Well, it’s been a nervous last few days, but here I am in Anchorage. I managed, through sheer luck, to get all the way back to town with no real drama. A little tweaking of cables and a lot of grace, and my van started, and drove me and my buddy Charlie and his 2 dogs, Keba and Musa, all the way back to Anchorage. I’m still in a little bit of shock. My van seems to have some kind of mystery virus, that nobody is able to diagnose. There’s a possibility, one mechanic told me, that it’s as simple as 2 cables poorly soldered together. Which 2 remains anyone’s guess.
I’ll be here (hopefully only) a few days, and then head back to the cabin. I’m bringing the vehicle in to the dealer monday morning, and we’ll see if they can figure this thing out. I’m not keen to venture back to the woods with an unreliable vehicle, so I hope I get something solid from them.
Anyway, this photo was taken a couple of weeks ago, when it was REALLY cold. I skied about an hour up the trail, then snowshoed off to find a nice foreground. The light was insanely nice. Then the sky got dark, and I had to snowshoe back to where I’d left my skis, remove the snowshoes, put on the skis, shoulder my pack, and make my way back to the cabin. Me on skis is perhaps another topic for a post. By the time I got back to the cabin I was hungry and cold – and tired. I should’ve taken a picture then .. I looked in a little mirror I found in the cabin, and the ice and frost all over my hat and ski mask was something to see. The temperature was around minus 40. It got down that night to nearly minus 50.
I think the most difficult task was operating a tripod in such conditions. It locks up, the legs don’t twist, etc. So I’d then have to remove my gloves and fix it. The metal tabs and the metal ballhead are really a joy to work on in that kind of cold – I was reminded of the passage in the classic book “Black Elk Speaks”, where the elderly Sioux narrator tells of it being so cold one day when he was hunting bison his rifle, after he fired and killed a bison, stuck to the skin on his arms, requiring him to literally tear it off, losing a bunch of skin, to be able to remove the rifle. If you haven’t read it, it’s a fascinating account of native American Indian life by an incredible man.
Anyway, I was pretty cold. I had me one big ole fire back in the cabin that evening, and more than one cup of hot tea! It’s really something to experience, I think. The cold becomes an entity, a real live ‘thing’ – it’s pretty amazing.
The mountains are the Wrangell Mountains, including Bonanza and Jumbo Ridges, where 2 of the more famous of the Kennecott Mines were dug.