Week of 11/23/09
After spending most of November traveling between villages, it was great to be home in Perryville for a full week. The weather was perfect, very little wind and lots of sunshine. I took advantage of it by going on many hikes, including this one to the top of 3-star. Christian, Andrew and his brother Nate went along with me. Even though it wasn't a race, I felt victorious making it to the top first.
Andrew is always scouting for animal tracks. It's pretty amazing how he figures out an animal's behavior from little evidence.
Come on Christian, you're almost there!
I usually pick a different peak to climb to every weekend that I'm home. Each climb is slightly different, but they all end with a sense of accomplishment including spectacular views that photos don't come close to capturing.
Trying to find a way down can be just as challenging as the climb up. One slip or misjudging the slope can result in a serious injury.
Safely back on the ground and heading back to the village I saw several sea lions, but couldn't get my camera out quick enough to snap their photos. The color of the water was deep blue and at times the waves appeared surfable. If only I had a board and a very warm dry suit. I hate to see nice waves wasted, but I'm not sure how safe the waters are. One of the best places to surf in AK is Yakatut, which I plan on visiting this summer before school starts. I've been told that I'll find perfect lefts, glassy 20 second rides and huge tubes for the taking with average summer water temps between 50-60 degrees, minus the crowds...a surfer's dream.
The following is an excerpt from Jake Howard, a writer for the Alaskan Edge. He recently featured a story about surfing in AK... couldn't have said it better myself...
Truth be told, Alaska is not for wimps. As Parmenter noted in The Land that Duke Forgot, “They call Alaska the ‘Last Frontier,’ but it’s more than that. It’s the last place where America, its true atavistic spirit, exists. It’s the America of John Ford, where accountability and self-reliance still mean something. It’s not the litigation-snarled America we have today, full of blame-shirkers and moral cowards. If you break down, you don’t call the Auto Club. If a bear looms up on the trail ahead, you don’t slap an injunction on him or sue the state because you weren’t mollycoddled with warning signs every 10 yards. And if you get into trouble surfing, you don’t flag down the rescue copter or whistle for Darrick Doerner to swim out and save your lily-white helpless beep.”
The night skies have begun appearing at around 6:00 and even though it has been getting darker earlier, it's not as dark as in PA. There are very few trees on the south peninsula and on clear nights the moon is bright enough to walk without a flashlight. I always thought AK was dark with very little sunlight, but I'm learning that's really only at the North Pole and the climate varies greatly throughout the state. The winds can be incredibly strong and at times gusts reach up to 80 mph creating blizzard conditions.
Perryville sustains enough wind to benefit from turbines. Since installing the wind turbines, the village has greatly reduced their dependence on generators.
Andrew, Nate and I spent most of Thanksgiving on the trapline. Even with the 4-wheeler, it's a lot of work checking and setting the traps. The fox I'm holding up was an exciting catch, because for days he successfully avoided our snare sets, even relieving himself on a few of them... but we figured him out and now he'll be part of warm hat. Animal furs are truly the only way to avoid frostbite during Alaska winters. Next week we're hoping for a wolf. We set snares around a bait pile we made with halibut carcasses and found huge tracks nearby.
One of most exciting wildlife viewings occurred unexpectedly during school pictures. It was perfect timing and we even captured the 3 killer whales in the background of the school picture.
The photographers the school hired canceled at the last minute... they probably felt that the trip in a bush plane over 500 miles from civilization was too much of a risk, so the teachers took on the task off taking the pictures. In the end, we'll save families a lot of money and by using kodak gallery online we'll produce high quality photos.
With no bakery or grocery store nearby the only way to have fresh rolls on Thanksgiving is to make them from scratch. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving the school sponsors a potluck and invites everyone from the village. We had the kids baking rolls all morning. We had a great turnout for the potluck, which included the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing along with lots of smoked salmon and shrimp, and of course many delicious desserts. The natives secret to flaky pie crust is using bear fat.