Vintage Technology New Hatcher racers hit brings users Pass ski trails the fast lane. close to trails. to open. Page 3
A special supplement to the Oct. 30, 2012 edition
GOODBYE SNOWMACHINE TRAILS. GOODBYE SALMON STREAMS.
GOODBYE HUNTING RANGE.
Multi-national companies want to rip up 31 square miles of our valley just to send coal to China. But it’s not too late. There’s a growing coalition of sportsmen, outdoorsmen, property owners and families who want to protect our recreational access areas and homes.
Learn more and get involved at matvalley.org Page 2
October 30, 2012
GREG JOHNSON/Frontiersman file photo
K.C. Cabana of Wasilla leans into a turn on his 1972 Yamaha GP 338 while outpacing the rest of the pack during a 2009 race. Cabana won the first race of the Vintage Snowmachine Valentine X-Country Race and Fun Run behind Houston Lodge.
Valley vintage racers hit the fast lane BY GREG JOHNSON Frontiersman.com
MAT-SU — For some, a stroll through a shopping mall with an unlimited credit card sounds like a perfect afternoon. For Craig Clayton, a rummage through Tim Brett’s “boneyard” gets his competitive juices racing. As president of the Mat-Su Vintage Snowmachine Racing Club, there are few things Clayton likes more than salvaging an old sled from Brett’s collection of junked snowmachines. “We call it the ‘boneyard,’” Clayton said. “He’s got
October 30, 2012
ONLINE • Mat-Su Vintage Snowmachine Racers Club website: matsuvintageracers.com • Ice Racing Alaska website: iceracingak.com
about 60 old sleds.” That’s where he salvaged the 1979 Yamaha SRX 440 he’ll be racing throughout the winter. “I dug it out of his boneyard two years ago in total shambles and now it’s in pretty good shape,” Clayton said.
That’s part of the allure of racing vintage snowmachines, he said. Along with the thrill of getting a sled up to speed on crisp, cold weekends is the work it takes to rehabilitate and keep those old machines running. “Heck yeah, that’s fun,” he said. “It’s not the product you get, it’s the chase. I call you and look for parts, and you say no, but Billy might have them, and he says Tommy might. It’s a lot of camaraderie with a good group of guys. People give each other parts and help each other and tell their race secrets.” See VINTAGE, Page 10
Trail use made easy through technology BY ROBERT DEBERRY Frontiersman.com
ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman file photo
See TECHNOLOGY, Page 5
A skier heads out on the Crevasse-Moraine Trail System.
MAT-SU — Set between the Palmer-Wasilla Highway, Glenn Highway, Parks Highway and Trunk Road is 30-plus miles of non-motorized recreational trails. There’s a maze of interconnected single-track, groomed and non-groomed ski trails, hardened asphalt or gravel surfaced areas, farm dirt roads and well-monitoring roads. These public use trails are owned by a combination of the Mat-Su Borough, University of Alaska Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna College, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Palmer Center for Sustainable Living, state of Alaska and some private owners. Before 2009, not much in the way of maps or signage existed for the area. With terrain ranging from farm fields to dense trees. From flat to hilly and twisty to winding, it is easy to get lost or disoriented. You might start near Matanuska Lake State Recreation Park and end up near the Palmer-Wasilla Highway within the Crevasse-Moraine system. An initial map was This QR code makes it simple released in 2008, but since to find your way around the then new trails have been Matanuska Greenbelt Trail added like the Bearberry System. Bluff Trail, a 1.1-mile singletrack trail geared toward mountain biking. Because of these new trails, the maps have gone through several updates in 2010 and 2011. Now in 2012, a new feature comes along courtesy of the Matanuska Greenbelt Trails Association that will make using the trail system a lot easier, safer and more pleasant — handy Quick Response code (QR code) scannable with today’s smartphones. A QR code is a type of matrix barcode similar to UPC barcodes used in grocery stores. QR codes were designed for the automotive industry, but have become popular outside the industry specifically for consumer advertising and packaging. Recently, QR codes have started to be used for a much wider range of applications. Like connecting trail users to maps of the area. Here’s how it works. At eight trailheads within the Matanuska Greenbelt Trail System is a trail map. On that map or adjacent to it is a QR code. With your smartphone and a QR code reader application — like SeQRets, QuickMark or NeoReader — you
October 30, 2012
TECHNOLOGY Continued from Page 4
ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman file photo
A pair of cross-country skiers make their way along the trails in the Crevasse-Moraine Trail System.
