Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lemons and Water

I always hear about drinking enough water, and I guess I am one of those people that has a hard time drinking enough to stay properly hydrated. A way I've found recently is to keep a thermos of hot water with a lemon to cut up and add to give some flavor. Its also a great way to warm up at the end of a long day ...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunrise on the Outer Loop

Up early and did the 5k loop lighted trail, then hit the outer 4 mile loop to watch the sunrise. I'll have to round up some of the usual suspects for some afternoon skiing. Going to be a nice day!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

More Snow!

A fresh 4 inches of snow last night made the outside loop at Elm Creek a bit of a slog this morning. It was a nice time to be out.

This owl was hunting for his morning meal ... he made a quick jump on something, more than likely a mouse.

And as soon as I passed him he was off. Great morning on the trails!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Swix Blue

With the highs a bit below freezing it's looking like a Swix Blue kind of week shaping up. Glide wax comes in a few different colors, and each color will be for a specific range of temperature. Around the upper Midwest, blue seems to be the color of choice most of the time. So with Christmas shopping all done ... a day ahead of time this year!! A peaceful evening here with a light new coating of snow, I took the opportunity for a relaxing evening in the shop and get the skis ready for yet another few training sessions. So with errands all completed, and the day off from work, I will be gliding over the trails at Elm Creek tomorrow morning, visiting family in the afternoon, dinner and some music for the evening.
Just a holiday wish for everyone to be with the ones they love and care about over their holiday celebrations.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Good Ski Night

It's tough getting good night images without a tripod. I had to rest the little Olympus on a lamp post to steady it for the 2 or 3 second exposure time.
Had some good skiing tonight. After running some errands, trying to get a little last minute Christmas shopping in, I still needed to get at least an hour ski in. When I got to French, I found the place absolutely packed! Not even a place to park in the lot. I almost bagged it. Well, it was still 7:30, the lights are on in the park until 10pm so I really didn't have a good excuse for not going.
Elm Creek was only 20 minutes away so I thought I'd take a chance on finding a parking spot, and hopefully not have to ski through a mass of people. Traffic was light, Elm had plenty of parking room, and a lot less people.
I had some good luck with the V2 open field skate tonight, finally getting the timing down a little better. Good balance seems to play a big part in making everything go smoothly. The older I get, the more elusive good balance is! Tonight was good! I even had the chance to pass a few skaters instead of being passed all the time. Of course none of the skaters I passed tonight were real Olympian material, but none the less, it was nice to not get passed all night long!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Catching Up

With the last couple snow falls we are well on our way to a great skiing season. I don't remember the last time we've had this much snow in mid December, and we were even fortunate enough to have some skiing in Duluth over the Thanksgiving weekend. I've actually had plenty of stuff to write about, I've just not taken the time to sit down and put another blog post together. So my apologies to those that came here and found nothing but the sound of crickets.
I couldn't be happier with the early snow this year. I'm going to need all the time I can get on the ski trails with the Vasaloppet, and the Birkie coming up towards the end of February. The Birkie I've never done before, so this is a first for me. And if I'm doing the Birkie I might as well sign up for either the 35k or the 58k in the Vasa. I think with a decent time in the Vasa I can move up a wave or two in the Birkie, I'm currently in the ninth wave.
So the training is going smoothly. I'm out skiing at least an hour most every night after work, and as much as i can on the weekends. I'm going to need it! Right now I'm only good for a bit over an hour and I start running out of energy, I'm going to need quite a bit more than that.
So since the training has begun, I will try and keep posting here how the progress goes. I'm also planning on skating the Birkie, and this is really only my second year skating so it could be interesting!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Border Lakes

Late Fall trips to the Canadian border lakes can be tempting when the promise of nice weather is in the forecast, especially when I know Summer boat traffic is long gone. This time of year, the north country lakes are quiet. It's the time between fishing, hunting, and snow machines. Kabetogama was the choice this time, and with a base camp at Woodenfrog campground, we had a perfect opportunity to check out the West end of Kab. I'd never seen the the Ellsworth Rock Gardens so this was our first destination for a late Friday afternoon lunch stop. The gardens are a worthwhile stop to see, and I can only imagine the how it would look in the Spring with the flowers in full bloom. As it was we saw the stone structures one man had assembled over 20 years. One can only imagine the work involved, moving the large stones into place with planks and ropes. The gardens are worth the time to go see.

This was a weekend trip we decided to leave the GPS at home and do some seat of the pants navigation. It was hard to leave the reliable little Garmin at home this time, and on a part of the lake I'd never been on, it was going to be a challenge! I'd like to blame it on poor maps, because more than once I was wondering what island we were looking at. In the end we found our way, but it wasn't without some head scratching! Navigation among the lakes and islands of the north country is definitely a challenge, some map reading skills along with a good understanding of the compass is the only way to be comfortable finding your way around this place.

The weather was fantastic .. we had the full moon weekend .. and with a base camp at Woodenfrog, with the Jeep and a cooler full of good food, plenty of wood for the campfires for the long fall evenings, a deck of cards and a bottle of wine. Life can be pretty darn good if you give it a chance.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Silver Islet to Rossport

Getting ready for a run up to do the Silver Islet to Rossport paddle. I've not done this trip yet, and I'm looking forward to the time on Lake Superior. It's been the fall of 2006 since I've spent any real time on the lake. I did my very first blog post on it in December of 2006. So I'm over due for an extended time on the water. The real big difference in a weekend trip and a 10 day trip is pretty much bringing more food, but the nice part is getting into a daily paddling routine. You get into a routine of checking weather just before sack time, and checking it again as soon as you're awake in the morning. Getting into routine with your group also starts to come together after a short time. I've done a lot of paddling with the people in our small group and skill levels are pretty equal, so with any luck, and some good weather, we should have an enjoyable trip.

