(A page for those who think Bloomington offerstoo few chances to ski.
or those who just want to remember these wonderfuldays.)
John at Indiana University Golf Course -Photo by MamrouIto.
|The winter of 1998-99 Bloomington had no cross country ski-able daysuntil December 31, 1998 |
Thursday December 31, 1998
The fall of 1998 was very warm and dry. We wore shorts and short sleevesthrough most of November. The final week of the year temperatures droppedto daytime highs in the lower twenties or upper teens. Snow fell the nightof December 30th. The morning of the 31st, we were treated to five degreesand three powdery inches of snow. Cross-Country skiing seems to be gettingmore popular in Bloomington, because by 11 A.M. when we arrived at theIU golf course, tracks would suggest that 50 skiers had beat us to ourquest to be first out. Those skiers probably found conditions ideal, becausedespite clear direct sun on the snow, by 11:30 we will still gliding withease with our scratched old waxless in-track skis that had seen no siliconesince last season. Air temperature reached only 15 degrees for the day.We did find some snow sticking on our skis if we stood too long on slopesmost directly facing the sun. Friday and Saturday are predicted to bringus snow that will stay for the week to come. A wonderful end to an offyear. We predict good snow and good skiing for 1999.
Friday January 1, 1999
By early afternoon, after a long sleep from a New Year Night's folly,we looked out our window to enjoy snow undiminished in splendor and depth,knowing that others in our skiing community have enjoyed hours of golfcourses skiing, laying down the tracks that we will all enjoy for the weekto come. No sun on this day promised, we are going to get more snow! Ourthermometer read 15 F. By 5 P.M. Heavy snow began adding inches of snowbase. Visits with friends rendered our feet glideless, but returning homeat 10 PM past the IU Golf Course showed that no one was enjoying the wonderfulnighttime skiing available. Despite overcast and still snowing conditions,a nearly full moon surely made this a wonderful night ski experience forsome Bloomington XC-ski hounds.
Saturday January 2, 1999
"A snow emergancy", "One of the major snowstorms of thedecade for Indiana", is the word from Indianapolis Television. Beingon the Southern edge of a major storm in the freezing rain/ ice, reporterswere dispatched to Bloomington. Unfortunately by 4:30 A.M. unusual temperatureconditions over 1000 feet up was causing the snow to turn to rain and hitthe snow on the ground as ice. Rain skiing would have been possible andquite enjoyable for one in breathable rain-gear. By mid-afternoon temperaturebegan dropping again and the night skier would have been able to ski ontop of seven inches of snow covered in a thick coat of ice from the skyand melting snow. A small amount of snow Saturday night would lead to perfectskate-ski conditions. This skier enjoys the freedom that skiing in anydirection freed from tracks that comes from melted then re frozen snow.
Sunday January 3, 1999
Seven inches of snow covered in ice, but the hoped for top layer ofsnow had not developed by morning. Dark skies and a light snowfall stillmade this still a possibility by 8 A.M. The overcast skies and cold temperatureskept the ice hard. Snow flurries all day made the hope of a skiable surfaceseem likely, but strong winds and very smooth ice left a surface impossibleto ski without steel edges. This skier has used in track skis with a 18"steel under each foot and wishes that he had them now. So much snow, butwe need a rain changing to snow, followed by a cold spell.
Monday January 4, Tuesday January 5, 1999
This skier had company from out of town and could not ski to figureout the conditions which had not changed much since Sunday. We must countthese three days as non-ski days dispite winter conditions that closedschools everywhere near. Weird.
Wednesday January 6, 1999
Exactly the conditions this skier hoped for; a short period of warmthwith rain, quickly changing to snow, allowed the snow to stick to the formerlyvery slick ice. Cold Canada air followed with 1 1/2 inches of snow, resultingin a very nice gliding snow, easy to set new tracks and conducive to skateskiing. The only drawback was a hard ice under the thin layer of snow thatrequired a forceful setting of ones poles. Wednesday night brought 1 1/2more inches of new snow.
Thursday January 7, 1999
Great Skiing opportunities all day, but what a change. About two inchesof new fluffy snow in the morning, but by 11:30 PM a freezing rain despitean air temperature of 23º F. The wet snow looks like warm snow thatsticks to ones skis when air temperature is melting snow, but skiing infreezing rain has been some of this skiers favorite outings. The glidewas excellent and the prior days problem of setting ones pole was correctedby a gentle softening of the buried ice layer. This skier has enjoyed thepast two days with laps around the Karst Farm park on the West side ofBloomington. Establishing tracks for the days and hopefully weeks to followhas been my goal. Walkers had used yesterdays tracks. While skiing I waswondering if the Bloomington parks would install signs asking hikers toavoid cross country tracks and whether such signs would help or hurt thisproblem. We have enough snow now, one can ski any where one has found skiablein the past. More snow was predicted for this evening.
