Allison and Taylor Ostrander and Julie Litchfield, all of Soldotna, scream down a slope at Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High School on Saturday. Many have been out enjoying the winter weather.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
The last few weeks have seen the arrival of a snowfall finally deep enough to satisfy skiers, snowboarders and snowmachiners alike. After months of just plain cold weather, the fresh blankets of snow that have landed on the Kenai Peninsula are a relief to those who have been keeping their skis ready and waxed in the closet, waiting for the snow to arrive.
One of the families that has waited all winter for snow took a few hours Saturday to check out the freshly groomed trails behind Skyview High School.
“It got really cold in November and we were wondering if this is going to be it, is it just going to stay cold? We were waiting and waiting, and finally we got snow,” said Carol Louthan of Kenai.
The peaceful atmosphere of the lighted loops keeps the Louthan family coming back to the Tsalteshi Ski Trails.
“They put the lights up for the (Arctic) Winter Games,” said Louthan. “If you get off work and want to go ski for an hour it’s really nice and quiet.”
11-year-old Kaitlyn Louthan sported a SpongeBob SquarePants winter hat and was eager to hit the trails.
“I love the hills,” Kaitlyn said. “The more snow, the better.”
Ronna Martin of Kalifornsky Beach also finds the trails to be a great place for quality family time. A mother of five, she brings the whole gang, including her 3-year-old, out to play in the snow.
“We often bring them all up and truck around the shorter loops,” said Martin. “Since the snowfall, we have been skiing every day. It has been a lot of fun and we are enjoying the fresh snow.”
It’s a great family place to be, Martin said, and she also enjoys skiing the trails solo on occasion.
“I come here often to ski,” she said. “The trails are in great condition and they have some new loops. You can’t get bored out here.”
With the new snow, the Tsalteshi Ski Trails are perfect for avid skiers such as Jason Lamoreaux, who spent his high school and college years racing. On his days off from working on the bridge project in Soldotna he comes to Skyview to sharpen his skiing skills.
“It’s been great. I’ve been out skiing as much as I can,” said Lamoreaux, 28. “There are some really nice trails, and they do a really good job keeping the trails groomed.”
Even with a parking lot full of cars and the ski loops busy with high school cross-country teams, there’s still enough room for everyone.
“There are enough trails out here so that people spread out pretty well,” said Lamoreaux. “The trails are fairly wide so you can get around groups of people without too much trouble.”
The Tsalteshi Ski Trails are maintained entirely by volunteers. It takes about eight hours to groom the 16-kilometer trail system, said Bill Holt, who volunteers his time to keep the trails accessible. Fresh snow has made a lot of work for Holt in the last few weeks.
“Today I made two passes with our widest groomer and pretty much just widened everything out,” said Holt, who groomed the trails all day Tuesday. “If there’s a lot of snow I have to make a bunch of passes.”
There are nine loops total, including the new Goat loop which is one of the hardest loops, along with the Bear loop.
“The harder loops are really popular but I think the most popular one is the Wolf loop, because it’s just sort of the main loop,” said Holt.
Holt said community effort is what makes it possible to keep the trails open. He volunteers through the Tsalteshi Trails Association, which accepts volunteers and applications for membership to support the organization. Applications for membership and updates on the weather and trail conditions can be found at www.tsalteshi.org.
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