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Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Year of the Chicken is Upon us

Yes, the Chicken has landed.  2016 is shaping up to be the best ski season we've had in several years.  We're already way ahead of where we were last year; for the whole season!  Welcome to earth, Chicken-in-the-Sky.

Anyway, the Bauer Loops were groomed today and were seeing very heavy use pretty much all day.  There is classic track set on pretty much all the lower loops. The parking lot didn't start clearing out until close to 4pm.  Way to get after it people!

The Rush Creek Loop - including the CC Road up to the turnaround - also got groomed today.  Thank you Brad and Tom!

As far as conditions go, Bauer is firm and pretty flat.  The heavy use it's getting means it will start to get choppy pretty quick.  We will re-groom as manpower allows.
Rush is still a bit on the soft side, with pole plants sometimes going toward China.  Still, the skating up there is pretty close to nirvana.  There is also classic track set on the CC Road all the way up to the turnaround.  The classic track is very soft in some places.  Soft enough to eat a ski or two here and there so please exercise caution and save yourself the humiliation of a sudden face plant (like the one I did).

Lots of volunteer labor today, with groomers Brad and Tom putting in a total of 9 hours.  Ersatz mechanics Peter, John and Joan racked up a total of 9.75 hours, plus phone and blog writing time for a grand total for the day of 20 hours.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Puoltry Panic? Never.

But pout, absolutely.  Mechanical issues are hurting at the moment.  Our roller is battered and the drive belts keep self-destructing on our newest machine.  So please pardon the delay in getting this fresh powder patted down.

Tomorrow, Thursday, should bring some fresh groomage to the area.  We appreciate your patience as we work through these issues.
UPDATE 7:40PM.  We have two groomers scheduled to start at 9am tomorrow - Thursday - so by mid-day things ought to be really looking good up there.  Just thought you all might like to know.

John put in 3 hours today grooming and machine packing prior to drive-belt self immolation.  Peter spent time running around getting parts and checking on the status of the machine in the repair shop.  About an hour, so log 4 hours volunteer labor today.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Yesterday's skate ski session on the Bauer Loops was a sublime experience.  The snow was amazing, the wax was exactly right, fresh firm corduroy from Brad and Philip (again!), overcast skies, snow loaded trees, squirrels and some elk sign.  The best winter has to offer, so close to home.  So far - to the best of my knowledge - The Bauer Loops are the only groomed terrain in the park.  The Rush Connector, Rush Creek Loop, and CC Road to the turnaround have been machine packed but not groomed as of this writing.  Hamlin hasn't been touched since mid-storm and may present some challenges.  We may wait a couple days to let some air come out of the snow before tackling Hamlin.

We have received some generous donations from individuals and local business, and we are truly grateful for the generosity.  In fact, we will consume far more to pay repair bills on the machine in the repair shop than we have received in donations this year.  So, just sayin' - your generosity at the donation box helps a lot.

Not a single name suggestion for Chicken-in-the-Sky.  I thought about upping the ante.  I toyed with a $500.00 reward for the winner.  But, fact is, I've thought about it long and hard and - like it or not - it has to stay Chicken-in-the-Sky.  So thanks for your non-participation.  Seriously.  Anyway, moving right along...

Yesterday, Brad (with a bit of the flu, no less), and Philip toiled mightily to keep conditions superb.  Their labor to groom as well as other time spent buying and delivering gas, collecting donations, bookkeeping etc. added up to 9.5 hours.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Saturday Night Update

Today was a spectacular day in the poultry park.  The trees were loaded with snow, the trails were well occupied with happy skiers, the sky was crammed with that blue I've only ever seen here, and I could go on.  Did I mention cold?  I distinctly recall asking for snow and cold at the very onset of this year's blog.  You're welcome.  And thank you, Chicken-in-the-Sky.

Hey, let's have a contest.  If you can come up with a family-friendly name for the "Chicken-in-the-Sky", who seems to have wormed his or her way into this blog, take a guilt free trip around the ski area without stopping at the donation box.  But wait until you have been officially notified of your win, otherwise, PANG!  Leave your suggestion on the blog as a "comment".

