Monday, May 14, 2007

Mud Pie

A biking/camping trip in Denali in May = mud/snow/hail/sleet = good times! And you know what else equals good times? Try driving 4+ hours, setting up your tent in the rain, and then realizing that you'd forgotten to pack your sleeping bag. Doh!! Luckily, I have some super duper friends, and they were kind enough to loan me a bag while they cuddled up with one bag and a spare blanket. Let's just say no one really slept that well. We scored an extra sleeping bag the next day, though, so at least I didn't have to endure taunts much past the first morning. The biking was fantastic...if you were in the right mental state, i.e. crazy. I'd packed layers and was essentially waterproof, and turns out, that was enough to make the ride enjoyable. We rode about 10 miles uphill to Sable Pass Summit, took a lunch break in hail. Hail?! Yes, hail. Then the ride back was a total mud fest. This pic was taken on the way home. I like it b/c my teeth look really white as compared to the rest of me. :) Flossing does pay off! Anyway, if you ever get the chance to bike in Denali before the tourists arrive, go for it. Just remember your sleeping bag and your waterproof clothing!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Whale of a Time

I flew down to Juneau for the annual Alaska Coastal Management Program conference last week. I took it upon myself, as a steward of the environment and protector of all things coastal, to invite myself for a fishing and whale watching expedition on my friend's know, to check up on the coast and stuff. We just so happened to have some King salmon fishing gear aboard, and we just so happened to come across a feeding whale in the harbor. Although we didn't land any Kings (yet), we had a close encounter with a feeding humpback. While in about 15 feet of water we realized that we were atop a big ball of herring (i.e. whale food) and the whale was headed right for it. Quick math - 15 feet of water doesn't give much wiggle room if a whale is under the boat. While I was pretty excited about the prospect of being bumped by a whale (we were about 10 feet from shore), my friend, claiming he was protecting me...and his expensive fishing gear, started stomping on the bottom of the boat just in case the running engine wasn't enough to scare the whale away from us. We never got bumped, but I did snap this picture as the whale went on his merry herring-eating way.

After returning to Anchorage from Juneau, I decided to try out my backcountry tele skillz. Four of us hiked up Ptarmigan, in Anchorage's front range, and skied down some sweet soft corn. This was my second backcountry trip and it was infinitely better than my first experience. I'd like to think its because I improved, but since I hadn't actually skied at all between my two backcountry trips, I guess I can only thank the snow Gods for soft corn. This is a picture of my lines (may have to click on it to enlarge the lines) - yeah, the slope looks pathetic, but believe me, it looked steeper in person. I swear.