Though I was dismayed to see the recent headline that wet weather would continue, I enjoyed seeing Michael Penn’s photo of a cross country skier at Montana Creek. Despite the wet weather, Montana Creek has been an outstanding place to ski this week thanks to its unique geography that holds snow and the unflagging efforts of the Juneau Nordic Ski Club.
As a skier in Juneau, I have been refreshing my weather apps, dissecting the NOAA forecast discussion and watching the temperatures fluctuate around freezing, right up to the top of Eaglecrest. Meanwhile, Montana Creek sits in a low canyon formed by the Gastineau Fault. The Canyon of Montana Creek, also a popular destination for local trout anglers, creates a pinch point that holds cold air spilling from the Juneau Icefield. It is really the only reliable and accessible place for cross country skiing when the temperatures climb. Montana Creek has been skiable every day of this warm, wet December.
Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without the collaborative efforts of the City and Borough of Juneau, Parks and Recreation, PRAC and the Juneau Nordic Ski Club. The Nordic Ski club’s volunteer groomers keep the snow in its best shape for skate and classic skiing. The Nordic Club welcomes snowshoeing and hiking too, though they request hikers keep to the side of the groomed track. Last year the club donated thousands of volunteer hours to provide 125 days of grooming at Montana Creek. The club also grooms, free of charge, the Campground, Mendenhall Lake, Eaglecrest and Pioneer Road. The club has grown three-fold in the past decade as more Juneauites discover Nordic skiing. If you enjoy Nordic skiing in Juneau, I hope you’ll join me and become a member (www.jnski.org) to support their continuing efforts.
Another thanks is due to the City and Borough of Juneau for providing this outstanding recreation opportunity. Montana Creek is one of my favorite places in Juneau. For skiing, fishing, sighting in my hunting rifle or even an easy dog walk. Juneauites, don’t dispair yet, we can still enjoy skiing and a white Christmas out at Montana Creek!