Sunday, December 27, 2009

BC dogs

Monday Edit: There will be no Thursday post. Also, this just in: Mount Redoubt's back! ... maybe LINK
Nice and relaxxing long weekend with some good spring like skiing in town. Temps have been hovering around the freezing mark for over a week with some liquid percipitation as high as 2,000, or so has been reported. I never made it out this weekend.
I'm off to go groom what little snow is left, so here's an Op-ed published earlier this month.

Dogs love backcountry but need extra caution
By Out and About Dante Petri
The only sight more graceful than a skilled snowboarder or skier making turns down the side of a creamy white mountainside in the Turnagain Pass backcountry is perhaps their four-legged best friend, diving headfirst through the weightless powder behind them.
I love seeing dogs enjoying the snow as much as their master backcountry skiing, and if I had my own pup I'd like to bring him or her out there too,
Dogs on steep snow-covered slopes face the same dangers as humans though, and every now and then I can't help but think maybe a few dogs should have stayed home.
I was reminded of this last weekend snowboarding on a popular aspect in Turnagain Pass called Tincan.
Not too far from the top of a bowl run, I saw two skiers ahead of me, apparently enjoying the view over the steep south facing ridge that plummets almost 800 vertical feet or more to a valley bottom.
Then I realized one of the skiers kept shouting something into the abyss, realized the dog I'd seen with them earlier was nowhere to be seen.
The pup had, for whatever reason, headed over the ridge. This was just the beginning of a sad story I thought.
The dog was completely out of sight, and for all its owner knew, it could have launched an avalanche, tumbled over a rockface, become trapped in a glide crack or just said the heck with it, and run off into the wild.
Even as stable as avalanche conditions were, the slope was way too steep for the owner or his friend to venture down if the dog was hurt, and what's more, now they were stuck on a ridge above treeline waiting.
If they did have to go get the dog out of the valley it would have entailed skiing back down and then likely breaking trail a few miles up the valley.
Fortunately the weather couldn't have been nicer so there was no risk of exposure from standing around.
Happily for all involved as well, the Lab climbed back up over the crest of the ridge to his waiting owner and continued on to beat him to the summit, tail wagging the whole way.
I talked with Carl Skustad, the director and a forecaster at the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center in Girdwood about dog safety in the backcountry Thursday.
Some of the dangers he highlighted for me were the same that this dog could have faced on its foray: triggering an avalanche or falling into a glide crack.
Others he mentioned included falling into tree wells, or even becoming entrapped in deep, loose snow.
Dogs face the same dangers as people up there, and if people can make mistakes with deadly consequences, it goes without saying that a dog with no knowledge of the hazards can as well.
To me, this dog's little trek highlighted almost everything that could go wrong with a pup in the backcountry, and avalanche conditions were pretty safe at the time.
In another scenario the ending to the story might have been different.
The dog's safety is certainly important, but dogs in the backcountry also raise safety concerns for other users.
As smart as they may be, the average pooch will be likely too tempted to wait up top for its master to make his or her way to a safe spot before following suit down the face.
It's not uncommon to see a skier and their dog making their way down a slope at the same time, a potentially hazardous practice.
In the worst case scenario, a dog may run out over a ready-to-pop slope or overhanging cornice and endanger people below.
Skustad said this is particularly a concern with bigger dogs, and that they have triggered avalanches that took out skiers and riders below them.
What happens if a dog launches a slide and buries itself and possibly friends or strangers?
Skustad told me he doesn't personally recommend harnessing a dog with a locator beacon since it won't be distinguishable from a person's who might be buried as well.
I'd have to agree with that, as much as we might love our dogs, if there's a person and a dog trapped in the same slide, the priority is obvious.
Some quick Internet research revealed that there are beacon systems that operate at different frequencies so searchers can look for people first, and dogs or gear second, but you can plan on spending for these systems.
Maybe that's a price worth paying though.
The bottom line is that there's absolutely an extra degree of caution dog owners should take when they bring a canine into the backcountry if they want to avoid tragedy.
The obvious is to evaluate conditions not only for skiing and riding, but also for the dog.
Is the terrain safe for a dog? Can the snowpack withstand an extra hundred pounds punching down through the layers? Is an aspect cratered with glide cracks or tree wells?
Those are just a few questions an owner should be asking before letting "Rex" jump into the back of the car with the waxed up planks.
Additionally, how well trained is the dog? Having a dog that follows the next person it meets, or runs off at the sight of a ptarmigan is a pup that needs a more training before it buries its snout into the face of a mountain.
Dante Petri can be reached at

