Saturday, April 26, 2008

The bad and the good

When I arrived back in Anchorage two days ago I was able to move my new used bed into my soon to be new abode partly because it was in the 50's, sunny and dry out. It was finally time to go biking!
Yesterday the snow started and now 16 inches later, it is SLOWLY melting. This is from today, April 26, 2008:

Yesterday was just a bad day: the power went out at my place, because of the heavy snow. I also had a tough time making a car rental agreement work (it really should be more simple), AND I found out that I screwed up my bidding for next month so I have days of work that conflict with days of nuptials I must attend.
Today was much better: I got to go flying, and making lemons out of the vice-like grip of winter I went skiing up in the hills.
I tried using a slippery wax on my wax-less skis and it was great at keeping the wet snow from bunching up! It was a really good day of skiing.
Here's a panoramic view of the trail and some of the Chugach mountains:

This is just up the hill from my car. There are a lot of houses here and the sea is in the distance. This is the Hillside neighborhood where the mc-mansions have taken root.

There was some fog where I was skiing and I was thinking how people get spooked by that in the woods, but while I was there it made me feel very warm. I took this photo and when I got home realized it looked like a kreacher posing as a tree:

Friday, April 25, 2008

more helmet?

Here is some wobbliness caused by frost heaves on the ALCAN. It will be very slow going in a U-Haul when the time comes. Maybe I can sell all the furniture and not use a big truck : )

Cassier snow moutain

Well, blogger seems to be letting me post video today. I'll try some more tonight.

Here's some more helmet cam video. It's basically driving on snow-drifting roads, but at times you can see the mountains in the background.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

helmet cam lives!

I've finally downloaded my helmet cam videos from the drive North. Since blogger will only let me put one video on each post I'll have to do these separate.

This is just over the Canadian border:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My one day off

Today I had a day off of being on call. Unfortunately, that's not enough time to get home to the Mrs. in Minnesota. So I went skiing.

People here, ski-people that is, recommended that I go to Flat-top trail head and head up to the Powerline trail.
Today was the first time since I've owned a truck (1995) that I was frustrated by not having 4WD. I couldn't get up the hill to Flat-top with my front wheel drive Saturn. I tried 3 times, and after some scary slides back down the hill I chose to go elsewhere.
I wound up at the Upper Huffman trail head instead and skied to the powerline trail from there. Here is a shot looking back at Anchorage from some off trail skiing I did:

I ran into a snow-shoer and told him where I was going. He asked if I was a good skier. I said I thought so, but what made my route difficult? Turns out it's difficult to turn and slow down when you are back-country skiing through these forests:

So I developed a technique of getting down the hills amongst the trees: sit down. I became a human sled, or at least one with skinny skis underneath me. It was fun until I stretched my knee oddly standing back up.

It was really windy out of the trees. It made me wish I had brought my pair of choppers. My camel back line actually started to freeze up, so it must have been around 10F or less with the wind (versus 35F in the trees).

The wind was so strong that here are what's left of my tracks (sideways) after 30 minutes:


Check out this avalanche I came across skiing today:

Those snow balls are 15' high!

OK, maybe 15 cm : )

The following sign says Snow Machine Access CLOSED insufficient snow:

There is about 2-3 feet of snow where the sign is posted and the drifts are well over 5 feet. Back in Minnesota that would be plenty of snow for snow-machines....of course some people in Iowa drive their machines through corn fields and across open water in the summer.

tax day

Tax day, April 15th, a day of snow here in Anchorage. It's amusing and a little sad to hear those around me who bitch about the late spring. THIS IS ANCHORAGE! Yep, it snows in April.

So I made lemonade by skiing today. I went out to Hillside and did the Spencer loop. I had to remove my yellow tinted shades after a bit because the snow was making it impossible to see through them. No photos today, it was too wet to bring the camera.

I started out with black wind-pants and a blue windbreaker. When I finished I was all white and very wet.

The temp was about 34F and the snow was fiercely sticking to the skis. I may have to break down and by a wax that prevents that on my waxless skis. Ironical?

Tomorrow I plan to go higher into the foothills (Flattop to Powerline ridge) and get in some better skiing. The fresh snow should make conditions up there really good and I won't have the weekend crowds to pack down the fresh snow.

Friday, April 11, 2008

qwest for snow

Today I finished a trip in the afternoon and decided to find some good snow up in the mountains for skiing (Anchorage has snow, but it's too warm for skiing today). I heard that Chugach State Park had some X-country ski trails so I drove there to check it out.
Turns out their snow was pretty much all gone. If I wanted to hike in, I could ski on the frozen creek but that might be difficult where the creek was open in spots.
Instead of being stupid, I chose to drive up to Palmer and from there up to Hatcher pass. I got some advice from some snowboarders on where to stop and ski and wound up on Archangel Road.
It's not used by cars and trucks, but was heavily traveled by snow machines. I found the drivers today to be nice and slowed down as they approached me. Too bad they couldn't stay off the ski tracks also.
Here are a couple of shots showing the trail and the background:

The first one is a panoramic which the blog doesn't do justice. I think I'll make it the banner for my blogger and see if it gets to be any bigger.

Here's a video of my limited back country skiing:

April skiing 2

So I tried to do another video on a steep hill called the Big Dipper, but the snow was so sticky I had trouble getting the skis to slide. Check out the snow pile I make which goes out past the end of the ski tips:

I managed to take most of the snow down the hill with me.

It was sticking to the skis so much that it was easier going up hill than down because they wouldn't slide. It was a lot of work that day and I was pretty tired after an hour and 10 minutes.

Here's a shot of that gorgeous day:

Here is a moose I saw that day:

Not to be confused with the moose in our yard a couple weeks ago:

April skiing

I got called out for a trip as the snow started to fall. I was bummed that I was going to miss the fresh snow.

As it turns out, I got back to Anchorage the next day in time for some very sticky (35F) skiing. Check out the snow piling up in front of the skis:

Turns out I can 't post more than one video so please check out the next post.....

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Saving $80

I flew on Redtail yesterday to get back to Anchorage. I brought my fold-up mini-bicycle which fits into a duffel bag about the same size as a carry on roller bag.

I brought the bike through security, to the gate and expected to plane-side check it (as I've done before) and get a stroller tag so that the bike wouldn't have to go through the baggage claim abuses.

Short version: gate agents weren't going to allow it on board without me paying $80, Captain saved the day, waived the $80 and on it went. Unfortunately, it had to be checked through to baggage claim.
So all is well until I pick up the bike and two plastic parts fall out of the bag
(sorry about the fuzzy images, but my macro isn't working correctly):

It turns out that the adjustment knob broke off, I just can't tell what else is broke. I had the bike shifted into the largest cog in the back, but now the chain is really close to the tire and I think the frame could be bent where the derailleur is attached. What do you think?