I call it sweater weather, although there is so much more to the month of October that makes this such a time to relish. Admittedly, I’m one of the first to tire of the long winter that stubbornly refuses to relinquish its hold on Alaska come April, but at this time of year, it is quite fitting. Golden birch leaves raining down, the deep magenta of treeless hillsides and those occasional crisp clear days when the brilliant blue of the sky is almost painful to look into – these are all signs that sweater weather has arrived.
With this shift in seasons, so too do we look toward alternative outdoor adventures that fit the time. Sarah Zerkel, fresh off a year’s preparation in summiting Mount McKinley, is enjoying the seasonal autumn hikes that allow solitude from the masses. With the tourists long gone and everyone in back-to-school mode, these trails are little populated but much appreciated. She has a few suggestions for you on Page 30, in her column 61 Degrees North.
Likewise Singletrack Mind’s Rosemary Austin shares a new hobby she stumbled upon after hosting a resourceful Latvian bike mechanic in her home. She and her husband learned all about the joys of harvesting the Alaska bounty around them when their temporary roommate, Janis, showed them where the best mushrooms were hiding out – right off the very bike trails they commuted upon each day. Now Austin and her husband have added biking for boletes as a favorite fall pastime. Read all about it on Page 26.
This in-between time can be a challenge for those craving snow because October is fickle that way. Some years, the snow comes at the beginning of the month and others it drags its heels until Thanksgiving. To combat that anxiousness, the Chugiak Dog Mushers has found alternative ways for mushers and dog owners to get in some early-season practice. Its Dryland Racing program offers running, bike and cart racing for canines and their owners and culminates in early October with the Alaska Dog Works Dryland Derby. Be sure to check it out, Page 8.
And of course, ski season is almost here. Hopefully by press time, there will be enough snow in the mountains for adventure skiers to get their vertical going. But in the meantime, there are four free-skiing film premieres to whet your appetite. Teton Gravity Research, MatchStick Productions, Big Picture Media and Warren Miller all bring some incredibly fun and entertaining films your way in Anchorage. And each showing helps benefit local organizations such as the Alaska Avalanche Information Center, Challenge Alaska and more. Look for more details on these films on Pages 10-12 and start planning for snowier days ahead.
Winter is biting at our heels, and before long we will need layers of down to accompany the sweaters. But for now, start a fire, make a hot toddy and settle in for long, dark and delightful days ahead. Sweater season is fleeting, but definitely fantastic.