Sunday, March 26, 2017

Winter on the Kenai

After working 9 months full-time without any time off I am now working 25-30 hours per week so have a little time to catch up on blogging. I would like to share our experiences while spending the winter in Alaska. We are not in the extremely cold interior or north slope but near the Pacific on a peninsula, south of Anchorage. I would compare the temperatures with Minnesota, but we did not have much wind so did not have the extreme wind chills. We had about 3 feet of snow on the ground 3 weeks ago but have had sunny weather with afternoon temps around freezing so melting has started. But the low temps are still in the single digits and I am ready for that to change! Still have to bundle up to walk the dogs in the mornings!

We moved into an apartment in October, just before the first snow fell. By the end of October we had 4-5 inches accumulated and we have not seen grass since. The last 2 winters were unseasonably warm here with very little snow so everyone was hoping for a real winter. I was still able to walk to work into November because I started at 4 pm. Rollie was working as a school bus attendant so he worked early mornings. We share one vehicle which takes some planning.

Sitka spruce
We took several drives to see the snow in the trees, the beach, the frozen rivers and the countryside. I love snow and mountains so I was in my element!
Kasilof Beach, Cook Inlet

Kasilof River before it froze

Looking east, Kenai Mountains

Soldotna is on the western side of the Kenai Peninsula near Cook Inlet. The eastern half of the peninsula is mountainous with the largest icefield contained entirely within the United States, Harding Icefield. 

Mt Redoubt

Looking west across Cook Inlet we can see the mountain range that makes up the Aleutian Islands farther south. There are many active volcanoes including Mt. Redoubt, which I can see looking west up the street we live on, Redoubt St. 
Redoubt St. and Mt. Redoubt in the distance

On one of our drives we saw a dogsled team training and it reminded me to check for local races. The Tustumena 200 was held January 28/29. the race starts and finishes near the Sterling Highway just south of Kasilof which is where we spent the end of the summer at Crooked Creek. The route goes through the Caribou Hills almost to Homer and back, 200 miles. They were looking for volunteers so I did. I helped with teeshirt/sweatshirt/hat sales at the start and had a great view of the activities.

Preparing to enter the start chute

One team started every 3 minutes
Most of these teams also ran the Iditarod which made that race much more interesting for me to watch. I had seen them up close! 

The dogs really love to run!

We see moose around our neighborhood frequently. I think It is the same cow and calf but I could be wrong. They are not afraid or aggressive when the dogs and I pass by and the dogs don't bark at them. They are obviously used to humans since they live in town. I have gotten to know where they hang out in the wooded lots and I see tracks and droppings, even right outside our window!

Their long legs are great for walking through deep snow 

Moose droppings look like pecans in their shells

Two eagles in the top of the tree

And we have bald eagles in the neighborhood. It seems as though the local fur shop tosses animal carcasses out behind their building which attracts the eagles and ravens. It's about a block from our apartment. There are 2 adults and two juveniles (don't have white yet) so I assume it is a family.

They watch the dogs and I watch them

Two juveniles feasting, the adults were up in the trees.
A raven and a magpie watching and waiting.

The winter was dark, cloudy and snowy but the last 3 weeks have been sunny which we all appreciate. With longer days, melting has started but we have a long way to go before we can move back into our RV. We have accepted workamping positions May to August at Denali RV Park and Motel just outside Denali National Park. Another new adventure!

Some miscellaneous photos:
Mt. Iliamna

One of our favorite dog walks, Beluga St., with fresh snow

Had some serious fog which frosted the trees. 

Frozen Kenai River from Soldotna Park

The sun did not rise very high in December and January.
Soldotna Park

Sitka Spruce, typical countryside for the west Kenai

Heading east on Sterling Hwy towards the mountains

The spruce trees are good at catching snow.
Frequently there was bare ground under them.

How sand, snow and wind make art. Kasilof Beach.

A true Minnesotan cannot let 2 inches of snow lie on the driveway!

Mia and Sonny taking it all in stride.
More photos at: