Thursday, December 27, 2007

'Tis the Season...

Sarah and I harvested this beautiful spruce off of my property. It's the first tree that I have had in the last several years. It was quite festive.

Heike organized this great holiday feast at Belfair. The evening was filled with goose, wine, gifts and fun.

This tasty warm drink consists of wine, fruit and molten sugar which is dramatically torched prior to consumption.

Katie's cake was a masterpiece.

The hot gift of the night was this sexy yellow bra. Lars stripped it from Trevor...I think it looked better with Lars's outfit.

Sarah and I enjoyed Christmas Day together. We opened gifts,played some boggle, and finished the day off with a refreshing run out to an old mining shack on the backside of Ester Dome.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Celebrating Solstice

Long dark nights are synonymous with winter in Alaska's Interior, but a lack of sunshine certainly does not equate to a lack of light. In fact I find the cold clear nights provide a quality of light that is difficult to match. The mid-day alpenglow provided by the sun lets every Alaskan enjoy a prolonged sunrise and sunset daily.

Ed and I skied into Nugget Creek Cabin on Solstice. It was a grand ski in that did not require the use of any supplemental light. The direct moon light coupled by its reflection off of the snow was more than enough.

Josie thought my sleeping bag was a pretty nice place to rest after breaking trail on the way in.

It took a while for the little stove to bring the temperature above freezing in the cabin. It was about -20 F when Ed and I arrived around midnight.

Ed broke his ski on the way in, but it managed to hang together on the 7.5 miles out.

After recovering from giardia Josie and I went out for a snowshoe behind my cabin. The temps had dropped to around -40 F and I felt the urge to document my enormous snotcicle.

I've got the fever..."Beaver Fever" that is

After about three weeks of symptoms I made a visit to the doctors office. He felt that the description of my symptoms matched those of giardia and prescribed a couple different drugs to kill the little parasites. The treatment was nearly as bad as the giardia but everything is back to normal. Sadly, I have wanted to experience giardia for some time now... if anyone else has the same dream feel free to give me a call. I would probably suggest that it would be better to be safe than sorry.

I pasted some info about giardia from Wikipedia below:

In humans, infection is symptomatic only about 50% of the time, and protocol for treating asymptomatic individuals is controversial. Symptoms of infection include (in order of frequency) diarrhea, malaise, excessive gas (often flatulence or a foul or sulphuric-tasting belch, which has been known to be so nauseating in taste that it can cause the infected person to vomit), steatorrhoea (pale, foul smelling, greasy stools), epigastric pain, bloating, nausea, diminished interest in food, possible (but rare) vomiting which is often violent, and weight loss.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Talking Trash

Heckle and Jeckle are not the only two that enjoy the spoils that the local dumpsters have to offer. Recently there was a small dust up regarding the legality of dumpster diving in Fairbanks.

After reading an article in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner I decided to bring my camera with me on a trip to the transfer station. There was plenty of diving taking place but I was fortunate enough to capture this pair as they loaded up their Ford Ranger. The man loaded up a desk that had been cut/broken in half while the woman loaded boxes of cloths and other sorts of grodie goodies. I'm not trying to be self righteous my collection of audio tapes came from a dumpster located off of the Parks Hwy.

I have attached the article describing the latest dumpster diving hub-bub...I found it to be quite entertaining.

