Hello (2013), Goodbye (2012)!

Jan 4, 2013 | 1 comment

2012, what a year. A week before the 2012 New Year, I had only JUST seen snow on the ground for the first time in my life, and now I live in the arctic and trudge through it every day to work. A year ago this month, I was in Honduras, exploring Mayan ruins and snorkeling through the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system for school. Just 2 months later I found myself in Iceland, doing volunteer work, hiking across lava fields, waterfalls, and glaciers. Two months after that, I graduated with two Bachelors of Arts degrees, high honors, and a bunch of awards. And after turning down 5 job offers, a month later I landed in bush Alaska where I now sit tooting my own horn because, hell, that was quite a year and it deserves a little shout-out! 

Perhaps I’ll write a more reflective post on it later, once I have had more time to reflect. But for now I’m struggling just to keep my head above the flood of backlogged of photos and stories I keep accumulating from my winter adventures. 
After an unnaturally cold November, we went through an unnaturally warm December that brought with it many days of snow and cloudy weather. But at least the temperature was in the 20s and 30s, which felt like summer compared to the -25 degrees we experienced earlier. And of course, warmer weather and more snow means more of my favorite thing as of late: Sledding! 
Sometimes it also means a face-full of snow…


The weather over Christmas weekend was great. Warm, sunny, and snowy. Even got snow on Dec. 25th, making the dream of a “White Christmas” come true. My housemate and our friends spent pretty much every daylight hour snowshoeing and sledding outside of town.

After Christmas, the storms began. Real, honest-to-goodness tundra storms with 35mph blowing snow and whiteout conditions. Radio weather advisories warned not to go outside but as soon as it was light enough, out we went!

Snow blowing across the road — blew the sea ice away!
Whiteout at the top of the mountain

It’s hard to imagine a whiteout if you’ve never experienced it. Basically as we were hiking, it became literally impossible to differentiate the ground from the air, from up or down, left or right. Everything was just glowing white. You would put your foot out in front of you, and might encounter nothing, or plow right into a snowbank. It was probably one of the most disorienting experiences of my life; yet on the verge of panic the brightness makes the blindness seem somehow less confining.

My coworker trying to see the top of the mountain

Two things made the whiteout bearable: 1) we were on a mountain; even if you couldn’t see where you were going, you could more or less feel the incline of the ground and make out some rocks every now and again, and 2) the weather improved as we made it to the top. By the time we reached the peak, although it was still blowing at about 30mph, we could see the pass below us and the mountains across from us.

Muskox huddling in the snow
Once we made it to the bottom, we spotted the local herd of muskox lounging on one of the hills. I hadn’t seen them since the summer, so it was nice to know they’re still around. 

Made it almost to the top, where the bare rocks begin
On New Years weekend, we braved the roads a little further and hiked up a higher mountain about 15 miles out of town. Still super windy, but much better conditions for hiking the steep peak (much steeper than it looks in the picture).
Taking a break at the top

And then came New Years. It didn’t seem like as special a day as I feel like it normally would. It came with some sense of relief, some sense of stress, some sense of numbness, but mostly felt rather anticlimactic and not necessarily in a bad way. I shelled out $12 and went to go see The Hobbit in Nome’s one and only little movie theatre (which you pay for and get in through a Subway restaurant), managed to stay awake until midnight, and walked downtown to watch the fireworks on the snowy beach amidst a slew of happily drunken Nomeites.

The fireworks

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2013 dawned cold, gray, and windy, but my housemate and I drove out of town a little ways to snowshoe on the tundra for a while as the sun peeked through the clouds.

January 1, 2013

What does this year hold in store? Will it be just as much of a roller coaster as 2012? I can only hope so. Even with all the bad stuff and good stuff that happened, with some friends lost and new friends made, with weaknesses faced and inner strength found, I hope 2013 can be just as good, if not the beginning of new and even more wonderful things.

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

    WOW! You have had a great 2012 and I love reading about your adventures, past and present. Love, GPED

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