito - Los Alamos: High Desert Dirt

Great review of our ski trails on this site. Impressed that he saw it as good when we only had an inch of snow over that awful icy crap we were grooming and skiing on for the last weeks of January!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Trails groomed by the estimable Dave Wykoff

Dave Wykoff put in a big day of grooming today. He finished late this afternoon, grooming the entire trail system, with all the shortcuts and cutoffs. Conditions are amazing. Wide corduroy for skating, plus classic tracks. Today was green wax, tomorrow is forecast to be green warming up to blue by afternoon, a refreshing change after the couple weeks of warm, trashy and icy conditions we've all had to put up with.

Important Notice! Only certain portions of the front hill are skiable. I recommend that after you have skiied up to the beginning of the sunfence, that you remove your skiis and walk all the way to point A and above a ways, as well. The reverse applies for descending afterward, don't try to ski down the front hill.

It's worth the walk into the trail system, conditions from Point B (the coat tree) are just great!

Sandia Peak Update

Thought I would post a new update even though Sandia Peak didn't get any significant snow out of the last storm and no new grooming has been done since last Tuesday. The service road has a decent classic track over much of it's length which is fortunate given the amount of wind and foot traffic on parts of it. The loop in the woods Fredrik groomed a couple weeks ago is getting some ski and snowshoe traffic and I encourage more skiers to start using it on a regular basis; it is a nice wide trail (averages about an estimated 10' width). This trail, if done in a counter clockwise direction (which I recommend), start just above the gate at the north end of the service road (first right once you head up into the woods from the gate) and from there is easily followed by following the ski tracks. Hopefully next year we can have some signs posted on the trail. It has stayed cold up at Ellis trailhead so the snow has remained at powder and packed powder. Skating is possible on the service road but far from ideal given the foot traffic over parts of it and the windblown condition of the snow.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Grooming/Trail Report 2/8/2011`

That was a little bit of a strange storm. The predictions seemed to hold so much promise, but I guess we can't complain: it did snow somewhere between about 5" to 12" up in the mountains. Unfortunately, it was more in the 5" to 6" range. But, all things considering, the trails look pretty good and should ski well once we get them all groomed out to the finish product.

It did snow somewhere between 5" and 6", but the problem is that the front hill and just beyond where the ground was bare did not keep the full 6" of snow and so the rocks are still lying just beneath the snow. Otherwise, the rest of the trails looked great with the new snow on top.
Tonight, I went up and ran the "blades" to smooth and even things out after all those weeks with no snow and intermittent spring temps mixed in with the short bursts of arctic cold. What a weird year. Anyway, the trails needed to be leveled out quite a bit, as they were getting very bumpy and uneven. Everything got several passes, but I didn't get the final grooming completed with the groomer and track setter. That may get accomplished either tomorrow and/or Thursday.

For now, the trails are a little soft but bladed, so they'll ski well with either skate or classical skis (just no track). I still suggest walking up from the half-way point on the front hill to about 250 meters or so past point A. Even that hill below point A to the lower road is too thin to ski now. The cutoff from B to R got a pass, so it's possible to loop from the lower road to the upper trail there. Other cutoffs were packed as well.

The meadows had drifted a bit with the wind, and it began to blow again while I was up there, so there may be some drifts here and there again tomorrow, but probably won't be too bad.

Some pictures for your viewing pleasure:

just gettin' started at the base on Camp May Road

at the top of the meadow at the turn-around looking down Canada Bonita

The mighty "Viking" pulling the "blades" to smooth things out

New snow at one of our reflector wands

Maybe someday soon we'll be able to groom into that little piece of the Valles Caldera adjacent to our trails

The blades really help to level things out after all that time with no new snow

"Groomer cam" view

This has nothing to do with grooming, but just makes a nice picture

Leaving the upper part of the meadow and heading into the trees at point L

A blurry picture, but you can see the "smoothing" effect of the bladed groomer

...and my personal favorite. Frosty night grooming offers a different landscape than what we experience while skiing during the day.