History of Pagosa’s Nordic Ski Grooming Updated
It was not difficult to determine that this Nordic ski season was the best ever. It was obvious for readers of the recreation column of this website. Day after day new grooming notices were posted, more and more often than ever before. Also, new trails were opened this year offering trails closer to population centers and with open spaces and views of the San Juan. This is due to a few key volunteers working many hours for the benefit of local and visiting skiers.
For all the years detailed below the grooming was done with large utility grade snowmobiles and various drags to smooth and pack the snow. This year a major step forward was accomplished when the Nordic Club took possession of a much larger, professional grade, snow cat grooming machine shown in the accompanying photograph.
The key volunteers and groomers this year were James Dickhoff, Doug Call, Peter Doctor, Dan Batwinas and Don Bartley. Peter doctor was instrumental in obtaining the new snow cat.
Back in the 1980s’ your writer began a tabloid magazine, “The San Juan Adventure Guide”. It was a tourism magazine based on the activities in the area. The local snowmobile club had dissolved and groomed snow trails along with it. I made a deal with a new snowmobile shop in town to groom trails if the shop would provide a machine for cost. For a couple of years I groomed snowmobile trails until the club reformed and began grooming again. I then went to John Stewart and Wayne Pippenger at a ski shop they ran at the time and discussed grooming for Nordic skiing. They suggested making trails on the West Fork along the main road and around the camp ground paths. Using a five foot wide drag I welded together, I began grooming. At the same time Dick Cole, a Nordic skier, began making trails for friends. Soon we joined forces and groomed together for many years.
I also groomed the Lobo Overlook Road during those years. It is at the summit of Wolf Creek Pass and travels to the top of a Continental Divide mountain where the peak had been flattened and a radio transmission station installed. From that trail one looks down on the spot where they measure the “most snow in Colorado”.
I can say, for Dick and I, grooming was a pure joy.
A video made by West Davies on the West Fork Ski Trail.