Friday, March 29, 2013

Farewell to SNAP

Today is the last day we can say we work at UAF and more precisely at SNAP, Scenarios Network for Alaska & Arctic Planning (which will, by the way, look good in our resumes!). One year went past way faster than we would have ever imagined.

During this year we were given an amazing opportunity to learn a lot. To gain new skills and to strengthen old ones. To be independent and to work in teams. To work in interesting projects. To work with great talented people. To go floating and flying. 

We consider ourselves very lucky to be able to say we were part of SNAP, which is well recognized and highly respected institute nationally. This job was a dream come true for us.

Yesterday we had our farewell potluck and we got a chance to say goodbye to everybody. We can't thank enough people who have helped us, supported us and made our working days in Alaska that much more special. It was a pleasure to come to work every day and we felt our efforts were truly appreciated. It leaves a nice warm feeling. 

SNAP, also known as Super Scientific Neat Number of Academically Awesome Productive People, will be missed!

And if someone didn't know yet, it's a holiday time for us now. Six months of holiday.  Yeah, you should be jealous!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bits and pieces from last week

One more week has passed here in Alaska. It's a bit crazy how fast time goes by now. Next week will be our last week at work. I mean, what?? And in one month we will leave Alaska. Again, what??

We get busier and busier as the time of departure approaches. Like mentioned before we are heading to Canada, the departure date will be the 22nd of April. We have now purchased almost all our gear for the summer backpacking trip and we spent most of the weekend sorting and listing them. We have also started sorting and packing the stuff that we will need in Canada for six months, and the stuff that we will leave in Two Rivers.

We are still able to find some time to enjoy our weekends. Last Saturday we had a barbecue dinner and meeting with the Mile 101 crew. It was so great to see again all those people with whom we had so much fun some weeks ago. As we left Peter's place we realized that we would have to say more and more goodbyes in next couple of weeks. Even though you know that you have to leave, and you are very excited about the next adventure, it's pretty hard when it's time to say goodbye.

On Sunday we enjoyed the sunny weather by doing some outdoor cleaning and wood piling. The temperature is between -10 and 0 °C so when the sun is shining it is pretty warm outside.

Julien tried some adjustments with our tent, making sure we are ready for  the summer. He also took off the back seat of the car in order to have more space for our 6 month road trip in Canada while Piia was out with Kerry and some dogs.

We took a day off on Tuesday and it ended up being a great opportunity to spend some time with Nick who is rarely around during the weekends. We had lunch together and Nick offered us new culinary experiences with extra  hot horseradish and triscuits. Nick likes mountaineering so we had some interesting discussion about outdoor gear and nutrition. 

After lunch we went  for a walk with Barges who is now our walking buddy, Keeper and Nick's dog Cooper. We walked until Flat creek which is pretty impressive looking creek now with its huge overflow. The weather was nice as it has been since many weeks now.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Granite Tors -trail with winter gear

Again one weekend behind us, and again a great one!

On Friday we helped Two Rivers Dog Mushers Association with its 50/100/200 miles race called the Chatanika Challenge. We helped to park the dog teams at Two Rivers Lodge checkpoint and helped to eat some cakes at Pleasant Valley store checkpoint, where Sandra and Torben worked as checkpoint managers. We couldn’t stay long since we had plans for Saturday and Sunday. Snowshoeing plans.

On Saturday we let the sun woke us up and then headed to the Granite Tors trail head. This is a trail that we did in summer; you can take a look at that story in here. This time the landscape was covered with snow and temperature was a bit lower. Though at the middle of the day the sun started to heat us up and we could have snowshoed with a t-shirt.

The beginning of the trail was relatively easy and we were happy to see someone had been there before us so we didn’t have to break the trail in.

After the trail started to climb and it was time to put the snowshoes on and take some layers of clothes off.

The climb was long and steep occasionally, but higher you go, the better the view is.

When we reached the top we stopped for lunch, toast with chocolate spread and tea, and enjoyed the sunshine on our face. Then the trail went on along the ridge and by the tors.

We stopped for some pictures and headed towards the trail shelter which we reached some time in afternoon.


The shelter isn’t insulated and as we later learned, doesn’t have a snow proof roof, but it still provides cover from most mountain winds.

And since it had a stove, the first thing we did was finding a dead tree and cutting some fire wood. Later we had a good fire going and our socks and shoes were drying fast. The only thing to do for the day was to relax and eat some soup dinner and chocolate.

Later at night, when we were already sleeping on the floor, we woke up with strong noises and something weird on our face. The noise was stormy winds howling outside and shaking the shelter. And on us we had a half cm of snow! We had to move away from the middle floor, and go deeper into our sleeping bags, and the night went on.

On Sunday morning we had a quick breakfast and then it was time to head home. We had still about 10 km to go, but this time it was mostly downhill. After the night storm the sky cleared up and we had sunshine on our back. We were tired and hungry but very happy when we reached the car. Again one weekend well spent!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Around the Flat Mountain

As Julien stated it, “the white spring” is here!
Meaning we still have snow on the ground so the landscape is white and beautiful, but the temperature keeps rising up during the days with about 11 hours of sunlight so it’s perfect for outdoor trips.

Last Saturday we decided to train a bit for the hiking trip we’ll do this summer, so went on a snowshoe, and later just shoe, trip around the Flat Mountain that stands on our backyard. 

We packed some homemade bread with cheese, some tea, and of course camera and headed to the trail with two dogs, Pronto and Barges, who chased squirrels, opened the trail and enjoyed the trip as well.

The trail was fun to walk. We clearly don’t have as much snow as we had last year this time, and the trail was also packed pretty well, so we didn’t actually even need snow shoes. To go around the mountain you have to climb a hill called “a wall” which describes it pretty well. It’s not a long way, but it is steep! We also climbed to the top of the mountain, just to see the view.

We stopped for a snack at the other side of the mountain. Barges and Pronto tried their very best... 

At the back of the mountain we faced some overflows. Luckily it was frozen under due to cold night temperatures, with just a little bit of water on the top. So we didn’t even get wet.

The trail to go around the Flat Mountain is about 10 km long. Perfect for training. And for a lazy Sunday that followed.