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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Not Chicken Scratch/ Happy New Year!!


Snow is falling in earnest as I write this entry.  Today at about 11am there was a good 5+ inches at the top of the ski area and still snowing hard.  The forecast is calling for plenty more.  This is, of course, very good news and not a moment too soon.

We are attempting to muster manpower right now to try to keep up with the freshies.  I will update the blog when I know more, but currently the plan is to try to pack down the new snow first thing tomorrow (Sunday) morning.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Cocktail attire for chickens

Tail feathers nicely combed out.  No bow tie, though.

Peter B and Peter R got after it today, grooming the Bauer Loops, as well as Rush Creek Loop and the Chicken Creek Road up to the turnaround.  So new terrain was added just in time for the weekend. Yes!

Make no mistake, the snow is getting thin down low in all the usual trouble spots.  But we broke up the crust on top and laid down some nice corduroy in time for the weekend.  Things ought to firm up overnight and the (Saturday) morning skiing should be terrific.

If this storm predicted for the weekend and beyond comes through with snow, then we'll be in pretty good shape moving forward.  Stay tuned to the blog, and please remember to check it regularly, as the email take about 24 hours to go out.  With any luck we'll be able to get the Hamlin Loop open soon and start laying down some classic tracks.

Don't forget the donation box at the trailhead.  We've already spent about one thousand dollars this season and the "take" so far doesn't even come close to that; less than $200.00 so far.

The 2 Peters put in about 7 hours total today.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Winter Wonderland... At last

Finally, the rain and the wind stopped long enough for us to receive the most welcome of Christmas Presents: light fluffy snow.  Oh Yeah!
See what I mean?

Philip A and Peter B got after it and groomed the Bauer Loops as well as the Rush Loop.  By tomorrow (Tuesday) it ought to be very good skating on all those trails and the kicking and gliding ought to be quite tasty as well.  Warm temps predicted through the week may wreak havoc after a couple days, but for now we may as well enjoy it.  Right now there is not enough snow to set classic track on the lower loops.  If we can muster sufficient manpower we will set track on Rush, but with the holiday it has been difficult to rally groomers.  I will keep you posted as things progress.

It's hard to explain how disheartening it is to spend several hours working to make the track nice and then watch as people walk right down the middle of it, essentially trashing it for skaters.  So please people, find somewhere else to walk.  It's a big forest.  Snow shoe hikers are politely asked to stay off the track as well, or at least go single file on the extreme margin of the groomed track.  Also a reminder that dogs are not allowed past the gate at the top of the Bauer Loops.

Volunteer hours for today total 10.5 for grooming, schlepping gasoline, and posting signs asking people to read the signs already there.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sorry Prince...

But this is what it sounds like when Chickens cry:
sssssshhhhhhhhhh etc, etc, etc

Peter R. and Peter B. groomed at the area today.  That is the good news.  The snow was very thin and slushy.  Water skis would be almost as appropriate as snow skis.  But; having said that, here comes the nuance.

The Bauer Loops got the full treatment and are almost good.  Spotty in places, with some rocks and whatever you might expect for very thin, very wet snow.  The Rush Loop has about a foot of soggy mashed potatoes at the top, and we did get a quick groom done on that loop.  Keep your expectations very low and you won't be too disappointed.

Now that grooming has commenced, please refrain from walking on the track.  Feel free to shame anyone you see doing so (in a loving and compassionate way, of course).  Snow-shoers please stay to the extreme margins of the track, or better yet, stay off the track completely and walk to the side of the track.  Your snowshoes are on your feet to keep you from sinking in.  Don't deprive them of their joy.

We need snow, and we need cold temperatures.  It's that simple.  Volunteer hours today total 8.75.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

On the other hand...

It looks like more snow may be headed our way after all.  We will do our best to stay on top of a system headed our way which could bring moisture this weekend.  It is a wrm system and could be very wet.  As in "rainy" wet.  As disturbing as that sounds to me, we'll keep our fingers crossed and see if we can't get some snow on the ground.