Brad and Phil (heroic)and a pitiful contribution from Peter got the Bauer Loops rolled and groomed in time for a huge audience, with lots of smiles.  Joan shoveled snow like she was on fire, and of course, we picked up more gas for thirsty machines.  Total volunteer contribution for the day 11.25 hours.  Further groomage depends on volunteer availability.  We just added 2 more groomers to the pool - which was pretty shallow (though robust).  Welcome to Peter R. and David.  I will keep you all as up-to-date as sloth and ineptitude allows.  See you on the trails!!!

Chix-Mass Snow Storm

Chicken Central reporting in:

The Great Chicken-in-the-Sky saw fit to dump a lot of snow on our area, in case you haven't looked out a window recently.  Here's what we're doing about it-
  • Thursday, Christmas Eve, Brad and Phil groomed for hours in an attempt to keep up with the snow
  • Christmas Day, no one did a damn thing.  It was Christmas.
  • Today, the day after, efforts have begun anew to pack and roll the snow we have received.  Much effort will go toward getting the Bauer Loops packed, rolled and groomed.
  • Once the Bauer Loops are in ski-able condition we will turn our attention to the North end of the area.  Rush Creek Loop was rolled on Thursday and is the most likely candidate for "next-in-line" status.
  • After that, we'll open up the Chicken Creek Road up to the turnaround and then Hamlin Loop.  Most likely Hamlin is at least a couple days away, since it only received a little attention during the storm.
This is the weather we've been dreaming of for 6 years!  Hope to see you all up there with big frozen grins.  Brad and Phil added 11 hours of volunteer labor, and more on the way...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Choking on Snow!

Whiteout conditions at times today as the wind blew snow from the Pondos.  I guess the idea of moderation hasn't occurred to the Chicken in the Sky.  Anyway, the bird is fat and soft.

Donations may be sent by mail to:
Chicken Creek Cross Country
PO Box 111
Mancos, CO 81328

Conditions:  Tough to nail down, honestly.  There was a groomer out all afternoon today, and the Bauer Loops got rolled multiple times.  The snow was falling so fast it was impossible to keep up.  As of this moment, nothing beyond the Bauer Loops has been rolled.  Some machine packing took place higher up, so kick and gliders will like that.

If conditions permit, tomorrow more grooming will take place.  We'd love to get at least one upper loop groomed for the holiday, and if it's only one, it will be the Rush Creek Loop.  If we get a break in the snow dumping, possibly more.

Since the last blog entry, our intrepid groomer John put in several hours yesterday keeping the snow manageable.  John also got to change out a drive belt out on the trail; always a severe pleasure.  Thank you, john for being such a trooper.

I'd like to add a special THANK YOU to Dustin and Ray from Valley Repair in Mancos for making a "Coop Call" and checking on our main grooming rig, the one that ate a belt yesterday.  These guys have been fantastic in helping us keep our fleet going.  Give them a big Chicken Hug next time you see them, or at least a big smile and "thanks".

John put in about 5.5 hours of volunteer time yesterday, and not to be outdone, Peter put in 7 hours today, including about 4.5 hours of machine time.  So a total of 12.5 hours for the past 2 days.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Here it comes!

If the weather service is right (have they ever been wrong?) then we are going to get more snow through Wednesday, and possibly more after that.  The white Christmas of your chicken dreams is about to come true.  Possibly in spades, which are of course, anything but white - but that's another story for another blog.

Anyway.  We suffered our first casualty of the season, with one of our machines dead near the very top of the ski area.  That's the bad news.

The good is that currently everything has been rolled at least one time now.  With any luck, that means we'll be able to keep packing through this storm cycle.  With a bit more luck we'll be able to open the Hamlin Loop and the Chicken Creek Road up to the turnaround in time for folk to test out their new Christmas skis on THE BIG DAY.  Right now both Bauer Loops and Rush Creek Loop are open.

I'll do my best to keep the blog updated through the storm cycle.  Because we are mean and lean (read: understaffed and just scraping by financially) please don't expect fresh corduroy every trip to the area.  We'll do our best with the resources we have.  Of course your generosity at the donation box helps a ton and is always appreciated.

