So how does one prepare for the unknown? To begin, I’ve been doing a lot of my own sleuthing. What is the weather really like in Nome? What type of clothing will I need? What type of gear will I need? What skills might I need that I don’t have? How do I financially budget for all this?
A trip to my two local outfitters revealed that Florida stores don’t really keep any winter gear in stock over the summer, and what little stock they do have is inadequate for arctic conditions. Nonetheless, for just under $100 I was able to outfit myself with a couple good base layers and a fleece vest. The harder part is finding waterproof/windproof snow boots, snow pants, and a snow jacket rated for -40 degrees F that won’t completely break my bank. So efforts have moved to online shopping, which is risky considering I leave in just over a week.
With all that aside, I’ve also been trying to prepare myself for life in Nome. According to my good friend Wikipedia, Nome was originally incorporated in 1901. Before that, there is some archaeological evidence for early Inupiat settlements, but things really didn’t take off until the 20th century when gold was discovered there.
Although the community has a population of only 3,600 these days, apparently in the early 1900s there were as many as 20,000 people, including the famed Wyatt Earp. Among its other claims to fame, Nome was the destination for Balto the sled dog during the 1925 diphtheria outbreak, and to this day it is the finish line for the annual commemorative Iditarod sled race, which I will hopefully be seeing in March.
So… Nome is cool. I think we’ll get along alright, as long as I don’t freeze my buns off or get run over by a sled dog. The harder part, I think, will be preparing for life in backcountry in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve.
More on that soon!