Friday, August 28, 2009

Surgery Success!

Surgery went well today. It was a very easy process and I remember nothing! Last I remember was that the anesthesiologist said "this might sting a little going into the iv", and BOOM, out like a light! He said before I passed out that I would sleep for 10 mins or so and then likely be conscious. Nope! Completely passed out for the entire process and woke up as they were putting an ACE bandage on. I blame that on the exhaustion I went into the procedure with. It was a great nap! I was hoping to watch them, and see the little scope gadgets and tools, but my sleeping abilities hindered that from happening. I look forward to my doc appt tomorrow to hear if I really was passed out the entire time or just don't remember anything. Right now I am feeling really good other than not being able to keep any food down and a few minor side effects from meds. When I got out of the hospital I was ready to crutch a few laps around the building..... but someone said that wasn't a good idea... ha ha. :) I can't feel anything right now because the local anesthetic has most of my leg numbed up. Here's hoping that everything that was bothering me is now fixed for a happy knee and many more crazy miles. Thanks to everyone who has helped out thus far.. I'm not at home for a few days so if you want to provide entertainment, call the cell. :)

Here's to realistic visions of bike trips..... and maybe the Equinox next summer. I'm hoping to be back on the bike by the Equinox marathon in 3 weeks so I can ride around and harass everyone who is running to run faster. Just you wait. ;)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Free Water at the Fox Spring

I had to share this picture from Carlene because it made me giggle..... after our trip to Grapefruit Rocks a couple of weeks ago, we made sure to have our water jugs in the car to get some free water on the way home at the Fox Spring. I hear it's the best water around. Water is water to me..... though, campus water is pretty nasty (like most campuses, I think.) People always ask about this "dry cabin" thing and where we get our water. Here's a visual for you!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Back to hiking

Last weekend before I go on crutches and recovery so it was time to push the limits a little bit. Weird thing is, hiking doesn't bother me very much except for the steeper downhill stuff. I can power up uphills like there's nothing wrong. What a change. ;) You know what this means though, I might be forced to get good at running uphills.. a skill I have never possessed and never been too motivated to work on. Something good comes out of everything, right? ;) Although I've done this hike from Angel Rocks to CHS many times already and really wanted to run it earlier this year, it was still a very pleasant hike and perfect weather. And the company was good. Steffen is leaving soon to move to England - huge bummer! I've known that for awhile, though. Two women from Davis, CA who were working up on the slope with Steffen - Mary and Kat - joined us on the hike (err actually, it was their idea). They were LOADS of fun and had a lot of good stories. Mary reminded me of one of my old roommates. We ended up staying at the hot springs and bar until pretty late. There was some extremely good people watching at the hot springs.. ha! I will never cease to be amused by that activity.

Kat, Steffen and Mary up on the ridgeline.the awkward 'we don't know each other that well' group shotAnd on a happy note, I am sore. I love being sore. A feeling of accomplishment maybe?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shooting the Breeze at Gelvin's Cabin on the Charley River

As the summer seemed to be closing in on a very uneventful note (as far as travels go), something miraculous happened and I was invited on two (and potentially three) trips non-work related basically within a week to new places. And you know that I could not say no to any of them.I got to go out to Yukon-Charley NP for a week out seriously in the middle of nowhere for 8 days. I stayed at/near Gelvin's cabin working as Ben's assistant/bear guard (ha!). We were supposed to see a bunch of hunters, because last year at this time there were 40 people who flew into there.. but NO ONE and I mean, NO ONE flew in until the 8th day, the day I was leaving. So much for seeing people. But because there was literally 8 days of free time (other than cutting wood), I got a ton of relax time which was apparently very much needed, as I went from totally unmotivated before the trip to totally re-motivated and feeling revitalized after. It was time to read a couple of books and just gather thoughts and sleep and rest an extensive amount. I think that personal time is something that gets neglected for a lot of people...... or maybe it's just me, I don't know. But being forced to stay in a general area and only having access via foot through tussocks galore and through big trees may have been just what I needed after a slightly unplanned summer in AK.

