Sled, snow and sunshine makes for great memories
My first experience with “Spring Break” in the early 1990s was a trip to Daytona Beach, Fla., where a few girlfriends and I attended an MTV dance party on the beach. We had our 10 seconds of fame as they filmed everyone in the crowd, hands in the air, singing and bouncing along to House of Pain’s, “Jump Around.” Spring break was all about putting your college studies aside and taking a week to let down your hair and have a good time.
As my life progressed, spring break became focused on my kids and giving them a fun experience while they took a break from school. Great memories were made as we rented hotel rooms at Alyeska Resort and skied for a few days, calling out for room service. We had years where we would rent cabins up in Eureka or Petersville and we would go on long family rides, shedding our warm winter gear for lighter jackets and basking in the sun. March in Alaska tends to bring the best snow conditions, with clear skies and warmer weather. It’s a little slice of heaven.
Spring break these days means a week at our cabin in Trapper Creek. We love to have visitors, and during this time there is no shortage. We start out the week with some heavy riding, putting on the miles between our cabin and a few of our friend’s cabins. These tend to be skilled riding days — some of our best of the year. I often need a day or two to recoup between those rides, snowshoeing with friends or riding easy trails. It’s nice to slow down and really take a look at the beauty that surrounds us. Most of the time Denali is out and we love to see the reactions that others have when they see it up close for the first time.
Last year a friend and her son came out with us for a few days. She is up for anything, so we outfitted her with gear and went on a ride to Kenny Creek Lodge for a burger. On the way we stopped to play in some powder. My son gets better each year, and he likes to look at me and point up a gnarly hill and ask if I think he can make it. Picking lines up a hill is tricky: You not only need to look for ways up the hill, but a way down and then a backup plan in case things don’t go the way you would expect.
I agreed that he should go for it, and he headed up. Not to be outdone, I decided to follow him but ended up in a deep hole full of alders. He came down the hill as I was going up and then we were both stuck: backup plan fail. From the bottom of the hill you couldn’t really see us as we stood, stuck in snow above our heads. My friend commented later that one minute we were there, the next we were gone. Luckily, she knew to sit and wait and when we finally pulled ourselves out we were able to regroup and hit the trail.
For some reason there is a phone booth in the middle of the Safari Lake Trail. I’m not sure what the story is behind this, but I love that someone took the time to drag the thing out and secure it as a landmark for people traveling on the trail system. We stopped for some photos and to rehydrate.
When we finally got back to our cabin, it was time for games. We don’t have a television and don’t plan on bringing one out. We do have many board games and it is fun to force our kids and ourselves to put down our electronic devices and enjoy each other’s company. This night we played Yahtzee – other favorites are Uno and Boggle. We only have one pen in our cabin, which is the one we brought up to use with our cabin journal. On the nights we play Yahtzee we pass the one pen around and joke about taking minimalism at the cabin to the extreme.
Each additional day we are delighted to welcome a new group of friends and to build memories that will last a lifetime. We are happy to share in all that we have with others and help them to see the adventure, beauty and serenity that Alaska has to offer.
I am looking forward to this year’s “Spring Break” week and memories that will be made. I will be wearing sunglasses, my lightest sled gear and still singing and jumping, but the dance will be a snow dance and I will be hoping for more warm winter days with friends and family.