Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Weird Sports

During the 3 years we've lived near Homer I've seen so many 'sports' that I'd never seen or even dreamed of before, and certainly not sports I would think of doing in the winter. Here's a sampling, most which I've seen just in the past couple months:

Winter ocean kayaking: The waves were huge on Bishop's Beach yesterday and I was surprised not to see kayakers out there. When the tide is right and the waves are large, which only seems to happen in the winter, kayakers can often be seen riding the waves near shore. Their kayaks are tiny and they are encased in suits and it looks almost like a sitting up version of body surfing. In addition to challenging it looks chilling.

Paragliding: There are a couple of people who have been launching off Beluga Lake and paragliding around the area a few times a week. It has become a common sight to see the glider hovering over the ridge above Homer and cruising along just above the town. Seems like it would be a bit cold! Pictured here is a guy parasailing with rollerblades down the spit trail.

Wind surfers: I have also seen wind surfers with something like the paraglider sails, except they put on skis? ice skates? and get pulled along the surface of the ice on Beluga Lake. It takes a nice, strong wind for that!

Skijoring: I read about skijoring races in the Alaska Cross-Country Ski Magazine, so I knew it had something to do with skis, but wasn't quite sure what it was. While skiing up at McNeil Canyon trails this winter, I met skijorers on the trail several times. It is basically dogs pulling the skiers. Since there are so many dogsled dogs around here that are already trained in the art of pulling, it is no surprise to see skijorers on the trails. I can see the conflict, though, since dogs can rip up nicely groomed trails. The McNeil trails are dog friendly, which would explain why the skijorers end up there.

Mountain biking the cross-country ski trails: While cross-country skiing on the Roger's Loop trail earlier this winter I came across a guy on a mountain bike biking the ski trails. Huh? Why not, I suppose? The bike had super-fat tires, like maybe 3 times fatter than your normal mountain bike tires, so I suppose the frame had to be a little different to handle the fat tires. Other than that, it was a normal bike. Gee, why didn't I think of doing that??

Ice racing: Once Beluga Lake freezes over in the fall the ice racing begins. Lanes get plowed in a big oval and souped up junker cars race around every weekend. I've seen as many as 30 or more cars parked around the arena filled with people watching the drivers' skill on ice. Last year we went during the Snow Rondi winter festival and actually found it quite entertaining.

The sports that I considered somewhat risque in Michigan are pretty blase here: rock climbing, ice climbing, dog sledding, telemarking, float plane flying. I read about a 100 mile cross-country ski race through the interior of Alaska, with the description making it sound like a Survivor show. A drive through Turnagain Pass makes it clear winter sports are the rage as people strap on skins and ski up mountains for the joy of skiing down them, and deaths from avalanches are regular occurrences as people snowboard and snowmobile mountain peaks and slopes.

Some people think we were pretty daring to move to Alaska and actually live here. We feel like we have a nice life here, but it is pretty boring compared to the adrenaline junkies of this state.

Thanks to wikipedia for the skijoring picture. Every time I see these things I want to pull out my camera and get a picture, but most times I am not carrying my camera when I'm out skiing, nor taking pictures while I'm driving. Darn!

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