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Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers


     Season Start-up

It has been an unusually busy fall and early winter season for the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers.  Many changes have occurred with the club's operations since we packed the grooming equipment away early in the spring of 2020.

In the late fall we were informed that the building where we had been storing the snowmobile and groomers at the Milham Park Golf Course would no longer be available to us for that purpose.  The result was that we had to quickly come up with another solution to keep the equipment safe and secure.

We liked having a site at the golf course because it makes it easier to not have to haul our heavy items to and fro on a trailer.  Plus, there is some measure of security at the golf course, with many different individuals out there to play golf or to work at the facility.

We asked for and were granted permission to build an 8x12 foot post-framed, steel-sided lean-to structure onto the east end of the existing PGA building.  After securing a $3,000 loan from an anonymous benefactor, Paul Wells and Zolton Cohen, with much additional help from Jeff Newman and his venerable Ford F-250 truck, built the lean-to over the course of several weeks.  There is a pressure-treated wood floor inside, and the club also paid an electrician to add an electrical receptacle to the now-enclosed wall of the PGA building.  There is a switched overhead light in the lean-to, and the receptacle can power a batter charger for the snowmobile or an additional portable work light.

Though it is a tight fit for the big snowmobile, it and both groomers fit well inside.  We're very happy to have a permanent, locked home that is all ours for the equipment - something we have wanted for many years.

     Snowmobile repairs

During last season's grooming efforts there were several mechanical issues that cropped up with the 2003 Ski Doo Rotax 500F snowmobile the club had purchased in 2018.  We first brought it to an independent mechanic for analysis, and traded him the old 1993 snowmobile to reimburse him for his time in tracking down several different problems. It turned out that the engine needed a complete teardown for a full gasket replacement, and for that we took the machine to a shop in Allegan.  Labor and parts for that work came to more than $712.  There is still a problem with the electric starting system that we're trying to run down.

Overall, between building the lean-to and the snowmobile repairs, the costs pretty much ate up the loan amount, and there is about $900 left in the club treasury to start the 2020/2021 ski season.  The loan must be paid back, so we hope you will be generous with your donations in order to ensure that the club can continue to groom the only cross country ski venue of its type within 70 miles - and all of it offered free of charge to the public.

     Other news

One of the most frequent questions that comes into the KNS website is where to rent cross country skis.  Sadly, the one venue in the area we know of that did that, Lee's Adventure Sports, has closed its doors.  So, to date, there does not seem to be any place to rent ski equipment locally.

However, there is some good and hopeful news on that front.  The management of the golf course will have a small stock of men's, women's and kid's skis, boots, and poles for sale this winter.  If there is enough interest in renting equipment, they say, there is a possibility they could offer that service in the future. Additionally, the golf course is working to enhance the ski outing experience by offering refreshments during the winter months.  Coffee and hot chocolate will be available, along with wine, beer and cocktails.  There is a chimnia set up on the patio (where all refreshments must be consumed, at a social distance, because of Covid restrictions) and several standing propane heaters.

We are excited that the golf course is embracing our efforts to get more people outside and enjoying themselves in the winter.  Please come out and take part in the great sport of cross country skiing, and then enjoy some apre-ski refreshment as you cool down and relax. Here is a link to the Ski Shop at Milham Park website, where they offer a wide range of downhill, snowboarding and cross country ski tuning and fitting services.

Zolton Cohen, Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers


     Yearend Wrap-up Report

In the late fall, Dave DeBack and Bob Kennedy culminated their search for an upgrade to our original 1993 Ski-Doo snowmobile by landing a low-mileage, long-track 2003 model by the same manufacturer.  Although it nearly emptied the club treasury, the prospect of having reverse gear, an electric starter and a newer, better machine was hard to pass up.  They purchased the sled and hauled it downstate, and once the snow and cold settled in it was put to good use grooming Milham Park Golf Course for cross country skiing.