Friday January 8, 1999
A little more snow and lots more fun.
Saturday January 9, 1999
No more snow, but the conditions remain great everywhere. A little crustyon the top, but good skiing in track or creating new tracks. Skate skiingis possible, but the crunchy top layer makes the skis a little too directional.
Sunday January 10, 1999
The top layer of ice softened even more, making the skiing better yet.The snow is excellent for skiing every where in the area. Anyone not skiingnow, is not trying.
Monday January 11, 1999
More good skiing today, but the temperature is starting up. Those whohate snow are hoping for a meltdown. This skier worked in a lap aroundBryan park at 5:30 PM. Neighborhood skiers have set tracks and I addedsome new routes. The location is a little small with too many feet tracksfor my liking, but good glide and nice rolling hills. The snow was softenough that no ice problems remain. The three layers of ice and snow, madethe snow covered paved but unplowed parking lot on the South end of thepark as skiable as the rest of the grounds. Air termperature was warmerthan past days and a X-C skier on foot commented, "Oh, it is stillski-able?"...Yes very.
Tuesday January 12, 1999
Morning temperature of 40º, but the snow remained very ski-able.The loft of untouched snow dimished faster over the nights warm up, leavingthe prior days ski tracks taller than the surrounding snow. At times Iused the space between the tracks to serve as a track to guide my skis.Sking out of track was as easy as in track. Weather predictions are fora drop in temperature and more snow on Wednesday, but the forcasters predictionsays we will not have snow by the end of the week.
Wednesday January 13, 1999
The snow had largely melted by sunrise, but most of the ground was stillcovered in white snow and ice this morning. A steady rain was falling allday, quickly melting the snow, but still quite ski-able if one likes thecold rain. Indianapolis experienced freezing rains that closed all thestates central interstate highways from time to time with car crashes.The freezing rain was predicted for Bloomington by 11 A.M., but did notactually arrive until 4 P.M. This skier tested the remaining snow in alight freezing rain at 5 P.M. Finding snow at Karst Farm Park seemed wouldbe a problem . Areas used in the days past had some areas with no snow.It was noticed that the two side-by-side soccer fields to the right ofthe drive entrance had 100% unblemished snow cover remaining. Melting andfreezing rain left approximately 3 to 4 inches of ice / snow mixture. Thesurface was great gliding, probably the fastest I have ever skied. Polesset easily, but the technique required was somewhere between classic Nordic,skating and double pole in-track style. Side slipping was troublesome,but manageable, as I first modified classic skied and then put on my shortskate skis. A more skilled skate skier could have had a great time!
Thursday January 14, 1999
This skier got out twice on this day. In the morning I skied the areaof Karst Farm Park that had been reported as "areas with no snow"on the Thirteenth. Overnight a light dusting of snow fell on the thin icecover from Wednesday, even "bare grass" was skiable with an ice/snowfreeze stuck to the individual blades. The prior weeks worth of set trackswere of little to no help, but the glide was excellent. Setting of onespoles was good, but holding ones direction was fair to very bad, becauseof the lack of snow. Snow held up well on the nature walk area, exceptfor the footsteps that were all over our set tracks. If you go to KarstFarm Park be sure to ski the Nature Walk Area which feels like a true Crosscountry ski trail. For some reason the ability to climb hills on this daywaseasier than would have been expected, considering the glide one achievedon the down hills. This was especially true during my evening ski witha friend on Cascades Golf Course. Dare-devils, the both of us, we had agreat time all over the course getting to the top of the tallest risesand finding the steepest descents. A couple hours was all it took to havea great outing. Too few people had been skiing Cascades this year. Checkit out, but stay off the greens and watch out for the ropes that are inseveral areas of Cascades Golf Course.
Friday January 15, 1999
Earlier it had been feared that the temperature would have risen to50º as predicted, but instead, my thermometer read 10º F. at8 A.M., and 28º by 1:30 P.M. Conditions remained unchanged from Thursday.I got out at 3:30 P.M. The air temperature was 32º F. I skied withno hat or jacket. A very light soft powder remained on the surface andonly the bare spots were a little less ski-able. The weather predictionsare for the end of this snow, and the warm-up that they said should havebeen here Thursday. My skier side, hopes they are wrong again. This howa bicycle shop owner stays sane and in shape in the winter. I wonder howmuch per ski outing a person would have spent if they had invested $150on a complete outfit for Christmas 1998. Not much by my estimation andthat is just the beginning. My skis are at least ten years old.
Saturday January 16, 1999
The temperature rose to above freezing all day today. Ground temperaturestayed cold enough that no change in ski conditions occurred over night.The snow was ski-able all day and night, but brown spots (I suppose someare actually green.) are growing.
