color, yo!

some colour to make up for the light we miss out on during our short, but brilliant winter days... taken by E of course.

in case anyone cares, i'll finish the last post when i'm done with my papers. had a happy ending anyway. except for my feet. they were pretty miserable for a while.


ADMA Dog Mushers Symposium

This year the symposium corresponds with a particularly intensive political season! Murkowski and Miller have huge garish booths downstairs. I have a booth upstairs for Underdog Feeds, my parent's feed and mushing supply store. Miller's table has a big backdrop of Miller's head superimposed on a musher going under the burled arch in Nome. Really. This is probably the first year there has been POLITICAL booths at the symposium. A little out of place. But I figured that if they are going to get political I might as well join in; it only seemed fair to have some Democratic representation.

I am not a outwardly political person. I did feel a little self conscious about having that sign at the front of my booth. I thought people maybe think I am selling collars for mcadams, not selling meat for underdog feeds. But I'm glad I did it.


chena dome/doom

A 30-mile loop that travels mostly on top of ridgelines, Chena Dome was my second multiday backpacking trip in the Fairbanks area in 4 years. Although I prefer ski trips ( less chance of snapping an ankle...) it was a beautiful trip. Thirty miles of previously unseen Fairbanks terrain has given me a whole new appreciation for where I live... in just thirty miles we trekked through several wildly different landscapes. Soft tundra, rocky tundra, alpine fields, bushy saddles, burn, berry carpets, perfect little pines and tumbled rock descents. As we walked through each little microsystem, we were surrounded by the blue rolling hills so characteristic of interior Alaska, with the white peaks of the Alaska Range exposed in the background. Beautiful, sunny weather all three days... hot enough that I worried about the dogs overheating, they were both working so hard.
Chena Dome Trail has an unfortunate alias: Chena "Doom." Water can be scarce up in the hills/Fairbanks mountains/domes (the latter seems to be the proper Fairbanks name for v. big hills/mini mts...) My hiking partner Allison had some friends who attempted the trail (maybe last year) but couldn't find any water at all and had to turn around. Luckily, we hit all the water spots outlined on the trail guide (the pools anyway, no streams) on our trek

We saw wildlife... a wolverine trundled across the soft tundra saddle we camped in the first night, a moose followed his tracks the next morning. Small birds flitted around us up on the ridges, a couple ravens soared on the thermals coming up from the valleys, and the dogs flushed out a flock of mottled brown and white ptarmigan.
The berries! I've never seen so many berries. Fat, ripe blueberries as large as dimes dripping from red bushes, higher up, vast carpets of krekling (crowberries?) and lowbush cranberries. I sat and had handfuls of berries with my chocolate or trail mix. We had berries in our oatmeal and berries for dessert. Organic energy, natural sugars ... so good!

The downfall of my trip was my feet. I ripped them apart with my poor choice of footwear... tennis shoes instead of good firm hiking boots. I forgot my boots in Willow and figured I'd be okay with my Nikes.... will never make that mistake again. Now I know the reasoning for hard, firm soles on hiking boots first hand. I could barely walk the last day, my blisters were huge. What saved me was the terrain, a nice firm trail that I could tread on in expectant pain, unlike the rocky tundra that poked at me through my shoes in random spots.

The dogs were the shining stars of the weekend. At the same time, they provided unwelcome, scary adventure. Tuffy and Nitsii worked hard, hauling their own food and water + some of my stuff (sleeping bag, down jakke). The night before we left, I devised a summer pulk for Tuffy, a kiddie sled that I poked holes in and attached rope to. See picture. The sled was light enough I could pick it up and put it on my hip when we went up a really steep rocky part, so Tuffy wasn't too burdened down. When the sled worked, it worked great. When it didn't, it really didn't. Tuffy pulled hard, especially if someone was ahead of him, particularly the other dog. Going downhill, the rope between Tuffy and I (which had bungee in it) would stretch between us and levitate the sled which would promptly tip over and scrape upside down on the rocks. My duck tape failed after a few tips, ripping off and dumping the contents along the mountainside. I worked on the summer pulk a lot, switching the lines around, super-ducktaping the contents inside, etc. What the pulk really needed was some PVC pipes to keep the sled from running up on Tuffy (although we got pretty good at traversing down the hills). Allison and I hooked up a system using Nitsii's leash that amounted to lining the sled down the hills, similar to lining a canoe up a river. The last day, to give me and my feet a break, Sylvain, Allison's French friend who was hiking with us just took Tuffy and walked with him the final 12 miles, which was mostly downhill (and thus killer on my poor blisters). I felt like an idiot dragging my empty kiddie sled around. Just needs some tweaking.