The club's volunteer groomers, primarily DeBack and Richard Neumann, say the new machine makes grooming easier, faster and better.  Skiers who enjoy the golf course grooming owe a debt of gratitude to DeBack and Kennedy for taking the initiative in researching and then obtaining this fine piece of equipment that should serve for many years to come.  Donations to the club's efforts were down this year because of the late start to the season, polar vortex, and then lack of snow.  But if you want to see the only groomed cross country ski venue within 70 miles continue, please consider sending in a contribution through the KNS website:

It should not go unmentioned that Bob and Stephanie Kennedy purchased and donated the original Ski-Doo to the club when it first formed.  Thanks to their generosity, we have had 13 years of stellar ski grooming to enjoy.  Thanks, Bob and Steph!

The second major development in the club's fortunes might not have as much visual impact as the new snowmobile, but it is just as important.  Dean Marks, Director of Golf at Milham Park Golf Course, offered to let the club use a portion of a building on the grounds to store the snowmobile and grooming equipment during the summer months.

This is a big deal because we have always struggled to secure a safe and sheltered location to house those items.  For the last several years we simply loaded everything up on the flatbed trailer, dragged it to an out-of-the-way site on the golf course and lashed multiple tarps on top to keep out the rain.  That was risky.  Mice got into everything time and again, and it exposed the trailer to theft and vandalism, though neither, fortunately, occurred.

But now, with a great amount of help from Ron Williams from the golf course staff, the sled and groomers are stashed dry and safe, and out of the way of the employees who make the place run in the summer.  Paul Wells and Dave DeBack will add Stabil fuel stabilizer to the sled's gas tank and put the battery on a trickle charger, and that will be that until the snow falls again.  Thanks go to the Kalamazoo Municipal Golf Association, Dean Marks and Ron Williams for granting us this tremendously helpful storage solution.  We sleep a lot easier not having to worry about our equipment having to bear the brunt of the summer weather.

In addition to grooming the golf course for skiing in the winter, one of the goals of KNS is to make people aware of the Milham Park Golf Course and its many attributes.  You've all seen it in the winter.  Now go and golf it in the summer.  It's a gem of a place, and we're grateful to be a part of it.

Zolton Cohen, Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers


     Yearend Wrap-up Report

The 2017-2018 cross country ski season at Milham Park Golf Course came to an official end on Sunday, March 4th, when Richard Neumann, Jeff Newman, Dan Ferrara, Paul Wells and Zolton Cohen loaded the snowmobile and grooming equipment on the trailer and moved it to its on-site storage location.  An attempt to tape off the intake manifold of the snowmobile, it is hoped, will stop mice from using that particular port to build a nest in.

It was a streaky season in terms of ski conditions, with adequate snow starting around Christmas, and then several weeks of frigid temperatures that kept it from melting.  Those able to dress well enough to withstand the cold were rewarded with excellent trail conditions for an extended period.  Then the weather warmed suddenly and melted everything, and the season concluded with a sporadic series of storms and melting events.

Overall, the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers' grooming effort had a good year, with no mechanical breakdowns on the aging Ski-Doo snowmobile, and energetic, comprehensive and timely grooming from (mainly) Richard Neumann.  Dave DeBack and Tom Nehil mapped out and several times groomed a classic-only ski trail through the interior of the course, which received good reviews from those who tried it.  Statistically, from Richard's notes, the volunteer groomers clocked 305 miles of grooming over 18 unique sessions, an average of almost 17 miles per foray.

The club treasury had expenses of $30 to fix a flat tire on the trailer and $93.00 in gasoline, and received donations in the amount of $650.16.  The current treasury balance stands at $2,674.32.

The club is on the lookout for another snowmobile, preferably a heavy duty, air-cooled, long-track, electric start model with a reverse gear.  While the current sled is still usable, one with an electric start and reverse gear would make it much easier for the volunteer groomers to get it in and out of the storage shed during the season, and to start up during cold weather.  That search will likely recommence in the fall, with a possible fund-raising drive needed to help defray the expense.

Lastly, because they donated cash to Richard while he was out grooming, we were not able to list on the website two donations to the club's efforts.  That cash, from Dave M.  on 12/31/17 and Terry O'C.  on 12/23/17 has been deposited into the club's treasury.