scan the code on the map and within seconds are connected to the mobile map of the Matanuska Greenbelt Trail System. Easy, simple and handy. According to trail association member Dot Helm, QR codes are a great way to keep the maps updated without a lot of additional expense. Helm said as new trails are built, they can update the website and do not need to replace all the maps at trailheads, and they donâ€™t have to wait for approval from all the agencies involved with the parklands. Helm said that waiting for approval is how the QR code program started. â€œSometimes there were delays in getting things approved by various agencies, but they were fine with a QR code that went to the same information,â€? she said. In a time where technology seems to be the driving force for anything that draws in the younger generation, the trail
association also saw it as a way to attract kids and get them off the couch and onto the trails. â€œWe are trying to connect with younger generations, ones that are kind-of plugged into their iPhone all the time,â€? said Helm. â€œThat is what we are hoping to do, get some activities perhaps where they can see a trail as another method of using their phone.â€? Helm said although the response to the new initiative has been good and people like it, there is still a technology learning curve. â€œThere is also a lot of people who donâ€™t even know what a QR code is,â€? she said. â€œHaving been one of those people nine months ago I can relate.â€? The trail system that stretches between Matanuska Lake State Park and Crevasse-Moraine provides a great opportunity to get out this winter and ski, fattire bike or just walk with your friends and with the addition of the QR codes at the trailheads finding your way is only a button click away.
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New Hatcher Pass ski trails this winter BY ANDREW WELLNER Frontiersman.com
PALMER — Brand new trails will open this winter for cross-country skiers in Hatcher Pass and buses will be available to get them there. The Mat-Su Borough announced on its project webpage that the trails are ready for winter use, but folks should stay off of them until the snow has covered the trials and they’ve been groomed for winter use. “It’s a great opportunity and I’m excited to have citizens out there,” Borough Manager John Moosey says in a video on the borough’s website. “Not only does it look like a lot of fun, it’ll be a huge economic asset for our area.” The five-minute video includes a summertime tour of the trails and the parking lot built there. The new trails are 3.5 miles long and include 13 bridges over small creeks. “Olympic skier and Mount Marathon legend Bill Spencer designed the trails
and intentionally connected the trail to spectacular views. One ridge beholds Government Peak, the Chugach Range and Susitna Mountain. The trails are designed for recreational skiers and high school competitors,” according to the borough. Those 3.5 miles are just over half of what the borough has planned there. The area will eventually be 10 kilometers of tracks, or just over 6 miles. The borough touts the trails as worldclass and thinks they will attract tournaments and other events that will bring dollars to the community. Hatcher Pass has long been the site of plans — both reasonable and unreasonable — for skiing areas of the Nordic and the Alpine types. The borough has even tried its hand at spurring an Alpine ski area, but with little success. Those plans are still discussed, but no one seems to seriously believe they’ll be implemented anytime soon. As for bus service, there hasn’t been anything finalized; however, back in
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July the borough selected the local bus company MASCOT to make regular trips to the pass from Palmer and Wasilla on weekends. “MASCOT will provide a fixed transit service to the Government Peak Ski Recreation areas, from the cities of Palmer and Wasilla, on weekends (Friday through Sunday) from Nov. 1 through April 30, during the times that Nordic ski trails are open for use,” according to an ordinance granting MASCOT $180,000 to run those routes.
The borough is starting with a modest plan for bus service there. The road to access the trials was built using Federal Transit Administration dollars. Part of the agreement with the federal agency was that the borough would attempt to establish public transportation to get there. Contact reporter Andrew Wellner at email@example.com or 352-2270.
ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman file photo
Work began on the road to the new Hatcher Pass Nordic ski trails off Edgerton Parks Road this summer. The Mat-Su Borough Assembly is moving ahead with plans to begin bus service from the cities of Palmer and Wasilla, on weekends (Friday through Sunday) from Nov. 1 through April 30, during the times that Nordic ski trails are open for use.
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October 30, 2012
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This Mat-Su Borough map shows trails and boundaries for the Goverment Peak Nordic Ski Area. The borough assembly has given the go-ahead to begin development of Nordic ski trails in Hatcher Pass, and work began this past summer.
