Eklutna Lake becomes a 3,200-acre skating rink, at least for a few days

On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, skaters with colorful parasails tacked hard into a steady southeast wind; skaters with long Nordic blades attached to ski boots whisked swiftly across the lake’s glass-smooth surface; while sleek ice boats with large sails picked up speed to rule the ice. Crestfallen, I sat immobile in a plastic dish sled about a mile out on the lake, holding up a makeshift sail. “Apparently, there is not enough wind,” I mused, “or, my sail is not big enough.” Old timers know that conditions like this don’t come around very often – when a lake freezes smooth and solid before wind ripples it into roughness, or it becomes covered with snow. So, on the last few days of the year, people converged on Eklutna Lake as if someone were offering free beer and pizza – which they weren’t. But what recreationists found was even better: a crystalline clear-expanse of ice, an ice-rink on steroids that went on forever. Nature’s Zamboni machine had outdone itself.