Thank you to all the generous skiers who donated to the grooming effort at Milham Park Golf Course this year, and especially to our volunteer groomers who work so long and hard to create a cross country ski trail everyone can enjoy at no cost.

Zolton Cohen - Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers

     Season Start-up

The 2017-2018 ski course grooming season at Milham Park Golf Course got off to a rocky start this year.  Assembling to haul the snowmobile and groomers out of storage on Monday, December 11, volunteers found one of the trailer's tires completely flat and not quickly repairable.  Jeff Newman took responsibility for getting the tire repaired, and everyone agreed to meet again on Wednesday, December 13. 

On that day, Dan Ferrara, Paul Wells, Richard Neumann, Jeff Newman and Zolton Cohen reconvened at the golf course and quickly put the wheel with its repaired tire (now with a tube inside) back on the trailer.  Newman's burly four-wheel drive Ford truck dragged the trailer and its load down the service road and everyone offloaded the groomers and snowmobile near the storage shed by the driving range, where the snowmobile spends the winter when not out grooming trails. 

After clearing mouse nests, weed seeds and other debris from inside the snowmobile's engine compartment, the team took turns yanking the starter cord to try to get the machine to fire up.  After removing the sparkplugs and shooting starting fluid into the combustion chambers, it finally roared to life and Neumann took it out for a spin. 

The following day, Neumann did the inaugural grooming, touching off the first of what are anticipated to be many days of good skiing. 

Thanks go to the Kalamazoo City Parks and Recreation Department, the Kalamazoo Municipal Golf Association, and the employees of Milham Park Golf Course for assisting the Kalamazoo Nordic Ski group in providing this free groomed cross country ski venue to the public.  As always, thanks to our many stalwart volunteers who groom the trails and maintain the equipment.  And finally, thank you to those who have so generously donated to the effort over the years. 

Zolton Cohen - Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers


     End of Season Wrap-up

The 2016/2017 cross country ski season started with a bang as snow fell aplenty in mid-December.  The Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers grooming team swung into action after six inches of the white stuff piled up on the ground, and local and regional skiers enjoyed several weeks of very good ski conditions.

Unfortunately, that just about sums up the extent of the season.  Snow fell only intermittently after that initial accumulation, and then it melted quickly under unseasonably warm temperatures.  Overall, it was disappointing year in terms of efforts expended compared with available ski days.  On March 11, 2017, Dave DeBack, Paul Wells, Richard Neumann and Zolton Cohen packed up the equipment on the trailer and moved it to the east side of the golf course for storage over the summer.

On top of the lack of snow, Head Groomer Richard Neumann discovered a leak in the snowmobile's gas tank that required him to leave the sled parked outside so fumes wouldn't build up in the golf course shed where we usually stash it during grooming season.  Jeff Newman generously purchased and donated a used tank, and we will figure out over the summer how to go about repairing the leak so we'll be ready to go next fall.

Even though the season was short, many people donated a combined total of $301.23 to the cause.  Expenses amounted to $98.80 for gas and oil.

See you next year...


     End of Season Notes

On Friday, March 11, 2016, Richard Neumann, Greg Worsnop, Dan Ferrara, Jeff Newman and Zolton Cohen packed up the snowmobile and grooming equipment, putting to an end to the 2015-2016 snow grooming effort at Milham Park Golf Course. 

Overall, it was a disappointing season in terms of skiable days.  Compared to the last two winters there was a decided dearth of snow, and periodic warming spells melted down to the bare ground what did fall.  Still, volunteer groomers Richard and Greg worked diligently to get what they could out of the sparse raw material.  Under those tough conditions they still managed to produce several cumulative weeks of skiable, groomed skate ski trail.  Unfortunately, the snow was never deep enough to consider setting classic track.

The grooming equipment is at present stored outside at the golf course, under a tarp on a trailer.  We are hopeful that we can move it to an indoor storage facility in order to reduce the weathering that takes place in the outdoor environment. 