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

My favorite view at the intersection of Wolf Run, Moose and the Rabbit at the Tsalteshi Trails. I snapped this while I was out grooming the other night. As you can see, there is a Santa, he left classic tracks and fresh corduroy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Pete and I skied at Fresno Ridge in Summit Pass on Friday in temps that hovered on the tough side of 0 in the morning and the slightly easier side by beer thirty. The snow as phenomenal dry and light and conditions were rock solid stable. The bright sun made it all the better.
We pushed from the highway (1,200') to about 4,000' for one of the biggest and toughest runs I've ever done. The shin to knee deep powder and avalanche dragon lair feel of the two chutes we hit certainly didn't diminish anything about the experience. We were able to get a second shorter run in to close out the day on the willow slope as well.
The cold temps froze my camera batter so I only got a slim few photos.

View Fresno in a larger map

First rays of light hitting the upper reaches of Manitoba.

Looking north.

Fresno Ridge Weather Station records temps and wind speeds so skiers and riders can tell how cold and blown around they'll be.

I've been lying about all that skate skiing. As you can see by my gut, I've just been drinking beer and eating pizza.

The big day Friday actually kicked my tail harder than I initially though and Saturday I was definitely hurting, but I still went and hammered out a 30k+ ski in town despite some very vocal initial protests from the upper body of all places. At 8 degrees out though, things felt comfortable compared to the day before.
I was again a little intrigued how I felt relieved in the second half of my ski as darkness fell and I put on a headlamp. Who would think that racing through the woods in the cold and dark of a winter night would feel so right? Guess it's just the place.
Anyway, happy winter solstice, Monday marks the beginning of the end of night! For the curious, we'll have all of 5 hours and 41 minutes of daylight here Monday, or roughly sunrise a little after 10 and sunset around 3:45.
Also, there will be no planned Thursday post, Merry X-Mas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cooper Landing

A week ago I went up to Cooper Landing to do a story on the school there.
Recently the district school board revealed there weren't enough students, just six, in the building to receive state funding. Ten are needed.
The school won't close this year, and district officials are saying they'll find a way to keep it open.
While covering the issue however, I found myself not just trying to profile a one-room school house, but also scraping at the surface of an issue that faces rural villages in Alaska and Outside.
Cooper Landing, pop. 360 is located in a narrow mountain valley along the eastern reach of the Sterling Highway.
The Kenai River flows through the heart of this area, its teal aquamarine waters pouring out from its source, Kenai Lake. On all sides Cooper Landing is surrounded by federal land managed by the National Forest and the National Wildlife Service.
The state and borough also have landholdings in this area.
Between the government owned land and the mountainous geography of the region, private property is scarce.
The beautiful scenery and teeming runs of fish that make their way up each summer have helped to fuel an increase in property value over the last decade.
Year round 9-5 work is essentially non-existent.
Oh, did I mention that Cooper Landing is about a 45-60 minute drive from Soldotna or Seward?
Avalanches may cut it off from the latter this time of year, and the highway between Sterling and Cooper is often the iciest I encounter on my winter drives to Turnagain.
This is all to say that Cooper could be a tough place to live, especially for young families.
While Cooper attracts hordes of outdoor adventurers and anglers through the summer, in the winter it's a quiet place I often slip through with just enough recognition to observe the decreased speed limit and perhaps a hardy angler working the mouth of Kenai Lake but little more.
In reality, having spent some time there, it was easy to see how concerned the community, no matter how small it may have been, was for their school's future, and their own.
There's a not uncommon saying that if the town loses its school it loses its soul.
This is an issue that's come up on the peninsula before it other small communities like Hope, and it's an issue that rural villages across the state are faced with as well.
Cooper's plight hits a little bit of a chord with me though.
Cooper is on a main thoroughfare between two major population centers, Anchorage and the Central Pen.
Indeed, after Girdwood, it is the only year round habituated area until Sterling.
The withering of remote villages accessible only by plane or boat is disheartening, but to see a road system village fight to save its soul makes me ask deeper questions.
At this time in my life, I could never see myself living in a place like Cooper, at least for not more than for a year or two.
When I talked with the sole teacher at Cooper though, he spoke of how he always wanted to settle there.
One of his points was that he found that both he and his wife were waking each day asking why they lived in Kenai. He also said every weekend he found himself driving up to Cooper.
I don't know if Cooper Landing is where I'll end up one day, but a part of me worries that there might not be a Cooper Landing here, or wherever I end up when I find that place.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Another solid weekend on the snow. I skied 33k at Tsalteshi on Friday, went into town, got dinner and then met up with Bill to groom the trails.
Temps were pretty bitter at 4 degrees but I've really come to enjoy the late night grooming. Most the time I just try and imagine what a former self would think if he could have known he'd one day be buzzing through the woods of Alaska late at night setting corduroy.

