S’no place like Nome for the Holidays…

Dec 7, 2012 | 0 comments

Despite the mild melancholy of not being home for the holidays, so far December has been bit more exciting than November, which I will get to momentarily. 
To begin, there is still almost no snow; today the newspaper reported an all-time record low snowfall last month, as we received only 0.2 inches instead of the average 12.1 inches! Climate change in action, I tell you! In addition, the air temps averaged about 14 degrees F last month, as opposed to the usual 16 degrees.

And this month so far? We’ve been in the negatives almost every day this week (one day got down to about -12 with windchill).
Sea Ice is here to stay

Last weekend my coworker/housemate and I bundled up for a walk down to the beach, which now overlooks a layer of chunky ice over the sea. Some people are beginning to walk out on it, but I’m going to wait until it’s a few feet thick before I take my chances.

Sunlit sea ice

I’m still amazed by the aesthetics of the ice. It’s such a new experience every time I go out, and this time it was beautifully lit by the low afternoon sun, sometimes reflecting a cool blue, other times warm golds and yellows.

Thin sheet of ice?

This piece was strange — somehow a paper-thin sheet of ice managed to hold fast to its base. It was absolutely beautiful, but I’m still confused as to why it existed and didn’t somehow break off in the process of its formation.

Sunlit ice: the “real” gold of Nome 🙂

Snow on Newton Peak

This week I got to try out something completely new: snowshoeing! The rangers are looking at leading snowshoe hikes for local school groups, so we’ve been practicing to learn how to do it ourselves and scout out good places to go out (seeing as how we’ve had almost no snow). So, braving the icy roads, I drove us up to Newton Peak, our local hiking spot from the summer, which actually had a good few inches of snow packed down with hoarfrost.

Hoarfrost up close
(From what I understand, hoarfrost is kind of a harder layer of frost that comes in various forms, and is super sparkly.)
Wearing my NPS parka and snowshoes

Well, we hiked partway up and then decided to put on the snowshoes where it started getting deeper. It was a little strange to get used to at first, but surprisingly easier than I anticipated. It felt kind of like wearing gigantic flip-flops and you have to step a little wider, but it significantly increased my balance and reduced the amount of time I spent sinking into the snow. Super fun!

Frozen hair!
I should also note that it was -7 degrees. After pausing to take pictures, my coworker started laughing at me: “your hair is frozen!” Sure enough, a lock of my hair that had escaped my hood had apparently accumulated enough moisture from my breath to freeze solid with icy crystals. 
The Kigs mountain range
Cool photo taken by my coworker!
We spent around an hour and a half snowshoeing and made it about 3/4 of the way up the peak before we had to turn around to make it back before sunset a little after 4pm.  All I can say is, I’m addicted to snowshoeing now! I could seriously do that every day and be perfectly happy. Fortunately we’re going out again tomorrow, so I can’t wait.


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