Friday, July 24, 2009

A Puff of Fresh Air

This summer was supposed to be full of "new" places, but every single one of them had to be canceled because of my injury, so this work trip was a very welcome break to what's become a lethargic lifestyle.

I got to head up the Steese highway to a town called Central, which is located just 30 miles from the end of the road. I hadn't been past the Mt. Prindle road - and that was in the deep of winter. Things look a lot different this time of year! On the way, we stopped at an observer's house to switch out some weather instruments. I was very excited to meet these observers, since I've talked to them on the phone for over two years, and it is so nice to put faces with voices and names! Here's Brad's yellow lab and Lois and Ed's little weinerdog sniffing each other out. Don't you wish we could figure out if we like each other just by sniffing one another when we meet?? Ha ha.
Below is Lois, Ed, and their pup. Every morning when Lois calls with the wx observation, she says "ready whenever you are, young lady!" SO cute. I really enjoyed their company. The public interaction is what makes me like my job. Without it, I would not survive.
Farther up the road I experienced awesomeness. For some reason, I did not accurately visualize this area up the Steese highway.... and did not realize this is where Pinnell Mtn trail is - a trail of which was on my list to backpack this summer. I didn't know that there were such mountains up here.. granted they are not jagged and super huge - but man.. this is ideal country for backpacking. You can see miles and miles of vast expansiveness!! Wide open spaces.... just makes you want to run for miles through it.
The fireweed which has grown following the Boundary fire of 2004 was incredible. It just lined the hills for miles! I would have hated to be in this area while the fire was burning, though. This summer, approximately 1.5 million acres of land have burned so far from wildfires and is still rapidly increasing. During the summer of 2004, 6.5 million acres of land burned. That seems so unreal. We have had some smoke this summer, way more than I have seen, but practically no acreage compared to 2004 and 2005. Maybe it's just that most of the fires seem to be in the Interior this summer. Then again, I have nothing to compare it to. Sure makes a pretty landscape years later!
Our next and final stop - Central, AK. This bridge to get to our observer's property was just wide enough for the work truck.
The mosquitoes in Central were a little bit worse than they are at my house. You can see 11 in the picture below. And I had only stopped for maybe 4 seconds by the creek. Considering all of the mosquitoes, only 5 or 6 of my new bites were even noticable the next day. Not too shabby. One can only hope for immunity to mosquito bites.
SO close. I wanted to go Circle Hot Springs, but our duties didn't call to go there. Maybe someday.. the hot springs is closed anyway.. I have plenty of exploring enqueue in the meantime.
Here's the views of the mountains in the distance from Central... unfortunately I did not get a picture of our observers here but they are also very nice and hospitable. They have a huge vegetable garden and were very generous in feeding us from it.
Here's a video over 12 mile summit.. I think. It is all beautiful and above treeline in this stretch of road. I had no idea!! For some reason, I visualized Pinnell Mtn as being below treeline and all wooded. What was I thinking??? This area is a well kept secret I think.. there are boundless opportunities for backpacking and floating up here.

Hooray for somewhere new!

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I LOVE that area too!!! I remember thinking the same thing before I got out funny...