Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Alaskan winter

So many people say they could never handle the darkness of winter here in Alaska.  In honor of those people I took a bunch of pictures at the darkest point of the winter. Calculating the length of our day is a bit challenging in winter.  Reality is that it greatly depends on exactly where you are situated both in elevation and near what mountains.   According to Wikipedia twilight is when "the sun itself is not directly visible because it is below the horizon".  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight  I suppose by that definition we don't have honest to goodness daylight for a while through the winter.  The interesting thing is that if you go down the road a bit or up in elevation, you might have sunlight.  Most of camp is within the shadow of Amulet so we don't really get direct sunlight because the sun is low enough on the horizon that it can't get past Amulet.  This picture was taken mid-day on one of the shortest days of December.    

Turning around (and moving around a little to get a better view) this is what it looks like above and behind me.  There's our sunbeam just up the mountain a bit!  With the brilliant snow and clear skies, we actually get quite a bit of daylight, just no direct sun for a while.  

 It's still spectacularly beautiful.

 And when the moon is out on a clear night reflecting off the snow, it might as well be twilight.  The first is twilight, the second moonlight.

The lack of light does seem to bother a lot of people.  It doesn't really bother me, especially if I make sure to get out during the day and go for a walk.  Between the exercise and the daylight and the fresh air I don't seem to have a problem.  I actually have more trouble in the summer trying to sleep when it is light all night long.  If I wake up at 2 am and my brain sees light, it thinks it is time to get up and quite often doesn't want to be convinced otherwise.

This winter we had very little snow early in the winter.  It was quite a welcome change when it finally came!

But the reality is that it was too little too late.   The frost went so deep so quickly that many people have had problems with ice. The road crews spent a lot of time clearing ice off the roads rather than snow.  It's beautiful, but destructive.

Almost two weeks ago we had a water main break at camp and while fixing that, the lines froze at Alpine camp as well as the main line to the community.  It took 10 days to restore water to most homes with one that went to an alternate setup until summer when we can figure out how much additional damage there is to the line.  Fortunately the group at Alpine that weekend was a Russian youth group.  Most of the kids were not born in America where we are used to turning on the faucet and getting water.  They were amazed at how hard the maintenance guys were working to restore water to them.  "In Russia it could take a month or more."  They enjoyed the view up at Ranch camp where they went to take showers.  It was an interesting perspective!

We do have more snow now, enough to make it easier to enjoy winter activities.  The days are also getting longer quickly.  I sat in the sun for quite a while today editing pictures for this and the last post.


The longer days make it easier to get out and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors!

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Morning commute

Morning commute