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Tim's Blog About Skiing Stuff

Mid May 2020: The Tracks Of Genetic Programming

It seems that bear and wolf tracks we see while skiing tell us a bit about the genetic programming of these animals.

Wolves, that don't hibernate and hunt all winter to survive, are efficient snow travelers. They often step in each other's steps when traveling in a pack. This reduces energy when moving through snow and helps them survive.

Occasionally you see the tracks of wolves displaying their genetic efficiency.  You might be skiing in open country and see tracks are from what you assume is 1 or 2 wolves. Then you get near brush, where ptarmigan, rabbits and other wolf food live.  And boom! ... the one set of tracks turns into 10, as the pack fans out to better their hunting odds.

Bears sleep through most of the snowy months. So they don't seem to be as concerned with efficient snow travel. When they do have to travel snow, they just make a big trench and all the bears step randomly.  Like in the above picture taken at Broad Pass.

Bears don't seem to be as efficient as wolves when it comes to snow travel.  But bears probably don't worry much this, as the snow they encounter when they com out of their dens will usually be gone soon.

 
Mid May 2020: Moerlein Hill

The Moerlein Family was a pillar of Anchorage Nordic skiing in the late 60’s and the 70’s.  They were a big family of ski racers, event organizers and trail builders.  A hill on the Besh Loop at the Hillside trail system was named to commemorate the Moerlein Family.  Moerlein Hill.

A sign was erected on Moerlein Hill a long time ago.  But four years ago the sign post succumbed to rot and fell down.  Since then, the Moerlein Hill sign and rotted post has been lying on the dirt to the side of the Besh Loop ski trail.

For three years I, and thousands of others, would pass by this sign on the ground.  When I saw the Moerlein Hill sign, I figured trail maintenance folks would eventually put in a new sign post.  But time would make me realize … that I figured wrong.

This year, the start of year four of the sign being on the ground, I finally realized that no one was going to do anything about this sign.   I realized I was stuck in the past.  Things are different now.  The focus of Anchorage Nordic skiing today appears to be 99% on Kincaid Park.  Hillside has been cast aside.  The Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage hasn’t done any summer trail maintenance at Hillside since last century.  And likely, due to Alaska's economic malaise, they won’t do any work at Hillside for decades to come.

Yes, the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage sets tracks at Hillside in the winter.  But it seems that is just to get more club membership money to spend on events and trails at Kincaid Park.  None of that money will be spent on summer maintenance of trails at Hillside.  The last 25 years has proven this.  Hillside trails are on auto-pilot.

Back to the fallen sign.  Perhaps the Moerlein Hill sign is a metaphor of the modern day cross country skiing society in Anchorage.  The fallen sign on the rotting post might tell us:  Only now matters.  Past skiing history is not worth remembering.  People that built the original Hillside trails aren’t worth remembering.  Hillside is a nuisance.  Only Kincaid matters.

Oh well.  At least there are a handful of skiers still alive in Anchorage that remember, respect and cherish the past.  And apparently I’m one of them.  I recently took 2 minutes of my life to unscrew the Moerlein Hill sign from the rotting post lying on the ground, and attach it to a nearby light pole.

It was a simple task.  A symbolic task.  The Moerlein Family, the early roots of Anchorage Nordic skiing, is worth remembering.

Moerlein Hill sign lying on the ground. Moerlein Hill sign now on a light pole.
 
Early May 2020: If I Could Talk Beaver ...

If I could talk beaver, I'd ask them if they purposely build their lodges as scale models of mountains.  [Beaver house in Broad Pass]

 
Late April 2020: Showoff!

Bikers can be showoffs.  Doing a wheelie for a long distance to try and look cool.  Showoff!

Same with ptarmigan, they too can be showoffs.  Doing a tailfeather wheelie for a long distance before they land.  Showoff!

 
Early April 2020: Sun Valley vs Su Valley

Recent news indicates that the place in the US with the highest concentration of coronavirus infections is Sun Valley, ID.

So that means that many xc skiers, especially xc ski racers, have seen the most dangerous place to live and ski in the US, right now.

Skiers that have raced at Kincaid Park in Alaska have likely seen a distinctive mountain to the northwest.  That’s Mount Susitna, the landmark of the remote Susitna Valley.  So, many skiers have seen from a distance what is likely the pandemic-safest place to live in the US.

Both of these places have similarities.  They have great xc skiing, abundant winter trails, numerous second homes and most of the people that live at these locations are of retirement age.  And they are almost named the same.  Sun Valley.  Su Valley.  Just an 'N' making a difference in their names.

