Yesterday was the first day I strayed further than 2 miles from the safe heaven of our lodge. We went by snow machine to Rainy Pass the highest point on the Iditarod trail. It was a wonderful change in scenery. On the way to the pass we crossed the Happy River, and passed through snow covered tundra. At one point I believe i got a glimpse of Mount Russell, the perfect pyramid. There were glaciers in the distance and many peaks with no names. We were all bundled up so that no skin was exposed, as the temps were in the single digits and we were riding into a 30 mile per hour wind. It takes only a minute or less to get frostbite in those conditions. The last few miles we climbed a winding, narrow valley to Rainy Pass Lake and the marker indicating the location of the pass.
A few days earlier the walkers, bikers, and dog teams came by this location. With no spectators or media this must have been quite some experience. The pass itself appears to be a wind funnel driving snow along the surface, giving the landscape the appearance of a snowy beach or a thermally active area.
This little excursion reminded me once more how precious and life-saving our shelter at the lodge really is that allows us to spend the winter in this unique environment.