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Delta Elementary School students participate in the Jr. Nordic Ski Club program. Photos courtesy Delta Junction Trails Association.

For the past 10 years, the Delta Junior Nordic Ski Club has been teaching interested Delta/Greely School District students to ski. A group of local cross-country skiers had the bright idea to share this perfect Alaskan outdoor sport with kids and the interest in more trails in Delta Junction began.

Skiing is a must if you live in Alaska, much like learning to ride a bike in some places. The wheels began to roll. We knew that Salcha School has always had a fabulous ski program, so we approached them for any old equipment. Before we knew it, with Salcha’s generous donations, we had decent 3-pin boots and skis, enough to start a program. We spoke with Michelle Beito, then principal at the Delta Elementary School (DES), she was in, and the program began.

What started with 27 raring to go skiers grew over ten years to a manageable 60 active skiers grades K-5. An impressive 500 plus students have gone through this program. In 2013 the Delta Nordic Ski Club members created Delta Junction Trails Association (DJTA) with a big vision for all trail users in the Delta Junction Area. With assistance from the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program, we were guided through the process of creating a Community Trails Plan with community involvement. The plan was completed in 2015. On March 11, 2016, Delta Nordic Ski Club merged with DJTA. 

As you can imagine, with five ski club sessions, each requires about 20 volunteers on and off skis – checking skiers in and out, gearing up, teaching basic skills, sorting and purchasing equipment, building groomers, grooming trails, gathering volunteers, lesson plans and having fun on skis. Past skiers that have now moved on to middle and high school come join in to help share their skills with newcomers. 

This super fun program happens through partnering with many entities. Where do we ski? The Deltana Fairgrounds grants us permission to hold our annual event at the Fairgrounds across the pipeline, right alongside DES. Ft. Greely’s Youth Services MWR is a partner which has provided some new equipment for us to use. Delta/Greely School District stores equipment and houses the program. 

We have slowly replaced all of the 3-pin equipment with modern boots and skis through fees and generous donations. Delta Nordic Ski Club DJTA gave away all the original 3-pin equipment to the community this past December. This is the first year all 60 skiers are on modern equipment and it really shows. With warm boots and fast skis, they are outside enjoying the days, even on the little amount of snow this year has provided. 

Ski club has been fortunate to gain the basics of skiing close to Delta and then travel to Salcha Elementary School for an all-day skiing adventure. Skiers get to enjoy Salcha's beautifully groomed trails with lots of hills. Our last day is usually spent skiing the groomed and lighted Liewer Community Trail right next to the track at the Delta High School. This year we may have to consider, “What does it take to make snow?”

Bluff Cabin Trail II Update 

Delta Junction Trails Association has finally received the grant approval to complete the Bluff Cabin Trail II project. The construction of the Bluff Cabin Trail II Multi-use trail project is scheduled to begin June 16 and will continue until completed. Estimated completion date is August 30.

Celebrate the Sun Upcoming Event

Save the date. March 9, 12-3 p.m. and come join us for some great outside fun! Celebrate the Sun at Quartz Lake. Become a member & get a chance to win a beautiful fur trapper hat with our DJTA membership drawing that day. Like us! https://www.facebook.com/DeltaJunctionTrails, and visit http://www.deltajunctiontrails.com/.