GOVERNMENT PEAK RECREATION AREA—Drizzle didn't keep 170 residents away last Saturday during Winter Trail Day. Many came out to the new Government Peak Recreation Area near Hatcher Pass to try out nordic skis and snowshoes and lessons on new trails.
"Considering the weather, I believe we had an excellent turnout from the community," said Warren Templin, a Borough recreation specialist and one of the event organizers who kept people warm in an area without electricity with burning wood in warming barrels. "We went through 120 packages of hot cocoa and 50 packages of apple cider," Templin said.
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough, REI, Mat-Su Trails Council, Mat-Su Ski Club and Alaska Trails hosted the event.
Farther up the mountain, State Park ranger Amy O'Conner was giving tours of the avalanche rescue cache and snowshoe tours of the independence Mine Complex. She also set up the avalanche beacon testing station that allows self guided instruction of the proper use of rescue beacons to locate other members of your group. Some 30 people attended.
An even larger turnout is expected next Winter Trail Day given a chalet and community center will be built. This year participants had to fill out paperwork under REI's gear-changing canopy or else have water rolling down their backs.
Learn more about the new recreation area at http://www.hatcherpass.com
Photos: A 12-year-old learns how to fasten snow shoes; right Willow the Great Dane and her owner enjoy the pet loop of Pioneer Loop Trail. Photos Patty Sullivan.