Assembly dumps ban on dumpster diving

By Chris Eshleman

Published November 16, 2007

A vocal mob trashed a proposed ban on dumpster diving in Fairbanks before the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly unanimously rejected the measure Thursday night. Instead of pitchforks and torches, residents carried a combined five hours' worth of objections to a public hearing on the proposed ban. The overwhelming opposition led resident Paolo Greer to suggest Fairbanksans must fall into one of two categories: "People that brag about what they take out of the dumpsters and people who just don't admit it." The measure aimed to prohibit anyone from removing items from trash bins at the 14 public garbage-collection transfer sites around Fairbanks. Comments made Thursday echoed those from so-called dumpster divers around the world, who cite the practice as a constructive way to put discarded items back to good use. Resident Scott Allen said he suspects waste recyclers salvage a notable percentage of the waste stream before it hits the landfill. "This is the most effective, and the only, recycling program we have.And it's cost-effective," he said. Borough officials highlighted concerns linked to safety and liability at the sites, offering early support for a revised version of sponsor Charlie Rex's ordinance that would have become effective next summer. But of the scores of residents who commented - 79 signed up to speak,with more arriving after the meeting began - all but a handful opposed the measure. Many hinted at a strong public desire to see more recycling options, and one resident noted that the Thursday hearing fell on the nationally recognized America Recycles Day. "I think we should be building a road toward recycling," Ritchie Musick said. "This ordinance is at the wrong time. We're putting a gate across the road before we build it." Karen Austen ticked off a number of items she's picked up at the sites:a Porter Cable belt sander; a new computer printer, still in its box;leather gloves. She urged people to take advantage of designated recycling stations set up at five of the sites. "We should have one constructed at every site," she said. A few people thanked Rex for challenging the way the sites are operated, suggesting the community's waste-management structure needs improvement. Some critiqued a consumption-driven culture that they view as encouraging the marketplace to produce and purchase more goods than society needs. "Buy and trash, buy and trash. That's what we're about," Ron Kovalik said. Jean Battig suggested a better idea would be to fine people for indiscriminately throwing away usable items. "I know we can't do that,but I'd sure like to see it." Rex said he and other public officials discussed the proposed ban for months after the borough's contracted trash-hauler reported safety concerns at the sites. "People were actually intimidated to go dump their refuse," he said,adding that he feels the borough needs to rethink how it manages the public waste stream. "We need to change what we do, how we do it, our total approach." Prior to the vote, borough Mayor Jim Whitaker pledged to work with the assembly to create a commission that will review operations at the transfer sites. Rex, who eventually joined others in voting against his initial proposal, thanked residents for carrying positive suggestions to the meeting and called on the borough to keep discussing liability and junkyard concerns. Borough officials have drawn links between heavy action at the transfer sites and the proliferation of private "junkyards" - private properties filled with unstored items. Resident Elijah Shoults suggested if that connection is real, the assembly deal with it through means other than banning access to trash bins. "This ban punishes everyone because of the actions of a few, and that is unjust, it is unrighteous," he said. Bob Sawyer said low-income residents view access to the waste stream as an income or lifestyle supplement, a practice that "helps the environment and the economy and encourages self-sufficiency. "There are more pressing issues that we should be looking at" including low-income housing options, Sawyer said. Scott Calder suggested the measure amounted to an effort to aggravate class distinctions and widen wealth gaps in Fairbanks. Abe Camp adopted a quote from Thomas Jefferson. "If it doesn't break my leg and it doesn't pick my pocket, then we shouldn't make a law against it," he said. Frank Turney suggested the borough should simply post signs at the sites if it wants to relieve itself of legal liability connected to people climbing into trash bins. "It makes no sense to levy a $100 fine for someone retrieving some wood to heat his home," he said. "I suggest this sounds like something out of George Orwell." Orion Lawlor suggested much of the Fairbanks population has done what other communities might not - accepted the practice of recycling discarded goods as productive. "There's only one Fairbanks. And I for one wouldn't change it," he said.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

No Dress Code at Tolovana Hot Springs

This past weekend a group of friends made their way out to Tolovana Hot Springs. This is always a great was the first real trip that I made after moving to Alaska and I have been fortunate to have maintained relationships with everyone and have had many wild times out there since. It is a fairly challenging 11 mile backcountry journey that ultimately lands us at a a few cabins and some poly tubs that are fed by some side hill seeps that produce different temperature water heated from geothermal activity. Trevor and Dan are enjoying a soak in the upper tub while a hawk owl listens in on our conversation from the tree behind us.

Here's a picture of the main cabin. Some of our crew skied in while others walked in and enjoyed some of the finest sledding in the Interior.