Also, I failed in the first blog entry to continue a practice begun last year of communicating and documenting the volunteer hours spent in benefit of Chicken Creek Nordic.

So far this season John G, Phil A, Peter R, Peter B and Joan B have accumulated a total of 17.75 hours volunteer labor moving machines, trailers, equipment and purchasing supplies (gasoline, oil, tarps, bungees, hearing protection, etc) and doing the book work of paying bills and maintaining our not-for-profit status with the state, etc.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The big Chicken laid an egg blog

So sad to report that this last storm did not deliver enough snow to make grooming a possibility.  The lower loops only received 4 or 5 inches and the upper loops barely got more than that. There is adequate coverage for diagonal stride skiing for now, and actually conditions up there today were almost good.  Things are still rutty, choppy and rocky in places so please use extreme caution while skiing up there.

We are all set to go as far as having the machines tuned up and running.  We just need more snow.  As of this moment there is no precipitation in the 10-day forecast, and day-time high temperatures will be exceeding the freezing point.  So grooming at this point makes no sense and would probably only speed up the loss of the precious white stuff.  If the opinion around that changes, the blog will let you know. Stay tuned. Please tell your friends about the blog.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Lost ski poles??

If you lost some ski poles at the area recently, send an email to:

If your description matches the poles, then you're in luck!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Is That Chicken Done Yet?

Yesterday we removed most of the grooming equipment from our staging area, anticipating a lack of adequate snow to continue with grooming activities.  We're down to the bones in several spots out there, so it seemed prudent to take action now.  We did hedge our bets in that we still have one machine up there capable of rolling any new accumulations.  But it doesn't seem too hopeful at this point.  Don't know what happened to El Nino, any one see him?

Hank, Brad, Allen, Phil and Peter B. all toiled for several hours yesterday to tidy up and get things ready for the summer.  That plus administrative chores adds another 18.5 hours to the volunteer basket.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Fresh Groom Job

Just a quick note to let you all know the Bauer Loops got groomed today - Friday - to freshen things up for the weekend.  We skated today from about 10 am to noon and the skiing was way better than it had any right to be.  It's melting out fast up there and no break from warm day temps in the forecast.  So this weekend may be the last gasp for the broiled chicken.  Still full coverage on the trails, though it's getting thin in the few usual trouble spots.

Thanks David B for the groom job.  5.5 volunteer hours today.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Good News!

Phil went solo and re-groomed the entire area today (Friday) all by his lonesome.  Way to go Phil!  He also set (re-set) the classic track everywhere.  This is good news indeed for those of us who do not enjoy cheating death when we go out to ski.  Conditions should be much improved over what they have been the last several days.  So go chomp on some chicken now, before it's too late!

Phil put in 3.5 hours today.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Chicken Stew, Chunky Style

Expect rapidly changing conditions at the ski area, with frozen solid mornings quickly degrading to mushy, sloppy mid-day skiing.  All the volunteer labor we could muster yesterday went towards reclaiming the snow machine stranded on the upper reaches of the CC Road yesterday.  And quite a bit of effort was involved in digging it out and towing it home (if home is the repair shop, which it may as well be).  A big shout out to Phil, Brad and Chris for their efforts yesterday.

The kind of weather we're currently experiencing now really requires daily grooming, and we simply do not have the manpower available for that.  So expect less-than-stellar conditions at the area for the foreseeable future.  Right now it's looking like the next groom will not take place until the beginning of next week.  There's not a thing I can do about that, sorry to say.  The best I can do is to keep you all informed when something does happen.

A special word of caution to those of you brave enough to ski to the upper stretch of the CC Road; watch out for the large hole left vacant by the rescued machine.  Although efforts were made to fill the hole, it still presents a hazard, most especially on the descents.  Please use extra care up there.