But the Su Valley knows pandemic much better than pretty-livin' Sun Valley.  Practically the entire population of the Susitna Valley died-off from an influenza pandemic in 1918, 102 years ago.  Back then most people lived in villages.  People learned from that.

My wife's grandfather learned from the pandemic.  He homesteaded in the Lower Susitna Valley in the 1930's.  He chose a remote and isolated location, on purpose.  Horror stories of the 1918 influenza pandemic were still loud and clear.  He made sure his family did not have much contact with outsiders.  The fear of disease lasted after the pandemic, for many decades.

Now many people live dispersed along Valley rivers, off the grid in a land of no roads, a maze of unmarked trails and a powerful glacial river “moat” in the summer that keeps most  people out.   They only go to the store a few times a year and meals are often delivered to them, like when  a moose walks through the yard or a salmon swims past their home.  Their world is isolated and guarded from the rest of the world.

Are these people prepper nut-cases?  No.  Well, okay ... this is Alaska, so of course we have our fair share of nut-cases.  But the majority of folks living in remote parts of the Su Valley are retired folks, choosing to live an adventurous lifestyle.   They are livin’ their dream.  And good on them for that.

The big difference between Sun Valley and the Su Valley is limited mobility options.  Social distancing by design.   Forced isolation from other people makes the remote Su Valley one of the safest places to live in the US.   Isolation ... a pandemic survival mode of living that the folks of the Su Valley figured out 102 years ago.

 
Early April 2020: Eklutna, Alaska ... Where Skis Were Once Made

The 1939-1940 American Ski Annual magazine had an article by Ted Coomora entitled "Lure of the North".  It is a great overview of Alaskan skiing history of the late 1930s.  It documents Ted's travels from Juneau to Anchorage to Fairbanks.  And it describes his experiences xc skiing, alpine skiing and jumping at these places.  The article ties together a bunch of the places that are documented on the Alaska Lost Ski Areas Project web site.  It's a good read indeed.

One interesting tidbit from this article was the fact that Ted, pictured above, taught a course on how to make skis at the Eklutna Native vocational school.  I never knew that Eklutna was a former Alaskan ski manufacturing center.

 
Early April 2020: Groomed Ski Trails Don't Fall From Heaven.  But Bicycle Singletrack Trails Should.

Recently, in preparation for the first weekend in April, the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA) set tracks all over Kincaid Park.  This was very appreciated and great for the masses of Anchorage xc skiers that could use some escape time from pandemic worries.  Kincaid was packed with skiers.  I don’t know how much the NSAA spent to do this, but the amount no doubt was considerable.

But of course, when these recently groomed ski trails softened in the afternoon, a bunch of thoughtless, asshole bikers chose to go and ride deep trenches into a number of the ski trails.  They rode past the turnoffs to their single track trails so they could do maximum damage to the groomed ski trails.

Did this make me mad?  No.  Definitely not.  It made me happy.

Why happy?  Because now I can ride my ass off on the bicycle single tracks in Anchorage all summer, and feel no guilt for not paying any money to the Single Track Advocates (STA).  Me, a skier, not giving any money to bikers for their trails balances out the bikers trashing our ski trails, that we skiers pay to have groomed.

I’d suggest that the thousands of other xc skiers that ski on NSAA trails adopt this same philosophy.  When you see bikers ripping up our ski trails … don’t get mad.  Be thankful.  Be thankful for the free STA trails that fall from the sky.  There’s no need to give STA money.  Bikers cost us Anchorage xc skiers money ... so bikers can pay for the maintenance of Anchorage single track trails themselves.

 
Mid March 2020: "Hunker Down".  Not Just People Do It.

Presently there is a "hunker down" mandate in Anchorage, Alaska.  Because of the coronavirus pandemic, people are being asked to not go anywhere unless travel is essential.  To the west of Anchorage moose are doing a lot of hunkering down.  Massive amounts of snow is forcing moose to minimize their movement to conserve energy.  And hopefully make their fat reserves last until growing season.  Some will make it.  Sadly, a lot, and especially last year's calves, will not.

Moose hunkering down below our cabin. Heavy snow can kill you if you are in the wrong place when it slides off your cabin's roof. It's even possible to get buried by snow sliding off your outhouse!
 
Mid March 2020: Whoops! ... Not My Oosik.

I was doing some ski trips in the Susitna Valley, based out of our camper van.  While in the Valley I heard that the Oosik ski race was cancelled due to pandemic concerns.  I was near Talkeetna, so I figured I’d stop in Talkeetna and ski the Oosik course.

