Thursday, January 3, 2019

2018/19 Holiday Miracle! (and machine issues, of course)

Haven't been keeping up with the trail conditions and grooming blog much this year.  Things have been super busy with life and family, fall trail work, then getting the machines back up and running this year.  Hopefully, the dust will settle and we'll be running more smoothly soon.

We're having some machine issues (surprise) and are slowly hacking through the NEW 50" or so we got on top of the previous two storms, which were also significant.  Our "new" Polaris Ranger is awesome in the snow, but it is not a new machine and has some bugs that needed to be ironed out since it had sat around in a dealership yard for quite a while.  With grooming, all machines show their skeletons in closet very quickly, and so that's what is happening now.  

Thankfully, our "ol' reliable," Kermit (1972 Cushman Trackster with modifications/replacement engine) is still running like a champ, just very slow.  It's limited on power and traction, but it manages if driven with care and expertise.  Our Yamaha Viking snomo is our "beast" machine, but has trouble in deep snow and drifts out in the side-sloping meadows.  It needs to have the meadow packed out a bit before being taken out.  I had taken it out the other day, before this storm, when the main relay/starter solenoid crapped out.  I had to hot-wire it and hold wires with a zip-tie to get it home.  The part should be here soon.

Many hours have been spent fixing stuff, with some auxiliary hours spent packing and grooming.  Hopefully that'll flip this week and we'll have it all groomed.

As of now, we had only managed to get the newly downed trees cut out, with a few track-packing (no groomers/rollers) passes, and a couple with the roller down the lower road and the meadow.  The upper tree trails are not groomed yet - only a single track-packing pass, so sorry for that.  Logan Ott is headed up to finish the rolling today, and maybe we'll groom some tonight.

Wow, what a storm!  I *think* that's the most single storm total I've seen since moving here 21 years ago.  The winter that followed the Cerro Grande fire (2000/01) was a bigger winter, and we had at least as much, if not more snow on the ground, but it didn't happen in one single storm.  It was a continuous stream of storms with very short breaks in between, and also cold temperatures.

Despite frustrating winters of late, there have been some good intervals in there.  Here's a quick run-down of winters going back to 2000/01:
2000/01 - this winter set the standard.  It snowed...A LOT, and it began in October, and continued into May. Plus, it was very cold.  We all got tired of snow that year, and it was just almost impossible to keep up with it.  During that time, we didn't open the "gate" at the beginning of the trailhead, and it just finally topped over it and we were able to drive the snowmobile/groomer, plus ski right over it.  It didn't emerge again until late April!

2001/02 - 02/03 - almost identical (lousy) winters.  We groomed, but the base never was all that good and both years were low-snow and kinda warm.

2003/04 - started off a little slow, but gained a LOT of momentum toward the middle/end of January and continued through May!  February was fantastic, with so much snow.

2004/05 - this was a warm and wet winter, but resulted in a very healthy, wet snow pack that stuck around until late April.  That year, we set the record with our latest day of regular season grooming...April 15.  Good crust skiing all April.  This was a great year.

2005/06 - this was the year we built the SWNSC shop, but it wasn't finished in time.  The winter was horrible, with hardly any snow, until very late.  It was chilly, but extremely dry.  We didn't really groom that year.

2006/07 - 2008/09 - this was a run of moderately OK winters.  None were super great, but there were some nice stretches in all of them.

2009/10 - this was a very good winter, that saw the snowpack build steadily and never suffer a long "thaw" stretch.  It wasn't any single storm that made it great, but rather a steady stream of storms with cold weather that kept the base solid and gave both town and the mountains a very good snowpack.  It was the last good winter for a while...until now.

10/11 - lousy winter.  Started off OK, but got warm and dry early.
11/12 - post Las Conchas winter.  This one started off really well, actually and we built up a base early, with cold weather.  It snowed sporadically after January, but at least we had a season.  The black soot on all of the burnt trees would slough off and get into the snow, causing the sun to melt it quickly down in the burn-affected areas
12/13 - lousy winter.  Not much snow, kinda warm.  Some skiing, but a shorter season.
13/14 - ditto
14/15 - this was an OK winter, with some nice periods.  It wasn't super-great, but was a little better than the others in this string of low-snow winters
15/16 - kinda lousy winter, some skiing, not a great year  
16/17 - This one had periods of good snow, but was pretty warm.  We did get a lot of snow up on the trails, but it was always followed by warm weather.  It rained a lot in town during the winter, so not a lot of snow built up below about 8,000'.
17/18 - the winter that never was.  There's nothing good about that was the worst on record.  We finally got some snow for about 2 weeks in late February, and we ceremonially groomed, but it never was a real winter.

2018/19 - WOOHOO!  Although, we had a rough stretch there in mid-December, but at least we had a little bit of a base.  We'll see how it goes for the rest of the season...

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