Expenses this season were low; just $25 for gasoline, $10 to the County to renew our DBA, and $29.70 to Newman IT for web hosting.  We still need to purchase a new tarp to replace the tattered one that we've used for several seasons.  We received $82.80 in donations.  At present there is $2141.79 in the KNS treasury, awaiting the first snows of late fall 2016. 

Thank you to those who contributed financially this year, and thank you especially to Richard and Greg, the groomers who put in many unacknowledged hours to make this operation a success.


     Lost & Found

A pair of ski boots were found in the parking lot at Milham Golf Course on 2/5/2015. If they are yours, and you'd like to get them back, please contact to identify them and get them back on your feet!

Happy Skiing!


     End of Season Notes

The Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers wrapped up a record breaking season the morning of April 1, 2014 by loading up the snowmobile and groomers to store them for the summer.  Dave DeBack, Zolton Cohen, Richard Neumann and Paul Wells were on hand for the packing up and loading of the equipment onto the trailer. 

In the past, we have used various storage facilities off-site.  But this year the Kalamazoo Municipal Golf Association is allowing us to utilize a lean-to alongside one of their pole buildings right on the course.  This generous offer by KMGA has made it easier and faster to stash the equipment, and it will also make it easier to access and unpack it when the snow flies again in the late fall.  Thank you, KMGA!

More than 100 inches of snow fell in the Kalamazoo area in the winter of 2013/2014, and right from the very first storm in November our two volunteer groomers, Richard Neumann and Dave DeBack, were able to groom excellent trails around the perimeter of the golf course as well as through the middle.  They groomed a total of 38 times, put over 600 miles on the snowmobile, and burned through a lot of gas and oil in the process.  Richard said the date of his last ski was March 23rd - unprecedentedly late in the season. 

For the first time in years we had sufficient snow to deploy a great auxiliary feature of our snow groomer, the Sno-Razor™.  The Razor allowed the groomers to slice off the top layer of hardened and icy snow and then incorporate that reconstituted material back onto the trail.  It made for a much flatter and less rutted surface, and superior skiing conditions. 

Each grooming session takes between 3-4 hours.  So if you enjoyed the ski trails at Milham this year, please let our dedicated groomers know how much you appreciate their work; they put in a lot of time so everyone can enjoy the venue. 

Things were good in terms of donations this year as well; 35 people contributed to the cause.  Our expenses for gas, oil and repairs came to $352.00, and we are left with adequate funds in the club checking account to get off the ground next year. 

All the grooming miles take a toll on our equipment.  In response we are looking to upgrade and repair some items in the off season.  For instance, Dave DeBack found some wider front skis (used) for the snowmobile that will prevent it from getting stuck so often in softer snow.  He is also looking to straighten out the Sno Razor™ and the hitch, both of which became distorted this year. 

The Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers held a productive meeting last month - something we would like to continue on a regular basis.  A number of issues were addressed, including finding a way to communicate trail conditions in a timely manner.  We consulted with our friend, Kathleen Kroll, who helped us set up a Facebook page:  Next year, whenever the trail is groomed, one of the groomers will send a notice around via Facebook.  Skiers can also use it as a way to meet up with other people to ski together. 

We also discussed the possibility of offering some cross country ski instruction at some point.  If and when that occurs, we'll post notices on our website, and also on the Facebook page.

Finally, did you know the Milham Park Golf course has a bar? We didn't either.  But we are investigating to see whether it would be open during the winter for après-ski refreshment. 

Thank you to all who helped make this season a resounding success: First and foremost our groomers, Richard Neumann and Dave DeBack.  The Kalamazoo Municipal Golf Association and its director, Dean Marks, Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation Director Sean Fletcher, and the helpful maintenance staff at Milham Golf Course also deserve kudos.  And to all of those who thought our efforts worthwhile enough to support it with your donations, thank you.  It was a stellar ski year.  Let's hope for more of the same in 2014/2015!

Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers

     Nordic Skiing in the City
     Article highlighting KNS grooming efforts

     SW Michigan Spark, January, 2014

Last winter, we had to wait until well into January before there was enough snow to start grooming. This year, we're six weeks ahead of the curve! Grooming at Milham Park Golf Club keeps local skiers, skate and classical, from having to travel several hours to find a groomed trail to ski. The 2.1 mile groomed trail around the perimeter of the golf course is open to anyone, anytime, and at no charge. People of all ages come out to the golf course to enjoy the scenery, watch hawks that hang out at the golf course, possibly see deer hiding around the course, and of course, enjoy the skiing.

The Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation Department and the Kalamazoo Municipal Golf Association help make the use of the course possible. Great cooperation from the people that run the golf course make it possible, and allowing the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers to store their grooming equipment on site during the winter makes it very easy to keep the trails maintained. The city provides the space and land, but the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers group puts in all the effort and equipment. Donations through this website (Paypal link to the left) help pay for gas and equipment upkeep, so it keeps it no-cost to the city, and free for the skiiers. Having this skiing venue located within our community is really a rare commodity - enjoy it while it lasts!

Summarized from the January, 2014, issue of
SW Michigan Sparks Magazine 50+ It's your time to shine! (

     Early-season Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers Report

The 2013/2014 Nordic ski season in Kalamazoo is off to a promising start - approximately five weeks earlier than it began last yet.  Cold weather froze the ground prior to the first snow falling, and that helps prevent the snow from melting from below. 

Dave DeBack, Paul Wells, Dan Ferrara, Richard Neumann and Zolton Cohen moved the grooming equipment out of storage and over to the Milham Park Golf Course on December 12th, and Richard started grooming right away.  Within a week there was enough snow to not only pack a skate ski trail, but also to set a shallow classic track. 

A couple of days of warm weather and rain did some damage to the trail, but skiers wisely kept off the groomed track, which kept it largely rut-free.  Then it froze when the temperature dipped, and now new snow has fallen on top and has been groomed into a great skate ski course.  More snow will have to fall before classic track can be set.  But classic skiers can, of course, use either the edges of the skate ski trail or can break trail anywhere on the course.  The golf course management requests that skiers stay off the greens and tee boxes. 

Please come and use this groomed cross country ski venue! It has been created for your enjoyment; there is no charge, and you can ski at any time of the day or night. 

If you feel like contributing to the ongoing trail-grooming expenses of the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers, an all-volunteer organization, there is a means to do so elsewhere on this website.  Special thanks go to our trail groomers, Richard Neumann, Dave DeBack and Paul Wells for all their efforts in making this venue a reality.


     Season-ending Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers Report

The 2012/2013 Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers' season officially came to an end on March 21, 2013, as Paul Wells, Richard Neumann, Dave DeBack, Dan Ferrara and Zolton Cohen moved the snow grooming equipment into storage for the summer. 

It was a tough year for cross country skiers in this area, as there wasn't sufficient snow to start grooming the course at Milham Park Golf Course until after the middle of January.  After that, chief groomer Richard Neumann said he only had the opportunity to groom ten times, putting 150 miles on the snowmobile. 

Despite the dismal snow accumulation, donations this season totaled $246.82.  Thank you to all who donated! Your contributions help keep gas and oil in the snowmobile and also pay for any needed repairs. 

Expenses this season totaled $193.07.  $108.60 went to gas and oil, the rest was for storage of the equipment ($50) and web hosting.  Currently, there is $492.28 in the KNS savings account and $335.00 in checking, for a total of $827.28.  That gives us enough operating capital to get a good start on next year's endeavor - whenever the snow depth reaches six inches..

Thank you to all who helped out this year with donations and moving the equipment to and fro, as well as to Milham Park Golf Course, the venue for the operation.  Thanks as well go to Jeff Newman at Newman IT, for hosting the KNS website and manning the organization's information technology needs. 

Finally, special recognition goes to Richard Neumann, who did all the grooming this year, spending many, many hours on the noisy, smelly snowmobile to bring top-quality skate ski and inline cross country snow grooming to the Kalamazoo area.  If you get a chance to speak to Richard between now and the start of the next ski season, let him know how much you appreciate his efforts!

