Tag Archives: ice

Follow the leader?

On the Chena River, downtown Fairbanks, in another century

I’m not sure which I find odder: The people skating on the river, or the people on the bridge watching the skaters on the river.

Times have certainly changed.


Arctic Coast Sunrise!

Utqiagvik sees the sunrise

Utqiagvik, the Village Formerly Known as Barrow, saw the sun rise yesterday for the first time in 65 days.

Brighter days are ahead.

Hockeyland

Friday Night Lights on ice:

I recently saw the documentary, Hockeytown. This very raw film, follows two high school hockey teams in Northern Minnesota during the 2019-2020 season. Two rivals on very separate paths: Eveleth is the iconic Iron Range town, home of the U.S Hockey Hall of Fame. Both the town and the hockey team are long past their prime years. Hermantown is on the rise, gaining both population and championships.

All the pressure, pride, excitement and disappointment in playing Minnesota’s state sport at the high school level is laid out bare in this very well done documentary.

Texas has football; Indiana has basketball; Minnesota has hockey.


New Glacier

A new glacier documented in the Shublik Mountains; Photo courtesy of Caltopo

A wilderness guide, Zachary Sheldon, came across a glacier in the Shublik Mountains in northern Alaska. Just thirty miles from the Arctic Coast and ten miles northeast of Alaska’s Brooks Range, it is the northernmost glacier in the United States.

Glaciers this far north are much different than glaciers on our southern coast. There isn’t much snow accumulating this far north, and the elevation of this glacier isn’t as high as others, as it sits at 4500 feet.

Like 99% of glaciers in Alaska, this newly discovered one is not growing in size.


The Yukon Quest 2023

A musher leaves downtown Fairbanks in the 2022 Mini-Yukon Quest; Photo credit: Alaska Public Media

Major changes have come to the Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race. The international race could not survive the Covid pandemic, with Alaska and Canada going their separate ways. Sad news to be sure, since the big appeal to the 1000 mile race was the international aspect of it.

Alaska officials are hoping there is still some interest in an All-Alaskan race, even with it being shortened to 550 miles. Time will tell, but only 13 mushers have signed up to run the 2023 race, to date.

The race will start on the Chena River in Fairbanks, and follow the traditional route to Eagle, Alaska, but after descending American Summit, instead of going on to Dawson, the route will turn south to Chicken and the finish line at Tok, Alaska.

The Yukon Quest 550, as well as a 300 mile race and an 80 mile “fun run”, will all start the morning of February 4th.


Pond Hockey: Alaska Style

Trail Lake, Moose Pass, Alaska; Photo credit: Alaska Public Media/Bruce Jaffa

John Gaule started to plow open hockey rinks and skating trails on Trail Lake back in the 1980’s. The community rink near Moose Pass has grown considerably since then. One thing that hasn’t changed is that the trails and rinks on Trail Lake are 100% volunteer driven.

Today the rink is plowed with a pickup truck, rather than a 4-wheeler, and there are now loaner skates and hockey sticks available for anyone to use, but the feel of the community hub is still the driving force. There can be as many as 50 people skating at any given time, and the skating trails can be a mile long. These days, Gaule even has a skate sharpener, which he charges $5/ pair, with the money going into rink maintenance.

The snow plowing begins when there is 6 inches of ice, and the ice is usually thick enough for skating to run through most of March.

This coming weekend will have both the hockey rink and skating trails open to anyone who wants to lace up a pair.


Ice Safety

Now that the ice has formed on area lakes, and the rivers have at least some ice forming along the banks, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Fish & Game have released their annual ice thickness chart.


Fairbanks Weather Almanac

Fairbanks had 5″ of snow in October, which is trending downward for the month. Between 1981 and 2010, October saw an average of more than 10″. Fairbanks has not seen an October with significantly above average snowfall in 18 years. Not that I’m complaining about that statistic. I’m in the “delay the snowfall for as long as possible” camp.

Sunday morning saw our first below zero temp of the season. It was -10F at the cabin. That is two days later than the average first dip into the negatives.

The Tanana River is at flood stage near Fairbanks due to an ice dam. We often think of ice dams causing trouble at break up, but they can cause havoc in the autumn too.

The length of day on Halloween in Fairbanks was 7 hours and 58 minutes. All Saints Day will be 6 minutes and 45 seconds shorter.

The record low on Halloween is -30F. The record high for the day is 46F. The average is +5 and +20 respectively. 2022 was slightly cooler than average.

Graphics credit: ACCAP/@AlaskaWX and NOAA


Beaver Patrol

Not one…

Not two…

But three…

Beavers patrolling The Pond. The birch, aspen and cottonwoods are all targets.

There has not been any action from the beavers since early spring. Once we made it into late September, and had the first hard freeze, they shifted into that busy beaver mode. It’s been nonstop action, day and night, collecting their favorite trees for the pantry, ever since. They already have a decent pile of semi-submerged tree limbs in front of their lodge.

They are a fascinating rodent, but if you want to save a nice birch from their teeth, you need to be proactive. My “yard” has a fence around it, but they still manage to break through from time to time. The neighbor though, offers them an easy smorgasbord, so for the most part, they seem to take the path of least resistance. In one night, three beavers dropped a dozen trees and waddled off with roughly half of their lumber in that raid. The next night, they came back for the other half, logs and all.

This will continue until The Pond finally freezes over. It’s a rough six weeks of the year for a birch.


Frozen Chicken

Graphic credit: NWS-Fairbanks