I did read through Dave's blog today. Any time you go out on the big lake, you need to do a self check, and take into consideration who you are paddling with. Things can get ugly in a hurry when something goes wrong. I learned long ago that if you can recognize a problem developing, we need to stop and take a check. Real trouble doesn't just happen, it starts long before when the chain of events starts to happen, and isn't recognized. But there in lies the problem, it's learning to see it develope. It's not always that easy to see.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Bears

Jack ..

Having the opportunity to watch the Alaskan Brown Bear up close is something I never thought I'd have the chance to do. I think we are conditioned to see the Grizzly Bear as a fearsome predator, that will attack and eat you at the smallest provocation. The Alaskan Brown is the same bear, only bigger because of the rich diet of salmon along the coast. Also, because of the abundance of food, the Coastal Brown may just be the safest of all bears to view. These bears have never been hunted, or fed by humans (us!) they've been watched here in the Katmai National Park for over 18 years, and because everyone who has visited here has always respected this small fact. If you want to see the result of the interaction of people and bears on an absolutely destructive level one only needs to look as far as Yellowstone, or, in my neck of the woods, the Apostle Islands. Every year now for as long as I've been paddling in the Apostles, there have been islands closed to visitors because of problems with Black Bears. We are all losers in this situation, the people who can no longer visit the campsites and islands, and the bears. A problem bear will eventually need to be destroyed, and it's a learned behavior just from the interaction with careless people. Dave has made some excellent posts on the bear problems in the Apostles, and I just wanted to touch on this subject before I got into the Browns in the Katmai.
I had the chance to visit Alaska this summer for the first time. Alaska is one of the places I'd always dreamed of going to. The land of Denali, and so many glaciers I could never count them, caribou, moose, and of course, the big bears. The chance came as a job offer to work the summer on the planes at K Bay Air. Not getting into the details, but it was as fair an offer as any I'd ever had, and it was in Alaska. Little did I know how good an offer it was.
Before the bears I had the opportunity to meet, and spend a lot of time with the people of K Bay Air, a small company with two pilots Michael and Jack, a small office staff consisting of Dee and Elena, and the ground crew with Nick and Duncan, Canine Jim .. and me. I owe a debt if gratitude to these people for hospitality they showed me. They are the best! Check the website on the link, and if you ever get a chance to go to Alaska, it really is worth every penny to go see the bears.

When the salmon aren't running in the streams, the bears eat the sedge grass. The grass is abundant along the coast. It's high in protein, and the bears seem to enjoy eating it. When I first saw this I thought they just looked like cows in a pasture eating grass. but cows don't have big canine teeth and claws! But none the less there they were, grazing. I'd hoped to get a chance to view them in the stream catching salmon, and they didn't disappoint me.
These are just some of the over 400 images I took that afternoon. All were taken with Cannon EOS and a 200 mm lens, and are untouched by photoshop. Many I had to back off the zoom because they just filled up the viewfinder. When I could hear the grass tearing from the ground as the bears ate, and hear them breath as they walked by, you know you are as close as you will ever safely get.
The Katmai National Park is so inaccessible that the only way in is by plane and landing on the beach during low tide. I can only hope it stays this way so the bears and us will continue to coexist in this incredible place.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Flying into Katmai National Park

These are just some of the images from the flight into Katmai National Park, we had low clouds so getting to some of the areas was not possible that day. A day in the life of an Alaskan bush pilot.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Today the Air Force was out with one of there C-130's doing some touch and goes. Just an amazing aircraft.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Hanging out at the Homer Airport today, hopefully the rain will let up and I'll get out and do some paddling this afternoon.

Caught the Coast Guard doing touch and goes this morning when I showed up.

Sunny Days

The weather here is so often cloudy with light rain. I don't mind it, in fact I somewhat enjoy the peacefulness of the area with the clouds and quiet nature of the light rain. But the days when the sun comes out a person has to go out and enjoy it. I find myself walking the beaches most any day, but the sunny days are always good.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


One of my topics for the IDW/ICE was tides, and all though I understood the principles behind what makes it all happen, I've never really had the opportunity to witness this phenomena in action. The tidal range here at Kachemak Bay in Homer Alaska is one of the highest in the world, this week the range went from a low of -4.9 to a high of 20.5. That's a lot of water moving in and out of the bay! I had a quick lesson from local kayaking guru Tom Pogson at the Alaska Kayak School, and on a paddle across the bay we headed into China Poot Bay. It was our first trip out together, and had some folks along that wouldn't appreciate the "fun" in the middle of the channel so we stayed along the edges going in. The interesting thing in the middle of Katchemak Bay, there was very little current, the bay being around 300 ft deep pretty much allows the water in and out without much fuss. All in all it was a great day on the water, but we didn't get into the tidal action that day .. soon I hope!

Here is a shot of the same piece of driftwood at the high tide line during the high and low. If you click on the low tide shot you can see some people along the waters edge.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Bears ...

We did find some bears.
Here is a link to the photos

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lake Clark National Park

To find the Alaskan Brown bear you can go on your own and take your chances. Or you can go with someone who does it every day. Even flying in to the areas where the bears are, one needs to have someone who can get you in and out safely.

Along the Lake Clark National Park shoreline

Turning into Chinitna Bay

Do you see the landing strip?

There's a beach to land on somewhere down there ....

Touchdown point is right on the curve.

Now lets go find some bears!