1750 S. James St. • Palmer, AK 99645
ONLINE • The Mat-Su Borough has a website dedicated to the project: hatcherpass.com • MASCOT posts schedules to its website: matsutransit.com
October 30, 2012
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Houston city officials open trailhead BY ANDREW WELLNER Frontiersman.com
HOUSTON â€” Mushers and snowmachiners have a new place to park their rigs thanks to a Mat-Su Borough grant and city of Houston project. â€œItâ€™s actually open for use right now. The restrooms are installed. The only thing that isnâ€™t done is the signage,â€? Houston Mayor Virgie Thompson said. The official name: The Houston/Willow Creek Sled Trail. The parking lot is off of Zero Lake Road. â€œItâ€™s a multi-use facility for mushers and snowmobiles with user fees that have not been determined yet,â€? Thompson said. The city put in the parking lot this summer. As capital expenditures for the MatSu Borough goes, the $172,300 grant for this one is relatively small. But Thompson and the rest of city government think the 60-car parking lot will go a long way toward promoting Houston as a recreation destination. â€œWeâ€™re designing it for the purposes of
â€˜Itâ€™s a multi-use facility for mushers and snowmobiles with user fees that have not been determined yet.â€™ â€”Virgie Thompson, Houston mayor
â€œThis trail is just going to open up a lot of Hatcher Pass to a lot more access. Responsible, planned access.â€™ â€”Christian Hartley, Houston planning commission member
motor homes pulling in with snowmobiles and dog teams with their big trucks,â€? Thompson said. Christian Hartley â€” who sits on the cityâ€™s planning commission, works with the Houston Fire Department and serves as Thompsonâ€™s unofficial trails guru â€” said the city already runs a campground next to city hall. It keeps track of where people say theyâ€™re from on their fee
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envelopes. The vast majority are in-state visitors, folks up from Anchorage or the Valleyâ€™s core area. â€œA lot of them seem to come to Houston and this just gives them a wintertime destination,â€? he said. The trails accessible from Zero Lake Road lead to trails that wind up in Hatcher Pass. â€œThis trail is just going to open up a lot of Hatcher Pass to a lot more access. Responsible, planned access,â€? Hartley said. The borough specifically wanted to increase opportunities for those users of the pass and looked at numerous places to build out parking lots. The Zero Lake site scored highest out of all of them. Hartley said that was mostly because of the size. The city has a lot of land there and itâ€™s been cleared before â€” itâ€™s been a coalmine and a dump â€” so the vegetation wasnâ€™t terribly thick. Thompson said the city broke ground July 16 and was more or less done six weeks later.
The project went through the usual comment period and public involvement. Hartley said the city heard nothing but positive feedback. â€œAll weâ€™ve heard is a bunch of excitement,â€? he said. That includes excitement from the people who live nearby. What they get out of it is a widened road, city road maintenance on more road than before and a parking lot that will keep people from blocking the road like they do now when they want to recreate. If the parking lot has the desired effect and becomes a destination, Thompson said the city will look at expanding it. She said lighting from the Parks Highway to the site would be a possibility. If Houston did that, it could also look at putting in plug-ins so motorhomes and trucks could keep their engine blocks warm. Also, if people start coming to Houston in larger numbers, who knows? Maybe itâ€™ll draw in some businesses; maybe the long-dreamed-of gas station Houston has been pining for. Those riders and their gas-guzzling machines will be on the north end of town, after all. Theyâ€™d probably benefit from a filling station nearby. â€œThatâ€™s whatâ€™s exciting about it â€” itâ€™s bringing everyone through the city,â€? Thompson said. Contact reporter Andrew Wellner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-2270.
HAPPY TRAILS View the map on next page to see an overview of trails available for public use in the Houston/Big Lake area.