Hoar frost much? A thick ice fog has been settling in almost nightly leaving behind the long feathery crystals.

Despite the late night grooming I was up early on Saturday and soon enroute to Turnagain. The guys from Anchorage said they were feeling ill, but we havn't seen any new snow in almost two full weeks now so the snowpack is very stable. That's all to say I felt comfortable hitting the slopes of Tincan on my own.
Skiing at Tincan alone is also sort of an oxymoron since there's always going to be others there. Actually I was pleased to see that things were quiet for a sunny Saturday.
There's been a weird inversion layer in the mountains where temps at the highway (1,000') hovered around 0, but at 3,000' they were near 30.
While the snow above treeline left a lot to be desired, the vitamin-d and lack of wind made it more than comfortable.
I ended up doing one bowl run, one top to bottom and one tree run for the day.

View Tincan 121209 in a larger map

Sunrise aroun 10 a.m. at the Skyline Trail Head

Looking over Eddys to Turnagain Arm.

Turnagain Pass

Tincan Proper

Drives home as beautiful as the drive up.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Public servant

A few weeks ago I was asked to attend a farewell event for a retiring school official (MD) and present a gift.
Originally, when I got a call from MD's secretary asking if I would come, I thought it was more of a heads up to get a photo op or a write-up in the paper.
I'd actually done a story on MD a week or two prior, so I figured I'd just go for the art.
Not a few days after the first call, MD's secretary called me back and made sure I was coming. That's when she told me that she'd printed and enlarged an editorial the paper had written on MD and framed it.
She said she wanted me to present the gift because it would mean more.
I worked with MD on a number of different issues and her phone line was always open whenever I had questions on the district's finances.
Still the proposition seemed a little bit weird, so I cleared it with my editor. Since we hadn't paid for the gift or anything like that, it was fine.
I wasn't expecting to say anything either.
I thought I'd just be sort of holding the framed editorial while the emcee said something, and then hand it off, shake hands, or hug.
I was happy just to wish one of my sources well and give something back for all those frantic last possible minute working on deadline questions.
I was also more than a little honored myself as a relatively new member of the community to somehow feel that I was a part of something bigger.
Well that's quite the prelude, anyway I showed up last Monday to the event, and it turns out I was going to be expected to say something.


Obviously, while the event was largely informal, I still felt I had to maintain a degree of professionalism. In other words, I still felt like I was wearing my Clarion hat.
So I tried my best anyway to talk a little bit about the importance of public servants who understand the value of communicating with the media.

I'm not sure how I did, I wouldn't grade myself too high, but a few others said otherwise.
Here's a few points maybe I would have made sure I drilled home had I thought ahead:

Sometimes those who go by the title "public servant," forget the roots of their two-part name.
When you put yourself into such a position, you in doing so, open your life much as you would a 24/7 convenience store.
As a journalist I've come to value those who understand this, and work tirelessly to make themselves available to both the silly and the sharp questions on their expertise.
They're the one's who take my calls minutes to deadline with that question I forgot. They're the one's who pour piles of paper and Internet links onto my desk when I ask for a minor clarification. They're the ones who invite me to their office to explain policy and formulas I need more help understanding. They're the ones, who after they give me a technical explanation, then help me break things down into layman's terms that my readers will understand. They're the ones who when they don't have the answer, tell me so, and send me to a person that might.
Most importantly, they're the ones who understand that what the public knows is always more valuable than what they don't know.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