Also on the last day, the dogs gave us a terrible fright. This is how it started: Tuffy and Nitsii were super best friends on the trail. Tuffy LOVES Nitsii. All he wanted to do was hump on her all weekend. They would play with each other at every stop. It was nice to see Tuffy have some dog company. He's been lonely up in Fairbanks by himself (Mamacat's not very nice company). On the last day, Allison and I thought we could give both myself and Tuffy a break by tying him up to Nitsii. I had reservations about this idea from the start, afraid that Tuffy would take off, take Nitsii with him, and disappear forever. And sure enough, that's what happened (with a happy ending though). Nitsii was supposed to be our safeguard, because she stops and waits for you on the trail and comes when she's called. Nitsii's a lab/samoyed mix, Tuffy is mostly siberian husky and can't be trusted off the leash. However, looking at the previous two days, Tuffy seemed like all he wanted to do was follow Nitsii around (and hump her). So we looped Tuffy's leash onto Nitsii's dog pack. Like the summer pulk, it worked great when it did, and terrible went it didn't. Tuffy and Nitsii trotted together nicely on the open, tundra on top of the ridges, happy as clams, stopping and waiting for us. Then we dropped down into a bushy saddle packed with small fir trees.

= my fbx family








BUSH SCHOOL via The University of Manitoba in Pangnirtung, Baffin Island, Nunavut

......The point of the program is to introduce you to a different modality than that which you are used to. "Getting Bushed..." My experience here hasnt been life changing or shocking. My Pang and Alaska modalities blend. The feel of Pang is similar to Unalakleet or McGrath. Small towns, few roads, big TVs. People roaring around on their ATV's. "Modern" southern culture permiating into the community through the TV and internet. The plants are the same. The attitude towards life is similar to mine. Shared viewpoints. Practical.

Practical, but contrasting. There is a dichotomy between apparent values and how the land and animals are actually treated.

My time here is drawing to a close and as my departure date nears, I'm starting to realize just how far away from home I am.


school. yuk.

already looking forward to next semester. done in my head with this one.

here's an old lisbet + cat picture. back when school was fun. tip: never ever take three correspondence classes if you don't have to. stupid/hard and never as flexible as you think it's going to be.



returning to cat and the cabin tomorrow. been neglecting this in favor of homework and iditarod volunteering/travel(woof). came back from mcgrath yesterday. making it a point to go for daily walks. sunny clear and hot in willow today. thinking of switching from blogger to wordpress. a little fancier for same price (free). dinner with grandma + alice in wonderland on the schedule. ought to be a nice drive tomorrow.

xo lisbet



+ biscuits

pineapple upside down cake that i 100% expected to fall out of the pan in a heap. nice surprise. we also had a lovely dinner and bottle of wine.


to define the purpose of this web journal/narcissism in the blogosphere

*travel notes*

*capture stories (to share with friends/family and help myself remember what a lucky life i lead.)

*writing is good for the soul, articulation is sometimes as important as excercise.

NARCISSISM in the blogosphere....... try and avoid the day by day details because, while you can be writing for yourself, you are generally writing for a public and NO ONE CARES WHAT ERRANDS YOU DID TODAY. tell me something i care about. something exciting or something juicy or something thoughtful.

Living Without Running Water

this means no shower, no kitchen tap, no flushing toilet.

believe it or not...life is good without running water. but i still remember the hesitancy i felt about living without running water, not being able to take a shower on demand daily, weekly, whenever.

but humans are adaptable creatures.

when adrienne and i moved into our cabin by the river, i think we showered almost every day. it was just another block of time, another errand, another line on your schedule. but it was still a hassle, an extra stop before class.

but over time you just don’t mind being as greasy as much as you used to. the days between showers begin to stretch out, it’s not neccessary. it’s a different lifestyle, one without much style, i guess. my lifestyle. i’m sure there are a few people who still blowdry and crimp and primp and gel and style their hair while occupying a cabin. taking a shower isn’t a neccessary chore anymore. it’s a treat. on rare occasions, i treat myself to a $4 shower at B&C laundromat, where they clean the showers after every use and i can shower without my crocs on. but mostly i use the wood center showers, where shoes are mandatory and i avoid touching anything that is not my own. they’re old, dark, and usually dirty. i’ve seen a little girl throw up into the shower i was about to use. i used the other one instead.