I shot my first living animal.. a grouse that we cooked up for dinner. Something about cooking food that you yourself caught was satisfying. No processing.. just clean, gut out, and cook. I made Ben do all the dirty work though. Shooting I can do (thanks to growing up with rubber band guns?), but this time I decided to let someone else do the not-so-fun part.
If you click on the map you can see where we were at Gelvin's. We hiked up to the rapids one night and up to the old B-24 plane crash site another day.And this is the airstrip looking north.. what an airstrip huh?We saw probably 20 or so caribou during the week.. these two were outside the cabin window.Boredom and a need to feel useful prompted me to build this stand for sawing wood.All the days mesh together but I think on day 4 we decided to hike over to some rapids downstream. The hiking was not easy.. it was very rare to have solid ground. It was mostly tussock walking.Looking north down on the Charley River.
Ben suggested skirting the river for the hike back thinking it would be easier. It wasn't! The tussocks were easier to walk on than this sketchy talus.. at least for me. I guess it's debatable depending who you are.OROk, the tussocks were not always THIS bad. If they were, I might take the talus. ;)

After inspecting the sand for bear prints and only finding caribou and wolf prints, I decided to set up the tent alongside the river.
A couple of days later we hiked up to a crash site from winter solstice 1944 of a B-24 where 5 men died and one survived. Going up to the B-24 and seeing shards of airplane pieces scattered among the tundra was a humbling experience. Here is a news article about the airplane crash. Here is also a much easier to read magazine article about the crash. The man who survived wandered for 86 days in the wilderness, stopping at trappers' cabins along the way until he got to safety. What is more amazing is that the man who survived got out of the plane in -60 degree temperatures, and was not even wearing a pair of gloves or mittens.
I felt a little intrusive taking a picture with the airplane but did anyway figuring I might not make it back to this piece of history.5 small flags honor those who died in the crash.40 degree rain and wind helped to make a decision to go back to the cabin after the airplane visit rather than continuing on up the mountain.

Back to the toilet...
Back to the water...And back to flawless land...Here is a short clip of some caribou trying to figure out what we were. It felt like we were in the middle of 15 of them.
video
If you would like to experience the landing and taking off of a super cub, here's your chance!
video

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Scouting Out Grapefruit Rocks

High today: 67 F
Low today: 46 F
I was able to spend time with Carlene and Celine scouting out Grapefruit Rocks in between trips. This was merely an exploratory trip, but we had brought our climbing gear - rope, harnesses, and shoes anyway. It was a spectacular, autumn-feeling day without smoke and was one of those days that you are thankful to be spending outside. I long for more comfortable and non-smokey days of soaking up the sun, but know they will come soon to an end.

Carlene and Celine discuss potential routes up one of the tors.
The sun was so bright Carlene couldn't keep her eyes open!Leaf-miners were taking over all of the trees on the trail. They make a neat maze-like design in the leaves, but are destroying so many aspen, birch and willows.
Perfect weather day.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

GANSE II: The Great ARSC North Slope Expedition II

I was kindly invited to be a driver for the ARSC intern trip up north to Deadhorse, the farthest north point on the Dalton Highway. And of course I could not say no since it was a new place to go. Sure I'd prefer to travel places with friends I know well, but what did I have to lose in wrapping up this summer? This trip wasn't as I would have planned it, because I think I would have gotten to the Brooks Range and parked the car and began walking, but all I had to do for this trip was show up self-sufficient for 4 days and drive the Haul road (as many of you might know from Ice Road Truckers.. even though the Dalton is NOT an ice road), while getting to know the interns. I regret not getting to know the interns earlier.. as I had a fun time with them and it is nice to hear why other students come up to Alaska as interns. Some of them have family connections up here, some of them said 'hey why not' like I did, and some came for the program more than location. Little do they know that their life probably won't ever be the same and they're going to keep coming back until they move here.. ha!!