The rescue team put in a total of 12.75 hours bringing the machine down.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Of Chickens, Pigs, Dogs, and Squirrels

Attended the Church of the Chicken early this morning and found it to be delightfully peaceful and contemplative.  I realize a lot of you all will be attending the church of the pigskin this afternoon and I hope it is as soul-feeding for you as the trails were for me.  Generally conditions are still at least Good, and the upper terrain is certainly Very Good.  As things warm up things will get a bit more dicey, with cold nights causing the slushy track to get pretty slick and chunky, so please use caution out there.  We're trying to arrange for an early and mid-week groom to keep things freshened up, and of course that depends on the availability of volunteer manpower.  I'll keep you posted as well as possible.

The Abert's Squirrels (or tassel-eared squirrels) were out in force today, chattering and scampering around and enjoying the warmer weather.  I saw some coyote scats and lots of sign of hares and other unknown (to me, anyway) residents of the Ponderosa forest. 

Several scats of the Canis familiaris were also to be seen scattered about the lower loops.  I know most dog owners are responsible people and do clean up after their critters.  Some dog owners - however - leave me scratching my head in bewilderment at their incomprehensible behavior.  To wit:  placing their perfectly biodegradable dog poo in a plastic bag and leaving it at the trailhead for someone (???) to transport away for them.

Let me just lay it out for you all.  If you have a dog, grab one of the handy spatulas conveniently located near the trailhead.  Carry it with you.  If your dog defecates on the trail, use the spatula to fling the offending fecal matter off the trail.  Nature will deal with it in due (doo?) course.  Finally, return the spatula to the bucket on your way out.  Could it be any simpler??  No-one wants to dispose of your dog's poop for you.  If it's your dog, it's your responsibility.  I hope this clears things up.  Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  I feel better now.

As far as volunteer labor for this entry, the only thing accomplished was the construction of this blog entry; a dubious achievement at best.  We'll call it .5 hours.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Crispy Chicken

Gorgeous conditions prevail at the ski area, and thanks to Phil, they are now more delightful than ever.  Classic track is now set from top to bottom.  Lower loops got a touch-up and now the Hamlin Loop as well as the Chicken Creek Road to the turnaround are groomed.  Given the predicted lows in the single digits for the next two nights the chicken ought to stay crispy, crunchy, and finger-freezin' good.  Tom R also deserves a double helping of praise for his efforts yesterday to machine pack the upper terrain.

Volunteer labor since the last blog entry amounts to 10.75 hours; 8 hours worth of grooming and another 2.75 spent fetching gasoline, bookkeeping, blogging and coordinating the groomers.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Latest storm update

John G and David B got after it today and groomed the Little Bauer Loops as well as the Rush Creek Loop.  There are about 8 or 9 new inches of snow at the base and more up higher.  We're really lucky that storm turned colder as it got older.  And some very cold night-time temps in the offering.  So the skiing ought to be fantastic.  Most likely it will be a couple/few days before we can get Hamlin Loop opened up (groomed) as well as some classic track set.  Please bear with us.  We haven't seen a winter like this - that is, "wintery" - for a bunch of years.  We've got a little groomer fatigue setting in as well as a couple folk on the disabled list.  We should be closer to full strength crew in about a week or so.

Brad groomed early on in the storm cycle, Sunday.  Then John and David went after it today.  Total volunteer hours logged since last blog is 13.5 hours.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Home on the Range

Be on the lookout for some escaped American Bison who are apparently fond of Chicken.  Our groomer John said there are about 8 Bison roaming in or near the ski area.  Anyone want to volunteer to clean up after them?

John did a lot of grooming today, pushing down all the new snow (!) and laying down fresh skate AND classic track all over the place.  Hamlin is the only exception to that, and we are trying to rally troops to get that taken care of soon.

Also, the USFS is burning the big slash piles from the recent logging activity on the northeastern leg of the Lower Little Bauer Loop, so beware of that activity.  Take the new cutoff if you wish to avoid smoke inhalation.

John wins solo groomer of the month honors, so please leave him the prime parking spot in the lot.  He put in about 5 total hours today.  Thank him if you see him...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Updated Map Redux

I just wanted to re-post this map as it is the most up-to-date. Click on image to expand.

Quick Update

Fresh snow falling at the moment, and the forecast is for a bit of accumulation.  Should be just about enough to resurface the area, cover up the pine cones and needles and dog mess.  The area got re-groomed with new classic track set yesterday - Saturday - thanks to John.  Thanks, John.

