“Three hundred thousand people have no idea it’s sunny today,” my child’s ski coach says to me this past weekend while we eat lunch in between runs.
We’re up at Arctic Valley, a small, local ski hill located just outside Anchorage on military property. Unlike Hillberg though, Arctic Valley is not on JBER base, so civilians have equal access.
We are here every Saturday for the winter as the kids are taking part in Arctic Valley’s new recreational ski program.
Did I mention we’re here ALL day? I hesitated signing up because: I’m a homebody. All day commitments are daunting with a five and two year old in tow. It takes up our Saturdays—our only free day to do something spontaneously adventurous (such as stay in pajamas all day). It’s a super steep hill for someone learning how to ski. And I’m not talking about the five year old. I have to build up my nerve after I disentangle myself from the T-bar.
“Mom, next time try to steer away from the track and then pull down on the bar before getting off.” The five year old coaches me earnestly while I try to sidestep up to retrieve my pole while dodging the rider behind me.
Yes, T-bar. This isn’t no fancy pants ski hill! The two lifts are old, there is a t-bar that provides for a lot of entertainment if you are a pro (there can be a lot of missteps), most of the hill isn’t groomed because as one patron said, “No one wants to die grooming it.” And there’s a small tubing section that pretty much carries the whole area financially because, as I mentioned, of all the things Anchorage is, it isn’t a ski town.
The place is run by (mostly volunteering) ski bums. It’s okay, they’re proud. In fact the board protested having a kid’s program because, “they’ll track out all the powder!” So the directors reduced the Saturday cap in order for the dedicated to carve up the fresh snow themselves.
And yet it’s a funky and fun vibe. Live music upstairs in the bar, decent pizza downstairs on the cafeteria style rows of tables and a dry erase board scrawled with the timing of the lifts for the day, all perched above a jaw dropping view of the city. I haven’t yet had a Saturday I’ve regretted watching the sun rise and then set six hours later over the city.