Tag Archives: Fairbanks

Walter Harper Day

Walter Harper

Today, 7 June, is the first Walter Harper Day. Harper, whom I have written about on here before, is one of my favorite historical Alaskans.

It was on this day in 1913, when Harper became the first known person to stand on the summit of Denali.

Harper tragically died at the age of 25, along with his young bride, Frances Wells Harper, with the sinking of the Princess Sophia in 1918.


Smokenado

EZfL_iBUwAMUPCi

Photo credit: National Weather Service – Fairbanks

A smokenado rose up from a wildfire near Fairbanks.  Over the weekend, 23 new wildfires were started by lightning in Alaska.  The sheer number of strikes was impressive: there were 1860 recorded lightning strikes on Saturday, and an additional 2900 by 8pm on Sunday.

Wildfires are the last thing that is needed right now, on top of everything else going on, but the month of May has been dry across much of Alaska, so the scent of wildfires was not a surprise.


The Beaver Cam

0038:012215:83F:0000:CAMERA1:1-

I recently pulled the SD card from the trail camera that I have looking out over the beaver lodge.  It had 747 images on it.

0211:012215:81F:0000:CAMERA1:1-

741 of the images were of ducks.  Sometimes in pairs, sometimes solo, sometimes the ducks had a large party and ignored all social distancing.  I have ducks swimming, ducks scratching an itch (like above), ducks taking off in flight, and ducks preening for the camera.

0439:012215:72F:0000:CAMERA1:1-

There are four images that contain at least one duck and one beaver.  The beavers are quite active, but have not been overwhelmed by the urge to cut down any trees.  They seem to continue to eat on the supply they cut down late last summer and early autumn.

0917:012415:45F:0000:CAMERA1:1-

There are only two images of a beaver without the photobombing ducks.  Personally, I think the Beaver Cam has gone to the beavers’ heads.  Now they just slap their tail in order to get attention.  Once you start to ignore their swimming about, the aggrieved beaver fires off a tail slap.  Who knew beavers to be such prima donnas?

The big male seems to have grown quite a bit since he last showed himself.  The female remains in shape; she’s quite svelte in appearance.  There is at least one kit, that I have seen.  There certainly could be two, but only one has shown itself at a time.


Fairbanks Roundup

IMG_3427

Lots of sun, no sign of ice, but plenty of beaver sign

Summer.  The residents of Interior Alaska live for Alaskan summers.  The difference from winter to summer is extreme.

EXRtpO6UYAAa963

Aurora Forecast; Map credit Climatologist Brian Brettschneider

The Aurora viewing season officially came to an end on Sunday.  We have too much daylight, and will not have a chance to see the Northern Lights for 91 days.

EYO-ZEmUcAAFQOf

Credit: National Weather Service – Fairbanks

On May 15th, Fairbanks went into our summer period of civil twilight.  We have enough natural light to partake in outdoor activities 24/7.

May 18th is the average date for the final freeze of the spring months in Fairbanks.

From May 29th, until July 14th, the sun will set after midnight.

The Summer Solstice, Fairbanks’ favorite day, is on June 20th.

Night in Fairbanks will turn dark again on September 4th.  A sad day indeed.


Greenup Day

 

IMG_3411.jpeg

Photo taken Monday morning, May 11, 2020

People from Outside are often amazed at how short the “transition” seasons are in Interior Alaska.  Often, spring and autumn seem like they are only days long.

Spring is especially quick to show itself in Fairbanks.  Our trees literally go from brown twigs to green leaves in a matter of hours.  On Sunday morning, the hillsides were a drab gray and brown, by afternoon, they were a vibrant green.

A pollen scientist by the name of Jim Anderson, working for the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks, starting logging the official Greenup Day in 1974.  He continued to do so until his death in 2007.  Ted Fathauer, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Fairbanks, independently did the same thing from his place on Chena Ridge.  Fathauer died in 2013.*

Current meteorologist, Rick Thoman, has taken up the green lantern, and called Mother’s Day as the official Greenup Day of 2020.

When I say that there is nothing gradual about the leaves coming out in Alaska’s Interior, I’m not kidding.  It is a sudden burst of green that immediately overtakes the land.  It doesn’t come in the form of a wave, it just comes, all at once.  Our days are over 18 hours long now, and the amount of visible light is closing in on 22 hours.  That’s a lot of photosynthesis power.

 

*Dermot Cole: Reporting from Alaska 

 

 

 

 


Eighty

IMG_3404.jpeg

Alaska saw its first 80F degree day on Saturday, as Ketchikan hit the mark.  Juneau hit 76F degrees, which was a record high for the date, and Fairbanks saw 70F degrees for the first time on Saturday.

The warm air mass brought 80F degrees into Alaska’s Interior on Sunday, which made for the years’s first 80 degree day for Fairbanks.  This is four weeks earlier than the average first 80 degree day.  It is the second earliest on record.