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BIG LAKE TRAILS
TIPS for the TRAIL October 30, 2012
Use common sense and good judgment. Snowmachining is so exhilarating that the loss of these capabilities can be dangerous. ■ Use the “buddy system.” Don’t go alone and always carry a fully-charged cellphone. ■
VINTAGE Continued from Page 3
There will be plenty of opportunities this winter to share those secrets as some 100 vintage race club members gather at Mat-Su Resort for their races and events. That’s a change from previous years when the group would race behind Houston Lodge in Houston. While vintage machines aren’t stateof-the-art and won’t touch some of the speeds newer snowmachines will, riding a solid piece of equipment you had to restore yourself carries a special satisfaction, Clayton said. “It’s a lot more fun, in my opinion, and it’s a lot cheaper,” he said. “Everybody’s got an old sled behind their house. Everybody grew up on these old machines. It’s easy to get them running and find parts. The new stuff costs you 12 grand for a new one. I think (vintage snowmachines) are a lot more versatile than they are with the new ones. You can be a little more rough on the old ones and they don’t fall apart.” Racing classes run the gamut from 7 years old to the club’s oldest member, 73-year-old David Locklear from Palmer. But don’t let Locklear’s age let you think he’s any less competitive on the snow than his younger competitors. “Dave’s just as fast as anyone out there,” Clayton said. “He can put a hurtin’ on any of them.” By moving to Mat-Su Resort, the growing club can spread out a little more and have more room, Clayton said. “It’s going to be a great year,” he said, adding that the Mat-Su Vintage Snowmachine Racers Club is a sister club to the Big Lake Aurora Lions. “We’re big into community service and we’re going to be able to give money to (various organizations) and prize money. It’s going to be great and we give all the money back to
ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman file photo
Garret Lyons, 19, lifts a ski as he rounds a corner during a semi-pro ice race on Lake Lucille.
the racers at the end of the year.” Club events also host food and eyeglass drives, and in March 2013 the group will host its first cross-country race, Clayton said. It also can be a family hobby. Clayton’s 20-year-old son, Collin, also fixes up sleds and races. Although they compete in different categories — “I race the old man class,” Craig said — they
HOT ACTION ON THE ICE Both the Mat-Su Vintage Snowmachine Club and Ice Racing Alaska have a full slate of winter action on Valley ice. Both groups run events concurrent with each other on the following days and locations: • Dec. 16 ...............................................................................................Free test and tune at Mat-Su Resort • Dec. 30 ........................................................................................... Points race, ice oval at Mat-Su Resort • Jan. 13 ............................................................................................. Points race, ice oval at Mat-Su Resort • Jan. 20 ........................................................................................No points on closed course at Knik Lake • Jan. 26 ................................................................ Points race, ice oval under the lights at Mat-Su Resort • Feb. 2 ...............................................................................................No points at Willow Winter Carnival • Feb. 10 ....................................................................................Points race, ice grad prix at Mat-Su Resort • Feb. 17 .....................................................Points race, ice grand prix at Big Lake (after Iron Dog start) • March 10 ............................................................................. Points race, ice grand prix at Mat-Su Resort • March 17 ................................................Big Rob 50 XC Memorial and Memorial Fun Run, no points • March 24 .............................................................................................. Cross-country race, no points, tba • May 10 .............................................................................................Championship banquet for all racers
enjoy a friendly rivalry. Asked who would win a race between the two, Crag said, “Oh, me,” then added that “he’ll probably kill me and whoop my butt on the track, but I give the kids a run for their money.”
Ice Racing Alaska For those who like the speed and technology included in racing newer model snowmachines, Ice Racing Alaska enjoys a partnership with the vintage club, hosting events that piggyback with the vintage racers. A majority of IRA races will coincide with the vintage club this season, which will provide “a change of pace and scenery with many of the races scheduled to be held on the lake at Mat-Su Resort,” IRA’s website says. “At least one ice race will be held on Big Lake following the Iron Dog pro class race start.” Contact reporter Greg Johnson at greg. email@example.com or 352-2269.
October 30, 2012
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Hot Skating on Cool Ice!
Government Peak Nordic Ski Area Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 10:00am
Brett Memorial Ice Arena 746 East Bogard Road, Wasilla AK 99654 For recorded information call 376-9260
Come try out the new Olmpic-Class Trails groomed by the Mat Su Ski Club volunteers.
WE OFFER: Public Skating (rental figure skates and hockey skates available) Skating Lessons, Private Rentals, Public Hocky, Adult Hockey Leagues, Birthday Parties, School Field Trips, Adult â€œLearn to Play Hockeyâ€? Instruction, Goalie Clinics View our online schedule at: www.maxsolutionsonline.com/matsu Click on â€œScheduling, view schedulesâ€? then select Brett Memorial Ice Arena as Center.
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Call 745-9690 for more information. MARK YOUR CALENDAR: WINTER TRAIL DAY SATURDAY, JANUARY 5, 2013 11-3 AT HATCHER PASS
October 30, 2012
Published on Nov 13, 2012