The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Irene Lindquist
Seward Parks District 

Outdoor conditions are improving in Seward area


January 5, 2017 | View PDF

Happy Winter Solstice to all of you on this Gorgeous Evening.

There are many groomed ski options across the District right now. Last week, I referred you to websites for Cooper Landing, Girdwood and Seward to check out what's being groomed; for the most part they are updated with news when fresh grooming has occurred, though I noticed a couple areas were not added to the Seward site, they are Bear Lake, Exit Glacier Road, and Mile 12 Divide.

I enjoy ice and the physics and mechanics of ice; At work, my partner and I have a lot of fun playing the guessing game of how tick the ice will be before we measure various bodies of water. On November 14 Juneau Lake had 5" of ice thickness and no snow cover, Swan Lake had 7 ½ inches of ice and no snow. On December 6 Trout Lake had 8" of ice thickness below a couple inches of snow. Since then these lakes received approximately 3-5 inches of snow. On November 30, a thick layer of hoar frost the 3rd week of December and 5-8 inches of snow fall December 16-19. Any guess as to what the ice thickness was yesterday on these lakes?

Resurrection Pass trail south via Bean Creek Trail has been packed by snow machine to Swan Lake. Here are directions for winter travel on Resurrection South which is easier to navigate (note, there are a few roads that veer right heading up hills, these are packed by sno-go, but you no wanna go go).

Bean Creek Winter Route access to Resurrection Pass trail south:

At mile 47.7 of the Sterling Highway. turn onto Bean Creek Road, Drive 1 mile, turn right onto Slaughter Ridge Road. Drive ½ mile & park at the winter circular parking area. Travel 1.3 miles to the Bean Creek Trail. Then go 1.8 miles up Bean Creek Trail to Resurrection Pass Trail.

There is also a winter access via West Juneau Road 200 feet directly west of the Resurrection Pass trail south at mile 53.2 of the Sterling Highway. This access is more difficult until it is packed down well as it does not receive much use in non-motorized seasons.

Ice thickness beneath 8" of snow yesterday at Trout, Juneau, and Swan Lakes:

Juneau Lake - 13"

Swan Lake - 13.5"

Trout Lake - 16"

Here is a report from Carolyn Seramur from Glacier Ranger District:

Report of ice/frost on Portage Lake from the 14th shows here

Sat-Sun snow fall of 5" was quite warm so was quite slushy by Sunday afternoon.

Monitor/tracking ice thickness or conditions of Portage Lake or the surrounding areas doesn't occur.

A few inches of snow fell Monday morning across Girdwood and Portage . . . I would guess that snow would be enjoyable to slide/swipe/hike in!

From the webcam on the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center you can tell the lake is covered ... Portage Glacier site.

Winner Creek Trail is primed for fat biking right now, and judging by the amount of tracks out there quite a few people are taking advantage of the good conditions. A lot of the folks out on the trail are renting bikes from next door at the Alyeska Hotel, a good option to consider if you are new to fat bikes.

Winner Creek can also be a hoot on skis with the right gear setup. This trail seems steeper in the winter, and is best suited for a fishscaled ski with metal edges and a stiff boot. The snow is a little thin in places, but for the most part the rocks and roots have been covered up. Skiers should also keep in mind that Winner Creek Trail connects to the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club's groomed 5K loop if they are looking for an extended tour. Note that this loop is open to ski traffic only during winter grooming.

If you do bike or ski Winner Creek Trail please be cautious of other slower moving trail users as you head back downhill towards Alyeska. The trail's current packed soft snow also makes for good conditions for walkers, and it's just soft enough that you can leave the ice creepers in your pack.

The hand tram across Glacier Creek is closed down for the winter, but as of Sunday with a little bushwhacking and some light footwork it was possible to ford the creek over an ice bridge below the tram for those looking to push on towards Crow Creek Road. Heading the other direction there were recently a number of tracks leading up the Upper Winner Creek Trail, but eventually the bent over alders will slow you down this time of year. If travelling this way you should also be mindful that after roughly the first mile from the "T" intersection with the Winner Creek Trail you will be entering avalanche terrain and should only travel further with the appropriate gear and knowledge of the avalanche hazards.

It's great to have snow to sea level after the last couple of winters, so hopefully people have a chance to get out and enjoy this trail while the conditions are in!

Take care and monitor/measure condition to allow yourself and those amongst you in your party to travel aware and cautious with returning safely home!


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