What a weekend. I had an extra day off since I worked Thanksgiving so I started on Thursday with a 33k ski on the Tsalteshi Trails. This time last year even classic skiing that would have been a feat, let alone skate skiing. I'd only been on skates for about three weeks at this point and was still struggling to do much more than 7 or 8k. I certainly won't say my technique felt as strong as my endurance, but that will come in good time I guess.
While I was out I crossed paths with the groomer Bill and told him to make sure to tap me if he needed some help.
"How about tomorrow?" He said.
So Friday I made good on a long held dream of mine and learned to groom trails. I'll have a more elaborate post on grooming sometime in the future, but the gist is we use snowmobiles pulling miniature (compared to those hauled Piston Bullys) grooming devices. There's a lot more to it than I guess I realized and the snowmobiles really don't like the drag behind them so they're pretty difficult to steer, even at slow speeds.
Anyway, Bill gave me a brief tutorial and then we each hopped on a machine and spent three hours grooming the system. I just tried to keep up. Afterwards I went into town, had a donut and a coffee at the bakery while I warmed up, then headed back up the hill and skied 15k on the trails I'd just groomed. How awesome.

Saturday Josh called up and said to meet him at the Eddy's parking lot in Turnagain. The aspect is north of Tincan and a bit more of a slog in so the crowds aren't as thick.

View Eddies in a larger map

Can't complain about the sunrise this time of year. The drives to the mountains around the solstice certainly makes up for the short days.

I did say we got a ton of snow last week.

We stayed on a sheltered aspect with trees to provide better depth perception. The lighting was less than ideal and the winds were howling on the ridge tops.

Turnagain Arm.

What a perfect day. The long trek in let me get to figure out the whole skinning thing. This was my first trip out on my new splitboard and the technique for using skins is a bit strange compared to snowshoes. They were entirely more efficient though and made the trek up much easier. The transition of putting the board back together is a little slow and tedious, but its ride is good and only took a run to get used to.
Ya, the sunrises have just been brilliant, this was Sunday morning. Screw coffee.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ferreting out a problem

A couple weeks ago I posted that the lodge had a new resident.
I nearly fell off the breakfast bar stool when I saw a little white ermine peering at me through the slats of a cabinet door.
Since his most recent sighting he's seemed to stay away, likely striking fear in the hearts of the little voles that live under the building.I’m sure all the noise of construction and renovation above ground has helped to keep the curious critter subterranean as well.
On Sunday however, Joe said he was up stairs watching some TV when he thought he heard me downstairs.
That was impossible of course since I was at work, and when he yelled and no one responded he went and peered over the railing.
The ermine was back, and furiously tearing through the many boxes stacked on the floor.
Joe said he chased him around, finally striking him with a wooden dowel. The little weasel rolled over as though he'd seen his last, but when Joe gave him a nudge with the stick, the ermine sprung back into animation, and careened off for the nearest shelter.
Eventually it found its way back down the vent hole in the floor under the cleaning closet, but later that afternoon Joe said he saw it on the front deck trying to get into some garbage.
When I got home I found the Have-a-heart trap baited with a chicken wing in the middle of the living room.
I won't question Joe's trapping expertise, but I decided to move it into the closet next to the chosen entry point.
A few hours later, actually, while I was typing up Sunday's post, I heard a strange noise from the hallway, followed by some rattling.
When I went to look, sure enough, the snow white ermine was locked inside.
He was actually quite calm given his dire predicament, far more relaxed than either Joe or myself, that's for sure.
After snapping a picture and debating what to do we decided to try and drown it since that would be the quickest way to go.
I suppose we could have driven it off somewhere and let it go, but a moment later I was glad I didn't.
As the sink filled up, Joe picked up the cage to put it in, and the rattling finally got the better of the little guy, who made a pannicked loud chirp.
That was about when I noticed how bad the kitchen smelled. I assumed at first maybe it was Joe. He'd been working all day on the renovations, but holy smokes, this was just horrible.
The trap was too big to fit in the sink, so I moved it outside for plan-b; all too eager to get away from Joe.
When I came back inside to load a bb-gun though, I noticed the whole downstairs kind of smelled, and it wasn't really body odor so much as "skunk-lite."
I commented about it, and Joe said ermine's in fact had a scent gland much like a skunk. The ermine had skunked the kitchen.
I felt a little bad to have to dispatch the guy, after all, it wasn't his fault the crawlspace below the lodge was also full of ermine food; food that I'd just a soon have in his belly than creating havoc and digging tunnels.
It also wasn't his fault there was a perfect little hole to climb through that lead to a warm wonder world that surely had food as well.
Coexistence wasn't an option though, especially not if he made a habit of skunking the place.
More, there was no way I was putting his smelly butt in the car where he could blow a load again in a small space.
Anyway dispatching him was clean and simple and he was out before he knew what hit him. Meanwhile, de-stinkifying the countertop was a little more difficult. Let’s just say that the swiffer wetter pad I used, heavily loaded with fragrance, was neutralized by the time I was done. I haven’t caught anything else since then -- though despite my instruction not to, Joe ate the rest of the bait. Oh well. As far as I know though, ermine's are usually solitary creatures, so he was probably on his own down there.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

