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Friday, January 23, 2015

Oh Woe, No Snow; Say it isn't so...

Well folks
Things are looking grim up there at Chicken Creek.  At least in the snow department.  The trees and squirrels seem to be holding up alright.  But alas, it is snow we need, and soon, if we are to salvage the rest of the season.  The weather forecast promises nothing helpful.  Temperatures look to be climbing over the next few days.

You never really know.  Things could turn around.  But for now, unless there is another blog posting I'm afraid you can assume the worst:  the chicken is thawed.

Large patches of ground are showing through, even on the higher loops.  If you don't mind skiing around those patches, or putting your skis on and off several times during the ski, then you'll be just fine.  Except of course for the fact that the downhill sections are little more than luge run death traps. 

The Bauer loop got groomed yesterday, to some effect.  But really people, if you feel compelled to ski up there, please exercise extreme caution.  Conditions can only be described as poor to fair.  At least by an honest person.  Ski resorts might say something like "Spring-Like Conditions."  Yeah, right.  Just be careful and perhaps resign yourself to walking.

Thanks for the support this year and with any luck, we'll be back at it soon.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Frayed Feathers and Scratched Skis

The Chicken is taking a thrashing with the sun and warm temperatures over the past couple days.  The new snow we received on Tuesday simply was not enough to keep the chicken out of hot water.  And so my friends, I regret to announce there will be no additional grooming in advance of the weekend.  The track is getting somewhat chewed up, especially by the folk who walk down the middle of the groomed track in their boots.  In a perfect world, these people would walk way off to the side. Hint, hint.

And so, the Bauer Loop is in Fair to Good condition as of this writing.  By Sunday afternoon, it may well be on life support.  Upper loops are doing OK - good snow depth and coverage but still rather soft - but we cannot even get the grooming equipment up to them to polish them up because of the very thin snow down below.

I'm not ready to write this Chicken's eulogy just yet.  Skiing over the weekend should be alright, but if you use kick wax, you'll probably need to break out the Klister.  We may need to start planning this bird's funeral by Monday, though.  Even if the season is over (please, may it not be over) we did better than last winter.  Progress.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Some Classic Track set Today!

Hey Skiers:
John got out there this morning (Wednesday) as promised and groomed the upper terrain we packed on Tuesday evening.

So.  Bauer is groomed, Rush connector is groomed with a classic track set.  That track actually extends all the way up the road to the top of the Hamlin Loop. Rush Creek and the road up to the top are also groomed (no classic track).

We know it would be popular to have classic track on the Bauer Loop, but snow depth is currently inadequate to accommodate.

Have at it, skiers!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Soggy Chicken for Breakfast

The ski area got a load of heavy, wet snow overnight Monday and the skiing is notably improved in that the rocks and mud are now buried.  This seems like a good thing.  To me.

Peter and Philip Ayers got a jump on the grooming starting this afternoon (Tuesday).  Bauer Loop is groomed and ought to be in nice shape come Wednesday morning.  Rush and the Road to the top got machine packed but are not yet groomed.  Groomer John says he's planning on being up there about 8:30 AM Wednesday, so there could be some righteous skating on portions of the upper terrain by mid-to-late morning.  The upper reaches of the area received closer to 10 inches out of the storm, as opposed to about 6 at the parking lot.

When I say Bauer is groomed, I should clarify.  The "Mad Max" section through the smoldering slash heaps is not groomed and will not be groomed until we get a bunch more snow.  The fire melted the snow completely off the track.  The overall effect is kind of "sci-fi." You can ski around the melt-out, if you are interested.

Sad to say, the weather forecast is not promising, ergo, neither is the poultry prognostication.  We should squeak a few more days out of this with the new snow, but we're in for more warm, sunny stuff.  If you detect an undertone of whine, you are mighty perceptive.  This teasing is tiring.  Get it while it's (sort of) good.  No snow in the forecast.  No time to waste...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Fried Chicken and Mashed Potatoes

Anyone who has been up to the area lately knows the Chicken is looking pretty toasty these days.  Plenty of rocks, roots, pine-cones and gravely mud showing through and adding to the excitement up there.  And just when things are at their bleakest, along comes a storm.  At least that's what the forecast calls for.  And there may be significant accumulations Monday and into Tuesday.  With warm temperatures called for, the snow may more closely resemble mashed potatoes than the nice light powder we got last time.  Still, we'll take what we can get.