I got there late, on purpose, and figured there wouldn’t be many people there.  Wrong.  Lots of people in town and out skiing on the course.

As usual, the skiing in Talkeetna was great.  I love the sections where their trails go through moraine country.

But it didn’t take long for me to realize … I shouldn’t be there.

Why?  Well, because I did the first two Oosik races 20 years ago or so.  At Sheep Mountain and at Majestic Valley, both places on the Glenn Highway.  The first Oosik race, in particular, was truly epic.  A 50km race that was mis-measured and was more like 63 kms.  It was a brutal yet fun day, for everyone.

Back then the Oosik was about cross country skiing.  Simple.  Pure.  It was skiers doing a ski race, and then going home.

I hadn’t been to an Oosik event since the first two.  So my vision of the Oosik was 20 years old.  Since then the Oosik has apparently changed.  Massively.  And apparently, I haven’t changed much.

Now the Oosik is a social event.  A costume contest.  A party.  A hipster scene. A liberals’ petition signing event.  A place for copious consumption of craft brews and weed.  It's freaky parents teaching young kids how to be weird.  An event where the bizarre is celebrated.

Well ... so be it.  This is apparently what people want these days.  But what was so bad about a ski race being just about skiing?

As a person that thinks skiing should be about skiing, and as a person that has a life free of booze, weed, costumes and taking part in large crowds I have little in common with … I made a mistake by stopping by Talkeetna during the Oosik.  Oh well, we all make mistakes.  I won’t be making that one again.

A still from an Oosik video.  Skier heading towards a marijuana dispensary.  A "weed feed"?
 
Mid March 2020: The Urge To Take A 'P'
Was driving north to ski.  A sign in front of a bar between Meadow Lakes and Big Lake caught my attention.  Immediately I had the urge to stop and take a 'P'!
 
Early March 2020: Sterling Ski Country

Recently I was skiing at a place I had never skied before.  The firebreak along the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and along the power lines and old seismic trails north of Sterling, Alaska.  While skiing I saw a lot of something I normally don't see on backcountry tracks ... ski tracks!  Lots of them.  A few tracks of recreational dog mushers, no fat bike tracks ... but ski touring tracks all over the place.  Sterling is now on my list of cool xc skiing towns in Alaska!

Boundary of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Nice skiing through a firebreak. Ski tracks, not mine.
XC skiing has a long history in Sterling.  This is a patch noted Alaskan photographer Daryl Pederson got in grade school in Sterling in the 70's for skiing 50 miles.
 
Early March 2020: 30 Years Ago

30 years ago, in 1990, I raced in the first human-powered race the length of the Iditarod Trail. This was an event that my friends Bob Baker, Roger Cowles and I organized.

What are my thoughts about this event 30 years later?  I look back and am thankful for this experience.  I am thankful that I got involved in the Iditaski ultra-endurance events in the 80s.  And am thankful the Iditaski led me to bigger challenges.  Like ... skiing the Iditarod, the Yukon Quest and other long treks. 

And I think it is cool that we started something that would later be copied (10 years after us) by the Iditasport Extreme and the Iditarod Trail Invitational ... and become an institution.  Now people travel from around the world come to Alaska to race the the Iditarod Trail under their own power.

But most of all I look back at this era and am thankful that I found a niche of skiing that was a perfect fit for me.  What kind of skiing is that?  Cross country skiing in its purest form.  The use of cross country skis simply for travel.  For travel across country.  To ski where every stride or skate is over ground you’ve never skied before.  And adding my twist to it … doing this skiing on xc racing skis.

No hype.  No people.  No rules.  Simple.   Just you, your skinny skis and new country to explore.

This website is dedicated to this small niche of xc skiing.  I set goals of skiing new trails, routes or venues on xc race skis.   And then I share trip reports here after I ski new places.  For sure, this is a very small niche in the world of xc skiing.  But I feel lucky and appreciative that is the case.  To have the trails of Alaska basically to yourself and only see another skier, besides my wife, every 10 years or so is an amazing phenomenon on this crowded planet.  I wouldn't have had this opportunity if I were following the mainstream Nordie crowd.

Ski true to yourself.  It's easy to get excited about xc skiing if you are trying to do something new all the time.  When your goals get repetitive, you will start missing out on the fun of skiing.

