Sunday, November 21, 2010

Well, here it goes

Well, my search for housing in the metropolis of Anchorage was a success. The suby is packed up outside and I'll be on my way as soon as this post is published.
I don't know when I'll have the Internets set up and I doubt I'll be posting on Thanksgiving, hence this mid-afternoon post on a Sunday.
It may be a little quiet here on the Trail for the next two weeks or so as I settle into a new, more urban lifestyle.
It's hard to believe how fast it's all happening too. I just packed up the majority of my life and stuffed it, in a rather organized fashion, into the back of my car with a little too much ease.
I can't help but feel a bit emotional right now.

Well, here it goes.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

House hunt

I'll be spending my weekend in Anchorage looking at housing options. It's more than a little weird to have to think about many of the amenities I've grown used to, and whether I'm willing to pay for all of them, or which ones I could do without.
It's also been interesting to see how fast good housing gets snapped up in Anchorage.
Hopefully on Monday I'll be posting with some good news on this front.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The big announcement

Over the last few weeks I’ve been failing to deliver here on the Trail.
While word has spread in the real world, thus far, the virtual world has mostly been deprived of the most recent and I would say biggest development in my life since I moved here.
Two weekends ago on my drive back from splitboarding in the pass with Josh, I was officially offered a position as a technical editor with an engineering and consulting firm in their Anchorage office.
The job offer, which I accepted, was not by any stretch out of the blue.
With some help from two relatives in the City of Brotherly Love, I’ve been in the back and forth process with the company for the better part of the last three weeks.
That all ended last Saturday, and this Saturday I will be in Anchorage looking for a new place to live.
The new job starts on Monday, my final day at the Clarion is Thursday.
Everything seems to be developing at the speed of sound, almost literally, which, after all this time, is both welcome and overwhelming.
I’m ripe here for some long winded reflections, and the thoughts are many on what’s ahead and what I’m leaving behind.
In little flashes, I’m reminded that the things that I’ve been doing on a regular basis for the last 2 years and change are all about to end, whether it’s the long sunrise commute to work, the views of volcanoes directly across the inlet I’ve enjoyed on my road bike rides or the daily ventures on the ski trails I know like the back of my hand.
It’s hard to say what I will miss most. There are so many things, and so many people, I dare not venture to say in public what or who they would be.
But I know for a fact that the quiet I’ve found after long days in the office on the starlit ski trails is certainly up there, and as of late, with all that’s going on, my after work skis have been all the more bittersweet.
As I’ve skated around in the dark these past few nights, John Cougar Mellancamp’s, “Small Town,” keeps playing in my head.

This past weekend I synced up with Jack and crew on Tincan. Visibility was nil, but the snow was sweet.

After making one run "on my own" in the company of a not oversized Friday crowd on the upperbowl, Jack and Crew emerged from the trees for their 4th lap I think. From the top, two of Jack's friends descended back to the car, while Jack and I did one more, making it back to the cars with not much daylight left to spare.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Winter on the river

Clarion photog extraordinaire, Scott, and I hit the upper-middle of the Kenai River today with Tony Eskelin, a sport fish bio with Fish and Game in Soldotna, to look for some of the rainbow trout Tony has tagged with radio transmitters.
This is part of an ongoing department study to follow where there fish are moving through the year as they feast on salmon, hunker down through the winters and spawn in the spring.
I've seen Tony working more than few times this year, as well as other Fish and Game bios out tracking the kings that were tagged as part of a separate study, so it was pretty cool to head out on the boat and hunt down some of the fish.
The method Tony is using is similar to one I saw employed by the department in another study (LINK) they were conducting on invasive northern pike in a lake in the northern Peninsula I wrote about last February (ARTICLE).
Despite a forecast that called for the Kenai to get railed by a surly storm said to be packing a wet and warm punch, temps were pretty reasonable with calm winds and even a few peaks of sun, making for a pretty nice day out on the water.

Scott looks on while Tony hones in on a tagged fish.

A few hardy anglers are still out working the waters.

Looking up the now iced over Lower Killey.

Monday, November 8, 2010

First turns on Tincan

Josh O (LINK) and I hit Tincan on Saturday on the fat boards, marking the official first turns of the season for yours truly.
A big storm has walloped the Peninsula since late Friday, dumping heaps of snow even here in the normally skimpily covered lowlands of the Central Pen.
Based on a trip I made two years ago to Carter Lake about this time of year after a nice white gift from the Prince (LINK), tele-Pete's Friday report that Summit Pass was rocking two feet at the highway and finally snowtel gauge reports, I wanted to get some turns at Carter before the area opens to sled heads.
We launched from Sterling around 9, but the sky was falling, and the drive between Sterling and Cooper Landing was the worst I've seen it. The pavement was nowhere in sight and sometimes it was hard to tell if we were even in the right lane. Fortunately we were the only people dumb enough to be out driving so there were few knuckleheads to contend with.
When we finally made it Tern Lake, the weather had lightened up some, and we could see Carter probably wasn't going to go. There was less than a foot at the road at the junction of the Sterling and Seward, and looking up the flanks of the nearby peak, the cover looked too thin.
We decided to head for Tincan, where knee deep snow was reported on Friday.
Tincan, along with being an early season mecca, offers some of the only tree skiing around, which is key when visibility is lousy.
Somewhere between Summit Pass and Hope Junction the snow turned to rain, and continued even as we climbed into Turnagain Pass.
Undaunted, we pulled into the Tincan lot which was, as expected, overflowing with every kind of snow enthusiast.
Making our way through the crowds and the freeze line, we soon found improving snow quality.
While visibility made it seem unworthy our effort to climb to the top of the bowl, AK Jack reported even better snow up high.
We were happy to make three tree runs, working our way progressively north, in snow that was at least mid-thigh deep or better.
What a way to start the season.

Josh prepares for the first descent of the day as snow continues to fall in earnest.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Winter sked

It's that time of year again. First tracks were laid on the splitty this weekend and the lowlands are disappearing under an ever deepening blanket as I strike these keys.
That means Sunday nights are for waxing planks, not for waxing poetic on the Internets. Come back Tuesday morning for photos and a short trip report from the first outing of the season.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Game on?

Snowtel sites across the Kenai Mountains reported the first significant snowfalls of the season this week, with a bulk load coming in Wednesday night via Prince William.
Down here in the lowlands, the first fall of the season came Monday night, and when I awoke on election day, well, let's say, I didn't have much of a decision to make.
While only an optimistic 2.5" covered the ground in Sterling, it was voluminous snow, and the warm sun came out, quickly nuking the top centimeter giving it a nice crunch.
I popped into my rock ski/classic fish scales and headed up the hill for a 45 minute or so tour around the neighborhood, making use of stray tire tracks as a classic track and working on getting my stride back underneath me.
The bright sun, snow covered trees and white washed roads were just what I wanted to see.
Since then, it's sort of precipitated every which way between snow and plain rain, but there's still snow on the ground, and there's no better base than a bomber layer of white ice, so,

Tuesday, just before sunrise.