2012 has already proven to be a year full of adventure. I was exploring the backcountry of the Tetons working a NOLS winter ski course over new years, and after a day back home to do laundry, my wife and I packed the skis up and took a quick trip to Alaska. The Alaska trip, while just a weekend blitzkrieg, held a larger purpose. We have both been to Alaska in the summer, and there isn’t much to dislike about those adventures, even the mosquitoes, apparently known as the Alaska state bird can be managed. But the Alaskan winter holds a reputation of cold and darkness that can crack even the toughest of people. My wife was applying for a job in AK as the NOLS Alaska Director, and we wanted to be sure we knew what we were getting into if it came to fruition. A weekend trip is really only a brief glimpse into what Alaska is in the winter, but it seemed better than nothing, and given the shallow and remarkably unstable snowpack in the lower 48 states, the record snowfall in AK was an appealing lure for our ski hungry psyche.
Our amazing hosts showed us the local food scene at Turkey Red in Palmer, an outstanding bistro. After lunch we had an invigorating nordic ski adventure at the base of Hatcher Pass. Cold (very cold) weather pushed us to classic skiing, at which I do not excel at all! I had a blast chasing Don and Donna around the hills and forest, and the short downhill parts were really exciting on those little skinny skis.
The next day we spent skiing the wind slab at Arctic Valley, a small Anchorage ski club run area on the Fort Richardson Army base. Apres ski entertainment was provided by the local band Hot Dish in which our friend Dan plays banjo. We went to Dan’s house for a moose roast that evening.
Our last day in AK, we made the reasonable drive out to Girdwood to ski Alyeska ski resort, passing some mountain goats along the way by Beluga point. The skiing at Alyeska was great, a mix of fresh and cut up powder and nice groomers. We skied all afternoon and into the night, skiing the well lit trails until a few hours before our flight home. We packed at the car rental return and began the trek home, once again proving that in Alaska you can do more in 48 hrs than you would in the lower 48, no matter what the month!
As you may have gleaned from the house for sale post Janeen got the job and we are moving to Alaska in April! I’m looking forward to the drive up the ALCAN highway and the blog fodder it should provide, stay tuned for more.