Saturday, January 26, 2013

Snow Blanket

We got about a foot of snow the other day.  The day after was clear and cold at -20 F.  We took an early morning ride up to the near-by ridge to see the sunrise colors.

The rest of the day was spent shoveling our driveway and walkways and soaking up the sunshine in our backyard.  Due to the lack of wind during the snowstorm the spruce trees are blanketed in snow.   Snow cones top the trees like wizard hats and the snow-piled branches have taken on fingerlike shapes.  We'll enjoy it till the next wave of wind.
 This tree just has too much character! :) 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Riding the Denali Highway

Plowing through eight inches of fresh powder with sun-kissed mountains all around....heaven!

All together we saw about 50 caribou throughout the day spread out in several smaller groups.  
It was a beautiful day and not too the low teens.  This was just a test run for the new machine so we only went 23 miles out before turning around.

The Nenana River

The Nenana River comes out of the northern part of the Alaskan Range and winds through the canyon outside Denali National Park and right through Healy.  With the sunlight peaking over the mountains again, we are getting out more.

A feeder creek is all built up with overflow ice.

A couple of shots of the surrounding canyon walls and peaks brushed with light.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Cadillac

Andrew, who has a knack for fixing things, was recently given another snowmachine!  The condition being, if you'll come get it and fix it, it's yours! Such an amazing gift!  We can't thank our neighbors and good friends, B&B, enough!!!  We instantly named the machine The Cadillac because in our opinion it's a high class tank.  It is very sturdy with a low center of gravity, delightfully big and roomy, sooooo comfortable, and has lots of bells and whistles (with reverse and a low gear).  It's got a very cushy passenger seat which makes it perfect for the two of us.  Since figuring out the problem and fixing it, Andrew has put over 150 miles on it!  
 It's first trip to the Savage River, about 15 miles from our place.
On the second trip to the Savage River, he went upstream and found a part of the river that was frozen and crossable.
First trip to the "Magic Bus," made infamous by the book made movie Into the Wild, about 30 miles from our place.  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Meet Toklat

We adopted Toklat recently from the animal shelter in Fairbanks.  "Toklat" is the name of a river in Denali National Park.  It's a word from the native Indian language meaning "cloudy white" water, the result of ice and snow melt.
Toklat is settling in quite well with us, especially now that he knows the routine....sleep at night and be awake during the day.  He is about six months old and LOVES to play!  He has gotten very good at going up and down the ladder to the loft which provides a lot of entertainment for him (and us).  He also loves to be held and have his belly rubbed.  He and Boss are doing well together.  They aren't best friends yet, but we're hoping they will enjoy each other's company eventually.  So far, he's a great addition to the family! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Full Moon Campout

December's full moon
Andrew decided to sleep out under the bright light of the last full moon of 2012.  From the cabin he hiked up to the ridge between our place and town and traversed it for a few miles north...a little over 6 miles altogether.  When he camps out alone he prefers to not take a tent so his pack is a little lighter.  This night in particular was only in the teens, very nice compared to the -30s he slept out in last winter. It was mostly a quiet night up there, except for the sounds of the wind whipping all around him.  In fact, it was actually the windiest conditions he has ever been in he said.  The wind was trying to lift up his legs in the sleeping bag and blow him away throughout the night.  He did dig a trench behind a scrub willow, to sleep in.  Best estimates of the biggest gusts is probably somewhere around 60mph.  While being awake from the wind a few times during the night, he had the most eerie feeling of being watched which is not like Andrew.  The next morning he packed up his camp pretty quickly because the wind was worsening, not calming down.  When he left camp heading towards home on his trail from the day before, he found wolf tracks only 50 yards away.  He said it was a single wolf that had come across his trail, paralleled it for 20 yards then continued on its way.  A startling and eerie surprise but thrilling and exciting in a way too.
We love having those experiences up here and even more so to know that its happening in our backyard.  It's comforting to be living so close to nature.  One of those things that makes us sleep better at night. :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Year's Eve Walk

On the last day of 2012 we took advantage of the warm weather and went out for a walk at the end our road.  Warm, meaning 35 degrees above zero, but more importantly no wind.  Since Christmas and until about three days ago (Jan. 6th), the temperature has been at or above freezing in Healy (43 for a high)....way too warm for this time of year!  Now everything is super icy!  But, we wanted to see how the trails were at the end of the road and to see if anybody else was out and about.
From where we are the sun still has not peeked over the Healy Ridge yet.  We are predicting we should see direct sunlight on our property again around January 10th.
With so many days above freezing we have lost quite a bit of our snow.
We saw half a dozen ptarmigan while out.  I love their white winter plumage.

Happy hikers!  This is Andrew's "is it working?" face.