In the last week several big storms have come through and dumped quite a bit of snow in the mountains. To illustrate, I suggest you watch the videos on the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center Web site. (LINK) You will be impressed, I promise.
Turnagain Pass has picked up close to 5 feet of new snow in the last week on top of a worthless base. Thirty inches of that fell in a 12 + hour window Thanksgiving night.
As is visible in the tests, it takes a fair amount of force to get a big slab to go, but, if it does, it'll go straight to the ground.
Suffice to say that while all the new snow is certainly welcome, combined with poor road conditions, I didn't make it to the mountains this weekend to enjoy any of the fresh stuff.
Depressingly, hardly any snow fell in the central peninsula over the course of the week. It actually rained on Monday ruining the great early season crust we had. Things came back on Wednesday night at least in Sterling when two inches of heavy wet snow came down making for a great night ski in white out conditions on the Moose River.
The Thanksgiving storm the next night dropped 4-5 inches in Sterling, a little less in Soldotna, meaning open season on skate skiing was out, but not leaving quite enough to groom the trails. I did a nice classic ski on Headquarters Lake with Kjell; my hipflexors weren't too impressed, but I was reminded I can't forget the "other" technique.
Anyway that's sort of where things are at. The fresh snow compressed enough to make it possible to skate ski Headquarters lake on Saturday even without grooming, but it snowed another two inches in Sterling today so my new favorite destination, the Moose, remains nothing but a powdery tip catching slog.
The trails, though thin, have been rolled out, and once I get a new pair of bindings on my rock skis perhaps they'll be skiable.
I have to say I feel a little bitter towards the Kenai gods right now.
All the same, I suppose I should be thankful for what I've got, the lake skiing should continue to be descent.
The fact is, right now, the biggest two concerns in my life is a. where will I ski after work, and b. where will I ski or board this weekend?
Not bad.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Early season crust skiing

We still don't have much snow in the central pen, but the cold temps have set a hard layer of ice over the lakes and streams and the hoar frost that's built on top of the meager snow pack has made everything nice and sugary. It's kind of cool, there's no reason to go anywhere to ski since there's so many lakes in Sterling.
I went and did a four laps around Bottenintnin Lake (map) Friday just off the beginning of Skilak Rd. The 1 by half mile lake with little back bays made for an interesting circuit.

In one of the little corners of the lake I found the remains of a freshly killed rabbit. The first time I went by the rear legs and spine along with balls of fur were scattered about. Two hours later when I came back on my final lap and had my camera with me I skied over to the site and found something had been working on the bits and pieces while I skied. The sugar snow did a poor job holding prints though. Probably an ermine or something small and hardy.

Saturday I had a bunch of errands to do, but I still snuck out for an hour and a half of kick ass crust skiing on the Moose River (map). I felt kind of silly driving a mile and a half to the the boat launch, I could have walked to the confluence from camp in about the same time, but I didn't want to subject my ski boots to the hard river stones, nor my rear end to the chance of slipping on any glaciation.
The windy stream was really cool to ski. Once past the power lines the meandering buries your sense of direction and it starts to feel like you're totally out there. If you look at the map and follow the river upstream, I skied to about the point where it makes its first split around a very small island.
I started to ski through the area but recent overflow had weakend the channel ice and the sun was down at that point.
I hope I get a chance to go back up there when its not overrun by snowmachines, what a treat.
Oh ya, the sunset and temps up in the mid-teens was all OK too I guess.

This was the only open water I saw but it was enough to make me nervous. At that point the stream was only about as wide as a trail and there was no way to skate without pretty much being in the center.

