Friday, March 28, 2014

Library books and coincidence

About a month ago I decided to take a walk to the library. I just wanted to get out and wasn't particularly interested in finding a book. But once there I felt obligated to pick a stack to take home. Randomly I picked out movies about cats (Ms. Minoe), a dog (Red Dog), and a few books. One of the books I selected was A Bolt from the Blue: The Epic True Story of Danger, Daring and Heroism at 13,000 feet.

I took the book home and set it on the shelf for three weeks, not interested in reading about rock climbing and a lightning strike in 2004. Finally, Mr. X pulled it off the shelf to look at the photos in the center of the book. After studying the photos for several minutes he closed the book and set it back on the shelf saying, "Well, if you read that book, let me know what happens. One of those guys was a missionary companion."


We (I) spent the next three hours pouring over the book, reading excerpts out loud and finally concluding Clint is the guy Mr. X knew years ago. Mr. X thoughts were, "No one deserves for that to happen to them. But especially not Clint".

My thoughts were, just how many books at the library are about friends, past and present!?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ward Boundaries

Flat Stanley tours Nugget Falls and Mendenhall Glacier (April 2013)

We had a meeting last night to get our new ward boundaries. We had two wards, now we have three. They gave us the technical description and it went something like this:

From the Canadian border, down Berner's Bay to the headwaters of Montana Creek, downstream to the fence line on the north side of [X] street across the Mendenhall Valley to the peak of Thunder Mountain along the Heitzelman Ridge, across the Juneau Ice field to the Canadian border.

This change had been several years in the making and had been hotly debated by many in the wards.

One rumor I started (I'm calling it a rumor because it was repeated back to me by the child of whom I told) was that the wards would have names describing their geographic area rather than numbers.The requested names by some were: Down Ward - for the downtown, Back Ward - For Back Loop Road, and the Auke Ward (pronounced Awkward) - for the Auke Bay area.

Instead the names are Mt. Juneau, Nugget Falls, and Auke Bay.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fireside Chat: Glacier forests

Last Friday night we hit our usual date spot excited to learn more about the forests recently discovered under the Mendenhall Glacier. We learned that while the ice where the trees are is only 200 years old, the trees themselves have been under ice for probably 1350 years.

The trees are approximately 100 year old trees - wait for it - spruce and hemlock that were pushed over and sheered off when the glacier advanced a millennium ago. The presenter had photos of the advancing Taku Glacier pushing over stands of trees so we could imagine what it would have been like when the Mendenhall was advancing. If you didn't know our forests here now are mostly Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock; I think the researcher was hoping for something fun like the yellow cedar that they have in Sitka, but alas this is not to be.

We also learned that finding these forests and other artifacts is not that unusual. A few years ago a long ago man was discovered outside Haines Junction, natives in Glacier Bay have oral histories about the loss of their villages, another forest is known near Auke bay, and a large fish trap was found on the bank of the Mendenhall River.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Across the lake

We had some arctic air in February which meant it was 0 degrees and sunny. 12 whole days without precipitation. That's the kind of thing that gets Juneau-ites a little giddy.

On two separate weekends and a weeknight we hiked or skied out to the face of the glacier. The first two times Mr. X and I were ill prepared to follow the hordes up and over the west side of the glacier - Chilkoot pass style, I swear - to the ice cave which is why we made the third attempt on a weeknight.

A tale of two parents.
On the Saturday that we skied out with our friend, Gray, there were families everywhere. Parents skiing with kids on their backs, kids trudging through the snow, kids getting towed in sleds. It's near a mile hike over a lake that is 200' deep in places. Once we reached the face of the glacier, it was a playground. Kids climbing on glacial till, kids sledding down snow covered hills. The kids were all the same, ready for adventure, looking for a thrill.

There were two kinds of parents though. First the parent who shouts, "Hey get away from that arch." But is too cautious to answer their child's question, "Why?" Then there's the other parent who says, "Ruby, hon, come here we're gonna put spikes you your feet" and is only too happy to answer the "why" with, "'cause we're gonna go in a tunnel of ice!"

 When it became clear that if we wanted to see the ice cave, we needed to go ASAP, we decided to try on a Wednesday evening. We hoped we could beat the sunset, so we could see color in the cave; we were a too late for prime time, but we had the place to ourselves. Tuesday there was a wind storm that blew the snow around on the lake, opening bare patches of ice and piling the grainy snow unevenly. Our ski across the lake took us about 30% longer because of these conditions. Once at the face of the glacier we saw people attempting to hang-ski or whatever that's called. The wind was pretty gusty.

After switching to hiking shoes and yak-trax we headed up the side of the glacier, meeting people on their way down. About halfway up Mr. X pointed out the tree stumps that have recently become visible, spending at least the last 200 years under the ice. These stumps have been the subject of some university research and a topic in the media.

Hiking up the glacier and then finally down off the ice we reached the cave. The entrance was at least 18' wide and 15' tall. This is right where we went hiking with Brad on the glacier last year. Once at the cave, we had about 5 minutes before we needed to head back out. Frankly, I was a bit concerned with getting in, getting out and back across the slick lake ice in the dark.

We enjoyed seeing the double moulin and then once out of the cave, Mr. X beat a line for the ridges up the glacier. When he returned he said he wanted to see what was on the other side. Apparently, there were more ridges.

I was pretty cold by the time we got back to the lake and told Mr. X that I was going to head out since he could easily catch me, he didn't object. We were the last people on the lake that night and the last car in the parking lot. It was a beautiful moon-light ski with me noting Orion's belt and Mr. X pointing out the big dipper behind us.