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The Backyard

posted Mar 17, 2013, 9:21 PM by Hans Hill   [ updated May 2, 2013, 12:24 AM by Dave Musgrave ]

My Backyard

The wind is blowing 30-35, gusting to 50 miles per hour, wind chill dipping below zero degrees Fahrenheit.  A week prior it was above freezing, bluebird/shorts weather.  And prior to that a few snow storms rolled through making the Hatcher Pass area the place to be.  Even with the chaotic weather (typical Alaska), March has been amazing.  Although I am beginning to sound like a broken record, Government Peak Recreation Area usually hides well from the wind.

Our typical schedule finds us nordic skiing in the mid week and peak bagging on the weekends, me on skis and my wife on her splitboard/snowboard setup (Don’t hold it against her, she’s still a good person).  A few weekends back, while it was still overcast and gloomy down in the Valley, Hatcher Pass was opening up and temperatures were warm.  We drove past Edgerton Park Road and saw a few vehicles turning off with skis attached to the roof racks.  A few more miles up the road, the bottom of the 16 mile road run was full of vehicles; young people dressed in colors that I am pretty sure are illegal in some states.  Nevertheless, we continued upward.  A few more vehicles turned into Goldmint Parking lot.  Ignoring the political hot button issue, this parking lot was mostly full with motorized and non-motorized users.  The top of 16 mile and the Marmot parking lot were similar. 

Our goal for the day was to head up 4068 Peak, strangely enough, named after its height…  Assuming most readers are not interested in hearing about our skin up, I’ll summarize it and say it was hot and gorgeous and not because I had my shirt off (rimshot!).   We paused at the top of 4068 to take in the views.  It truly was a fantastic day.  But what shocked my was the amount of people recreating that day in Hatcher Pass.  I panned around and observed so many peaks and ridgelines with skiers on them.  It reminded me of that scene in “Lord of the Rings” where they are lighting bonfires on peaks to signal the approaching enemy army, except of course there were no bonfires.  As I looked down towards Indepenence Mine, skiers, snowshoers and sledders were abound.  The same appearance occurred in the Archangel area and the Goldmint area.  Ants of recreators attacking valleys and hills everywhere. 

Typically I am not a fan of crowds during outdoor adventures, but as I stood there looking around at so many people enjoying the outdoors, I couldn’t help but appreciate how wonderful a resource Hatcher Pass is.  I kept wishing I could capture this image with a super-high resolution camera, so that I could zoom in on every one of those outdoors people and count the smiles.

And just think, this is in my  our backyard.


MSSC Will Groom Archangel Road at Least to Mid May!

While the skiing at the lower elevations throughout South Central is still good in March (when this was written), the snow will eventually melt, but serious skiers and not so serious skiers can still ski and work on their sun tan on the groomed Archangel Road until mid -May.  The Mat-Su Ski Club has been grooming the non-motorized portions of Archangel Road all winter long, and  once the far end of the road is closed to snowmachines, the club will regularly groom the entire length (7.5KM with a total climb of 965 feet).  One of the top APU skiers rated it “Great training for the final stage of the Tour de Ski.”

“Crust Nuts” can then take off in any direction. The Lane Hut is further up the valley or you can takeoff screaming down and across the valley all the way down back to the trail head.

More sane and recreational skiers can return to the trailhead on the wide, well groomed trail.

While the Mat-Su Ski Club will groom on a semi regular basis, ski programs, clubs and groups are encouraged to contact “Ed the groomer” at 745-4190 or email him at glynn@mtaonline.net with dates you would like to ski. Best skiing is usually in the morning and we need to groom when it’s cold (super early in the AM). Hope to see you out there!

New Trail at GPRA

My wife has complained that I don’t listen very well.  Fortunately the MSSC is solely comprised of me, and they do listen.  Earlier in the season, some trail users mentioned that they would like to see additional “beginner” trails.  A loop was added on to the Pioneer trail this month.  It is a Winter trail in every sense of the word, and is not recommended for skate skiing.

It is recognized that more trails are needed and wanted.  MSSC is still pushing for continued expansion of the GPRA through the coming years.

Race to the Outhouse #2 – April 6th

It’s time to Go!  Time to see how you improved through the season.  This is a race along Archangel Road that is an Alaskan classic.  Please checkout the website for more details.

Goldmint Trail Tour – April 7th

This month a tour will be held on the Goldmint Trail.  If you have not had a chance to explore this trail, this meet-up would be a great opportunity for you.  Meet time is Noon at the Goldmint Parking lot.  The trail is not normally groomed, so touring skis would be the best choice.



Your Chance to Become an Official Race Timer – April 13th

One of the grants the MSSC received this season allowed the purchase of race timing equipment.  The motivation for seeking out this grant was to allow the Club to host their own races with their own equipment, while allowing us to assist the High School Races and other events.  Our hope is to build a group of qualified individuals to help support other clubs, such as Valley Women’s Running Group, Rotary, Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers, etc.  A Training is scheduled for April 13, 10AM – 2PM at  MTA in palmer.  The training will will conduct a mock race walk through in the Parking Lot to help instruct everyone in the operation of the equipment.  Other clubs who attend the training will be able to share the equipment throughout the year.  Why buy your own, when we can share it.