Sunday January 17, 1999
I went to Karst park at 10 A.M. not knowing if I would find snow ornot. Some fields as I approached from the West were very spotty with lesssnow than ground and others were almost completely snow / ice covered.The snow coverage at Karst was about 80%, but large areas of the priorset tracks were now grass on the field at the South West corner of thepark. I decided to give the skate skis a quick try and discovered todayto be the best skate-ski day so far. The little technique that I had from1997 is almost gone, so I spent an hour working on my style. Several loopson the rolling hills on the SW. field, and then I decided to use the soccerfields to the right of the entrance to the park, because of their flatnessand more perfect snow cover. The air was warm. I used no gloves, hat orjacket. I almost went down to my t-shirt, but a turn up into the wind mademe decide that a little sweat was a good thing. Remember: if it's white,you can ski it. This day most skiers probably thought it was all over tillthe next snowfall. Snow leaving can be much thinner than snow arriving,because the ground temperature is colder than the air temperature. Onceagain, I had a great ski day on a day most would have thought not ski-able.Skate skiing in Bloomington is best when snow is on the wane, You get agreat workout and can fly with speed in any direction on a thin layer ofstiff snow. Heavy rain moved in Sunday evening. Ending this run of skidays. Time to ride bikes indoors and out till the next snow.
January, February, March
Most of February was very warm. Perhaps warmer than February 1997. Wehad no snow for the month since my last entry. Temperatures only got downtoward seasonal the very last of February and early March.
Tuesday March 9, 1999
Unbelievable! That is what I was thinking as I was gliding across greensnow this morning. The prediction had been for four to six inches of snowfor Bloomington for the morning, but by Nine P.M. on Monday night we werereceiving a heavy freezing rain / sleet mix that turned to a heavy snowfor an hour or so and then changed to a moderate to light rain throughthe night and morning. The temperature remained around freezing. Schoolswere on two hour delayed opening. By daybreak of 7:30 A.M. the snow wasof questionable ski worthiness. Still the duty to report on this page gotthis skier to suit up and take my skis to Karst Farm Park. As I drove inthe drive, I almost continued on to work seeing so much grass showing throughthe 1 1/2" of snow. My experience with skiing in rain told me it wasworth a try. I couldn't believe it, and I doubt that those who chose notto try this snow will believe what I am about to describe. The glide wasgood. Snow sticking to ones skies was non-existent. Returning on the sametracks I went out on resulted in still no sticktion or contact with ground.Interestingly the best place to ski was the paved walking trails alongthe dividing line between the Monroe County Fairgrounds and Karst Park.The ice mixture under the snow allowed for a very natural feel to settingof ones pole and the snow surface was smooth with a good glide. The onlysign that glide was not great was that descending slopes did not allowfor good two feet gliding and double poling. I used my oldest ski's atfirst, because I expected to ski through to the ground, but despite skiingall over the park, I only contacted ground in the form of one large pieceof gravel between the paved walking trail and the nature walk area. Everywherethe glide was OK to good. On return to my truck, I decided to try the skateski's. I would not have tried these if the ground were a threat to my ski'sbase. The glide was OK in the grass and good on the walking trails. I wouldrate this perhaps the best day yet for Bloomington skate skiing this year.I wonder if anyone else in town even tried this day that looked so unlikely.As I write this at 2:30 P.M. the temperature is 33 degrees and the snowslushy, still I bet the skiing is not bad. Lesson to take from all this,is if the ground is white and it is raining, go for it.
Wednesday March 10, 1999
I skied Karst Park at 10:30 A.M. on my way to work. There was more grassshowing and again I questioned if it was even worth trying. This time thetwo footed glide down slopes was fast right away. The taller grass wasa little slow, so I had to stay to the whiter areas which indicated shortergrass. (I have no sense that grass hurts one's skies.) The paved walk wayswere still a good area to ski but I was careful not to set my poles hard,because the ice mixture was softer than it had been on Tuesday. All ofthe mowed soccer fields worked well and I had no problem with draggingon soil anywhere, but today I did have to keep my eyes open to avoid occasionalbare small spots and large grassy areas. Even the green areas were skiable,but with more drag. I very successfully skate skied a little before hurryingin to work late.
At 2:30 PM I drove to the IU golf course to see if others in Bloomingtonhad discovered the ski worthiness of this snow. The answer was no. I clickedinto my waxless in track skis and took off across the driving range. Thesnow / ice was fast with no depth to slow you down, so I skate skied onmy in track skis. I returned to my truck and put on my skate skies. Onthis day the skate skis worked great at both IU and earlier at Karst Park.I fell once and my pants got muddy. The golf course was in great shapefor skiing, too bad everyone missed it. Today the temperature had beenunder 32 in the morning, but was above freezing in the early afternoon.I experienced no sticking. The lesson of snow on the wane being quite skiable,seems to hold true. I have heard that Eskimo's have over 200 words describingsnow. The more I ski the more I can understand why.
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