Skate skiing the Moose. It's far from perfect I apologize. It's really rough in the beggining but hang in there, once you see the ski pole stick out front I get a hold of the camera and it gets better. Also, not to stroke my own ego but... watch my shadow go by early on, and note that I'm only skiing with one pole. I'm not even pushing things and its still a good clip. What did I say about my ego?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ferrets and fruit flies

There seems to have been a number of unwelcome house guests dropping by the lodge this fall.
It started with the aimless buzzing of a few lost gnats, or fruit flies, sometime in September.
The hapless bugs buzzed mostly around the kitchen, showing up almost on cue at meal time, particularly when salad or fresh broccoli was on the menu. Otherwise they lingered around the trash and reminded me to keep moving it out on a regular basis.
Then in mid-October their population blew up overnight.
Hundreds swarmed around the lodge.
Photo courtesy of
We went on a rampage, taking the trash out every day, dousing counter tops with chemicals after every meal, stowing anything even bagged and bottled food and condiments in the fridge, and killing hundreds a day.
In one night alone I left a partially full bottle of beer out and found perhaps one hundred of the pests drunkenly bobbing in it the next morning.
Soon the ceiling of the kitchen looked like a battle field with the carcasses of dozens smeared on the bright white paint.
Yet for all that I killed, the little bugs kept coming in force.
I tore open shelves looking for something, a forgotten piece of fruit or vegetable rancid, rotting and ripe for the eggs, but found nothing.
After two weeks of battle I was growing weary.
We had fruit fly infestations almost every fall in Vermont, but eventually we got rid of the food source -- a compost bucket -- and they were gone soon enough.
Here however, they continued to proliferate with seemingly no end and no source.
I grew fearful the bugs had found something rotting in a wall and this battle would never end.
Then one evening I noticed the giant bag of bird seed by the glass door.
I'd seen the bugs by the door, but that's what bugs do, hang out by windows and doors right?
I didn't even think they could breed in seeds anyways.
Curious though, I opened up the plastic bag.
A swarm of several dozen flew out the top immediately.
When I looked back down, the 25 pounds of black sunflower seeds seemed to be moving themselves as hundreds, if perhaps not a thousand flies began emerging from the seeds.
In a flash I was twisting the bag shut and running to the door before any more escaped.
At 20 degrees out that evening, I knew the bugs had enjoyed their last.
Since then, the survivors have steadily disappeared and the kitchen ceiling has been swiffered clean.
This morning however, a new guest showed his face.
Sitting at the kitchen bar eating my oatmeal and staring into a newspaper, I heard some rustling in the nearby cleaning closet.
When I looked up, a small white furry head was poking though the closet door peering at me.
For a second I stared confusedly back at it; when the white head's body slunk out the door and in a flip, turned back around and scurried back into the closet.
Photo courtesy of
"What the hell?" I murmured as spoonful of oatmeal spilled out of my jaw set agape.
For a second I thought we had an albino red squirrel in the house, but the black tipped tail belied this was an ermine.
The critter was probably preying on vermin under the lodge and had wandered up through a vent.
A few minutes later I heard a rustling again, this time from the two seat couch by the stairs.
There, the ermine peered at me from under the sofa.
This time I needed no direction.
I grabbed a broom and charged the little critter.
In a flash of white it was gone.
In a single bound the erimine could leap three or more times its body length.
There was no way I was going to catch this thing.
It later made a sprint in front of me at full speed across the the living room touching the ground perhaps three times before finding safety in the piles of junk and tools scattered about.
I bought a trap on the way to work, but since I got home this evening, I haven't seen my fuzzy ferret friend.
Hopefully for his own good, he found the door and won't be returning.

This week I've been skiing on Arc Lake after work since the trails don't have enough snow yet.
Temps have dipped as cold as -10 for the skis, obviously its been even colder in the mornings.
Anyhow, normally these temperatures would make skate skiing nearly impossible, but the crust ontop of the ice seems to hold enough moisture to make it more than possible as long as I'm layered up.
Lake skiing isn't the most fun, but it's been good for working on technique and meeting up with others.
It also makes for a unique photo opportunity.
I stopped by the lake tonight towards the end of the ski club's practice to take a few pictures using my camera's "starry night" feature.

Driving through Soldotna I shot a few more.