So conditions ought to be very good, with a bit of fresh stuff on top.  We're working on lining up more grooming activity to follow the snow with, so please stay tuned.  Hank and Phil relocated the Polaris machine to and from the repair shop, and now we're back to 3/4 strength with the machines.  That all takes time, and John spent 3.5 hours grooming Saturday.  Total effort since the last blog entry from volunteers is 5.75 hours.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Friendly Reminder

Chicken-in-the-Sky asked me to relay the following:
  • The track is groomed for skiers.  Period.
  • Walkers are not welcome.  Ditto for bikes.
  • Snowshoe walkers please stay to the extreme edge of the track, or - preferably - completely off the groomed track.
  • Control your dog.  Please.  And fling the dog poo off the track.
  • If you are skiing while grooming is taking place, please move completely off the track to allow the groomer access to whatever part of the trail he is trying to groom.
Alright, the scolding is over.  For now.  Please understand an enormous amount of time and effort goes into grooming the track.  Be respectful of the primary users - the ones who fund and maintain the ski track.  Uses other than skiing degrade the groomed surface quickly.  Thank you for your understanding.

The outer Bauer Loop got groomed this evening, as did all the upper terrain.  Rush Creek and Hamlin Loops are in superb condition, as is the Chicken Creek Road.  We had a mechanical issue which means the Bauer Loops did not see as much grooming action as we planned.  Additional grooming on the lower loops is planned for tomorrow (Tuesday).

John and Peter B put in 6 hours grooming, plus blog writing and donation collection for a grand total for the day of 7 hours.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


A late afternoon skate was everything a person could hope for; Low-angle light sneaking in through the ponderosa, the thrum of some pre-storm wind, red-shafted flickers bobbing on the wing, chattering squirrels scolding my technique, and sweet sweet fresh corduroy laid down by my friends Peter R and Phil.  'Nuf said.

Me thinks everything up there saw the groomer's touch today.  I know Rush got classic track set and I'm thinking Hamlin did as well.  I ran out of daylight so I'm not sure.  If I'm wrong someone tell me and I'll revise this.  Conditions were bordering on obscenely good.  I was fortunate enough to get some first tracks up there and it was truly sublime.

Groomer time today was 9.5 hours, Joan did bookkeeping for 1.75 hours for a total of 11.25 hours today.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Oh Guano!

Some naughty individuals were riding their Fat Bikes on the trails Tuesday night.  For now we'll just assume they were uninformed (though the night-time commando-style nature of their visit would seem to argue otherwise).  As invested readers of this blog and committed xc skiers, I ask you to please gently inform any bikers you may see up there to look elsewhere for their sport.  Boggy Draw now has trails groomed specifically for bikes.  Transfer and Echo Basin both sport many miles of groomed track where bikes are welcome and encouraged.  As the person who last groomed prior to the incursion, I can tell you it was quite disheartening to see the damage to the trail today, both from their tires and their shoes.  I would not want to have to face Chicken-in-the-Sky for this kind of infraction.

Our season is short, the grooming is difficult and expensive; come on - please give it a rest.  Thank you.

Meanwhile, as I mentioned, Bauer Loops got a touch-up on Tuesday afternoon.  With any luck, all the trails will get a tune-up tomorrow as things are getting a bit crusty from the snow blowing down from the pondos.

Today we took a machine for a tune-up and a new starter cord, which involves trailers and time and effort.  additionally at this time I am documenting the volunteer time Joan spent writing grant applications at 9 hours, as well as her time writing receipts for those donating by check - another 2.5 hours.  All that adds up to 16.5 hours of volunteer labor.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Where's Fred?

Imagine the disappointment of the little children and their parents when Fred - the man on the cover of the Durango Telegraph - failed to show over the weekend, leaving dozens of folk in serious sweater withdrawal.  I mean that sweater is the bomb.  I have a lot of sweaters, including some nice ones, and none are in the same league as Fred's.  Seriously.

