laundry room test

Yesterday I walked into the laundry room with a big audio get-up on and people looked at me funny. This has nothing to do with getting outdoors in Alaska… so you definitely don’t want to hear this.

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Warmer Than the South

I’m in Fairbanks, and in the last couple weeks I’ve noticed something really weird… it’s not cold. It’s not as cold as Boston, Chicago or Montana. There aren’t 6 inches of snow on the ground. It feels like the twilight zone.

I imagine it feels like that especially for the ski team. Head Coach Scott Jerome said they are wishing for snow. Right now the team is still doing the same stuff as in the summer as far as training, “Rollerskiing, running, hiking with poles, strength training in the weight room.”

I remember snow last year at Starvation Gulch (a bonfire tradition at UAF around the end of September), so I know this is a little strange to be so far into October without the white stuff. Jerome said last year was early, though, and that the average is sometime around Oct. 15-22. “This is not too unusual for us. Training is training,” he said, “Your heart does not know if you are on asphalt or on snow…”

I know I’m not the only one who thinks this is weird, though. “In an average year, about 6 inches of snow has fallen at the airport by now,” a News-Miner article said.

All I can say is that I’m really enjoying it. For those in the area, it looks like we have at least another weekend of snow-free camping and hiking ahead if us.

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Another TV Show About Alaska?

So I know that watching the television is pretty much the opposite of getting outside, but I just can’t wait to see the “Alaska State Troopers” show from National Geographic.

Alaska wildlife troopers on the Chena River - taken from National Geographic's "Alaska State Troopers"

Alaska wildlife troopers on the Chena River - taken from National Geographic's "Alaska State Troopers"

Alaska has some pretty crazy occupations, but I think the troopers deserve a lot of credit for being as hardcore as you can get. When people don’t return on time from a hunting or snowmachining trip, the troopers are always called to get out in the elements and help search. If they get in trouble with the elements themselves, they better hope the people they serve are willing to help. It’s not easy to maintain alcohol prohibitions in rural Alaska, nor is it easy to solve unlawful animal kills.

“I’m kind of an adventure seeker – heck, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love it,” said one trooper featured in the sneak peak (link above).

The first episode airs this week. I have a feeling that after watching this show there will be a surge of trooper applications just like I’m sure there was in the commercial crabbing industry after “Deadliest Catch”. I also hope it inspires safe outdoor activity, and the troopers can provide lessons in how to do things right.

More information on the series can be found here.

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Choking on a Moth

A few weeks ago I relayed my dad’s story about cruising down the river and accidentally inhaling a moth. Well, my mom found that story pretty entertaining, too, and decided to tell it her own way.

She’s brand new to the program Audacity® and that was her first story she ever made.  Some of those pictures came from her own stockpile, and one included me!

I hope everyone is enjoying weird high temperatures around Alaska!

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What Famous People Said…

I’m a sucker for celebrity quotes. And gossip, but that’s a different story.

Outdoor Life, a hunting and fishing magazine, has compiled some celebrity outdoor quotes online. A lot of them are old celebrities (Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, etc.) and a lot of them are about guns rather than the outdoors, but a celebrity quote is a celebrity quote and if it puts off homework for a few extra minutes, then I’m all in!

Some of my favorites were from writer Dave Barry, “The only kind of seafood I trust is the fish stick, a totally featureless fish that doesn’t have eyeballs or fins.” and Benjamin Franklin’s “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”

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Beyond the Book

Today I learned something new. If you are an enthusiastic climber, you’ve probably heard of Steve House. If you are not big on climbing, and haven’t heard of Steve House, you may want to check this guy out.

At 39, this guy is known as the world’s best alpinist climber. That’s quite a feat. He has no idea how many mountains he’s climbed, but he does know he’s been up Denali 14 times; he’s climbed Nanga Parbat, with the tallest mountain face in the world; he’s won the Golden Ice Axe award; he’s learned with the best of the best and he’s climbed heights in incredibly short periods of time.

Steve House in Fairbanks presenting his Slideshow

Steve House in Fairbanks presenting his Slideshow

In Fairbanks House held a book signing and slideshow Friday night. His book is called Beyond the Mountain and covers periods of his life when he was just learning to climb, times when he thought he might die, times when he injured himself badly and some of the best times of his life.

He’s not from Alaska (he’s from Oregon) and most of his climbs are not in Alaska, but he has spent a lot of time and had life-changing experiences here.

In 2000, Steve House, Scott Backes and Mark Twight took on the South Face of Denali (or the Slovak Route), and they took it on with such confidence that the plan was to summit in just 48 hours. They ended up ascending in 60 hours, but for guys who were 29, 43 and 39 at the time (respectively), that is no disappointment. There had been two ascents of the Slovak before them, one done in 11 days and the other done in a week. The three men formed such a partnership in 2000, that after the climb when Backes and Twight decided to retire from climbing, House actually decided to go solo for a while.

His book covers a great deal more of his life and experiences and would be a perfect read for those winter days when it’s just too cold to get out.

I bought the book for my mom (Mikey Lean) and made a huge mistake. I didn’t get his autograph. My mom has climbed Denali before and is an avid reader of climbing stories, so when I told her about the book, the first thing she asked was, “Did you get his autograph?!” I felt like an idiot. I had just assumed the autograph was in the book already and left without looking harder for the author himself. She might never forgive me for that, but I know she’ll enjoy the book.

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Don’t be Scared of the Rabid Wolf

Earlier this month, Roderick Phillip, 35, of Kongiganak, Alaska was attacked by a rabid wolf. It was around 2 a.m. when Phillip left his campsite and hunting buddies to go look for a moose by the river. Luckily he wasn’t out of hearing range. Phillip spotted a lurking figure in the dark. He cried “Wolf!” (no, really) and the wolf charged him down. It only got a nickel-sized nibble (according to this blog) before Phillip was able to pin the wolf down and his brother came to his rescue.

Later, they found out the wolf was rabid. Rod Phillip is doing fine and taking rabies vaccination shots.

Rabies is spread through saliva. One can be infected by being bit or licked by an infected animal on the skin, eyes, lips, cuts or scratches. Rabies is most often found in arctic and red foxes in Alaska, but can infect any type of mammal. It’s been found in dogs, wolves, caribou and polar bears, too, according to ADF&G.

Beware of animals that have lost their natural fear of humans and are exhibiting odd behaviors like “foaming at the mouth” and biting objects they normally wouldn’t eat.

On the bright side, if a person happens to be bitten by a rabid animal, there is plenty of time to get to a hospital or clinic. The incubation period (time when symptoms show up) for the virus is 3-8 weeks. There have only been a few cases of human attacks in the past century.

Don’t let rabies keep you indoors! If you are scared, just know what to look for and how to get help if it occurs. Five or so attacks in the state in the past century shouldn’t be enough to scare anyone, though.

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