Update:  I thought it was great that former UAA xc ski racer Casey Fagerquist completed the Iditarod Trail Invitational 1000 mile race to Nome this year.  He, Jill Martingale and Petr Ineman were the only finishers, and they tied for first.  It was a tough year to do this trek.  Congrats!

Nome Nugget picture by James Mason.  Article by James Mason here.
 
Late February 2020: Impressive Haessler-Norris Trail System Map

Recently I was skiing on the Haessler-Norris trails to the east of Willow.  Coincidentally, the day after I skied there a new Matanuska-Susitna Borough map was released for these trails.  The detail of this new trail map is pretty amazing.  You can see countless bumps and ridges left from the last glacial period.  The map is fairly large, a 7.1 MB PFD file.  These are some cool trails that get a lot less visitors than the trails to the west of Willow.  So now that you have a good map of these trails, no excuse for not checking them out.  Click the image or link below to access the new trail map.

New Haessler-Norris Trail map.
 
Early February 2020: Cross Country Skiing Meets Artificial Intelligence

Last year I wrote an iPhone app called  SkateCoach.  This app turns your phone into a wearable monitor for improving your skating technique.  This year I added an artificial intelligence feature to this app.  Now SkateCoach can "learn" how you skate and tell you (audibly) if the skate motion you just made was too long or too short.  Here is a short promotional video I made for SkateCoach ...

SkateCoach on the Apple App Store
 
Mid January 2020: You Are Being Watched!

When you are out skiing, you are probably being watched more than you know.  Perhaps by lynx, like this one (that I took a picture of with my phone from 10 feet away).

   
 
Early January 2020: Memorial Markers That Few See

Occasionally when I am out skiing in the backcountry I come across memorials for the deceased.  This happens rarely, but it is surprising to find memorials out in places where few people ever go to.  Recently I was skiing through the Eklutna Canyon and found a memorial.  Lots of people travel the lower canyon, especially for ice climbing.  But his memorial was upstream past the site of the recently-removed dam.  Not many folks travel this stretch of the canyon.  When I first saw the memorial I was pretty sure I knew what it was, based on a conversation I once had with Craig Medred .  Craig, due to his journalism career, is a knowledgebase of outdoor information.  And especially of outdoor tragedies.  Craig remembered that a long time ago a guy fell off a cliff into Eklutna Canyon.  Or possibly, he was pushed off the cliff (according to Craig).  Either way, a grim way to die.  And this is perhaps the spot that the incident happened.

This remote memorial marker reminded me of other markers of tragedy that I've seen a few times while skiing near Point Mackenzie.  Underneath the powerline, that comes from the Beluga power station, are three simple iron crosses.  They mark the spot where three people died in 1971 when the small plane they were in hit the power line.  Another grim way to die.

Memorial marker in Eklutna Canyon.  Marker at bottom of cliff in Eklutna Canyon. The marker is at the bottom of the cliff in the sun in this picture. Memorial markers under powerline near Point Mackenzie.
 
Early January 2020: Ski, Find Burls, Make Stuff ... Repeat

Last winter I was skiing near our cabin and noticed a bunch of strange burls in a dead spruce tree.  It's easy to spot burls these days as the spruce bark beetle is ravaging the forests.  Trees that are dropping their needles reveal their burls.  As folks that read this blog know ... I like to make stuff out of burls.  So this time it was a USB charging station.  Table and platform for putting devices that need to be charged.  Picture at lower right shows what I made, without the USB charger wiring.  Frame is made of welded and brushed aluminum.

 
Late December 2019: Alaska, Land Of Earthquakes ... And Bear-quakes

I recently changed-out the memory cards from the game cameras at our cabin.  While viewing recent videos and images I was reminded why life at our remote cabin is a bit more relaxing in the winter than in the summer.  Why?  No bear-quakes in the winter.  I found a video that showed both a momma and cub brown bear rubbing themselves on our cabin (see GIF image below).  "Hey, the cabin is shaking!  Are we having an earthquake!?"  Uhm ... no.  But maybe it would be better if it was an earthquake!  Glad the chance of a bear-quake is very rare during ski season at the cabin.

   
  A brown bear double-rub, "bear-quake" in progress at our cabin.  
 
Mid December 2019: Give A Skier A Welder ... And What Does He Make?  Skis Of Course.

