Flashback: Last Alaska Correspondence

[11/22/2005 via Gmail]
Hey Everybody,
This may be the last of the Alaska correspondences, baring any unforeseen extra-ordinary events, so soak it up.  I leave next week.
Alaska continues to surprise me.  Just before 6 days of no-sun snowing began, I was fortunate enough to get an impressive array of aurora borealis during an evening stroll.  Waves of grey, green, violet, and pink rippled and coiled across a majority of the sky.  They moved slowly and then suddenly–becoming almost solid and then vanishing.  Very beautiful.
Given the amount of snow recently (8 to 10 inches in the hills), I decided to take a new look at my favorite place: Chena River Recreation area.  This time I was more prepared, bringing snow-shoes, food and water, and a camera–albeit a disposable.  Rising at 6 to take Mike to work, I found it to be snowing, with a forecast of fog–not the best for mountain viewing–but I made a go of it anyway. By 9:30 [sunrise] I was tromping along a dog sled trail through a frozen bog.  20 minutes later I realized my intended trail should be going up the ridge, not along alpine creek, so I headed up, hoping to intersect the actual trail.  Going straight up in deep snow without a path, through a forest that recently had been through a fire, left my breathing hard and my cream colored snow pants zebra-striped by charred twigs.  The newly fallen and falling snow provided a pristine contrast to the blackened trees as I trudged on.  Once on the ridge, the path was, to my relief, found, but just as quickly, lost.  The snow was too deep and the forest too sparse–many trees were downed by the fire, and new brush had sprouted up concealing the path.  Imagining trails continuously, I picked my way upwards.
By a stroke of luck, the higher I went, the clearer the sky became.  At 1:00 [mile 5] I was at the rock strewn summit [no charred trees left] with the sun peaking out from behind the edge of the storm, illuminating the mountains to the north and east.  I sat in ice-faced wonder.  People say you could walk straight to the arctic ocean without encountering a fence or a person, and I believe it.  Wishing I could go on, I turned back.  Sliding down ice-hard snow, sinking into thigh-deep snow, and avoiding the decent to the bog, I happily found the correct path to my vehicle, arriving just at dusk–4pm.  A solid day of FFF- freezing forest fun.  Moving this morning was more difficult than usual, but worth every penny.  I believe I have now seen, smelled, heard, tasted, and touched of Alaska what I had hoped to.  It has been a pleasure.
Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope to see most of you in the near future.
Cheers,

-Scott

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~ by Scott Hamilton Peters on December 7, 2008.

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