The actual snow itself however, left no room for disappointment.  So my feeling was people were able to overcome their initial let down and make the best of it after all.  Another full parking lot; cold crisp air; very cold snow (squeaky); amazing blue skies, yada yada.

The grooming report:
  • We now have classic track set on several of the loops - plenty of terrain for the diagonal stride skiers.
  • The Hamlin Loop and the CC Road to the turnaround are now groomed.  They were a bit soft initially after the groom, but ought to firm up nicely with the bitter cold overnight.
  • Only one machine failed to function today (which represents a kind of victory).
Groomers Brad and Peter R braved the cold temps to deliver some gorgeous corduroy.  Thank you, gentlemen.

Sadly, the huge uptick in usage has not corresponded to a commensurate increase in trailhead donations.  Believe me, the Chicken-in-the-Sky will sort all this out one day.  But there's still time to get right with your groomer.  Here's how:  Send a big fat check right away to-

Chicken Creek Nordic
PO Box 111
Mancos, CO 81328

Brad and Peter R put in 8.5 hours today, gas fetching and delivery, blog writing, etc totaled another 1.5 hours for an even 10 hours.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Everyone Loves Chicken. Especially Frozen.

The Chicken Creek parking lot hasn't been this full all year.  Enthusiasm was running high today with plenty of dogs, kids, moms, dads and assorted random never-seen-before people skiing and smiling and generally having a good time.  Some were even wearing shorts.  But hey, it was at least 20 degrees out.  Way too warm for pants!  My old guy metabolism doesn't allow for that kind of hi-jinx anymore, but I'm not bitter about it.  Really.  Thanks for the picture Kelly and Tom.

Conditions were superb up there today; cold and fast.  Tomorrow ought to bring more of the same.  Unless I'm mistaken, this is shaping up to be the best winter for about 7 years.  We're getting plenty of snow and cold, just like winter.  Go figure.  Thank you, Chicken-in-the-Sky!  Enough of that.  Here's what happened grooming-wise at the area today:
  • All of the Bauer Loops got groomed before and after the big rush, so tomorrow ought to be simply outstanding.  Again.
  • Rush Connector and the entire Rush Creek Loop was also groomed and ought to firm up nicely with tonight's cold weather.
  • Hamlin Loop and the CC Road to the turnaround both got trackpacked in preparation for grooming soon.
  • Ray from Valley Repair in Mancos came up on his day off and got the Yamaha machine running, and he generously donated his time for the effort.  Thank you Ray.
So today's groomfest happened thanks to the efforts of Phil A. and Peter B. who toiled for 9.5 hours, inhaling nasty fumes and inflicting permanent  hearing loss on their poor little ears.  Well, mine aren't particularly petite.  And they're getting hairy too.  Gross.  So counting time to pick up and deliver gasoline, service the machines, write the blog, coordinate groomage and assorted bookkeeping responsibilities (thanks Joan)  today's volunteer tally is 11.75 hours.

Friday, January 8, 2016

We're Famous

Did you see the front page of yesterday's Telegraph?  Fred flying by in that awesome snowflake sweater, simply superb.  And there's a 2 page photo spread inside.  Mancos makes the Map!
Click here to see...

Anyway, a whole lot of work got done up there today in an effort to sweeten things up for the weekend warriors in the crowd.  We're back down to 2 working machines (don't ask) but we can get plenty done with them.  Today:
  • All of the Little Bauer Loops got packed and rolled
  • Rush Connector got packed with some roller action
  • Rush Creek Loop got packed and a single pass with the roller
Tomorrow: who knows?  We'll see what happens.  We're learning not to count our chickens before they hatch.  In a perfect poultry planet world we'd get Rush, Hamlin, and the CC Road to the turnaround rolled in.

Brad paid us a visit in a snow-cat today(!), pulling me out of the ditch and bringing one of the non-functional machines down from the top of the area, where it stalled out yesterday for reasons unknown.  Allen, Peter R, Joan and Peter B all rescued a buried Bearcat, then did a bunch of snow packing and rolling.  Total volunteer labor on the day 24.75 hours.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Not Just Chicken Scratch

Ten inches of new snow on the upper reaches of the area.  Tom and Chris from the USFS were instrumental in getting things tracked out today.  If you see those guys, please say thanks.  Please.  And Thanks.