Respectfully submitted, Zolton Cohen, Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers


     Yearend Wrap-up Report

There is a reason one wag suggested we change the name of the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers to the Kalamazoo Optimists Club.  We kept wishing for snow this year and it only appeared sporadically.  And then it melted quickly. 

So, there wasn't much in the way of cross country skiing at the Milham Park Golf course this winter.  But when enough snow fell that we could groom, head groomer Richard Neumann got right on it, and conditions were as good as they could be.  You had to be quick to enjoy it though, as the good snow never lasted very long. 

Richard said he groomed a total of 11 times this winter, and put 217 miles on the snowmobile.  We spent $105.51 on gas and storage for the equipment for the summer, and took in $415.37, leaving us with a total in the treasury of $836.91 to get us started next year. 

Thank you to all the people who donated to keep this project going, and to those of you who came out and enjoyed what skiing there was to be had. 

Thank you, too, to the managers of the Milham Park Golf Course who have really extended themselves to make us feel welcome.  If you golf at Milham in the summer, let the employees know that you're also a skier, and that you appreciate the fact that there is cross country ski venue available out there in the winter. 

And, finally, thanks go to Richard Neumann, who has devoted so many hours breathing the fumes of a smelly snowmobile so we can all ski.  Richard works at Breakaway Bicycles.  So if you do any business there, be sure to look him up and thank him personally.  He, more than anyone, is the person who is responsible for keeping this project going. 

The only thing we can do is hope for better snow conditions next winter.  See you then.

Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers

     Let's Ski!

Today, January 3, 2012, Richard Neumann, Dan Ferrara, Paul Wells, Dave DeBack and Zolton Cohen moved the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers snowmobile and grooming equipment from storage to the Milham Park Golf Course. 

Although only 4-6 inches of snow is on the ground at the golf course, Richard made an initial pass with the roller/groomer in order to crush air out of the snow where the ski trail will run.  It remains to be seen today if the other equipment can be used to set the skate ski lane; it is certain, however, that there is insufficient snow at present to set a classic ski track. 

On a scouting visit to the golf course recently, Richard said he noticed that, due to some landscaping changes, the ski trail route will need to be changed in several areas.  This, however, should not materially affect the skiing or the enjoyment of those who use the venue. 

Thanks go to Dan Ferrara for performing not only yearend maintenance on the snowmobile, but also for changing its drive belt.  It started on the first pull this morning, in 24 degree weather.  Additional thanks go to Richard for organizing and doing the bulk of the grooming work over the past several years.  It is a time-consuming process, and he has labored in order that others might benefit..


     Yearend Wrap-up Report

Although the snow took its sweet time arriving in Kalamazoo this past cross country ski season, once it got here it stayed and stayed.  We couldn't even begin grooming at Milham Park Golf Course until January 8, 2011; a full month later than last year's startup date.  But the season lasted, with very few warm-ups along the way, until early March. 

Much of that longevity was due to an unusual string of cold, sub-32-degree days.  But it also had to do with the KNS corps of dedicated volunteer snow groomers, who learn more with each passing year about how to get the most out of the snow and the grooming equipment.  Please go out of your way to thank Richard Neumann, Dave DeBack, Paul Wells and Dan Ferrara for the stellar job they do to keep the trails open and groomed.  It takes between two to four hours to groom the course - and these volunteers were at it nearly every day this winter. 


Despite the fact that the donation signs never even made an appearance on the golf course this winter, the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers received some generous donations to keep gas and oil in the snowmobile and for repair expenses.  Skiers donated primarily through the Newman IT Solutions-hosted KNS website, at  But the club also received checks and cash dropped off at Breakaway Bicycles and the clubhouse at Milham Park Golf Course.  Thank you to all who donated!