Anyone interested in volunteer opportunities may call Peter at nine seven zero 533-1605.  Don't "reply" if you received this as an email.  I have no idea where those go.  Sitting in a computer in Oregon choking up a bunch of storage, probably.  One day I'll get it together and figure out how this computer thingy works.  For now, just call.  Thanks.

Tom and Peter groomed today for another 6.5 hours of volunteer labor for y'alls benefit.  Bauer is looking really good and when the dust settles we'll get a classic track installed.  Add to the labor gift another 8 hours of time moving the machines from summer storage to the repair shop and then to the ski area.  Thank you Brad, John Joan, Peter and Hank.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Happy Hen; Cheerful Chicken

A tasty snow feast awaits skiers!  One again, volunteer groomers (massively aided by "the big guns" from the AGENCY TO REMAIN NAMELESS) toiled long and hard to bring the recent snowfall into choice gliding.  As of today, the area is officially open for business; complete with donation box.  (Did I mention the donation box?)

Upper and Lower Little Bauer Loops are well groomed and firm.  As mentioned in a previous entry, the rutted road surface under the snow precludes an even surface in several sections.  Nonetheless, with only one significant snow event to groom, we are in surprisingly good shape.  Bauer Loops can honestly be classified as "Good to Very Good."

Rush Creek Loop was also rolled and groomed today and the west leg is also "Good to Very Good" and beyond.  I saw some big smiles up there today.  The Chicken Creek Road, which makes up the Eastern leg of the Rush loop has some thin sections.  Significant warmth and/or sunshine will rot it quickly, especially the lower, steep south-facing stretch.  Be advised.  Up and back on the west leg may be the best choice for now.  The road section up there is also compromised by deep vehicle ruts underlying the snow.  Hey, not complaining, just reporting.

John, Philip, and Peter (sounds so biblical) were at it for about 4.5 hours, so log another 13.5 volunteer hours towards your fun in the sun.  We burned about $60 in gas today.  (I'm not even going to jinx the machines by praising their - oh never mind).

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Snow Job Follow-up

Thanks to the efforts of Allen, John and Peter we finally got some grooming done.  Thanks guys, for 9 hours of volunteer labor (combined).

Due to their efforts, the Bauer Loops are packed and groomed.  This is no Kentucky Colonel snow, though.  Light and fluffy and no grease at all.  SO.  While you won't have to slog through a foot of snow to ski, conditions are far from firm.  Skating will be a challenge, for now.  We are hatching a plan to re-groom on Thursday.  After that, things should improve.  The condition of the road underneath the snow - badly rutted - means skiers ought not expect a glass-smooth surface.  Another couple storms should help facilitate better conditions.  (Did you hear that, great Chicken-in-the-Sky?)

Meanwhile:  We groom for skiers.  Please do not walk on the groomed surface unless you are wearing snowshoes.  Feel free to share that message with anyone who may not be aware (in a kind, gentle, loving and compassionate kind of way, of course).

The snow up high on the Rush Creek Trail resisted our grooming efforts, as it's just too dang deep - close to 3 feet deep in wind loaded areas.  We have asked for - and received a commitment for - help getting that snow pushed down.  That is scheduled for Thursday.  If you hear a bunch of grunting and groaning coming from the higher reaches of the area on Thursday, that's just us trying to get our equipment unstuck.

I'll follow up with more chicken MacNuggets when I can...

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Snow job in the Poultry Park

We asked for cold and snow.  We got both.

We'll have three groomers up at the area today trying to take advantage of the fresh snow.  The snow is light and fluffy - perfect for downhill skiing and not so perfect for trying to establish a base for Nordic skiing.  Shed no chicken tears, though.  We'll take it.

Whether or not we have sufficient snow to fill the ruts on the Bauer Loop remains to be seen.  I will follow up with a post-groom report as soon as possible.  I understand there is pent-up demand.  We'll do our best.  Another storm to follow this one would go a long way.  Nothing on the radar at the moment.  Things change.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Snow glad to see ya!

Finally, a little skiff to whet our whistles.  Not enough to do much with yet, sorry to report.  But we will be moving the grooming equipment up there today in anticipation of more snow on Monday, followed by cold temperatures.

Cross your wishbones and wax your skis.  It's about time. (?)