The cross-country ski trails at Hatcher Pass, in the mountains above Wasilla, are groomed and open this week, and Alaskans are already taking advantage.
The Mat-Su Ski Club did its first round of grooming Monday morning, for an Oct. 16 start to the season — "one day later than average," said Ed Strabel, a club board member and one of its longtime groomers.
"It isn't great skiing down low, but it's great up above," said Strabel, who added that the club groomed about 7 kilometers of trails at Independence Mine, just below the pass.
Members of Alaska Pacific University's elite cross-country ski racing team peppered Instagram with enthusiastic posts about their first outing of the winter Tuesday.
"First ski was pure gold," wrote Reese Hanneman.
Others climbed into the mountains above the pass for backcountry skiing, including on Snowbird Glacier.
The Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center, in a Facebook post Saturday, warned of the possibility of a weakening base layer of snow and a "typical early-season set up that always catches a few people off-guard with early-season avalanches. "