We received enough to repay the last of the loans made to the club several years ago by Paul Wells and Zolton Cohen ($100 each).  So that takes those off the books.  And the expenses were quite low because the equipment needed no repairs.  The only outlays this season were $66.25 for gas and oil, $10 for renewing the club's DBA documentation, and $50 for storage for the equipment.  Here are the numbers:

Donations received: $577

Expenses, including repayment of loans: $276.25

At season's end, the KNS treasury stands at $622.59 - just enough to avoid the $5 monthly service fee charge for accounts at the credit union that fall under $500. 

So we're in good shape, and will be ready to start grooming again when the snow starts to fall next winter…

Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers

     And We're Off!

Winter has kicked in again ("Let it snow!"), and the grooming equipment has been moved into place. We've had yet another warm reception at the Milham Park Golf Course, so the the only major change from last year we're hoping for is more snow! Get out your equipment, wax those skis, do your snow dance, and join us for the fun. Check back often to see the local weather and the updated ski condition reports. See you out on the trail!


     Season End Report

Unseasonably mild weather in early March 2010 brought an abrupt end to the 2009/2010 cross country skiing season at Milham Park Golf Course.

Up until that sudden thaw the Kalamazoo area had reasonably good snow for most of the winter, and volunteer snow groomers from the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers were able to keep a skate ski lane groomed on the course for most of the season. Classic ski track requires deeper snow to set, so their appearance was a matter of hit or miss - entirely dependent on the depth of the snow cover.

Expenses for the season totaled $614.29. $50 went for storage of the snowmobile and groomers. $200 each was paid to Zolton Cohen and Paul Wells as partial repayment for loans they made to the organization in 2009. Those loans helped purchase the Sno-Razor attachment for the snow groomer.

Other expenses were:

$94.42 - oil and gas
$10.02 - new keys to the golf course storage building
$32.97 - website hosting
$26.88 - replacement carburetor hoses

There is $135.31 left in the treasury to get the 2010/2011 season started next winter.

Richard Neumann was again the primary volunteer groomer for the ski venue, and he deserves thanks for the many hours he put in behind the wheel of the sled. In good weather and bad, Richard showed up to groom the course, and many benefited from his efforts.

Paul Wells, Dave DeBack and Dan Ferrara also took turns grooming.

Thanks also go to the Kalamazoo City Parks and Recreation Department for allowing KNS to the groom the course, as well as the staff of Milham Park Golf Course, whose cooperation insured a successful ski season.

Thank you to those who contributed $586.51 this season to the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers. Your donations helped pay expenses this year and ensure there will be a 2010/2011 cross country ski venue once again in Kalamazoo.

See you when the snow flies!

Winter 2009/2010

     It's a start...

The Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers are pleased to report that the first tracks have been set and skate ski grooming has taken place at Milham Park Golf Course. Dave DeBack and Paul Wells did four passes this morning with various pieces of equipment. Wells said it is not a "great" job yet, but it kicks off the season. And as he, DeBack, and others groom the course in the days ahead the trail will improve.

Winter 2008/2009

     So far this season...

Our thanks go to Richard Neumann, Dan Ferrara, Paul Wells, Mike Teal, and Dave DeBack, who devote many hours over the course of the ski season to groom the ski track at Milham Park Golf Course. Without their hard work, dedication - and yes, suffering in the cold wind while piloting the snowmobile for 2-3 hours at a stretch - there would be no groomed cross country ski venue in Kalamazoo.

Winter 2006/2007

     Season in Review

The 2006/2007 Nordic ski season arrived with everything, finally, in place for the Kalamazoo Nordic Ski group. Several volunteers retrieved the snowmobile from the pole barn where it had been stored over the summer. The new groomer, purchased in the fall, was assembled, greased, and ready to go. Keys were acquired and duplicated for access to the gate and a building on the Milham Park Golf Course site where the equipment was being stored. Bob Kennedy got the snowmobile ready to run. The Kalamazoo Municipal Golf Association was onboard with granting permission to groom the golf course. And in early December it even started to snow.

Though the snow started early in the season, and was encouraging to see at first, it was light, fluffy lake effect stuff; and not enough fell for grooming purposes. December's snowfall melted as the temperature climbed into the 40's, and not until the third week in January did the Lake Michigan "snow machine" start back up again.

