The temps are still about -28, so we walked around the Big Dipper Ice Arena again doing four 20 minute miles. It reminded me of my cross country running team in Tolstoi Bay (1992-1993) which was on a floating log camp. The gym was in the old school. It consisted of two trailers that were cabled down to the 2 football fields sized raft that was the community. The kids had to run 84 laps to make a mile. After 42, I had them turn around and run the other way so one leg didn't become shorter than the other. We boated over to Thorne Bay for the first meet and the kids asked where they were supposed to turn. They were amazed to discover that they could just run straight and stop at the finish line! We took the first 5 places in the race.
I digress...walking in circles in not as fun as it could be, especially with the sun and blue skies out the window. But really, colder than -20 is not so fun either, mostly because the required clothes are bulky, glasses fog and freeze and breath builds up around your face guard to chap your sensitive skin. Inside though, there is lots of opps for conversation. We've been married for 30 years so I like to say we've already said anything we need to say, but the topic rolled around to snowshoes.
Being short-legged, my experience (once) with snowshoes was not pretty. The heavy Army snowshoes weighed a ton (give or take a 1,960 pounds) and were enormous. My legs were splayed out at about a 60 degree angle (my crotch being the vertex) and even so, I'd regularly step on the other snowshoe and fall. That was about 40 years ago. Maybe like distance hiking, it is time to update my perspective to reflect the new technology.
Ideally, we'd rent snowshoes to try them out, but Beaver Sports won't have any for a few more months. Prices in town ranged from $99 (Sportsman's Warehouse, Tubbs) to Atlas (to infinity and beyond). They look light (about 4 pounds) and smaller, but I am skeptical of the plastic-rubbery bindings in the cold and the narrow pads in the powder. We'll keep looking but I think we'd like to have pairs by Wednesday for an excursion out to Agony Acres. I'm thinking of a snoeshoe hike, soup and cocoa and a bonfire. Sound good?
On Friday, we'll take the snowshoes out to Central for an overnight. Our friend, (shoutout to Wendy!) has a cabin out there and it's a beautiful drive. The one teacher school there closed 2 years ago and the store is under new management. The hot spring has been closed for years, but I've heard that some locals can use it anyway. It's an old mining town, mostly non-Native and is making a come-back in terms of having cheap land and cabins for playing. The all year round road makes it possible to commute, but it's a good 2.5 hour drive and often the road is closed due to blowing snow over Eagle Summit. The snowplows go back and forth over the same 5 miles and still it can't stay clear of snow, so a gate gets closed to prevent the necessity of rescues. Warbelow's Air Ventures has a daily 6 day/week flag stop plane, but the same wind often cancels that flight. The long and the short of it is that we are packing snowshoes, emergency winter gear and some spare food, just in case. Also, the good news is that if I get weathered in, my work next week includes a stop in Circle, just 30 minutes away from Eagle Summit. Just sayin'.
The Occupy movement is also here in Fairbanks. That's serious dedication when it has been colder than -20 for at least 8 days. Living through the 60s gave me respect for non-violent protest. More later.