The day we left Fairbanks, visibility on the Elliott Highway was at about 10 feet. It was very scary to drive through, especially when you have 6 other peoples' lives in your hand. The Dalton is a dirt road, in much better condition than even 2 years ago, but it is mainly a trucker road, hence the name the Haul road. Below Don is making sure we don't lose our water and some gear.
The Hot Spot. Seriously, has the best burgers on an Alaskan highway.
The interns did a jumping picture for me. I think they enjoyed it. :)
On the way we stopped at Coldfoot and there were two completely loaded bikes outside.. so I had to go inside and spot who it was and interrogate their travels. I have gained the ability to be able to smell a biker from miles away, ha! It was Alex and Fin, two guys from the UK biking from Deadhorse to Panama. AWESOME! Check out their site and blog. It was really cool talking with them. I haven't gotten my dose of meeting adventuring foreigners this summer. Fin just had knee surgery last year, and realized that there wasn't any better time but now to do what they're doing. That's my kind of people.

Mike and his sheep friends...
Atigun Pass! This was my farthest north on the Dalton before this trip.
We set up camp for the night just north of Atigun Pass at Galbraith Lake. The interns went on a mission across the stream and down to some aufeis, but I had to decline that hike since I could not find a good path to cross without dealing with slippery rocks. Instead, I joined Don on a short hike up in the higher country where we could overlook the smokey surroundings. I could have continued for days, but dusk was coming and camp awaited.
The next morning we headed north all the way to Deadhorse. On the way we paralleled the Sag River.. what a beautiful waterway.
I liked this truck, with "Pilot Car" written with duct tape.
YES! The other Happy Valley!! I was so excited to pass this, and even though in this picture it doesn't not look so happy, the location actually sits just at the foothills of the Brooks Range. Things could be worse.
Tourist time! This sign was entertaining.
We went on a tour to get to the Arctic Ocean. Though I've been to it before when in Barrow, I definitely did not go all the way in. This time, we did. We found out that the water there was only about 2 feet deep, OOPS! That was a surprise... Polar Bear Plunge count: 2. The Mon River in Pittsburgh felt SO much colder but maybe that had to do with the whole 16 degrees outside thing.. rather than 35 degrees in Prudhoe Bay.
After the tour which had one goal - to plunge into the Arctic Ocean, we had dinner, and said goodbye to the industrial town of Deadhorse, seeking somewhere warmer and more welcoming in the Brooks Range. We landed back at Galbraith Lake for the night.. and I had absolutely no problem with that.
The interns were a lot of fun and had made up a clever rendition of the 12 days of Christmas, college-style.
The moon rose above the mountains and a slight roar from the others about it made me realize that it's been months since we've seen it. Summer is breaking.
Lee made his famous sourdough pancakes in the morning.
The next morning we decided to hit the road south, cutting our trip a day short. I don't know if the chaperones in the other car were getting sick of us or what, but they called the shots and we returned to smokey Fairbanks a day early.
This fire, the Ft. Hamlin Hills fire, was burning just on the east side of the Dalton.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Best of luck to you

I don't know if it just has to do with being in your mid-20s and hanging out with people with adventurous spirits, or if it really is just Fairbanks and its ever-transient nature, but this time every year a lot of people move onto other chapters in their lives. This time Josh and Debbie are moving - these guys were my first friends in Fairbanks when I moved back, and most of my ridiculous adventures were made with them. I haven't known too many people to agree without flinching to some ideas that make a lot of others say, "you want to what???" The best aurora I have ever seen was with these two. We've pushed our limits together, gotten terribly lost on the trails together (ok, that was Debbie and I), helped each other move residences, and in general spent a lot of time together. Josh I will never forgot your ridiculous project of a truck. Good luck Josh and Debbie! You'll be missed!

No air, no air

Oh man! How the crap is it August already???

We're down to a half mile or less visibility due to wildfires surrounding town. Over 2.6 million acres have burned so far this summer in the state. The closest one is about 15 miles from my place. Lots of structures between there and here so we are fine. There was a huge orange cloud of doom that swept over Fairbanks last night, but I have no pictures since my camera was in the shop (and still not fixed, boo.) Well I'll call this crappy air quality good timing and make a run for it out of town! I should have something to blog about in two weeks. Catch ya on the flip side.... some pictures of the smoke...
Remember, this is SMOKE, not fog.
It is very strange to watch a ton of cyclists around town with breathing masks on. Even my driveway is obscured in smoke! I would call this more of a 1/4 mile vis. The last several days I have opened the door in the morning to find a flock(?) of grouse hanging out. What is that a sign of??? Any thoughts?? Does it have to do with the smoke or the summer ending soon?