Skiers, sledders find cold weather fun on area trials

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Although a few misguided souls lament that "there's nothing to do in winter," many find a way to have fun during this time of year. And of the numerous activities that can be done outdoors, few can rival skiing for sheer popularity.

Over the weekend, numerous skiers from near and far braved the cold to take in the peace, quiet and natural beauty of the Tsalteshi Trail system behind Skyview High School.

"It's been great this morning," said Pete Sprague of Soldotna.

Sprague said the trial conditions were so good, he came back early Sunday after skiing into the wee hours after dark Saturday.

"I like getting out early while it's still quite," he said. "With the three inches of fresh (powder), it's about as good as it gets. It's not too cold and the trail conditions are just perfect. On a scale of one to 10, I would rate them a 12."

Sprague said he also has been enjoying the four kilometers of new trails, accessible from Kalifornsky Beach Road.

"We didn't loose anything by re-engineering the trail," said Sprague in regard to the recent modifications and removal of a few tight turns. "It's still challenging. The downhill is still fast and fun, but with the trails being wider it's much safer."

Having skied for more than 30 years, Sprague has done every trail at Tsalteshi, and he had a bit of advice for those just starting out or unfamiliar with the area.

"It's good fun for beginners and intermediate skiers and anybody looking to do all the trails should start with the Bear Loop, because the rest are just gravy after that," he said.

Not everyone who was out skiing Tsalteshi Sunday was as familiar with the trials as Sprague. Karen Murphy and her husband, Pat, were down from Anchorage visiting a friend in Homer and thought they would see for themselves how good the trail conditions were before heading home.

"This is a good way to break up the drive back," Karen Murphy said. "We wanted to check out some new trails, so we stopped in to enjoy the sun and do a little skiing. We usually ski the pass in Anchorage."

For D'anna Gibson and her husband and three children, Tsalteshi is the only place for them.

"It's a good family outing," said Gibson, while helping her husband hook up a sled to pull their young daughter for the day's adventure.

"We come almost every day if we can, and we always come on weekends," she said.

As to why Gibson goes to Tsalteshi as opposed to anywhere else, she said, "It's just wonderful here. There's a lot of variety and the trails are very well maintained. Somebody does some hard work to keep up with them."

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