Note to self

Almost unbearable

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A Kirlian cloud.

There is no such thing as a Kirlian cloud, but in the days of alternative facts…

Seriously, out of the blue, after a long dark winter there  is more light than darkness. Almost too much. Gone are the days, when it was easy to catch a sunrise, or there was plenty of night time to watch the Northern lights. More light than darkness. Now comes the time of filling the tank. No more frantic reading, excessive cooking and baking. Winter is over. Well, there is still snow coming down, ice on the road, strong winds, but I can feel it, that sun light. It’s going to put an end to another winter.

Aren’t you glad?

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For the third time in its 45 year history the Iditarod race has been relocated to Fairbanks due to treacherous conditions in the Alaska range. What a pity.

The stretch from Finger Lake to Nicolai entails the most scenic and perilous landscape of the historic sled dog race. Unfortunately, the mushers don’t have much time to admire the beautiful scenery. Depending on weather conditions and time of the day they may not even get a glimpse of the scenery.

As a caretaker at Rainy Pass, one of the checkpoints on the trail, I witnessed one musher arriving just around sunrise on a beautiful winter morning. The first words from underneath his ice-caked fur hood were: “Whoaa, I never knew there were such beautiful mountains around”.

Arriving at Rainy Pass Lodge means the mushers and their dogs have mastered one of the first hurdles: the Steps. Steep, sometimes icy inclines in and out of the Happy River (what’s in a name). A few more nasty side hills and there you are at Puntilla Lake.

Straw, food, water, a dry cabin for the mushers to rest.

After Puntilla Lake comes the long climb to Rainy Pass, the highest point on the trail, and then the hair-raising descent into the Dalzell Gorge. It’s easy to tip your sled, crash into a tree, and in the worst case loose your team. Take a wild ride down that gorge with Jeff King. Past Rohn, a public forest service cabin, overflow, open water and the Farewell Burn are the last obstacles of the Alaska Range before the racers reach the open tundra.

All that drama will be missed this year and replaced by a long slog up the cold Yukon.

Iditarod is certainly a long hard race, but there are others that may be more challenging in terms of endurance, remoteness, and extreme conditions.

There is the Yukon Quest between Whitehorse and Fairbanks. 1000 miles. Long cold stretches between checkpoints. Four out of 21 competitors have scratched so far. Some participants of this race go on to race the Iditarod afterwards. This is prime season for long distance sled dog racing.

And then there is the, a Beringia, a 1,500-km sled dog marathon in Kamchatka, Russia. 19 mushers signed up this year. It will take about 24 days for the winner to cross the finish in Ust-Kamchatsk. In 1991 the event set the Guinness world record as the world’s longest sled dog race, with a route of 1980 kilometers.

There are great sled dog races all over the world. I hope they all will be held in the future, as it keeps a great tradition of alive.

One Man's Paradise

The Last Great Race

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One Man's Paradise

Moonlight – № 2

I am ready. I am done with darkness. Let there be sunshine and frigging colors. I knew this time would come. Cabin fever, winter blues, seasonal affective disorder…


“The longest way must have its close –
the gloomiest night
will wear on to a morning.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe


I would not want to miss the experience of a silent night on the lake under a full moon. So bright you could read a book. Walking on the lake, with snow that would creak like Styrofoam. A curious red fox joining me on my midnight excursion. The strange whooping sound of ice cracking under pressure. That and backcountry skiing in pristine powder. Those are my favorite memories of winter in the north…

Wait a minute. There is more. The beautiful subtle colors of winter, the northern lights, cookies and hot chocolate, the holidays…

Not so bad after all. I think I can take another 6 weeks of winter…


Moonlight over Puntilla Lake, Alaska
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Note to self

Precious Moments

There were just 6 hours and 35 minutes of daylight left today.

A break in the weather provided a glimpse into the mountains, wearing their winter coat.

Not for long. The cold wind starts creeping through my layers of clothes.

My fingers go numb.

The next storm and night are approaching, back to my warm shelter.


November has been unseasonably mild in SE-Alaska, but now winter seems to get a hold of us. Temperatures plummeting  into the single digits and high winds have replaced weeks of sun and rain and balmy temperatures. Snow has come and gone three times, frozen waterfalls have formed and melted away. That’s Nature’s way. Season’s change and it takes (me) time getting used to it.


Tomorrow there will be 6 hours and 30 minutes of daylight.

Plenty of time for precious moments.

 

 

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One Man's Paradise

Spread your wings

“A bird is safe in its nest,
but that is not what its wings are made for.”

Amit Ray


Every year in October there is an amazing congregation of bald eagles in the Chilkat Valley. Hundreds if not thousands of these stately birds are attracted from as far as Oregon to gather in the spawning ground of chum salmon. In an amazing twist of evolution salmon have found a place late in the year that does not freeze over and is supporting the survival of fertilized salmon eggs. For the adult salmon that also means the end of their life cycle. Their internal clock is set to expire once they have reached their birth place, laid eggs and fertilized them. For the eagles that means easy prey at a difficult time. Many other rivers freeze over and fish become inaccessible to the birds.

eagleprint

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Note to self, One Man's Paradise

Stillness…

“These woods are where silence
has come to lick its wounds.”

Samantha Hunt


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An uncharacteristic week of calm has just been upon us. The calm before the storm? At night the temperatures dropped below freezing leaving frost on the grass in the morning. The water was smooth as a mirror.

Some residents are busy arranging their departure. Who stays? Who will spend the winter? That’s one of the topics around here. It will become even more quiet when the last snowbird has left.

There are two ways to look at this. Winter comes with a sense of peace and calm. You could also say it brings solitude and isolation. I guess it is up to me to decide, which side to pick.

I plan on preparing delicious food, reading good books, and getting out as much as possible. I am contemplating turning of the TV. What’s the point? I am not following any show, yippee. Sometimes I watch a football game, but I can live without 2 hours of commercials. News? Forget about that. Nothing good. I don’t need to know about Mr. Trumps latest faux pas or another meaningless international agreement about climate control that is going in effect 10 years from now, maybe…

In short, I think I am checking out, as in disconnect, unplug.

Seeking peace and quiet in my little paradise.

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