July 23, 2015

Alaskan Summer

When one week of every month is spent skiing on a glacier and the other three weeks are in Alaska, it's easy to get confused about what time of year it actually is. However, summer in Alaska brings about all sorts of adventures, rain or shine.

After two weeks of training hard in Anchorage, we headed south for the 4th of July holiday weekend. Seward hosts the Mt. Marathon race, a grueling 3 mile race that ascends AND descends a 3,000 ft mountain. I am not a participant and not sure I ever want to be, but I enjoy being a spectator along with thousands of other Alaskans. This year two international mountain running stars came to participate in the event, making it an even bigger show down than past years. I was truly impressed and inspired by the athleticism and prowess both displayed as they easily walked away with the men's and women's title and broke both records! Killian Jornet is well known for his speed ascents up large mountains such as Denali and his girlfriend Emelie Forsberg is a world champion mountain runner who both now have a large Alaskan fan club following their performances. I was looking forward to heading on some of my own adventures in the Seward area until I dropped a 35lb bar on my foot in the weight room... I feel I dodged a bullet however as nothing was broken and it only cost me one weekend of training!
Sadie ready to celebrate the 4th of the July with her Olympic sweater
Killian reaching the bottom
Lots of spectators

Next, it was back to the glacier! While we didn't experience quite as bad of weather as last month, we had soft snow to contend with and some very tired bodies after two very solid months of training. We followed a similar training plan so I had some idea of how I might feel for each session. I tend to have the trend of getting a little too excited about skiing and getting pretty tired the first few days, then following a little spark with some hard training and a little slower distance pace, I catch a second wind for an end of week sprint simulation. The last day always consists of a very long workout, but knowing it's the last is typically enough to get us through feeling alright. We were able to hike out this camp, which is always an exciting adventure moving from a gray and white glacier panorama down through scree, mossy hillsides, and finally through the alders and back into the rainforest of Girdwood. Overall, the glacier camp was a huge success with lots of technical improvements, but I did leave feeling ready for a true recovery week to recharge for the second half of the summer.
Sometimes you get too tired to change standing up

50k ski done!
Enjoying a sunny afternoon on the heli pad
Getting bundled up for the snowmachine ride across the glacier to begin the hike down
On the recovery week, I decided to take advantage of being a resident Alaskan now. I headed to the Kenai River to go dipnetting and try my hand at filling the freezer. People from all over travel to the Kenai so it is a bit of a circus at times and a bit of a gamble trying to predict the fish. It seems everyone has their own theory for when the fish are coming, which tides are best to fish, the best techniques for dipnetting, the best ways to process the fish so your guess is as good as mine as to what the actual best way is...We camped on the beach just at the mouth of the river and just enjoyed ourselves, watching other with their nets in the water until we saw people bringing fish in, then we would jump in and try ourselves. A dipnet is about 5ft in diameter with a 15ft long pole making it no easy task to manage it along with the tides and the currents. Our preferred method was the moving method in which we would put the net out into the river and walk with it downstream, hoping to scoop up a fish, then drag it out, throw it over your shoulder, walk back up the beach, and start over again. If you felt a fish in your net, you quickly turn it and run to shore, smack it over the head, rip it's gills, throw it in the cooler and start over. It was quite the workout and I had some extremely sore muscles the next day. We were successful and brought home enough fish to feed us for the rest of the year!
Celebrathing Becca's birthday with Rhubarb Crisp
We made a trout cake for Erik's birthday

Beautiful night at the beach
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David and Jess getting after it. 
The row of tents moving in
Rolling in the coolers
The line of people waiting for fish
We have now started on our last glacier block of the summer meaning two weeks of training in Anchorage and one week on the glacier.