Milepost 49 on the Seward Highway has a little pull out near a well-used gravel pit. Jesse, Brian, & J-Rock accompanied yours truly to the south flanks of Manitoba from the Mile 49 pull out. I have always used the much larger pull out at Milepost 48 to access Manitoba, and it turns out that the Mills Creek bridge is about the same distance from either spot. We toured to highest glades on Manitoba and dropped down the south facing slopes to find great snow. It was blowing and white in the alpine, so we stayed in the trees & alders. Getting a little bored, the others left for home after a couple of laps.
I stayed for another lap and contemplated skiing the west side of the highway opposite of Manitoba. I had considered the west side when we started in the morning, but one of our party left his beacon at home, and the west side is somewhat steeper than the reliably safe, low angle Manitoba.
On the way back from Manitoba's south flank, I met a fellow at the Mills Creek bridge looking for his buddies. I hadn't seen his friends. But, we skied to Mile 49 together as his car was parked there, too. We simultaneously arrived back at Mile 49 with a couple of skers coming down from the west side of the highway. They had a note for the windshield of the "blue car" which happed to belong to Brett, my new ski partner. The note said his buddies were skiing the west side, and Brett decided to go up and meet them. I went along for the adventure. The west side had great skiing, 8" fluff on a soft base up high with a firmer base lower near the highway, and I enjoyed skiing another hill for the first time.
After the mile and a half shuffle to the base of Manitoba, the virtually zero approach of Mile 49 west side was welcoming. Walk across the highway, put on your skis, and start skinning up. Manitoba is a very pleasant tour, and it's also suited to lighter systems than the AT set-up I used today. My Fischer Outtabounds (88-68-78 mm) with the Salomon X-ADV 8 boot/binding system works really well on Manitoba.
5:30 pm 15-Feb
Mile 49 Seward Highway west side
Looking down (east) on the gravel pit