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.