A Brief History of Grooming at Cabin Creek
Many many thanks to long LONG-time KSC member Marlys Svensson for this look back at grooming in the good old days and how it has evolved to what it is today!
A Brief History of Grooming at Cabin Creek by Marlys Svensson
I think a nutshell of remembered history of the last 60 years might help explain the progress from foot/ski tracked ski areas to our current mechanized grooming. There are still many skiers around who remember when cross country skiers across the US, including the Kongsbergers (in our deep, wet Snoqualmie Pass conditions), groomed their own classic trails with their own skis – being careful to keep their skis extra far apart so as the track, as it was used by numerous skiers, would not become too narrow. We foot/ski groomed most of the areas we do now at Cabin Creek by traveling single file through the deep snow, setting first a ski track, then repeating the round for each pole track. There was no grooming for skating other than a person setting a few deep-set skate marks around a corner and a “swish” in the downhill curves. The skiers who wanted to go faster and/or race really worked hard on the foot-set tracks, and so did their wives, girlfriends, kids and friends.
Then came the snowmobile, advocated by folks who used them mostly for fun and work. Adapting an obviously more efficient method of track setting, X-C skiers ingeniously developed classic-track sleds to pull behind the snowmobile, which set automatic grooves and firm pole-plant areas. These sleds sometimes required an additional fellow to ride on the sled to provide enough weight. There were no government officials assigned to approve and assist the X-C communities in developing tracks, and we faced some who were pretty grouchy about allowing us to set our tracks. But plenty of the officials, who used snowmobiles, advocated (for various reasons) for the large snowmobile club.
KSC, as a club, had a decent relationship with the snowmobilers who at that time co-used the Cabin Creek/Amabalis/Lake Kachess areas. It was more a problem of educating them about what we were doing. With our renowned soggy snow, snowmobiles made it possible to x-c ski around in the mountains with “speed” skis and not have to use backcountry clunkers.
The prolific snowmobilers who wanted more access to the back country, too, then started using expensive, large ski hill-type groomers to roll and smooth their main trails. After a few years of advocating and methodically counting actual track skiers, the X-C communities gained permission to use them, too. And here we are. Skate skiing became a thing that required nice smoothly packed surfaces, and skating in turn has pulled in new generations of skiers.
The next advance was reached because members of KSC, Wenatchee, Leavenworth, and other clubs made a concerted effort to increase our attendance at the government oversight meetings and follow their communications, and present ourselves as a force they should acknowledge. Quite an effort, because most of the spots for citizen representation on the committees and meetings were assigned to snowmobilers, who outnumbered the skiers. Many KSC members were involved in these travels to meetings statewide, coming home with good news or bad, determined to improve our accessibility to new ski-only terrain that could be groomed. Slowly over a few years, we doggedly bent the rules to allow some trails to be non-motorized, apart from snowmobile usage! Ask any old-timer KSC members for a story from the past struggles with grooming (or parking, for that matter).
Younger skiers, consider yourselves lucky that attitudes and policies have changed. Mt Amabalis, the Road, the tracks bordering the swamp, the boulder field and many other features of the Cabin Creek trails were on private land, government land, and easements and still are. As for that matter, the Crystal Springs/Hyak old railroad bed and accesses are also dependent on public and private entities. Beware, these agreements with the entities who own the trails in our area are changeable and fragile. It is best for each of us to advocate positively, friendly, actively, and frequently.