A few years ago I decided up to my welding game.  I got better welding equipment, got some good pointers from YouTube videos(!) and immersed myself in welding projects.  So the end result is that I've been ... making skis!  10 skis so far.  But the skis I've been making aren't designed for human usage.  They're for dragging heavy stuff behind a snowmobile.  Recently I built a log arch.  It's a contraption that you pull behind a snowmobile to move logs.  I borrowed one to try it out last year, liked it and figured I'd build my own.  You get the log arch near a log you want to move, put a choker cable around the log, crank it off the ground and drive away.  Pretty slick.  Have a lot of dead spruce I need to move this spring.

Log arch Steel freight sled Aluminum freight sled
 
Early December 2019: Tiny And Powerful

It's been amazing to see in my lifetime the impact technology has had on headlamps.  Back in the 80's headlamps were so dim that you often had to slow up when skiing downhill on narrow trails, because you couldn't see what was coming.  Not today.   Back in 1990 you'd spend $40.00 ($80 inflation adjusted for today) just for one heavy lithium D cell.  These batteries were not rechargeable, but they were the only batteries that worked well in the cold.  You used them to power a dim incandescent bulb, that was prone to burning out.

Now you can get a tiny rechargeable lithium battery headlamp that is as bright as a car headlight for $35 or less.  Like the Slonik 1000 lumen rechargeable headlamps you can buy on Amazon.  There are no external wires that can be tugged and cause lamp failure, like in the old days.  The LED bulbs are rated to last 10,000 hours.  And they are charged via a USB cable.  I like this, because it gives you more options for recharging.  You can use a USB AC adapter to plug into the wall ... but more conveniently, you can use DC power outlets in your vehicle or on digital devices at home or work  that have USB ports.  You can even bring along USB power packs while out on the trail and recharge your headlamp when you are not using it.  But I figure for the price, and due to these lamps' minimal weight, you might as well buy 2 headlamps and bring them both on trips.  That way you have more headlamp run time ... and a backup light.

 
Early December 2019: Van Leveling App That Talks In Real Van Talk

"What the hell"  "Oh my god!"  "What are you doing!"  "Are you trying to kill us!"

I've learned that the above phrases occasionally pop up in conversations during the operation of a camper van.  So I figured, if this is real van talk ... then why not use real van talk in a leveling app that one uses to find a good parking spot for your van.  So I made it happen ...

RevelLevel To hear these sounds/voices, click on the links to the left or right. SprinterLevel
 
Late November 2019: XC Skiers No Longer Cool At Deshka Landing?

I remember being astounded back in 2014 when a skier appeared on the Deshka Landing logo on their web site.  But recently I noticed the skier is gone.  Replaced by a fish.  Why a fish?  Probably should have been replaced by a fat biker.  I guess skiers just aren't considered cool any more by Deshka Landing.  Oh well, no hard feelings ... I've been to Deshka Landing a zillion times (mostly in the summer) ... and I'll always think that Deshka Landing is a cool place.

2014 2019
 
Mid November 2019: What Would You Do?
     

Recently we drove by a memorial for victims of a double homicide that happened this summer.  This memorial is on the Alaskan Highway in northern British Columbia, near Laird Hot Springs.  Shortly after this young couple was killed, the two murderers killed another man on the Cassiar Highway.  Here's the story.

These were very rare events for this area, yet senseless and extremely horrific events.  These deaths weighed heavily on me and my wife, as we have been traveling through this area recently.

So … what if this was you?  What if someone was trying to get into your vehicle?  What if the person had a gun and was shooting at you?  Or at your spouse or family?  What would you do?

Yes, this is a very grim scenario.  It’s hard to imagine what you would do.  If it were me, I would hope I had a firearm nearby so I could make an attempt to counter the attack. 

“What?  But you are a skier!  Skiers are anti-guns!  You don’t carry a gun when you travel do you?!”

Well, yes … I do carry a gun when I travel.   I would never, ever want to use it.  But I don’t want to be helpless if an active shooter is in the mix.  I don’t want to be the guy bringing a knife or can of bear spray to a gun fight.

When it comes to gun laws of the North, carrying a firearm in Alaska is easy.  Carrying a firearm in Canada, if you are a US citizen, is not as easy.  But it’s not hard. 

If you wanted to bring a firearm with you while traveling in Canada, this is how you do it:

First you fill out the RCMP form 5590, the Non-Resident Firearm Declaration (Google to find this form).  On this form you put the type and serial number of your firearm.  Pistols – not allowed.  Shotguns with folding stocks that are at least 28 inches long – OK.  You check ‘Wildlife Protection’ as the reason for carrying the gun.  You present the form to the Canadian border agent, show them the gun if they want to see it, pay them $20 CDN and you are good to go for 60 days.  When crossing back into the US, you show them your form 5590.

