Husky House

Posts Tagged ‘snowmobiling’

March Madness Alaska Style

There is more than one kind of March Madness, and the one I am talking about is not at all associated with college hoops, rather the wonderful March weather and our  mad attempt to cram in all sorts of outdoor activities in the snow.  Sure you can do these activities all winter, but not under the brilliant sunshine and relative warmth and comfort of March.  Snowmachining: perfect.  Skiing: perfect.  Skijoring: perfect. Running: perfect.  As I grow somewhat wiser with age, or perhaps just lackadaisical, I am becoming a fair weather person.  For a long time I would run despite the winter weather; 40, 50, 60 below, bring it on, it was a challenge I relished, and there was plenty of it during our days at Eielson AFB.  Twenty years later, 20 below is my cut-off for daily running, but I will run every other day, no matter what, for the welfare of the boys (as well as our sanity), they must get out.  I am not so foolhardy as to believe that winter is over, but I am enjoying every day while this wonderful weather lasts. So when March arrives, and the severest weather is behind us for another season, we rejoice with jubilant madness and play!

Some major March events around Fairbanks include the Limited and Open North American Sleddog Races, the World Ice Art Championships and Nenana Days, when the ice classic tripod is planted in the ice on the Tanana River.

On Sunday we rode our snowmachines down the Tanana River and into the Rosie Creek area.  It was lots of fun and we found a powder meadow to play in with Bill’s Crossfire 800.  The Crossfire is so powerful it virtually floats on powder with very little effort, easily conquering terrain where I wouldn’t venture with my Arctic Cat 500.

Bill enjoying a powder meadow on his Arctic Cat Crossfire 800

Monday Bill and I skied at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge, and the trails were groomed to perfection.  Speaking of Creamer’s Field, in another month the first migratory Canada goose will touch down, signifying (hopefully) the end of another long winter.

Bill enjoying a March ski at Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge

I'm pretty sure I did that move (on the lower sign) when I was skijoring with Pelly and ET at North Star Golf Course yesterday

The next couple days were reserved for quality time with the boys, and on Tuesday we took them running at the University.  On Wednesday we skijored with them at North Star Golf Course and today we ran with them at home.  The skijoring was phenomenal, the boys amazing.  I never know what to expect when I hook up the boys and get behind them on my skis.  I had Pelly and ET; Pelly (like Clem) is a workhorse and ET is a slacker, often affectionately called lazybones.  Bill had Clem and Dawson.  To say the boys were ready to roll is an understatement.  It was all we could do to hold them back while we got into our skis, which took much longer than it should have because of this multitasking.  Since the golf course is primarily used by the Alaska Skijor and Pulk Association , the overabundance of scents drove the boys crazy, hyping them more than they already were.  Clem and Dawson claimed the first victory, dragging Bill full speed across the parking lot and launching him into the first bush at the trailhead.  At this point, I could no longer hold back my duo and off we went full speed down the trail.  While they respond well to Gee and Haw (right and left), “Whoa” is often not an option.  I can honestly say I have never skied this fast, and I have never seen ET run with such gusto.  It was a “kill mommy”  moment, but an absolutely beautiful site.  About three quarters of a mile down the trail, still going warp speed, Pelly stopped on a dime to “answer the call” and there was no way I could stop, so over the top I went, landing with a thud (see the sign above).  Eventually, after we each collected ourselves, Bill and I joined up on the trail.  We had a great time, and I can’t wait to do it again, hopefully minus the thud.

There are more photos in my Winter 2010-2011 album in my gallery.

Both Creamer’s Field and North Star Golf Course are meticulously groomed by volunteers from the Alaska Skijor and Pulk Association.

COWABUNGA!

We finally had a respectable snowfall, and by that I mean about 21 inches at our house; the lower 48 has been stealing our snowfall this year.  This amount (at one time) is unusual for Fairbanks, we normally get our snowfall several inches at a time.  Well, with snow comes shoveling, and in this case, lots of it, we even called the snowblower into action.  Fortunately our snow is light and fluffy, not that heavy, wet, concrete-like east coast stuff.  It started snowing on Sunday, and I shoveled the driveway twice, removing about 3 inches each time, and by Monday morning we had another 15 inches on the driveway.  The boys were ecstatic, when I opened the garage door Monday morning to take them for their walk, they stared at the drift in front of the door looking for a way around it, then jumped right in.  Despite their joy over romping in the new snow, the boys were terrified to discover that it had desecrated their sacred pooping grounds.

Bill operating the snow blower

It took us about 3 hours to shovel the driveway and deck, and then shovel a path to the satellite antennas and shovel the snow from in front of them.  The antennas are just below the deck, and when we push snow off the deck, it falls in front of them; there must have been at least 5 feet of snow blocking the antennas.  After that, we were ready for a break, but it was not to be.  As soon as we got in the house, our neighbor called.  Her husband, Paul, had decided to drive his snowmachine to the shop and got stuck in a drift on the Tanana River, and asked if we would take our snowmachines and help him out (Paul has a heart condition).  The wind was gusting and the river was a virtual whiteout, it was no surprise that he was stuck.   There is never hesitation to help a friend in need, especially under these conditions, so we set about digging out our machines.  My machine would not start, so I stayed behind.  Just as Bill was getting ready to go, I looked up from trying to start my machine, and I saw four Siberian Huskies running full speed up the driveway, going for a romp.  The garage door was up and the wind blew open the door from the garage to the house.  So, while Bill went to help Paul, I went to round up the huskies.

After I returned with the boys, I went back to work on trying to start my Arctic Cat, and after about half an hour I was tired and quit.  I was  walking back to the house when Bill called my cell:  he, too, was stuck!  He had turned toward a small island to avoid overflow and got stuck on some dead trees that washed up during previous breakups.  He walked off the river to a nearby house and called me to pick him up.  He never made it to Paul.  Luckily a couple snowmachiners had stopped to help Paul.  They got him out, he went about  50 feet and got stuck again.  The guys had already taken off, so Paul started walking through the deep snow towards the Chena River, and another rider came along and offered to help, giving Paul a ride up the river to his son’s house.  Both machines remained on the river overnight.  We dug out Bill’s machine on Tuesday, and Paul had a friend help him extricate his.  Bill got stuck one more time on his way home, as he was coming up over a snow berm from the trail to our road.  I have never been happier that my machine would not start!

Digging out Bill's machine on the Tanana River; it is stuck between two washed up trees.

Bill's machine stuck in the snow berm coming onto our road.

There are more photos in my Mobile Me gallery