We will watch the action closely from a grooming stand point.  But fair warning: the most likely scenario involves waiting for the snow to finish falling before any grooming happens.  We simply don't have the base layer of snow to allow us to get out there early in the storm.  Stay tuned to the blog and I will do my best to keep it fresh during the snowfall.

We need to thank the donors.  Those of you who heeded the call for donations at the box, our hats are off to you.  Donations surged ahead after the blog plea and the trail-head posting which detailed our scanty take at the box office.  We still don't know what the repairs are going to cost on the yellow machine, so please continue with your generosity of spirit (and wallet).

Until the snow flies, signing off...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Still Better Than it Could Be / Snowbike Position Elucidated

Yes, the bones are beginning to show through already.  But, the skiing at Chicken Creek is still really pretty darn tasty.  The days have stayed reasonably cool, with nights in the single digits.  With predicted highs in the upper thirties to mid forties over the next several days  the Chicken could get a bit stale.

There was an outpouring of generosity at the donation box today, and we saw lots of new faces up there, as well as plenty of the familiar.  Thanks for your donations and please keep them coming.  In case you forgot to pick up an envelope at the trail head, the address to send checks to is:

Chicken Creek Cross Country
PO Box 111
Mancos, CO 81328

We had a machine go down again on Friday evening.  We don't know what the cost of repairs may be, but it's never cheap.

Please remember that dogs are not allowed on any terrain above the gate on the Rush Connector.  Signage is minimal at present but we'll get them re-posted.
Also, please do not walk down the middle of the groomed track in boots.  The very edge of the track, either side, is kinder to the track.

As to the issue of Snowbikes on the track our official position is as follows:  We actively encourage people to ride snowbikes on other groomed terrain, such as the Transfer Campground road.  If the track is very firm and no damage is done no one will complain too loudly.  However, soft trails have already suffered some moderate damage this year as a result of bike travel.  Please respect the work of the groomer volunteers and the skiers who have been supporting this area for decades.  Don't mess with the Chicken and no one has a hissy-fit.  Yes, it looks like fun.  No, it is not strictly prohibited.  Yet.  Please exercise due caution and personal responsibility.  And bikers, feel free to make a generous contribution at the donation box as well.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Grooming report & Parking lot full; Donation box empty

Alright, the good news first:  Bauer Loops, Rush connector, and the Rush loop were all groomed by the trio of dauntless groomers Brad, John and Peter.  There is now classic track set all over the joint, so enjoy.

Meanwhile, back at the donation box, very little seems to be happening.  This situation is truly not sustainable.  Gas, repairs, etc.  I know you all are as sick of hearing this as I am of writing it, but fact is we rely on your donation to keep machines going.  No one earns a dime doing the grooming or anything else going on up there.  You regular skiers, please talk up the donation box to the visitors you see using the area.  Last weekend there were lots of folk from the Durango area Saturday and Sunday and I won't even recount the abysmal take at the box.  Works out to about 37 cents per person.  Quite a smokin' deal for all the non-payers, but as I mentioned, something's got to give.

We just put out over $3,100 in machine repairs this year.  We rely on your generosity.  Please.  Thank You.

We got about 4-6 inches of new snow up there and conditions are pretty good for the most part.  It really wasn't the storm we had hoped for and we're really just kind of hanging on, snow-wise.  We tried to open up the Turkey Creek loop tonight, but coverage is simply inadequate.  And no new snow in the forecast.  Things should be fine through the weekend, but after that it's anyone's guess.  Those of you who believe in the power of prayer, please get to it.  We need all the help we can get.

Enjoy it while it's good...