As soon as there was six inches on the ground, Bob Kennedy and other volunteers hooked the snowmobile to the new groomer and made the first grooming runs around the golf course. After a few adjustments to the equipment, it became apparent that KNS had chosen well in purchasing the new groomer. It not only packs the snow evenly, it also leaves a uniform "corduroy" track in its wake - perfect for "skate" or "freestyle" skiing. And its design allows a relatively rapid grooming pace.

After packing and grooming the skating lane, Kennedy hooked up the "inline" or "classic" tracking plate and pressed tracks into the snow on both sides of the skating trail. After the first week, Dan Ferrara joined Kennedy in sharing the grooming duties, and the venue was freshened and regroomed nearly every day thereafter until the weather warmed up again.

Despite frigid temperatures and windy conditions in late January and early February, many people came out to enjoy cross country skiing on the groomed course. A troop of Girl Scouts even fulfilled requirements for their winter outing badges by negotiating a loop one Saturday morning.

Despite the very late start and bitter cold, what there was of the 2006/2007 ski season was a success. KNS learned a lot about grooming and the new equipment, and will be prepared to put the knowledge and experience gained to use next winter when the snow again begins to fall.

Total grooming expenses for the year were $39.68. Storage for the equipment over the summer is $50.00. At present the KNS treasury contains $167.85.

February 12, 2007:

     Parking Instructions

Please park in the lower parking lot on Lover's Lane when you use Milham Park Golf Course for skiing or sledding - not the upper parking lot by the Golf Course Clubhouse. Employees of the golf course must lock the gate at certain times of the day. Your car could be trapped inside the upper lot if you happen to be out on the course when the gate must be secured.

February 11, 2007:

     A request of dog owners.

The groomed trail at Milham Park Golf Course is intended and groomed for the use of cross country skiers. Please respect the efforts of those who have organized and funded this venue by not walking or allowing dogs to run on the packed track. Dogs contribute to conditions that deteriorate the trail surface, and they can cause injury to skiers.

February 9, 2007:

     Milham Park Golf Course groomed for classic style as well.

With the last grooming, the skate track is now about 8 feet wide, and there are classic tracks set off both sides of the skate path. As of Sunday, the trail was still in good condition, although apparently well enjoyed over the weekend.

January 29, 2007:

     Milham Park Golf Course has been groomed for cross country skiing.

This afternoon we met at the Milham Park Golf Course to finally put all the pieces of our cross country ski venue project together. Despite a few snafus - which included not remembering to bring the key to the snowmobile - we got everything up and running, and we tracked a nice trail around the perimeter of the course.

So, we're finally grooming. My advice is to take advantage of it whenever you can; winter has shown its capricious nature this year, no?

As to the details, the new snow groomer we purchased this fall worked very well on the newly fallen snow. After we got it adjusted correctly, it crunched all the air out of the snow nicely and laid down a smooth, "corduroy" track surface. I skate skied around the loop five times this afternoon, and in the places where the snow was originally the deepest, the grooming was equivalent to what I've experienced at places like Love Creek and Pigeon Creek. So, very good indeed.

Under some of the trees there are walnuts and branches that poke out through the snow, but I think we can adjust where the route goes next time we groom to avoid the worst of that. And on my first loop I did a bit of trail maintenance and picked up what I could find of the debris and tossed it to the side. That's a good idea for anyone else who uses the trail, by the way. It helps preserve the snow for as long as possible.

Inline skiers might be disappointed to not find a track set for that type of skiing. We don't yet have the tracking plate at the golf course yet, but hope to get it this week. And we really need to wait for more snow before we can use it. With the air crushed out of the snow, the skating track compressed down to about an inch to two inches; trying to set classic track in that amount of snow would mean that we'd tear up the grass on the golf course. But the skating track is fun to inline on too. If you do classic skiing, it's best to stay over to one side of the track or the other. That way your tracks won't get wiped out and skied over by the fanatical skate skiers out there.


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