Juneau has other popular areas for Nordic skiing

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2002

Even nonskiers know their work.

In addition to their patrolling efforts at Eaglecrest, the Nordic Ski Club brushes and grooms trails at Dredge Lake and at the Mendenhall Lake and campground.

"These trails ... are no longer impassable in the wintertime," club treasurer Marc Scholten said. "(They're) brushed out. There's lots of users in there, there's hikers and dog walkers."

Club volunteers strive to make the trail welcoming to these groups, while guarding against the hazard their footprints can pose to skiers by setting separate trails for each.

"We try to encourage the users not to walk on our classic ski tracks as it damages them," Scholten said. "The reason why we set an additional trail is we want to encourage the hikers to walk ... on the other part of the trail."

The club maintains a website at http://home.gci.net/~jnorski that lists trail conditions around the city, and provides links to ski areas in other Southeast towns.

It will also include updated trail conditions and dates when tracks were last set, Scholten added.

"It takes a lot of effort to set tracks," he said. "Once you set them, you want people to ski them and enjoy them."

The work is a volunteer effort, and Scholten said more help is always welcome. In particular, he's been the club's only officer since the president, vice president and secretary resigned several years ago.

"I don't want to see this thing die," Scholten said. "I love to ski and I like to see other people skiing the trails."

New community programs to encourage enthusiasm about Nordic skiing are cropping up, including the 4-H Nordic Ski Program. Kids ages 5 to 14 rent skis for a "minimal fee" and use the equipment for a year, Scholten said. Sunday afternoon ski sessions help them build skills and eventually explore more challenging terrain.

"They start skiing real flat terrain at the beginning of the season, usually at the campground," Scholten said. "They had over 50 participants last year and I think it's about the same this year, which is really very encouraging."

Even during the summer, the brushed ski trails serve a purpose, Scholten added.

"The ski trails that we brush out at Dredge Lake make very good hiking, running and bicycling trails," he said.

Genevieve Gagne-Hawes can be reached at nrclerk@juneauempire.com.

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