This winter has been anything but ordinary. Up until three weeks ago, the prevailing memory of this winter would have been the persistent and unrelenting cold. Races were postponed or changed, Jr. Nordics struggled to meet, and it seemed like we would be classic skiing forever.

March came and with it, the widespread coronavirus and the temporary end of normal life for everyone.  News reports and the State of Alaska issued warnings to the public to avoid gathering in groups. Schools were shut down. College courses went online. Restaurants and coffee shops closed.

Mother Nature didn’t seem to understand that the world was undergoing a pandemic.  Fairbanks endured a week of record-breaking snowfall.

Fortunately, Fairbanks has trails in spades and an active trails community. While the rest of the world seemingly falls apart, Interior Alaskans have found solace in the simple sport of skiing. Following tracks through the birch trees, listening to the whoosh of skis on snow, and embracing our northern spring’s gaining daylight seems like the best medicine in these uncertain times.

It’s easy to social distance and still enjoy your neighbor’s smile when out skiing. Many days we can be seen out on the trails, waving and smiling. We have an abundance of places to go: Birch Hill, UAF, Creamer’s, Goldstream, Pearl Creek, Chena Lake, Tanana Lakes, Salcha, White Mountains, Chena River State Recreation Area and more. (See our Local Trails page.)

Those trails are kept open by trail groomers and their benefactors: donors and sponsors. They all offer us a chance to listen to the hiss of the skis and produce much-needed Vitamin D. They give us a chance to find solace in normalcy when there is none, indiscriminate of who donated and who did not. The trails are simply groomed for all to use.  So, thank you to all the trail groomers and all who donated.

When this pandemic is over and you are feeling more pennies in your pocket, please consider a donation to the local trails funds. Remember these days, when you were just so happy to escape your living room, to get outside, and hear the familiar sound of skis on the snow. Let us not forget that someone has made sure you could still do that.

(A variety of trail systems in the Fairbanks area have grooming/trail donation funds. The ones known to the NSCF can be found on our “Other Local Trails” page. To donate to the Birch Hill Trail Fund see here.)