Sitka and Yakutat also saw high temps on Mother’s Day.

90F degrees is not in the forecast for Monday.

EXs_alBU8AEzu1D.jpeg

Utqiagvik Sea Ice Cam

The sun rose over the village of Utqiagvik at 2:46 am ADT on Sunday, it will set in 85 days.  The village also set a record high temp of 36F.


The sound of moving water

Welcome back


The thaw has finally come to the north.  Running water, which has not been visible for several months now, can be found at every turn.  The change of seasons, so dramatic towards the ends of the earth, is an adventure to experience every year.

IMG_3394.jpeg

The melt is slowly crossing The Pond

The transition season in Alaska’s Interior is a quick one, as a friend recently reminded me.  As I wrote earlier, it has been years since I experienced the spring thaw in its entirety.  I’m enjoying break up, even though boots are often required to experience the melt, close up and personal.

IMG_3392.jpeg

Creamers Field

The snow is all gone out at Creamers Field, the local waterfowl sanctuary.  The field was loaded with geese, ducks, a few sandhill cranes, and more trumpeter swans than I usually see out there.  The swans arrived early, and are taking advantage of the retired dairy farm.  I took the Leica out there, so we will eventually see if anything will come out of those pictures.  The swans were putting on a show that day, so hopefully I captured something on film worth sharing.


“Words of advice and caution”

Considering a trip to Alaska?

Resurrection Bay

“If you are old, go by all means, but if you are young, wait. The scenery of Alaska is much grander than anything else of its kind in the world, and it is not wise to dull one’s capacity for enjoyment by seeing the finest first”

— Henry Gannett

The Harriman Alaska Series

Bear Glacier

“If you are old and want to see the finest scenery in the world, there’s no time like the present. And if you are young, what are you waiting for? Check the ferry timetable, grab a sleeping bag, and go. Stay for a while. Believe me, it could be the event of a lifetime.”

— Mark Adams

Tip of the Iceberg

My little corner of Alaska

On a personal note: I took the second quote’s advice, loading my Labrador Retriever, camping gear and typewriter into a 1974 Ford Bronco, drove across half of the northern U.S, and took the ferry from Bellingham, WA through the Inside Passage to Haines, Alaska, and stayed a while…

In fact, today is the anniversary of my arrival to the State of Alaska.

It has been several events of a lifetime. With a little luck, I expect to have one or two more.

Cheers!


One last Quest Run

Film Saturday:

000103970015.jpeg

Yukon Quest Start 2020

Camera: Leica M3; Film: Fujichrome 35mm, Velvia 100 


Spring has arrived to the Last Frontier

IMG_3370.jpeg

The melt has started

The temperature on Easter Sunday reached 56F degrees in Fairbanks.  The last time we broke the 50 degree barrier was on September 30.

My daily hikes have been taking place in the morning now.  Partly, because the day is usually wide open for interpretation, but mainly because the snowpack is still firm early in the day.  Breaking trail gets old in a hurry.  The mukluks will be retired any day now for the rubber breakup boots.

Our length of day has surpassed 15 hours.  In fact, length of visible light, has gone over 17 hours.  The northern lights have been out, but they are already faint, unless they put on a show around 2am.  Soon, we will not see them again, until late August.

Rabbits can be seen morning & evening, bounding over the massive piles of snow with ease.  Already, the new brown fur is mixing with the white of winter.  An owl can be heard at night, hooting off in the distance, and I have seen the tracks of lynx, but the wary cat has evaded my camera traps.  Neither the owl nor the lynx seem to have put much of a dent in the rabbit population.  The frisky bunnies seem as numerous, if not more so, than last year.

Plow it, and they will land: 

IMG_3373.jpeg

Creamer’s Field on Wednesday

At the end of last week, the annual plowing of Creamer’s Field happened.  The old dairy farm is now a migratory waterfowl refuge.  The field is used to tempt waterfowl away from Fairbanks International Airport.  Fairbanks has an annual lottery on when the first Canadian goose lands at Creamer’s.  It’s not as widely bet on as the Nenana Ice Classic, but it may be as closely followed.  Creamer’s saw its first arrival on Sunday the 12th.  However, for only the second time since 1976, it wasn’t a Canadian honker that landed first, but a pair of trumpeter swans.  When I was out there on Wednesday, the swans were off in the distance and ducks were flying in, and landing on the puddles.  The woodchucks are also out and about at the refuge.

This is the first month of April that I have spent in Alaska since 2003!  I always leave around the end of March, if not earlier, to get some traveling in, and head to the Frozen Four Hockey Championship, wherever that may be held.  It’s a bit odd for me to be here to watch the snow melt.

With the above average snowfall this past season, and the quick upturn in temperature, we are in for a very messy breakup with winter.