One of KMTA’s greatest privileges is helping local partners bring the colorful histories of our heritage area communities to life. The Girdwood Nordic Ski Club (GNSC) is one such partner that has worked to create interpretive signs for the 5K Nordic Loop and surrounding area through support from a few KMTA grants. The goal of these interpretive signs – which you can see during the Corduroy Crush – is to honor the local history of this area and those who helped make it so special.
The first of these signs highlights the legacy of the 1969 Junior National Ski Race and the 10K trail that was constructed for it and maintained for a decade thereafter. This trail– the first recreational-purpose trail built in Girdwood– helped bring tourism and ski racing to Alaska. In fact, the 1969 Junior National Ski Race was the first national race held by the Nordic Ski Club of Alaska. The remarkable Shirley Firth from Inuvik championed that race and, unbeknownst to many, went on to become one of the first Indigenous women to compete in international ski racing, eventually as an Olympian. The Nordic 5K Loop we know and love today is actually built over a portion of that historic 10K trail, and boasts small handmade signs hidden throughout the forest that show the original route. The second of these signs (located in the Arlberg Trailhead parking lot) tells the history of Sewell “Stumpy” Faulkner and the ski trail he built through the meadows of the Girdwood Valley. A sketch of the trail, as drawn by Stumpy, provides a conceptual map of the route. The accompanying photos of various locations on the map give explanations about how they were named.
The Corduroy Crush celebrates the significance of this place, its users, and its storied heritage.