Competitos in the Miles Klehini 10-kilometer ski race, which saw more than 50 people participate. (Lex Treinen/Chilkat Valley News)

Organizers of the weekend’s Winterfest say they’re happy with how the event turned out. The Chilkat Valley avoided major weather systems, and skiers and snowmachiners got some snow on the ground — though not as much as they might have hoped. 

“It seemed well-attended to me, but I really don’t have anything to base it on,” said Haines tourism director Reba Hylton. 

Visitors came from the Yukon Territory, Fairbanks and Juneau. 

Here are some of the highlights. 

Kat 2 Koot 

Riel Allain of Whitehorse climbs through the trees on Piedad trail during the Kat to Koot race on Saturday. Allain was part of a team that finished in second place. (Lex Treinen/Chilkat Valley News)
Riel Allain of Whitehorse climbs through the trees on Piedad trail during the Kat to Koot race on Saturday. Allain was part of a team that finished in second place. (Lex Treinen/Chilkat Valley News)

Jody Braul and David Gonda of Whitehorse took the top spots in the Kat 2 Koot, the anything-way-you-want trek from Dalton City to Lutak on Saturday. The top two teams used backcountry equipment with skins for the ascent, while the third-place finishers — locals Sarah Elliott and Jennifer Walsh — snowshoed up and over the pass. 

Thirty-eight participants finished, including 13 from Haines and 19 from Whitehorse. 

Skiers hiked along the highway and then up Piedad Trail, some wearing ice cleats to keep from sliding down the ice-covered trail. 

About 500 feet up, there was enough snow to put on skis. 

“The course was a mix of conditions so you had to adapt to whatever,” said Braul. 

After donning skis, Braul said there was one section of rime ice after coming out of the trees where he decided to walk. 

Once he crossed the ridgeline, Braul said competitors encountered a mix of smooth sections of surface snow, to more rime ice, to crust, to wet, sloppy snow. 

“We got a little bit of everything,” said Braul. 

He said overall, the first-timer said he had fun. 

“I had a great time, and I think I will come back next year,” he said. 

Top finishers received a night stay at the soon-to-be open Tukga Hut, a public use cabin above 7 Mile. Cookie medals on Mardi Gras beads were distributed to other category winners, said event organizer Lindsay Johnson. 

Alcan 200

Competitors head out on the start of the Alcan 200 along the Haines Highway. Organizers reported excellent conditions and 11 teams participating. (Photo courtesy of Lynette Campbell/Chilkat SnowBurners)

Eleven people showed up for the Alcan 200 – the 200-mile snowmachine race along the Haines Highway from the Canadian Border to Dezadeash campground and back. 

The turnout was lower than the historic average, but Chilkat SnowBurners president Kathi Lapp said there were positives.

“With COVID and not having the race for three years, it wasn’t that bad,” Lapp said. 

And, she said, Mother Nature cooperated. 

“Conditions on the road and weather were fantastic,” she said. 

Two racers — George Campbell and Zackary Ferrin — didn’t finish due to mechanical issues.  

The fastest finisher overall, Colby Hill, averaged 115.2 miles per hour to finish in one hour and twenty minutes. 

Lapp said the Calcutta Auction and post-event dinner at the American Legion were well attended, and winners were awarded prizes donated by local businesses including tool boxes, leaf blowers and clothing. 

Miles Klehini 

Laurie Mastrella and Scott Doddridge approach the finish of the Miles Klehini 10-kilometer race on Sunday. (Lex Treinen/Chilkat Valley News)
Laurie Mastrella and Scott Doddridge approach the finish of the Miles Klehini 10-kilometer race on Sunday. (Lex Treinen/Chilkat Valley News)

More than 40 people donned nordic skis for the Miles Klehini Classic, a 10-kilometer race on the riverside trails starting at 25 Mile Haines Highway. 

“It was typical participation. We’ve had years that had a few more, but I thought it was an excellent turnout considering everything going on in town,” said organizer Jim Stanford. 

The trail snaked from the highway to the dike, and then cut south toward the Chilkat River before meandering up the Klehini and back to the finish line. Under a partly sunny sky and above-freezing temperatures, participants shed layers throughout the race. 

“Considering the weather that we’ve had, I thought the conditions were excellent. It would have been nice to get two or three inches of snow,” said Stanford. 

He credited a Ginzu groomer repaired by Eben Sargent for keeping the trails in good shape, despite the lower-than-usual snow coverage. 

Boosting the energy was a group of middle school skiers from Juneau who held a parallel race on the same trails. Participants gathered around a bonfire for chili and desserts after the race. 

“I think Nordic skiing here is about ready to take off. It just takes some people with a long range commitment and I think we’re starting to get that group over here,” said Stanford. 

Chili Cookoff

The annual chili cookoff took place at the Southeast Alaska State Fairgrounds. Winter games, including snow shoe races took place at Dalton City throughout the day. In the end, Frank Lambert’s chili won the people’s choice vote, followed by Tom Morphet and Kari Johnson.