Bauer Loops got rolled this afternoon and ought to set up nicely overnight.  We were grooming Rush Creek when one machine got stuck and the other conked out.  We'll be trying to get things rolling again in the morning.

I put up a modified version of our map yesterday.  It's the blog entry cryptically titled "Updated Map."  Not sayin' it's perfect, and I'm open to suggestion.  I think it's better than what we had up though.  Let me know through comments.

Time spent grooming and picking up/dropping off machines, and sundry work totals 13.5 hours.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Updated Map

More snow; more snowmobiles, more grooming, More Skiing!

For those of you who approve of grooming, I have good news.  The Bauer Loops and the Rush Creek Loop both got groomed today.  Even better, we got our most powerful grooming machine back from repairs today.  Tomorrow it may sound like a swarm of giant mosquitoes up there with as many as 5 or 6 machines making noise and packing down snow.  No, we do not own that many machines.  We are getting help from the Forest Service to re-open the Hamlin Loop, plus we'll have as many as three of our own machines out there.

This storm system is a bit on the warm and wet side, but as it leaves the cold moves in.  So we may get to hold on to all this fresh snow for a while.  Call me Pollyanna, but me thinks this is all good.

I know, I know.  We need an up-to-date map for people new to the area.  We're working on that now.  The trail maps are a bit outdated (not quite Anasazi-era, but still lacking in freshness.  Oh, and accuracy) and seem to be causing some confusion.  Sorry about that.

John and Phil groomed today, Peter and Phil shuttled snowmobiles around on trailers, and Peter wrote emails, made phone calls, took care of assorted business, etc.  Total volunteer labor donation for the day comes in at 12.75 hours.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Soggy Feathers

Your somewhat soggy blogger got rained on on both the Rush Creek trail and the Chicken Creek Road up by the turnaround.  The forecast is for this to turn to snow, which is fortunate for our purposes.  If all goes well, grooming efforts will commence tomorrow, intensify on Thursday, and taper off with the storm's departure Fri/Sat.

Although nothing got groomed today, two important events unfolded critical to our grooming efforts:
  1. Our roller repair was completed.  The poor thing was pretty battered and required 3 separate repairs, all of which are now finished.  Thank you Tom and Bryce from the Forest Service for your help.  Big kudos also to Hank and our good friend Michael Nusser for their big help in getting the bearing replaced.
  2. Our most powerful machine will come out of the repair shop tomorrow morning (Wednesday) and not a moment too soon.  Thanks again to Dustin and Ray at Valley Repair in Mancos for their knowledgeable and timely service on that machine.
Peter, Hank and Michael toiled on the roller for 3.25 hours today.  Then there was phone and computer work at 1.75 hours to bring today's total to 11 hours.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Elk Love Chicken Too!

There are elk tracks all over the Little Bauer Loops, which is pretty darn cool.  Generally they are quite respectful of the groomed track and simply cross over.  If you see one up there, tell it "thanks" from all us groomers.

Thursday we will be getting help from our good friends at the USFS to re-open the Hamlin Loop, some of out best terrain (in my humble opinion).  Chris, Bryce, and Tom will be out in force machine-packing the deep snow we received from the last storm.  Thank you, gentlemen.

Bauer Loops got a brushing up today, as things were getting pretty crusty with a couple warmish days in the mix.  More snow on the way means we will be out in all the force we can muster over the next several days keeping the snow packed down.

Right now it looks very good that we will get more fresh snow over several days.  We will see you out there, having fun in the snow.

Please send your donations to:
Chicken Creek Cross Country
PO Box 111
Mancos, CO 81328
OR, drop some green paper in the green donation box!

5 hours volunteer time today; grooming, visiting repair shop, electrical repairs to Yamaha, coordinating groomage, writing blog entry, etc.