Well, “about time”, I’m sure you’re saying. I know I am. Sorry for the long-ish delay in posts here. I’ve been pressed for time the last few times I got to check my email, and then, out of nowhere, my internet people (the neighbors) have taken off for warmer climes. I usually ski over to their place once or twice a week and check email, etc, for the princely sum of about 7 bucks an hour,, and then ski home. Well, they’re gone for 6 weeks, so it’s a hassle. instead of a 3/4 mile trip, one-way, it’s about 5 miles. And then it’s a guess as to whether or not the internet service is actually working over there. Such is life in a cabin in the Alaska woods, I suppose.
First things first; all Alaska conversations at this time of year MUST start off with the weather, it seems. So, in short – it’s totally crazy. Temperatures sank down to fifty below freezing, in what locals called ‘a cold spell’, over the New Year. That’s ridiculously cold. My nose stuck to the back of my camera at least 10 times. My camera quit working 4 times, and I quit working once or twice myself. I finally figured out, actually, why the Alaska winter is so long – it’s the only way it’s possible to get adequately dressed and undressed for the weather. Seriously, I spent about 3 hours a day layering up, layering back down when I came inside for a bite to eat, then all over again when I went out for the evening. A winter of 3 months, like normal, would be over before I was ready to step outside.
So next – the temperatures went from minus 50 fahrenheit to 35 deg F in about a week – for those readers whose mathematic skills are on par with mine, that’s an 85 degree temperature swing. In less than 24 hours, the temperature rose 45 deg, from 25 below zero to 20 above, and soon after above freezing, with rain. All my food, stashed in a cooler outside the cabin, nearly thawed out, creating a near-disaster – averted by quick thinking and good planning by me (throwing large chunks of ice into the coolers was the best I could come up with). funnily enough, the things most easily thawed, it appears, are bags of frozen vegetables. meat, such as steaks, chicken and pork chops, remain a solid frozen brick – I guess a function of being so cold a week earlier. Anyway, it looks like everything is OK. More importantly, all the snow melted off the trees, and the landscape has lost much of its silent beauty (for now). That, and the crappy weather (rain and more rain and clouds) meant I haven’t done much shooting this last 10 days or so. But, the good news it’s cooled down again (10 degrees as I type this) and we had a sniffle of snow last night – just enough to remind me it’s white.
Let’s see, what else is there? hhhmmm .. not too much. i’ve been playing my wooden flute a lot, and enjoying that, writing some (not enough), reading a lot, splitting wood; the wood shed is virtually full- I haven’t split that much wood since my days as a boy, where I grew up in the slave labor camp (what’s Australian for “Gulag”?) that my parents made me call ‘home’), skiing some, snow boarding some, hiking, etc. I haven’t seen much wildlife – I started setting in a trail up one of the nearby mountains today, and did see a snowshoe hare, racing for his life into the woods. The recent warm weather and then cold snap froze the snow a bit, so it makes foot travel slightly easier – prior to this, walking anywhere off a main trail involved slogging waist deep through the powder, even with snowshoes on. I think now foot travel (hiking and skiing) will improve – though my skiing is probably what needs to improve the most. I do pretty well at most of it, but then I get going downhill too fast, and with these little cross country skis and simple bindings there’s no turning or control at all (for me, at least). So I tumble a bit. I went out with a friend and neighbor, Mark, the other day, and he’s much better – he didn’t fall down once – it was pretty amazing. but he has better skis, I’m sure that’s the problem. Good news is I’m a better snow boarder than he is. Thats important.
I’ve been playing guitar a lot – I have my acoustic guitar with me in the shack. Even changed the strings on it this evening, and it sounds ever so sparkling. The frozen north woods have been alive of late with some deep blues emanating from deep within the spruce forest. I even wrote 2 songs in the last couple of weeks!
It’s really amazing to see how quickly the light comes back here. Seems like we’re still in the dead of winter, yet the days are noticeably longer than they were over the holiday. It won’t be long now until we’re looking at 12 hour days and I barely have time to get back to the cabin, eat, sleep, and get out for sunrise. Then, before ya know it, summer’ll be here, and I’ll be trudging around the mtns all day long!
I can’t think of too much else. Hopefully I’ll get my mountain trail in over the next week or so, so that’ll keep me busy. It’s hard finding a good route up on to the ridge, and it gets pretty steep. The snowshoes are great until the descent – I haven’t quite mastered how to traverse down a mountain in them yet. On the ascent they work great. We’ll see how that goes.
I’m not sure how this new internet place will work out, so it may or may not be a while before I can sign on and check in again. In the meantime, enjoy yourself, and look at the picture above of me trying to find a good line off the summit of Bonanza Ridge. Oh, and check out the stylin’ red jacket! (and, just for the record, it’s the layers, that gut isn’t mine at all).
Thanks for reading.