September 27, 2011
So Alaska seems to be about a month ahead in the fall and a month behind in the spring of the seasons I am accustomed to in the lower 48. Fall is fall though and it seems to be a spectacular season just about everywhere. I was starting to worry after the month plus of rain that I experienced in August. I wasn't sure it was ever going to stop. Turns out, fall is a very nice time of year here. The rain stopped, the colors changes, the leaves are falling, and the temperatures (and light) are dropping rapidly. There are really only Birch trees here for deciduous trees so yellow is the predominant fall color. Some of the lower lying mossy plants turn a vibrant red so it is great to get up into the mountains above the trees to see the beautiful red color as well. The leaves are nothing compared to those I experienced in New England, but were still a welcome change. I love fall and one of the things I love most is pumpkin! Fortunately, Costco had pumpkin for its fall special so Sadie and I stocked up and have been baking pumpkin everything. We started with my personal favorite, pumpkin pancakes! Pumpkins are apparently a rarity in AK as doorstep decorations because the pesky moose love them as much as I do so I will have to settle for the canned version. School, classroom observations, training, and planing for winter have all put a damper on my summer time adventures. But honestly, after a grizzly encounter, just about everything seems dull.....So I leave you with some images of fall here in AK:
September 15, 2011
Wednesdays are our recovery days so we are encouraged to go on some adventures with our friends. Sadie and I, both recovery from knee injuries, have been building up our running strength and were looking forward to heading out on a Wednesday Adventure. We decided to go up a valley to Rabbit Lake. I had done half of this run before but didn't make it to the lake and Sadie had never been up there. The trail starts by heading uphill through some low lying bushes for a couple of miles and then opens up into a big alpine meadow. When we reached the meadow, it was blowing really hard. We were barely moving trying to push through the strength of the wind. Eventually, we made it to the lake, but because we were so cold we didn't spend a lot of time up there, just turned around and began our journey down valley. Glad that we could finally hear each other talk with the wind at our back, we were chatting up a storm. We came over a knoll and I stopped dead as I was starring right into the face of a big brown bear! He took one looked at us and turned to run behind a bush. This only made things worse as Sadie and I could no longer tell which direction he was travelling and if we were in danger. Sadie was utterly panicked and scrambled to get the safety of our can of bear spray. I was feeling rather confident after my pleasant encounter with Patrick so I calmly asked if Sadie had her phone so we could take a picture, but Sadie was having none of it. So we walked across the other side of the valley where we could see the bear. He seemed uninterested in us and started running up the other side of the valley. However, as we continued down the valley, he too continued down valley, on the opposite side. This made me nervous as I was unsure if bears had a stalking of herding method of killing their prey so we tried to pick up the pace a little and managed to put some distance on the bear. When we reached the bushes, we stopped to take one last look back and it appeared as if we had put enough distance between us that we were safe so we just ran as fast as we could back to the car. By the time we got back to the house, I realized that indeed that was no little black bear, that was a big grizzly bear and I suddenly became much more frightened. I will admit, I had horrible bear nightmares all night and have not been too psyched about running in the mountains since. I can now say I have seen a griz, face to face and would be content to leave it at that! I wish I had a picture for proof, but my story will have to do.
September 11, 2011
Fast and Female is a really awesome organization started by Olympic Gold Medalist Chandra Crawford. After winning the gold, her life changed quite a bit and she felt she needed to do something to give back and to give more girls the opportunity to have this life changing experience. She started with just cross-country events in Canada but has since expanded to many different sports as well as into the United States. I have helped out with a couple of events and they have been really amazing things. Liz Stephen, a U.S. ski team member who lives in Park City a good chunk of the year has organized an event for October 8th. It will feature many many winter sports and will have Olympians from all of them. This event will also have a parent seminar that will have experts talking about sports psychology, injury prevention, and nutrition for developing female athletes. It is open to girls 9-19 and all abilities, even if you have never step foot on snow we will take you. Please, if you can help get the word out about the event, I would be very grateful. Here is the link to register! http://www.fastandfemale.com/default.asp?lang=&mode=eventdetails&id=89 Please click the poster below to enlarge it. You can print it out, give it any girl you know!
