My fall begins much as my summer did…skiing with bear spray.
A reasonable hike up a busy trail took us into the Chugach Mountains. The salmon are gone, berries are sparse, and the bears are soon to be digging their dens, but for now, the summer and winter still collide in the delight of fall. An unmarked turn up to a small glacier led from yellow tundra and scree to snow. A skin track was already in and two skiers already there. The run was short. Only a few inches of new snow covered the age old ice.
The two other skiers up there were super friendly, though decidedly perplexed by my skies – 75 underfoot, 171 Ski Trab Libero’s. I thought these were the perfect set-up for a few early season wiggles, but Alaskans like things big! While one of them had an old pair of K2 Mount Baker’s, which I think are 88 underfoot, the norm up north seems to be gigantic water skis. I was politely informed my Trabs count as a full on 'nordork' skimo set-up for Alaska. Hiking back down the trail we saw a few more folks were heading up - DPS powder boards in high supply.
I hope I will see just cause for big skis soon (for me thats 185 BD Helio 105s, I haven't had real pow skis in a while...), but also wonder what comments I might solicit when I hit the skin track with 65s and race boots in the Chugach! It is always fun to ponder gear in October. It is also fun getting to know the AK ski community better.
This popular spot did not disappoint in epic views, easy access, and genuinely fun turns.
We only had time for one lap before making our retreat back to the city. Plenty of time for more turns soon - the season begins.
There is a magic in the air during October in North America. Nights cool off. Leaves drop. Snow falls. By the time December’s cold dark days show up, whispers of spring begin, but in October, shouts of WINTER abound! As the snow starts to fall, remember this feeling of renewed stoke.
In a few short weeks the bears will be hibernating and the bear spray can stay at home. We might even be able to begin our ski days in ski boots, rather than sneakers.