Time Warp

W20140322_140359ell it’s spring 2014, and I managed to go an entire year without an update to HYT.  This isn’t without good reason of course.  All I can really say is life happens.  It’s a good thing.  Erin and I had a little girl in October 2013.  For those of you that know me this is old news, but it may provide insight to some as to why there has been a blank, lifeless website at HYT since february 2013.

If ever there was a winter to bring a kid into this world, it’s been this one.  Yeah, I’ve missed some skiing, but I’m not dreading it that much.  Certainly I’ve experienced the talkeetna’s with less snow, but this has been a pretty dismal winter for powder hounds.  On the other hand, if you’re one of the many who’ve taken the plunge and accepted snow biking as a vital substitute for your winter adrenaline fix, well, it’s been pretty rad.  I know I was VERY skeptical, even vainly dismissive of fatbiking, but I’ll tell you, it is badass.  Last week Josh and I got out and rode the new kincaid trails on a pair of fatbacks from speedway cycles.  What a rush to be laying in to berms and rollers in the snow.  With the time crunch of new parenthood, a snow bike may be my next option to get my fix and stretch the legs.

That being said, I have been spending a lot of time at Hatcher Pass, and the new government peak nordic area.  In fact, I can’t believe it, but I spent the whole weekend at the pass.  Evie got in her first pow ski on thousand dollar run, and while she can’t talk, her silence was golden.  Cooing and making noises until she fell asleep on the way up, things changed as we descended the ridge.  As we stood atop Bennett ridge, I ripped my skins, secured the kiddo, assured her of the awesomeness to come, and slid down the mountain.  There was some weird crusts near the ridge, but as we descended the final pitch to the road in boot deep pow, I couldn’t help but hoot and holler.  Sun in the sky, kid on my back, planks under foot, sliding through recycled powder, hooting the whole way to the bottom.  What a day.

20140322_141118 OIMG_1764f course one day is never enough, but I wanted to get out and ride my sled for a day.  There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the merits of the updated Hatcher Pass Management Plan, the evils of snowmachining, and the fairness of sharing powder.  I had to get out and ride, clear my thoughts and get my head above the water on this one. Like myself in the past, so many people have never even climbed on a sled, used one to access the deep mountains, or just ridden to a cool spot and hung out. Snowmachines are not bad, and the majority of people on them follow the rules and just want to have a good time. Often scratching the similar ski addiction itch as others, or just wanting a day out with the family.  There’s nothing more irksome to me than sweeping generalizations and broad statements regarding a whole population of recreation users.

I took my sled over the pass and explored the bowls on the north side of bald mountain ridge, found empty powder fields, fun slopes to rip some sled turns, and stopped for lunch and tea atop a ridge on the backside of granite mountain.  Seeing that I was solo and didn’t need to go any further to the west, I figured I’d head back over to reed lakes to see what all the snowbird poaching fuss has been about.  I was extremely suprised to see that along 99% of the trail corridor, snowmachiners were staying within the boundary, following the rules, and using the trail almost exclusively to access open terrain.  When I approached the reed lakes trailhead, I had planned to head towards the “Good Hope” drainage.  Since this drainage was the reason that DNR left half of Reed valley open, it was my understanding that the reasoning was because people argued it was beginner terrain.  Well, straight up…that’s bullshit.  I’m not going to get on a high horse, but access to good hope is either through a dangerous terrain trap, or via the 35-40 degree benches stepping in to the drainage.  IMG_1774Perhaps once you get there it’s “beginner terrain”, but access there is by no means a simple approach for a new rider.  This leaves me to believe that really, there’s no reason for Reed Lakes valley to be open.  The opening is just too much temptation for skilled riders to easily poach the snowbird glacier.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think sleds should be banned from the glacier, but due to the historical nature of the bomber/snowbird traverse, and the investments by MCA and Alpine Huts, I think moto riders need to work just as hard to get there.  That’s my two cents and I’m sticking to it.  Reed Lakes is just too small a valley to be left half open, with the disengenuous reason that it “accesses” beginner terrain. It’s just a red herring excuse to slowly push the boundary deeper into the valley, and access snowbird via glacier pass.  The riders who’ve been doing this have been pretty cavalier as well, adding insult to injury, insulting skiers, threatening with violence, and generally acting like dumbasses.

IMG_1773We’re all here to enjoy the mountains.  I’ll be skiing and riding my snow machine with my kid, and there’s definitely plenty of room to go around.  I think the experiment of opening reed valley will be coming to an end shortly, but let’s be humble about it.  There’s an air of change at Hatcher Pass and in the Mat-Su, but people are going to be pissed about it for a while.  They’ve lived here a long time, with little rules, and more importantly, a lack of any real population.  So, to keep it in perspective,  do yourself and your brethren a favor; throw a smile and a hello to your fellow mountain traveler, whether you get one in return or not. Share the mountains….You’re not that cool.

2014 PosterWinter is almost dead to me, and I’m heading in to full bike and trail building mode.  Come out to the Valley Bike Film Fest on April 11th!  On the BIG SCREEN at the the Valley Cinema in wasilla!

Tickets are $20 and on sale at Backcountry Bikes Wasilla and Palmer, Rock-On Climbing Gym, Active Soles, Alaska Bicycle Center, and Midnight Sun Yoga Center.  Don’t miss this event!

Funds will directly to the Government Peak Singletrack Project and Palmer Bike Park, both of which start construction this year.  Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers will start the 3.5 miles of new flow trail this June, with the Bike Park beginning late summer or early fall.

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