With early snowfall and consistently cold temps the Birkie Trail is groomed tip to tail to near mid-winter condition. With over 75km groomed on the skate and classic trails from the North End Cabin to Birkie Ridge and to Hatchery Park the skate deck and classic tracks are firm. For the latest trail reports and grooming conditions go to http://www.birkie.com/trail
What exactly does it take for this trail system to be in tip top shape for the weekend crowds?
It starts with a dedicated grooming crew. Chris Campbell, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation’s grooming manager, begins a typical winter work day after dark as the temperature drops.
A round trip in the PistenBully south from Double O, where the equipment is stored, to the Fish Hatchery takes seven hours on average. North to the start line at Telemark and back requires around ten hours at the PistenBully’s 8-10 kilometers per hour. Campbell took over the lead grooming position last year and has been grooming the Birkie Trail for the past eight years.
Campbell, charged with grooming and maintaining the ABSF’s 107 kilometers, oversees a staff of three part-time groomers and a fleet of three PistenBully snow cats, four Ski-Doo snowmobiles and a Polaris Ranger side-by-side. The PistenBully, which does an exceptional job leveling the snow deck and makes skate skiers smile, doesn’t come out until Campbell’s sure there will be at least a four-inch base intact after grooming.
Besides Campbell, Gary Wright, Derec Strapon and John Fitzgerald work as part-time groomers. In a week of normal snowfall, Campbell estimates the grooming crew puts in roughly 100 hours of work. Much of this time is spent getting the trail ready for the weekends when the trail sees much more pressure. Last season, the groomers put in 780 hours of work, and the ABSF spent $111,342 on grooming.
According to Campbell, he doesn’t groom to make the trail look better. “We don’t groom for aesthetics,” he said. “We groom when (the trail) doesn’t ski well.”
To keep the conditions top notch stop at one of our local retailers to buy your daily or annual SkiPass before hitting the trail. 100% of ski pass revenue goes toward grooming and trail maintenance. See detailed information at http://www.birkie.com/trail/pass or stop in at New Moon Ski and Bike in Hayward, Riverbrook Bike and Ski in Hayward, and Redbery Books in Cable.
In addition every trailhead now has brand new maps posted with color coded trails, kilometer markers, and common landmarks. The overall map you’re familiar with has been broken down into sections to show more detail. Keep your eyes peeled for the soon-to-be printed brochure with the new maps and history of the trail.