Will a gun keep you safe when traveling remote highways of the North for skiing and adventure trips?  No, it won’t.  It’s a very small variable in the safety equation.  The most significant variables are an awareness of your surroundings and one's common sense evaluation of risk.  But ... small variables can still matter in the big equation of safety.

 
Mid November 2019: New XC Skiing Experiences Ahead in Southcentral, AK ... Due To Summer Fires

This summer in Southcentral Alaska saw a record amount of forest fire activity.  Trails that cross these burn areas will be very different this winter.  I remember skiing the Tustumena 200 dog sled race course in 2004.  And then again in 2011 after the Caribou Hills fire.  It was hard to believe you were skiing the same trails.  Likewise with the burns of this summer.  Skiing through them will be a new experience, especially if you have skied the trails before.

The Willow Trail Committee trails south of Deshka Landing now cross a burn area.  Fire-ravaged Swan Lake trails will be very different, as well with the Mystery Creek Road area.  Backcountry touring through the burn areas will be unique.  I wish these forest fires didn't happen.  But might as well make the best of them now, and check them out on skis this winter.

Montana Creek Fire, near Talkeetna "Y" Remnant of the 2007 Caribou Hills fire (picture taken while mountain biking this summer). Swan Lake Fire, in its infancy, as seen from Anchorage.
 
Mid November 2019: Skiers Are Not The Only Animals That Wish Snow Was Here

Rabbits wish snow was here, so their coats-turned-white would camouflage them, instead of give them away.  Moose (see picture above) and other animals that use the insulating properties of snow also wish the ground was snow-covered by now.
 
Late October 2019: Essential Phone Apps For Bike, Hike and XC Ski Road Tripping.  And They're Free.

iOverlander.  Trailforks.  AllTrails.

Recently we went on an 8000 mile road trip, from Anchorage to Tuktoyaktuk, NWT to Arizona and back to Anchorage.  We used the three apps listed above frequently.  iOverland for ideas on where to camp.  Trailforks for bike and ski trails.  AllTrails for hiking trails.  All three of these apps are crowd-sourced, GPS map-interface apps.  All three apps are functional without a WIFI connection.  After a location or trail on these apps gets your interest, comments and descriptions by users help you decide whether to go there or not.  If you haven't already, install these free apps on your phone and play with them (links above).  Maybe they will become the essential tools for you that they are for us.  And you will be ready to maximize the activity time of your next road trip!

Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Camping spot in BC found via iOverlander app (van is in picture). Smoky Mountain Road, Southern UT
Mountain bike single-track trails found via Trailforks app.  Visited 24 MTB trail systems in YT, BC, WA, OR, ID and UT.
AllTrails will help you find North America's hiking trails (NWT and UT). Ski trails in Canada found via Trailforks app (Grande Prairie and Whitehorse).
 
Late September 2019: Visiting a Famous XC Skiing Town ... Inuvik, NWT

Back in the 60's and 70's a lot of good Canadian cross country ski racers came from the Inuvik area of the Northwest Territories.  In this very remote area of Canada, the TEST program once flourished.  The Territorial Experimental Ski Training program led by Bjorger Pettersen.  Some of the best Canadian ski racers of this era came from this program, such as Shirley and Sharon Firth, Herb Bullock, Fred Kelly and Angus Cockney.

I was ski racing during the tail end of the Inuvik phenomenon's prime years.  It was unbelievable to me how skiers so good could come from a place so remote.  Recently, while driving from Anchorage to Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean, I stopped in Inuvik and went running on their ski trails.  Some of the trails seem to be frozen in time.  Paths cleared through the taiga that have never seen a bulldozer.  You can sense the spirits of past  Inuvik skiers on these trails.  Glad to finally visit the legendary trails of Inuvik.

For more information about the TEST ski program, click here.

For a great video about the Firth sisters, click here.

Where is Inuvik?  Click here.

From Dawson City, YT, you have to drive over 450 miles of dirt road to get to Inuvik. Inuvik Ski Club buildings.  
  A boggy ski trail through the taiga.  This trail has never seen a bulldozer.  Likely pretty much the same as it was in the 60's.    
I've read that the Inuvik Ski Club is struggling.  But it is right across the road from a huge recreation center (hockey arena).  
Vintage xc skiing pictures that can be found in the cafeteria area of a grocery store in Inuvik.
A street sign in Inuvik.
Shirley Firth winning US Jr. Nationals in Girdwood, AK in 1969.  Chuck Johnson photo.
 
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