The university is cabin friendly. The wood center offers three women’s showers; almost every building on campus contains a shower or two in its bowels for students and employees. The IARC building, by far the nicest building on campus has a commuter room for its employees, with lockers, showers, and ski racks provided.

washing dishes....i keep my water in 5 gallon coleman jugs, heat dishwater on the stove and wash my dishes in the sink. the sink drains into a so-called "slop bucket" which is emptied outside when it gets full. Due to this, and the fact that I have to go out of my way to get water (a free pump at a spring in Fox), I try not to waste it.

outhouses.... outhouses can be deceptive.... the worst are those with actual toilet seats, you will freeze your bottom on the terribly cold plastic or porcalin. Wait, no, the worst outhouse is actually the one we built behind our cabin in willow with the square hole cut out of plywood. 1) you could get splinters and 2) i was convinced something was living in the hole. so that one was the worst. but after that are outhouses with real seats, hard plastic, porcalin, or those covered in the horrible crinkly plastic toilet seats that crack and seem undeniably dirty. The best seats are covered in a firm layer of blue styrofoam. Styrofoam, while probably damaging to the environment, is wonderful on your bottom. It never feels cold, always warm and is less likely to frost up than other materials. Perpetually warm, easy to wipe down and disinfect, and easy to replace.


another white mt. weekend

Last weekend I skied out to Colorado Ck Cabin with friends: Oliver, Brittany, and their friend Jeff(?). First ski trip of the year to one of the few White Mt. cabins I haven't yet visited. Lovely lovely ski... the 14 miles were initially intimidating... but the trail was mostly flat. Slight uphills and one small push up a ridge towards the end. We didn't leave the trailhead until around 6pm so had the pleasure of skiing under the open ski with a white bright moon beaming over us. Barely used the headlamp. I opted to turn it on going down the hills, Oliver and Jeff did not, we all did just fine. Minimal snow on the trail, lots of grass tussocks poking through, other parts severely windblown, but with a thick firm crust on top.

We followed a set of wolf tracks for many miles. Big paws, as large as my hand. It was a long ski, but with plenty of snack and water breaks. We took a long lunch, lounging by the small fire we built in the burn. The last couple of hours was a zombie ski. I was tired; it was way past my bedtime.The moon was clear, hanging over the ridge directly to our right. I moved along steadily, completely fascinated by the shadows of the dead trees crossing the trail. The shadows were so crisp, you could hardly tell the trees from their shadows.

There is a sign giving milages .25 miles from the cabin. I had a second wind and skated fast, on my way to a warm bunk (I had planned to sleep outside, but it's not as fun by yourself + windy). It was 0 degrees F inside and out, but I had my good sleeping bag, my puffy pants, my reindeer skin inside my bag, and two pairs of wools socks with fresh toe warmers in between. So I was cozy...... until I woke up at 4 or 5am panicking I was so hot. The boys had built a fire for the morning before they went to bed, but just HAD to light it on fire.... the cabin was probably 80+ in only a few hours, with minimal wood. the stoves in the BLM cabins are v. efficient, it was still cozy warm in the morning. that was nice, but it was miserable hot in the meantime. i wonder if they learned their lesson....Oliver was sleeping in the loft which must have been a sauna....literally...there was a pot of water boiling on the stove all night.

Saturday was sunny. Brittany and I explored the lake in front of the cabin and the ridge behind it. We picked up on the wolf tracks again until they disappeared toward the top of the severely windblown ridge. A flock of ptarmigan whooshed over the ridge in front of us. It was terribly windy, so we went back to the cabin for tea and chocolate. Saturday night, Chris and Corrina joined us. It was lovely to have them. I made a no bake cherry cheesecake that we all enjoyed; yum.

The ski back was lovely. It started in the morning with mist over the hills. The mist burnt up in the sun, but left all the trees frosty and glittering. The ski out took us only 6hrs, including break stops and another long lunch. The trail was for the most part slightly downhill and flat all the way back, much more than I realized skiing in. I remember skiing along a windblown ridge thinking that this snow was strange, with hardly any glide.....actually, that was gravity. Nice smooth ski all the way back (It took us about 8hrs to ski in, a little slow but comfortable). It was colder than we realized, -18F at the trailhead. I sat down on my skin and changed my socks immediately, putting in toe warmers and my Nuptses. We stopped at Hilltop for pie/cheeseburgers/halibut on the way back home. I still didn't make it back in time to catch a shower.

Full Map available at BLM website



No-name Ylva girls, in for their puppy shots.


home for the holidays

not doing too much at all but still too busy to write...!


a day at the races

Orville Lake Races. A few pictures. More to follow (?).