The season got off to an odd start. Skiing the Talkeetna Mountains in September through mid-November is the norm, followed by the Kenai Mountains and the Anchorage Chugach Front Range. But, this season, Talkeetnas snowpack did not materialize, and Turnagain Pass in the Kenai Mtns had a huge early season snowfall offering an epic early season, while the Anchorage Front Range snowpack was about normal. Thanksgiving week started with a state-wide meltdown, a warm rain storm followed by a nice snowfall on Thanksgiving day. Now a couple of days later, another 3" settled on the Anchorage (northern) Hillside at Stuckagain. The combination of the rain saturated base with a high density 6-inch layer, followed by another 6 inches of moderate density, with 3 inches of super light smoke-like powder on top has created a near perfect early season snowpack for touring on the Anchorage Hillside. Telemarking today on the flanks of Wolverine Peak via Backdoor Trail was the perfect antidote for any angst.
Snow crystals seemed to appear out of thin air and shimmer in the cold hazy sunshine while slowly settling toward the white blanket. Not a breath of wind stirred, and the city sounds were hushed in the winter quiet. The steady cadence of a squeaky binding harmonized by heavy breathing kept the rhythm of the skin track on a steady ascent, broken only by the switchback.
The speed of descent was startling. My skis turned with ease and felt like a near weightless flight through the ether of cold, smokey snow. Sinusoidal arcing down the slope left a wake of sparkling crystals suspended mid-air and defined the powder seekers' grail, that euphoric sensation of floating down the mountain in ephemerality.