This week's snowfall means nordic skiing is back in Anchorage.
The season began Monday with the first session of the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage's Junior Nordic program for little kids, but Tamra Kornfield, the NSAA program director, said skiers of all ages are hitting the trails.
"It's so fun right now," Kornfield said. "Honestly it's better skiing than all of last season. This is pretty much the big first week of everyone's season so we were lucky to get that first dump."
The NSAA's trail report Wednesday recommended that skiers use rock skis. Many people offering trail reports at crosscountryalaska.org say conditions are good but not perfect.
"A little roly-poly, lumpy bumpy. Scattered debris. But overall quite fast and fun! Nice early season conditions," one person wrote about conditions Wednesday at Hillside.
While nordic skiing is ready for skiers, alpine skiers have to wait. There's no skiing yet at Alyeska Ski Resort in Girdwood, which has received 22 inches of snow but needs more to begin operations. Snow making operations are in full swing, according to the resort's snow report.
Hilltop Ski Area is also waiting for more snow, according to the resort's website.
Kornfield said the NSAA manages more than 100 kilometers of soft nordic trails in Anchorage, including those at Kincaid Park, Hillside and Chugiak, while the municipality of Anchorage manages paved trails like the Coastal Trail and those at Russian Jack.
She said the NSAA trail groomers have been packing down snow to create a base. The two types of packing are "wheel packing," which uses 3-wheelers, and "track packing," which uses snow machines.
"It's helping the snow create a connection with the ground," Kornfield said. "So you're making sure that base layer doesn't fluff off and you have snow connected to the ground layer."
While there isn't enough snow to groom with a PistenBully yet, Kornfield said she encourages cross-country skiers to hit the trails. She said having skiers on the trails is one of the best ways to pack down the base.
Once the base is thick enough, the PistenBullys can groom the trails and tracks can be added.
The NSAA has been packing the trails since Nov. 4, when it started at Beach Lake, Kornfield said. Since then, Hillside and Kincaid have also been wheel packed and track packed.
The NSAA relies on donations from members to maintain trails.
"It's the local Anchorage membership supporting the trails," Kornfield said. "That's how it's been for 50 years."
Alaska Dispatch Publishing