JUNEAU - Tracks are set, skate trails smoothed and cold weather is in the forecast.
For local Nordic skiers these are all good things.
Volunteer grooming, courtesy of Juneau Snowmobile Club and Juneau Nordic Ski Club members, began this week on ski trails near the Mendenhall Glacier and at Eaglecrest Ski Area.
"At Eaglecrest, the new gravel trail and the meadow have good snow cover," Jack Kreinheder stated in an e-mail. "Parts of the rest of the loop are brushy in spots, but there is 20 inches of snow and overall the skiing is great."
Kreinheder is a board member with the Juneau Snowmobile club and is one of a handful of volunteers who take time to set tracks for classic skiers, pack trails and smooth them for skating.
At Eaglecrest, early season grooming by the two local nonprofit clubs offers skiing opportunities for locals before the area officially opens. Currently, only a classic track is set on the Lower Loop trails, Kreinheder said. Once the lifts begin to run, Eaglecrest staff will take over trail grooming and maintenance.
The trails in the campground near Skater's Cabin were groomed for both Nordic disciplines - skate and classic - this week. Reports say a layer of snow fell on the campground Tuesday night, but cold temperatures should help to retain the current base.
And while dogs are allowed to frequent the valley trails with their owners, they are not currently allowed on any of the Nordic trails at Eaglecrest. Volunteers are urging locals to heed the "no dogs" rule as canine companions can easily destroy freshly set classic tracks and put paw-sized potholes on the skating portions.
The upcoming local forecast calls for cool temperatures followed by a weather system that will likely bring snow to the region.
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