"Clean Liven" is the best term that I can use when describing life at Tolovana...below Vlodka writes in her journal while Ed blows us all away with his unbelievable magic tricks.

Sarah, Josie and I went for a mid-day hike between soaks and meals. The weather was great, there was no wind, the snow was steadily falling and temperatures hoovered around ten degrees.

A few rose hips added some color to the landscape.

I'm fairly sure nobody lost weight over the weekend...the food is almost as good as the company.

Saturday night ended up with the most of the crew enjoying a soak...the quality of this photo may have suffered a little since I was cooling off a bit after I left the tub.

The snow had settled lightly on all of the surrounding trees and brush.

The trip out was enjoyable but it marked the end of another trip to Tolovana.

Taken' a Trip Out To The Magic Bus

Our thirst for exercise and adventure was certainly quenched a couple of weekends ago when Ed hatched a last minute plan to ski out to bus 142. This bus has become a shrine for some and a point of contention for others, but after our trip down the Stampede trail I believe that it should stay put and all comers should have the opportunity to share in Chris McCandless's story.

John Krakaur's book "Into The Wild" which was followed by Sean Penn's movie version of the story has peaked interest in the story of Chris McCandless's free spirited travels and ultimate death in bus 142 after being trapped in the wild by the Teklanika River. The bus now acts as a shrine and travel destination for people who have taken an interest in the tragic story. Our visit was not meant to be a pilgrimage but ended up a very memorable experience for a number of reasons. This copy of "Into The Wild" was left in a tattered suitcase under a rusty bed spring in the bus.

After about a mile we found some windblown, south facing trail that was not too conducive for skiing...these conditions did not last long.

About eight miles into the trip we had to deal with our first real uncomfortable hindrance...the Savage River. When Ed brought this trip up to me in the middle of the week I mentioned that the two major rivers that we would have to cross might still be open...he never replied, so I figured that his vast knowledge of hydrology must have left him confident in the conditions. Actually he just figured that if he planted the seed that I would ultimately come around to agreeing to the trip. He was correct, but now we had to deal with some cold feet.

This is some interesting ice on the East bank of the Teklanika River. I don't have any good images of us crossing this river. It was deeper and faster than the Savage, but after some scouting we found an ice bridge that we were able to ski across without having to get wet again.

We had not intended to stay in the bus but once we arrived at the site we were all fairly sweated up and after gathering some wood and started a fire in the barrel stove. We figured that bus 142 provided the nicest accommodations in the area so we rolled out our bags and rested fairly well..I can see how McCandless was attracted to this site. There was a little smoke that escaped the old stove when I took this shot...or maybe we were not alone?
After a relaxing morning and a warm breakfast it was time to get started on our 20 mile ski back to the vehicle. Dan and Ed take one last look before we head out.

There had been some sort of ATV that broke trail for us...a snowmachine would have made for easier going but beggars can't be choosers.
Things got a little hairy once we reached the Teklanika River. Overnight the water level had risen and our ice bridge had about six inches of overflow covered by a thin sheet of ice that I broke through when I tried to cross. My skis stuck between the main layer of ice and the new crust while the icy water made its way into my boots. One of my skis came off when it tried to back out of the situation. It was below zero so I had to hurry up and get my boot back into the binding so it would freeze together instead of freezing up, disallowing me to use my skis for the rest of the trip out. We put plastic bags over our socks to act as barriers between our boots and our insulating layer. This made the rest of the trip out fairly intense causing us to ski hard for periods of time to try to maintain a reasonable level of comfort, then breaking to shove food down in order keep a steady flow of calories in our system while occasionally massaging our feet to insure that nothing was freezing up...I guess that I would call that type two fun.

Great friends, challenging trails, and a phenomenal landscape made this a memorable trip...I guess this inscription from bus 142 says it all.

To read more about this trip check out Ed's blog:

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Just getting started

Well this is my first blogging expierience. I anticipate posting a bunch of stuff in the fairly near future. But for now I just wanted to get things up and running.