PUBLISHED: 2:57 PM on Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The mountain bustles once again, dotted with small figures like ants on an anthill. Lines of ants walk up towards the chairlift that moves them into white fog. Several ants zig and zag down out of the fog from above. On Dec. 15, Eagle Crest opened up the doors to its lodge and set the Ptarmigan lift in motion for a special discount day. It was $20 for an adult day pass on the mountains east side trails in advanced skier conditions. Each time I rode the lift the sky spat out something new on my goggles. Big downy flakes, wet spray, plopping rain drops, once the sky withheld and almost let through some light, and then back to sleet, turning to snow as I scooted off the lift into the wind-blasted summit world of trees frozen in frosting like white.
This was not my first day of the season. As many other Juneauites had done, I had been to Eagle Crest and Mount Troy a few times already, hiking for my turns. It was I admit, nice to have the lift running and get in more runs in one day, though the flat light, mist and sometimes heavy snow made it nearly impossible to see through my rose colored goggles. Taking them off wasn't much better as my tactic of blinking twice every second left me teary eyed. Either way as I made my gliding turns through the world of wintry slopes, the woops and hollers of all the little ants making their first descents of the season made me smile into the sleet and wind.
After a bite to eat in the lodge after 1 p.m. many people went home. Unfortunately for them I heard word spreading that the west side of the mountain was opening. New excitement rose for those still there. The next lift-ride up I watched down below as sure enough alpine skiers, telemark skiers, and snowboarders ventured into the deep untracked heavy wet powder on their mountains west side. More faces than not ended up with a smile full of snow.
Eagle Crest opened for regular operations Dec. 20.