September 10, 2011
This is the last of the Adventures Patrick and I had on his visit to Alaska. After I finished up my classes for the week we packed up my new car and hit the road, looking to see more of Wild Alaska. I have been spoiled over the years having a garage full of top of the line camping equipment ready to throw in the trunk. Without that at my disposal up here, we had to get a bit creative and do a little more traditional car camping. Luckily, I bought a car just big enough for the two of us to sleep in the back, which is great in Alaska because 1. It rains A LOT here and 2. while bears do break into cars, it is far less likely than a bear getting into a tent. When we started driving, it was of course, raining in Anchorage. Hoping for the best, we headed south on the Kenai Peninsula to Seward (home of Mt. Marathon and 4th of July festivities). Our first stop was the Exit Glacier and Harding Icefiend in Kenai National Park. My friend and former teammate Eric Packer took me here over the 4th so if you are an avid reader, you have read about this place before. The National park is interesting because the Exit Glacier is about the only part of it that is accessible by road. It basically encompasses all of the Harding Icefield (500 square miles of ice) and its associated glaciers, which cover most of the southern part of the Kenai Peninsula. The sun actually came out for a bit during our hike up to the icefield so we were able to get some good views and pick up a little much needed vitamin D!I love sea animals and always have thanks to my frequent visits to Cape Cod so the two us set out to the Sea Life Center. This is an aquarium and research center that appeared to do quite a bit in the area. When my dad traveled for work when Charlie and I were little, he often brought us back a present from where ever he was. I got a book and stuffed animal puffin, Polly Puffin, that I loved and still remember quite well. As a result, I really wanted to see a Puffin in real life. In order to see them in their natural habitat you have to get away from the town via boat which was much too expensive for us so I had to settled for the Puffin exhibit they had at the center. They are really neat bird with distinct markings and can dive down into the water up to about 600 ft to catch fish. We could watch them doing this at the exhibit so that was really neat.
September 7, 2011
After the epic week up on the glacier, we enjoyed a few days in Anchorage. School started for me while I was on the glacier so I had to catch up on schoolwork and attend a few days of class before we could embark on any further adventures. For those that didn't know already, I am taking classes at APU in the education department in hopes of getting my teaching certificate. This fall I am just taking two classes to keep my brain alive and running. As part of all the classes required for the certificate, we are required to spend a good number of hours in an elementary classroom both observing and teaching so my blog posts will undoubtedly feature stories from the classroom in the coming weeks. Back to Pat and Anchorage. On our one "off" day from training, it was actually sunny so we had to get out of the house. We did a little hike up Flattop mountain which is a real tourist destination and provides excellent views as well as people watching. Although it is only about a 45 minute hike, it gets you well above tree line and requires some rock scrambling so as you can imagine there are some "city folk" that get themselves into a tizzy on the trail and Patrick and I enjoyed a few laughs as well as some good views from the top.
September 5, 2011
I was so fortunate to have Patrick fly out to visit me for a couple weeks! On his first day, I dragged him out for a 3.5 hour rollerski around Anchorage in the rain. We saw a handful of moose and unlike Sadie and I, Patrick was not scared and would ski right past them tapping them on the bum with his pole while Sadie and I would take our skis off and take a scenic loop around the creature. It was a good Alaskan rollerski for sure.
For our first week, he joined the APU team as well as a few athletes from Sun Valley for our last glacier camp. I will be honest, I was starting to think Alaska was pretty sweet as my previous 2 glacier camps were full of sunshine and awesome skiing, but I was reminded that Alaska is crazy. We had some bad weather for this camp. We maybe saw the sun for half a day up there and the rest of the time it was blowing snow like crazy. It was full on winter up there. Now, I can't complain too much because I was still skiing in August which is really awesome and I was enjoying time with Patrick, but it did take an extra bit of motivation to get out the door everyday when you would wake up to wind and snow pounding against the building. I was able to reach my goal of training hours for the week, making it a decent week overall and I certainly gained some toughness out there. Here are a few pictures from the week, and yes, I did enhance them on my computer so it does look a little sunnier than it was, plus we only took pictures when the sun was trying to peek out.....Fresh snow surrounding the building